Saving Andre

23 Jan Saving Andre

“One cannot always tell what it is that keeps us shut in, confines us, seems to bury us, but still one feels certain barriers, certain gates, certain walls. Is all this imagination, fantasy? I do not think so. And then one asks: My God! Is it for long, is it forever, is it for eternity? Do you know what frees one from this captivity? It is very deep serious affection. Being friends, being brothers, love, that is what opens the prison by supreme power, by some magic force.”

–Vincent van Gogh, letter to his brother, July 1880

This marvelous quote graces a single page before the prologue of Andre Agassi’s autobiography, Open. When I read it, I thought it was profoundly beautiful. Now that I’m well into the book, I understand why Agassi chose it.

I had my hair cut and highlighted this week and as I sat with those silly foils springing from my skull, I took out the LOL’s latest book. I had a half hour to kill, sitting still, so of course I brought our selection to the salon. My hair stylist, bless her beautiful early, 20’s-something-self, asked what I was reading. When I shared the book with her, she nodded politely and asked who Andre Agassi is.

What? You don’t know? I wanted to sputter but I’m much to polite for that, plus my hair was in her hands.¬† So I explained, even though I’ve never followed tennis, EVERYONE knew who Agassi was at the height of his career…unless you were maybe in diapers in the early 90’s…

What is so fascinating about this memoir, however, is how little the public really knew of the authentic Aggasi. Not the frosted mullet man, not the shredded, jean cut-offs wearing dude, not the rebellious protege manipulated by sponsors and painfully exposed by image-twisting endorsements. The real Andre was lost, desperately¬† seeking love and approval, completely unsure of himself…the real man is apparently the one who can write well enough to pen a book & felt sufficiently moved by love to include the quote by van Gogh, summing up what saved this tennis star.