It’s been raining for the last three weeks in Texas, which means we’ve had to get clever about finding things to do. We aren’t used to this weather, and there’s only so much time we can spend watching the neighbor’s sofa or Pontiac float down the street. I recently went bowling, because I was so very desperate for entertainment.
I’ve never been a fan of bowling. What is bowling, anyway? A person in slippery shoes rolls a ball down a lane to knock over some pins. It is called a ‘sport,’ yet there are no opponents making it more difficult, the pins don’t move, and you don’t even have to go down there to get your ball back – it simply reappears. That’s not a sport.
When I was a kid and my parents took us all on Saturdays to the local alley to go bowling, I was not impressed. I was bored, it was too loud, everyone was dressed poorly and was way too excited about seemingly nothing. When my dad joined a league, bought a ball, and had his name engraved on it, I was horrified. His status as My Hero was now overshadowed by the image of him working on his spin, which he could never get right, even though there are absolutely no variables in the game. Not even wind.
As you can see, bowling and I are not friends.
So there I was reluctantly having a few games of bowling with friends. Then somewhere around the fourth frame of the first game I had this moment: I stood there at the top of that lane, cradling my eight-pound pink ball in both hands, and staring at those pins. Time stopped for me. I thought about the whole of my life and all of the things I’d done, all the great people I’d met, and how everything conspired to bring me my current circumstances. It was magical, zen-like and strange, and I imagined that this frame was somehow a metaphor for my whole life. Really, that’s what I thought.
When I brought that ball back and sent it down the alley, I fully expected a strike. I expected those pins to careen and shatter as if they’d been hit by a blazing-pink rocket. I expected to turn to my applauding friends and tell them about the enormity of what had just happened. What I did not expect was a 7. My life is a 7-pin frame. I still hate you, bowling.