This is What Happiness Looks Like

Last weekend I went to the wedding of two good friends.  It took place at a beautiful ranch just southwest of Austin, with rolling hills providing the backdrop for their ceremony and reception.  (The reception notably centered around a large pool.  Many people desperately avoided falling in, while others eventually did back-flips into the water later in the night.  The bride’s father, in lieu of a speech, performed a massive crowd-soaking cannonball into the pool himself.  But this is all beside the point.)

As the night went on, I found myself deep in conversation with another dear friend, Amanda.  I’m not really sure what we were talking about—but we were apart from the group and clearly in serious discussion.  The ranch happened to feature a lit tennis/basketball court a short distance away from the reception, down a rocky path, just within earshot of the music.  So Cara cut into our shared whispering  with a proposition:

“I know that you two are having a Serious Talk right now,” she began, “But would you be interested in playing a game of tennis with me and Tessa?”

Did she even need to ask?

The three of us stumbled down the hill, over the rocky path, and on to the dilapidated court.  Cara and I teamed up against Amanda and Tessa.  We were all still wearing our dresses and heels, the balls were weathered and ratty, and clearly none of us were ever tennis masters.  But we managed to rally a few times, and most of our serves landed in-bounds…or close to it.  At one point Amanda hiked up her dress and tucked it into her underwear, and in between serves we wiggled and swayed to Michael Jackson’s “PYT” and Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance.”  (Cara would later say that it wasn’t so much a game of tennis as a game of “dancing with racquets”.)

When we tired of tennis (or perhaps when we’d hit all three balls out of the court, I can’t quite remember), we moved on to the flat basketballs and very low hoops.  We managed a weak lay-up drill, and several of us attempted to dunk.  (Something that we’d later regret when we realized how painful the rim would feel on our hands and that landing barefoot—or in heels/sandals would aggravate whatever athletic injuries plague each of us respectively.)  We only retreated back up the hill when we heard Amanda’s husband whistling to us that the bride and groom were leaving and we should see them off.

In looking back, there was a moment on those courts when I felt perfectly, completely happy.  Maybe it was the late-spring chill in the air, or the feel of the old court on my feet.  Maybe it was the way that the game reminded me of spring break in Jamaica circa 2000, when my friend Kelly and I spontaneously jumped into a pick-up basketball game (also in our skirts and heels) in the parking lot of Margaritaville at midnight.  Maybe it was the fact that those girls know me so well, and I know that they will see me through any storm, or the way that I laugh with them in total reckless abandon.  Maybe it was the fact that we were dressed to the nines but playing sports—always a beautiful juxtaposition in my mind—or maybe it was the fact that I felt entirely at home with them. 

I’m not sure, but I knew this—this—is what happiness looks like.  Four grown women in party dresses, running around a tennis court at midnight, like girls at play.

2 Responses to “This is What Happiness Looks Like”

  • sheila Says:

    I LOVE THIS! Even though I was not there, I can totally feel the happiness. you are definitely one of these people to me 🙂

  • Colleen Conrad Says:

    I heart Sheila. ( : Let’s play some midnight tennis soon!

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