That time I hid in a bathroom stall for an hour and a half to see Venus and Serena play at the U.S. Open
Monday, September 3rd. I don’t have class because of Labor Day.
10:30 AM I wake up determined to do my readings in advanced, start the semester right.
11:30 AM I have eaten a bowl of cereal. I have not opened a book for school. I am on Facebook.
11:31 AM I scream on the inside (and a little bit on the outside) and comment on the post with an exuberant “I DOOO!!!!!” I cross my fingers and hope this wasn’t a joke.
1:45 PM I am at the U.S. Open with my friend watching Serena play in the quarterfinals. We are supposed to have the poor people seats but we sneak into some empty upper middle class seats. This game is not a competition. She is playing against someone that isn’t even seeded. She shuts it down. I can’t believe that I am getting to see her play.
Side note: I became a tennis fan as a child because I was amazed to see the Williams sisters dominate a sport that has such a white bourgeois history. Since then I have also become an avid fan of Federer, Nadal and Murray. The reason I wanted to go to London in my semester off from college was to see the Williams play at Wimbledon (I didn’t get to see them but I still had a blast). Seeing Serena play on a TV screen or in person is such a difficult thing to explain. She is exhilarating and inspiring to watch. The fierce mental force she brings to each court is unparalleled.
4 PM We have been wandering around casually watching various matches. Federer’s match was cancelled so we have to make due with a match between a mediocre Croatian tennis player and a mediocre Russian tennis player. We look at the schedule and realize that Venus and Serena don’t play until 7:30 PM. We only have tickets for the day and in order to see them play we need tickets for the night.
4:30 PM We formulate a plan to keep us in the stadium. We must seem them play. No is not an option.
5:12 PM The mediocre match finishes. U.S. Open workers are kicking people out of the bleachers so they can clean. They are kicking every one out until 7 PM when they re-open. We decide that we are just going to wander the hallways surrounding the stadium until the game begins.
5: 25PM We are wandering the hallways when a worker calls after us. My friend says we are looking for our mother because she has tickets for the night games for us. The worker tells us to go down the stairs and call her. This is make or break it time. Farther down the stairs are two workers waiting to kick us out. It is the point of no return so my friend says we should make a run for it. To the right of the top of the stairs are bathrooms that we can hide in until the Venus and Serena match starts.
5:29 PM We sprint up the stairs straight into the bathrooms. Either no one sees us or no one cares.
6:30 PM Journal entry: I have been standing in the bathroom stall at The U.S. Open for one hour. It’s like I am invisible. There is a woman in the stall next to me crying. One of the cleaning ladies (who have alo been in here for the past hour) asked her if she was O.K. The crying woman replied, ” He hit me.” I don’t what to do or think right now. I want to say that it is all going to be O.K., but I can’t blow my cover. I wonder if this happens to spies often? The woman is mumbling in Spanish. She is praying furiously to Jésus. Never mind. I am being prejudiced. Turns out she is on her cellphone trying to get a ride home. Forty minutes to until we will be in the clear and be able to see the Williams sisters play. This is exciting!
7:15 PM My friend texts me that he left the bathroom and is now int he bleachers waiting for the match to start. I walk out the bathroom home-free. We fist-bump and are in awe that we actually pulled it off.
That was a great day for more than the obvious reasons. I was having a rough three weeks because of missed job opportunities, financial troubles (I almost couldn’t register for classes this fall) and drama in my personal life. I was feeling so depressed that I resigned myself to the idea of moving back home to my soul-sucking hometown in Wisconsin. I had been kicked so many times in a row without the chance to brush myself off and pick myself up that I was slowly giving up on my dreams and aspirations. In summary: I had 99 problems and money could have solved 87 of them.
But being around my friend, who went pro at the U.S. Open this summer and failed miserably, but was happy anyways because “at least he tried instead of just talking about it,” inspired me. I was ready to give up when I realized we had to leave the stadium, but he was determined to see the Williams play. He reminded me that nothing can stop you when you want something bad enough and you act on that desire. I know it may sound stupid, that standing in bathroom could be inspirational, but it worked. And now whenever I get depressed and question if I am doing the right thing by living in NYC and “going for it,” I just remember the day two college kids wanted to see Serena and Venus play so badly that they hid in bathroom stalls for over an hour.
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