First, the tennis: I had my second mini-league match. The weather was balmy, the sun was out, the wind was erratic - and the opponent was a lot tougher than I'd thought. The match was so close: we both held our opening service games, then I broke her to go up 2-1...and then we just kept breaking each other. The relief that I felt whenever I got the lead proved to be shortlived: every time I broke her, I went on to let myself get broken back. It was particularly frustrating when I won this long service game of hers and promptly failed to go up 5-3 by dropping my serve again. But thankfully, I broke her again to go up 5-4 and served it out.
I hit a backhand cross-court passing shot on match point. The elation, palpable to say the least, was expressed in an understated clench of the fist. A well-fought victory, even if I do say so myself. Going up 30-0 when I was serving it out was key; not getting to 30-30 when I was facing 30-15 was also key; and not messing up my first match point was absolutely essential, for I don't think I would have been mentally strong enough to withstand the pressure of missing those match points. I would probably have folded in the tiebreak.
It was strange how I was playing so well in the first three games, hitting the ball really cleanly and going for it, but after the change of ends at 2-1, I literally lost sight of the ball on the first point of my serve and it just kind of went haywire after that. The loss of focus on that first point somehow rattled me sufficiently that I couldn't hit as freely as I did in the first three games. I remember this point more than all the good shots that I played: the sun was glaring at me, I'd just served, and when the ball came back to my backhand side, I literally lost sight of it, as if it was swallowed up for a split second or two by the rays of the sun; and having lost sight of the ball, it followed that I couldn't time my backhand properly. For some reason, that rattled me enough that I played with more tension after that. I was still making most of my shots, but the backhand wasn't quite as solid and on-point as it should have been, as I always want it to be and hope that it is.
I was also missing a few easy forehands; there was one particular rather paceless defensive ball that she sent back which planted this exact thought in my head: 'What a juicy ball.' I proceeded to smack it wide.
If I had lost this match, though, I wouldn't have been that upset. I would have been disappointed, but it would have been okay. She had a weird double-handed forehand and a single-handed backhand; a strange combination, for it's usually the other way around. More importantly, she was getting quite a few balls back, even balls that I thought were winners; this pretty solid defence was aided by an effective defensive backhand slice that she just kind of chipped back into play.
Having said all that, I think it speaks a lot to my confidence and general court awareness that I could follow up and eventually follow through on my aggressive shots that managed to come back by following the shot to the net, reigning in the panic, and more or less calmy putting them away. I didn't miss a single one of these put-aways, which I am rather happy about because I was missing a lot of these shots towards the end of last year.
I'm also pleased that, despite my typical mental meltdown when I kept blowing my leads - at one point, I'd literally thought, 'I want to go home. I give up' - I hung in there, tried to focus on my shots, and didn't completely give in to the mental despair. I don't know why I care so much, but I do, and oh my god, I really need to stop swearing on court. Thankfully, I have not descended into saying 'fuck' out loud, but I do say 'shit' a few times, I think, mostly things like, 'Stupid bloody shit, what a shit shot'. But I do sort of silently mouth the word 'fuck'. It's very classless and like I realised at one point before, the negative emotion tenses up my muscles and makes it hard for me to relax, therefore making it hard for me to swing freely. So it is obviously in my best interest to keep calm and just carry on, at least on the surface.
Anyway, so that's that. I was so happy to have won a close match. It felt a lot better than when I was annihilating my opponent two weeks ago (or rather, she'd spent half the time annihilating herself). I still need to buy a proper serve, but oh well, I can get away with it as long as I don't play people who would eat them up the way I would if my opponent served the way that I do (actually, I do enjoy hitting return winners, and I hit a few of those today).
I bought three books: Virginia Woolf's Jacob's Room, F Scott Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and the Damned and Angela Carter's The Passion of New Eve. I've also bought two phillosophy books recently: Derek Parfit's Reasons and Persons and David Benatar's Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence.
I'm obviously very excited about my literary novels, but I must say a thing or two about the Benatar book. The next time someone shames me for reading Buzzfeed shit, I will point to this book and tell the shamer that, if it were not for a Buzzfeed 'article' about hilarious book reviews, I would not have come across it. I am particularly excited about reading this one because it advances the argument that we should not have children because bringing someone into existence causes great harm to the person. I have been having the same thought for the past 5 years: that life has no intrinsic value, that it is valuable only if it can be lived well, that there is more suffering in life than not, and so we should not have children because the suffering cannot outweigh the happiness/pleasure. (Not to mention: most lives are banal and tedious and mundane. I wonder what the value of those lives is.) I think I am more or less philosophically committed to this view, but I would like to read a reasoned, sustained argument that takes it a bit further than mine to see whether it makes sense and whether I really ought to be committed to this view.
