#103 Lanark Park, Canoga Park

My new tennis friend Isaiah and I were gonna play at Eddleston Park in Porter Ranch but guess what? It’s members only and the members looking gaily out upon us were not inclined to unlock the gate.

“It’s the rule,” said the guy who was swatting away on the one occupied court next to the eight unoccupied courts. He did not seem unhappy about excluding us; on the contrary, he seemed invigorated by the opportunity to keep us on the other side of the fence.

I had taken a Lyft for the last leg of my journey to Porter Ranch, which in my inner map corresponds to Wayouttheresville. A certain Now What? started settling in.

A certain, You Should Plan this Stuff better.

I was saying some of these things out loud, such as, “Do you know any other courts near here?” I felt certain I would not have played on any of them because this location in northwest LA County is truly no-joke distant. I felt a certain, What am I Doing Here? to go along with my other unsettled feelings. Fortunately I like the feeling of dislocation. I remember during my last year or so of teaching, even though I enjoyed it and felt invigorated, I also felt like I was not so much going through the motions as just covering ground I had already covered.

Isaiah said we could try Lanark Park and I said great. I was calling another Lyft when Isaiah said you can ride with me. This summoned further anxiety. I made him promise he was not an axe murderer. He promised, so I felt like probably it would work out okay, although I am not convinced that this is really the greatest safety protocol.

This was when I thought he would be the driver, while I was thinking he was an adult, in his mid-20’s at least, young-looking yes, but then a lot of people appear young-looking to me. It was before I realized his car was a minivan and that his mom would be driving. This was a surprise. What is next? Will I be playing dolls?

The truth is I do not know what is next and dolls are cool.

With so much going on between people not being inclusive and riding in the backseat with someone’s mom driving like it was 1973 and I was carpooling to Hebrew school, it took me a little while to realize Isaiah graduated from high school like, this week. What tipped me off was the graduation cap in the back of the Odyssey.

This was a lot to mull over. Fortunately, I kept breathing, in and out, and that settled things down nicely. Meanwhile, Isaiah kept saying how honored he was to be part of the quest and asking questions such as “Do you feel that you are living the dream?”

I answered in Spanish, because I had heard him talking to his mom in Spanish: “Sí, estoy viviendo el sueño.” This whole outing did in fact feel like a dream that isn’t especially telling or foreboding but sticks with you anyway because it is so lifelike.

His mom did not comment other than to say de nada when I thanked her for driving. She remained parked there at the curb for the duration of our game, guarding against the possibility of me pull an axe out of my racquet bag.

Fortunately everything was entirely copacetic. The courts had everything except shade, but I brought a big ol’ Stetson hat and besides it is perma-gloom in LA so even when it did get hot, it was barely 70 degrees and still more partly cloudy than partly sunny.

Gloom notwithstanding, Isaiah and I romped and frolicked over two sets. Afterwards I said I was gonna stick around to take some selfies but he said oh I’d be glad to take your picture and I am glad he did. Then I took his recommendation to try Chick-Fil-A for the first time ever because it was near the bus stop. I was glad he gave me walking directions to the bus stop because I was a little nervous that he might offer for his mom to drive me there.

I will say I was not crazy about the sandwich. It was okay but not a game-changer, and I didn’t even finish the famous waffle fries. That’s where I’m at with fries at this stage of my life. They have to really meet a deep inner need in order for me to finish them. I respected the waffle fries, though. I could see why people like them. And it felt good pressing the leftover ice from my Chick-Fil-A cup of Diet Coke on my knees on the long ride home, alternating knee-to-knee.

One comment

  1. A multitude of “take homes’ to unpack, but what rises to the surface..
    1) The guy who seemed invigorated by keeping you on the other side of the fence. No need to wonder why we’re such a divided nation
    2) Being driven, like carpooling to Hebrew school.
    3) Cooling your knees with ice from a Chick-Fil-A diet coke.

    A plethora of visceral images.

Leave a Reply