The downside is, I can appreciate the heat as a Singaporean in Singapore sometimes because Singapore is an air-conditioned nation - and so I barely felt the heat. In Cambridge - in the United Kingdom more generally - air-conditioning is simply not a thing. There are also no fans in rooms. I am on the top floor, and because hot air rises, all the heat is trapped in my room. I have woken up feeling sticky the past two nights, and I am feeling rather hot now as I sit in bed typing this.
I could kill for air-conditioning right now. I could barely stand to be in the gyp room (kitchen) with a broken window that cannot open and which has remained in this state for months, cooking my dinner, because it was so hot. While I had dinner in my room, I couldn't stop sweating. I'm not sure if I would rather this than freezing cold...actually, the choice is a no-brainer: I would rather the heat. I cannot stand the cold; I really cannot. You can take the girl out of the tropics - you know the rest.
And so it was with a smile on my face that I played tennis with Etienne under the hot sun and in the near-sweltering heat (it was only 26, 27 degrees, so let's not exaggerate too much) in the morning. I was dying, to be sure, but it felt amazing, to sweat like that, as if the endless streams of sweat, the heavy breathing, the taster to what a heat stroke feels like, were a testament of the physical work that I was doing. Oh, I loved it so.
I honestly think that England would be perfect if the weather were like this more often than not. It was a nice balmy night; Barry and I went for a walk at 9.30pm after spending most of the day in the library, and the temperature was the perfect balance between hot and cold.
Ah, if only I could bring that temperature into my room...
Enough about that. Writing about how hot it is is making me feel the heat even more.
Two more things, then. First: I take back what I said about Gareth in the previous entry. I suppose it helps that I am completely over it, save for some slight, residual resentment which I am sure will be gone sooner rather than later. But the point is, I hereby remove Occam's Razor and I choose to interpret his behaviour favourably, to his benefit.
There are two ways in which I can look at it. The first way is how I'd been interpreting it over the past week: that he is selfish, that he didn't give a shit about me, that he never cared, that he never valued anything about me. How else would a person bring himself to undertake a course of action that had a plausible, reasonable chance of inflicting hurt on another person? And so I thought I would give him the letter that I wrote to him a couple of days after the text message, partly as a cathartic exercise - and because my emotions were still raw, that letter, well-written as it is, is resentful, angry, hurt, bitter.
But why should I spread this hurt and anger around? And so I choose to look at it in the second way: that, for whatever reason, he felt incapable of meeting me to have a proper conversation. The truth is, I have no idea what it is like to be him. The fact that he couldn't meet me, either immediately after he texted me or days after that, to talk to me, to give me the closure that I specifically asked for, rather shows his emotional ineptness. This may or may not be related to his bipolar; but that's immaterial, I think. Regardless of that, I think it shows that he doesn't have his shit together emotionally. It's also quite curious why he'd take the initiative to end things with me when he was reaping the benefits of my going along with things on his terms. Perhaps he really was trying to be fair. Or maybe he was tired of feeling like he was inadequate (which, to be honest, he was, but never mind about that) because he knew how unreliable he was, and how much I disliked it. So maybe he was protecting himself by ending it before I had the chance to do it.
If ending things with me and cutting communication was the only way he could handle it, then so be it. He was right when he said that I am robust - because I am. I feel very fortunate to have my shit together, most of the time anyway, until such time as my period comes around. But that's not my default mode. My default mode is strong and stable (couldn't resist a Tories joke). His seems to be fragmented and fragile; in fact, he said that he wasn't strong.
At the risk of sounding pompous, I think my hurt and anger have given way to a very human compassion towards him, a compassion that is helping me come to terms with the way this ended and dealing with it in a positive way. For why harbour anger? Why resent him? It wasn't the worst thing that he could've done to me, and there might have been legitimate reasons for him to do it. I didn't date him for very long, and he kept resisting my attempts to dig deeper and deeper into his psyche; but still, I cared about him at some level. That doesn't go away just because he hurt me. And because I cared about him, and still do to a certain extent, I don't want to inflict hurt on him the way he did to me. I would rather err on the side of giving him the benefit of the doubt one last time than to sink to the level of someone spiteful, with no self-possession, no control over her feelings, without the character to rise above them and choose the positive response to a negative, hurtful situation.