Ah, life. Tricky, isn't it?
I ought to write in more details about this, but I am really tired right now so I will mention it quickly.
It'd been a bit of a roller-coaster ride with Thomas the past few days. We met on Monday to talk about whether to keep dating. I thought about the issue very logically, applied logical reasoning, removed my feelings from the equation as much as possible (save for my starting premise, of course: that I really like him, which is factually true), and concluded exactly this: 'I am committed to it if he is.'
He, on the other hand, came to me with the exact opposite conclusion. 'I don't want a long distance relationship,' he said. 'It won't work.'
The second he said 'it won't work', I couldn't help but interrupt him. 'How do you know it won't work?'
And then, 'Does it not make a difference that I'm open to moving to the US?'
He said, 'On the one hand, it makes me think, "Whoa, she must really like me." But on the other hand...realistically, we don't really know each other that well. We know maybe 4% of each other.' Essentially casting doubt on the veracity of my claim. But of course, and this is so obvious to me that I didn't think it was worth saying, the openness would only become reality assuming that we continued to date and things go well. The openness is based on what I know now and how I feel now.
Still, he made a good point - but it applies to both of us. I don't know enough to reach my conclusion (that I'm committed if he is). I think it was logically derived, but it was based on a rather weak factual foundation: we don't know enough about what it'd be like to seriously date to either commit or not commit. His aversion to long-distance (still don't know if this should be hyphenated or not) is as abstract as my enthusiasm to commit. And so, after he took in the things that I said (one of which was that I didn't think it made sense to give up on a certainty of the person that you have now just to have no one, or the uncertain possibility that you'd find someone close to the person that you like now, in the future), I wrote him a long email basically proposing that we seriously date now and see what happens. If it's shit, we'd break up and he can leave in peace. But if it's awesome, then we keep dating even after he leaves, and if that goes well, we can talk about what happens after my PhD.
In all honesty, despite my feeling rather upset and crying on Wednesday morning, the day that we'd agreed to meet and the day after my long email, I think I knew in my gut that he'd agree with me. This intuition, gut feeling, whatever you wish to call it - it has been present since the start, and it has been on our side. I am venturing into irrational territory right now - and I suppose it is rather irrational - but a part of why I am so determined to hold on to him is because, for the first time in a long time, if not ever, my feelings, my brain and my intuition are matching up. My heart obviously wants him; my mind has assessed my reasons for liking him and it has decided that they are good reasons; and my intuition, gut feeling, whatever, has a good feeling about him. I know that I can trust him; I know that I can trust the sense of security and safety that I feel when I am with him.
And so even though I was upset on Wednesday morning, I had a feeling that he was going to change his mind. And change his mind, he did. We should date now, see what happens, and keep dating each other after he leaves if it goes well, he said. He'd realised that he was being stupid for letting his aversion to long-distance get in the way of us dating. We like each other, and there are still a few months before he leaves; and because I asked him to think about whether he likes me enough and whether I fulfil the criteria that he wants in a partner, he answered these questions in the affirmative - so it's not logical to stop dating just because long-distance.
I am really happy. I don't know how this is going to work, but I want it to work, and I hope that it does. More importantly, I know that he's a good man: reliable, trustworthy, a person with integrity. I am really happy that he saw the error of his decision and changed his mind.
I am really falling asleep right now (I'll never write on my bed again), so I'll say these two things:
1) His horrible off-key singing is so cute; and
2) When I was walking into the Punt Yard where we were due to meet, I heard this creepy voice behind me go, 'Yeah, girl...' I was debating whether to turn around or just ignore it and keep walking...until I heard the voice laugh and realised that it was him.
He is always being annoying like that! It makes me laugh so hard. He'd do something random - like wave his hand in my face - and I'd say, instinctively, 'What are you doing?!' Then he'd mimic me and collapse into laughter.
Ugh, I thought we were meeting Friday night as he'd explicitly asked on my doorstep before he drove home, so I asked an hour ago if we could go for dinner. He said the wedding dinner that he'd told me was on Saturday might actually be on Friday instead; he will check. I replied, IMMEDIATELY, if he could check now.
He went to bed without replying. This is definitely something frustrating about him, one of the two things in the 'cons' list when I made a pros and cons list to help me decide what to do (the other was 'he eats dead animals'). I suppose it's mitigated somewhat by the fact that he always replies...at some point.
I'm tired. This entry sucks. I'm never writing in bed again.