Golf Service

East Potomac golf course from the "clubhouse" on a typically beautiful day. 254 weeks ago.

There are places that are more than a whereabout. Some places are memories or markers or junctures or triggers.

The ancient and huge porch at East Potomac Park is not a place of thought. It is a place of is. I sit at the more yellow than orange but almost brown recycled composite plastic picnic table and look at all the green in front of me until it shifts to a glowing cerulean. It’s late afternoon glow.

My back is to the clubhouse and grill. Two imposing pillars, like ancient cement deities from a long forgotten story, frame the scene in front of me. The first hole on the red course is on the left, where people without either time or skill play. On the right is the sixth or seventh hole on the Blue course. I am not sure since this is a course that real golfers play. It’s a full eighteen holes. I usually play the course for the skilless or, when I’m feeling cocky, I fail more fully on the 9-hole White course.

Yes, there are three courses and they are red, white and blue. On the fifth hole on the red course, you can drive right to the Washington Monument. Well, at least in that direction. It’s Washington, D.C., urban golf.

The sun forced itself into my coarsely green-painted wooden stall as I swing through my Sunday rosary. I set up mysteries of five balls. These are glorious mysteries. I concentrate on the invocation and the alignment. I swing with fervor and sometimes even abandon. I flail and fail. I work on grace as I set the next five. The sun advances into my cave, lighting it up and heating it up. I step into the sunny stream, condensation on my skin.

I use the same club for this entire service. I concentrate on keeping my left shoulder down and rotating from my core. I focus, too, on how I intertwine my hands and how I hinge my right wrist. I shut down other distractions to deliberate on these few efforts. I try to repeat when I swing well, and adjust when I swing less well. I am not frustrated. I am at peace.

I return to the big porch guarded by the forgotten gods. I’m filled with contentment and joy. A bird sits on my table and I toss her a french fry, sharing my treasure and pleasure in the day. Blessings.


Such a cute mottled working dog.
Cute on the dog, dumb on the girl.

My eyelashes are filling back in. I never lost them all. There were a few that stubbornly stood by and supported me as I vainly (both in conceit and in futility) worked the mascara wand. Now those soldiers have fresh recruits.

I ran in the local market because I needed peppercorns for a recipe and saw a friend picking up a last minute corn-bread mix. She said she didn’t recognize me in my red-head hat, which I pulled off showing my ‘do to her widening-eyes. She remembers me with long blonde locks.

My hair is coming in, too. It’s thick and soft like moss, and dark and light in patches that look really cool close-cropped but may make me look like a crazed Australian shepherd as it grows out.

A colleague walked by me without recognition–three times. Even after I tapped his arm.

I am seeing the world the same as it ever was, but others are not seeing me in the same world.

Am I moving on too fast? Are the people around me trying to tell me something? Am I missing some important meaning?

My hair is showing itself to be curly–and unruly at that. I see some of it sticking up and out. I don’t think that I have any product that can tame it.

Spring has finally broken through. After three miserable weeks of Sunday-Monday snow in a row, it looks like the bad weather is behind us. Today was glorious. Stuff all a-bloom, the sunshine warm and welcome. I decided to go to the driving range rather than watch golf on TV.

ugly golf shoes, crazy shadow and 9 iron

I had a new obnoxiously aqua/turquoise golf-skirt to wear with my bright lime shirt and joker shoes to satisfy my personal rule that golf clothes must be ugly. I went to my urban golf hideout with my 9-iron.

I’m always a lousy golfer, but I wasn’t even sure that I could swing my club. I got a little bucket of balls.

I stood on my little square of green carpet. It was crowded so I had to take the stall without a tee. That seemed good. Less pressure. I just had the one club with me, and I took it in two hands and stretched it over my head and behind my back. Rolled a ball onto my plot and set my feet. Placed the club across my left palm and met it with my right hand. Looked at that white dimpled ball and wondered if everyone was looking at me.

Seriously. I did. Like everyone knew my secret–as if I had a secret.

Why would anyone look? They had their own balls to hit. Their own grips to adjust. Their own club to blame for that slice. What was curbing me?

I thought the strangers could see me and knew that this was my first swing since my treatment.

But they weren’t looking. They didn’t see me either, but they didn’t know who I was before.

People ask me what I am going to do with my hair. Keep it short? Grow it out? I don’t know. I don’t know what it will be like. I don’t need to decide today.

I do know that I am grateful that it is coming back. And for alot of other things, too.