2017-03-04 Saint Louis – Day 3

Tennis Anyone? Yesterday the high was 71 and the sun was smiling down on Saint Louis all day. We only lounged for a little bit in the AM so as not to waste any part of the day and shortly after 9:30 we were off. The park we went to was Whitecliff park which is a stones throw from Ademir’s House. When we arrived there were two vacant courts next to each other so that’s where we played.

I enjoy tennis and just started learning the game last year, but these people are fanatics. Ademir is a certified pro and has taught his girlfriend Crystal the game. Josh is good too and I’ve seen him play before back home and it’s no joke. So I was quite nervous to go out and hit balls in front of these people for fear of what they might think. Josh assured me that if anything, I would get good pointers because Ademir’s also coached a lot of sports, including tennis, so not to worry. Of course, it was all fine.

I did get some instruction on my backhand and tried very hard to focus on what I was doing. For me, the anxiety of being in a new situation surrounded by new people takes a while to melt away but I also have an internal drive to overcome and be liked and accepted and prove that I can do whatever I set my mind to. I think in these situations, that instinct sort of takes over and though the anxiety is still there, it’s not showing because there are greater mental factors at stake. I played pretty good and really enjoyed myself.

Around lunchtime we went to Ademir’s parents house for a visit and some food. They are from Bosnia and came to this country a little more than 20 years ago to escape war back in their home country. Again, I was welcomed into the home and made to feel at ease. Within a minute of walking into the door, about 30 seconds after introductions, I was handed a plate of food with generous proportions. We sat cozy next to each other in the living room facing the TV and watched and ate and talked.

For a little bit of time, we were watching a program that was in Bosnian and there was some conversation in Bosnian which, of course, I could not understand. In fact, much of the time, the exchanges between Adamir and his parents were in Bosnian and I’m not even sure how good of English his dad speaks. It was fascinating for me to be immersed in this moment because I have led a very sheltered life and almost never thing of things outside my sphere of influence. My mind can’t comprehend what these people have been through in their lives.

A little later, a gymnastics competition came on the TV and that’s totally my jam (and it was in English), so it was a lot of fun to watch. That’s about the time the Baklava came out too, so it was double bonus time in Miss SugarCookie land. We watched until the end of that and then exited the scene as quickly as we arrived with hugs and thanks.

From there we went directly to another set of courts at Carondelet Park. I did not have quite as much fun on the second round, mostly because I was stuffed full of food and feeling tired. I was also playing with the setting sun directly in my eyes and became frustrated I could not see to play very well. The others were in a similar state, I think, but we powered through a couple of hours and then headed back home for showers and naps (though I never slept).

In the evening we went to Ademir’s sister’s house for dinner which meant more traditional Bosnian fare and more exposure to thoughts and ideas from a totally different perspective than I am used to. We were up to almost 2AM talking about life and the state of the world today. I could probably go on and on about that, but have already gone on long enough about this day. Needless to say, it was unique and wonderful.

Today the weather will not be as nice and I’ll have to face the reality of going back home. I’m already feeling like I just need one or two more days here, but that’s not how a life of responsibility works. C’est la vie.

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