(An aside: I know that this is easy to say because I wasn't in love with him and I never saw a future with him. But I hope that I would have enough grace and character to eventually reach this stage of equanimity if, god forbids, something like this happened to me with someone for whom I have deeper feelings.)
So I won't include that letter in the book that he gave/lent me, which I intend to return to him by placing it in his letterbox. Instead, I will write another, shorter one, one that basically says everything that I have just written.
I suppose, then, my biggest takeaway from this fiasco is this: I can be mature enough to do the better thing, perhaps the right thing. I think I am quite proud of myself for this.
Second: Matt has kind of resurfaced over the past week, especially the past two days.
Last Monday, on the same day that Gareth sent me that message, I was getting coffee at FB when a Chinese tourist rushed in, all hassled because she had lost her tour group, and barked at the staff, in Mandarin, about whether there was wifi. Being the only person in the cafe who spoke Mandarin, I felt obliged to help her - and so I did.
Matt was very grateful. He let me have my choice of free cake. Later, at about 7pm, he texted me, 'Thanks for helping that woman out. :) was nice to see you :)'
It wasn't like I hadn't seen him at all between Monday and when I got back from Hong Kong/Singapore. But it was a nice message and I didn't read too much into it, mostly because that message preceded Gareth's 'break up' message, and the latter stole the former's thunder.
I didn't hear from him again, and didn't think I would...until I checked my phone for the time on Saturday early evening, while playing tennis with Jay, and saw a message from Matt. It said:
Hey hope you are feeling better. :) [This was in relation to my hangover.] sorry that you lost your game, if it makes you feel any better, you look unbelievably hot in your tennis outfit ;) x
WHAT?!?!?! Was this the same guy that I went out with two months ago whom I thought wasn't interested due to his lack of initiative? I was very pleasantly surprised, couldn't stop smiling, and this distracted me so much that I went on to mess up my tennis (really shows how important mental focus is to tennis). I kind of killed the conversation when I ended a message with something like 'hope you're enjoying the nice weather after work - you deserve it!'
Today, he gave me free cake. I'd just had my sometimes-customary post-tennis lunch, and I noticed a new cake in the dessert counter. I asked him what it was; he said it was an upside down cake, did I want to try? It was on him. Who could say no to free cake, right?
A couple of hours later, he texted, 'How was the cake?'
I was feeling restless and not wanting to be in the library, and I hadn't properly seen Matt in a while anyway, and I was also curious about what was going on; and so after I said that the cake was yummy, I said that I was bored in the library and could use a quick distraction; what time did he get off work?
So we had a quick drink between 7.30 and 8, at which time he had a Father's Day dinner with, obviously, his father. It was nice to talk to him. He strangely had lost some of the awkwardness of the previous time. He almost set up a date (I use this term in a romantically neutral manner, in its literal sense) to take me punting, but we got distracted by May Ball talk which I won't go into because too long, too uninteresting and it's 2am and I want to finish this and sleep. At 12.30am, he sent me a message, saying it was nice to catch up, he hoped we can do it again soon, and wished me fun in Oxford.
WHAT IS GOING ON?!
To be honest, though, on that day I helped that Chinese woman, there was a moment when Matt was standing behind me, hovering over my shoulder, as I tried to see if this itinerary that she had contained a phone number that she could call. In that moment, I felt a little bit of something, some kind of physical attraction or spark. He was also quite clearly blushing when he gave me the cake (the 'thank you for helping her' cake, not the 'I'm giving you this because' cake).
I am so confused.
Isn't it curious, though, how impeccable his timing is? It's as if he had some sixth sense that I'd just been dumped by another man and am actually available. If he'd done this a couple of weeks ago, I don't think I would have been as receptive.
Actually, I don't even know what he's doing. I'm just not going to have any expectations or over-analyse (at least, I will try not to, not too much anyway) and just see what happens. This is quite out of the blue; but like I said, his timing is quite impeccable.
I am taking the four-hour long X5 to Oxford with John, as we are attending a symposium on a Cambridge professor's new book on political philosophy. Can't wait! I probably won't have much time to see Oxford again, as I am coming back on Wednesday for the Magdalene May Ball and so will miss the second half of the conference; but it's Raffie's birthday on Tuesday and that's half the reason I decided to go in the end.
Will be fun!