When I was in Junior High School (“Middle School” to the younger generations), my friend Suzanne taught me how to play badminton.
I don’t think Suzanne and I played according to the rules. I don’t remember if there was ever a net in her backyard.
But I do remember hanging with my best friend for what seemed like hours, hitting that badminton thingie back and forth.
(Badminton thingie, otherwise known as shuttlecock, shuttle, or bird. What we called it back then? A “birdie.”)
Volleying back and forth. Hitting the birdie. Missing the birdie.
It wasn’t competitive. There were other games I played, like word games, where I felt competitive. But not badminton.
Playing badminton with Suzanne felt special to me, for lots of reasons.
I had recently gotten my first cardiac pacemaker. And because pacemakers were so new then, the doctors put lots of restrictions on me.
For example, I couldn’t take gym.
Believe me, I saw the advantages of THAT (I wasn’t stupid, people!) Plus, people kept saying to me, every Gym Day: “You are SOOOO lucky.”
But being kept out of Gym Class had an effect on me. I felt different. Non-athletic.
So that was an added sweetness to those times spent with Suzanne, volleying back and forth. I could keep up with her. We were both just badminton players.
She didn’t seem to mind playing with me. She didn’t get impatient, or want to play with somebody better.
We were equally matched.
My intention, this morning, was to briefly refer to Suzanne and badminton, only as a way to introduce “what I really wanted to write about this morning.” Instead, I’m glad I had the patience to linger in that moment of memory.
What I really wanted to write about? How I’m getting better at the “A-word” these days.
I thought of the badminton analogy this morning, when my boyfriend and I got annoyed at each other, expressed that in a few volleys, and then …..
Why did I laugh? From the sheer pleasure of
- having allowed myself to feel and express anger to somebody I love, whom I might otherwise be afraid of losing.
- not taking his responses entirely personally, and
- seeing the humor in the moment.
It wasn’t competitive.
We played by the rules. (For example, no throwing. No name calling.)
We engaged, and then it was over.
We were equally matched.
I like volleying.
That concludes our blog post for this morning, ladies and gentlemen.
Thanks to Suzanne, Michael, birdies, and patient people everywhere — including you, my readers!