I was supposed to be out in the desert today, ostensibly attending the women’s qualifying matches at the annual Indian Wells Tennis Tournament. The two-week tournament, just one step down from a Grand Slam, is a very big deal in the tennis world, and always begins the second week of March.
Many years ago I bought a seat for a semifinal (those seats are not cheap, trust me) with Victoria Azarenka , and she backed out before the match, and we ticketholders were left high and dry. Ever since, I have opted to attend the first one or two days of the tournament, which are free, and in which the lower-ranked players vie for a place in the main draw.
The stadiums are way smaller, you can wander about and watch any number of matches or parts of matches, and even the most mediocre of the lower-ranked players perform at a level that, if you have ever played tennis yourself, is of an entirely different, infinitely higher order of being and doing in the world than you could have possibly imagined.
Also you can hang around the practice courts and possibly catch glimpses of your heroines (or heroes as the case may be–the ATP is here as well) in action.
Almost always when I travel, it’s for work or another obligation of some kind. So Indian Wells is the one event to which for the last few years I’ve treated myself to a couple of days off and a couple of nights at a halfway decent airbnb. You have to plan months in advance as half the world descends upon the place this time of year and reserves a place to stay accordingly.
The Coachella Valley is world-famous for its year-round stellar weather. I got a pedi in anticipation, thinking I could get a head start on the spring tanning of shins, ankles and feet that makes for optimal sandal-wearing.
Saturday, I discovered it’s supposed to rain most of the week.
And last night around 9 PST I learned that a single person had tested positive for the coronavirus in Riverside County, where Indian Wells is located, and that therefore the entire tournament had been cancelled!
My heart really goes out to the players, many of whom had already flown in, plus this is their livelihood, career, and playing season.
I got a 30% or so refund on the airbnb, which I cancelled at 3 am. And this is the bright side of the fact that my “retirement” savings (on which I hoped to live if necessary in my fast-encroaching dotage, then leave to various charities), are bleeding out as the stock market crashes, and that we’re all apparently going to die momentarily from coronavirus anyway.
It’s kind of like, Whatever! Not in a resigned, weary way, but in a kind of energized, curious way, as in we really DON’T know anything, ever, about how the world is going to go.
It’s interesting that with all our insanely “powerful” military, nuclear weapons, Supreme Court rulings, closed borders, lightning-fast technology, surveillance cameras, data gathering, TSA, et cetera et cetera, a tiny virus, invisible to the naked eye, can in the space of a couple of weeks practically take down the whole world.
Interesting, too, how as the world, as the world must, fails us, everything gets sharpened and honed down to the essential. Keep doing what I already do every day. Try to be kind, try to participate, try to keep my garden weeded, my bed made, my apartment clean, my bags, literal and metaphorical, packed.
And most interesting how the things I have done every day for years ever more assume their true importance: The Office. The Magnificat. The prayer I say, back at my pew, each time after receiving the Eucharist: “Oh my Jesus, accept this Holy Communion as my viaticum–as if I were this day to die”…