I was a sweaty mess nevertheless, and I didn't anticipate the sudden cool weather and I was dressed in a tank top. It almost reminded me of playing tennis outdoors in the English autumn.
I played with Joe last night. It was not a fair fight because he's a level 4.0 player (i.e. advanced) and he admitted later that he felt really bad when he was hitting all these winners off my serves and my shots. It was pretty terrible. He tried to help me though, and I think he pinpointed my fundamental problem when he kept telling me to get my mental focus in the right place - to go for my shots, to believe that I could hit every ball back until I won the point, and to have confidence.
I didn't tell him that it was a little hard to have confidence when I lose 95% of the time, and pretty much win only when my opponent is playing terribly. Still, I saw his point. It became crystal clear when I tried to hit an aggressive forehand return and the ball went smack into the net, and instinctively, my body sagged in disappointment. Joe saw that and immediately barked at me from across the net, 'Don't do that. DON'T DO THAT!'
It dawned on me as I was walking to the bus stop after tennis that this game is 50% mental. There is no reason why I should lose almost all the time, even after taking into account the fact that I always play against guys, because I can hit the ball, I can place the ball, and I'm naturally aggressive. What it comes down to, ultimately, is what goes on in my head, the strength of my belief, the cutting acidity of my disbelief. While I always tell myself to fight when I'm losing, I don't think I actually believe it. Those words are more obligatory than anything.
For me, apart from technical things like my crappy serve and the inconsistent topspin on my backhand, the biggest challenge that I face now when it comes to tennis is to mentally conquer it. It is all in the mind - and I think that if I can overcome this barrier, I can overcome almost anything.
It was a cold night last night, and G had just returned from a good session at the gym. He texted me, 'I literally feel the heat from my muscles... I wish I could just snuggle you now.'
I replied, 'Hehe I was just going to say that you should share some of that heat. It is a cold day today.'
When he wrote back to say that he believed in sharing, I cheekily joked, 'Come here then. Haha.'
His reply sent a thrill reverberating through my heart. 'Do not tempt me cutie pie. You know I would love that.'
It would perhaps be quite far-fetched to think that his choice of words were deliberate. Still: 'do not tempt me', as opposed to 'how tempting', or 'I am tempted', or 'Tempting!'. 'Do not tempt me', implicitly containing a warning, suggesting something illicit and dangerous.
I cannot stop my brain from over-analysing everything, including innocuous words on a screen, and possibly wrongly attributing credit to the sender where none is due, so I might as well own it and write about it.
Another case in point. We were walking to Bugis MRT station after drinks at Maison Ikkoku on Sunday night. He asked me where the conference at which I am going to present a paper will be held. I told him that it's going to be at NUS and that I will be back in December for the entire term break.
I don't know if I imagined it, or if I am over-analysing it, but I thought I detected an enthusiasm in his voice when he exclaimed, 'Oh, you will?' as if he was happy at the news.
My brain is already racing ahead to mid August when he leaves, to the end of September when I go to Cambridge, conjuring up different scenarios depending on whether I am feeling happy or moody in the moment. Clearly, I am unable to fully live in the moment...but then, at this moment, he is not with me. All I have are my thoughts, almost obsessive in their persistence, and my feelings, threatening to burn me with their heat.
I don't know how this happened. This was exactly the kind of situation that I didn't want to find myself in, which I didn't anticipate, and which I didn't plan for. The plan was to go out with different people and experiment, to see what I liked and what I didn't, so that when I made my next choice, it would be my last. G came along out of nowhere, with his scruffy hair and beard and his musical accent and his intensely beautiful eyes and an intellect that leaves me awestruck, dominating 95% of our first date and spending the first half an hour of our second talking about the Greek financial crisis and assuming that I could follow (I couldn't), then sweeping me off my feet by applying his intelligence to a topic that I could understand, then sealing the deal with a kiss...he upended everything. He destroyed my plans. Has he any idea how dangerous this is for me, how he has all the power now to leave my heart in tatters?
I am terrified of what I am feeling. It is actually even worse than it seems because I have reasoned this out to myself privately, and it makes perfect sense to me that I should be feeling this way. Our conversations are intense, and yet, we are able to have fun too. But it's through these serious conversations that I see a personal part of him which I sometimes personally identify with. He says things that I have thought about, sometimes expressing the exact sentiment that I have expressed. When we were talking about the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean over dinner on Sunday, for example, he basically said that people lose sight of the fact that these refugees are people too, and our lives aren't more worthy than theirs - which was precisely what I said about the Rohingya issue. The point here isn't that the sentiment is original or new; the point is that it mirrored exactly what I said, thus reflecting some convergence in values.
I don't understand why it is that when I find someone who is practically everything that I have ever wanted in a man, it has to be a few months before I leave the country for an extended period of time. There is something not right about this reality. I could weep from the injustice and unfairness of it.