I played with this Frenchman - Fred - that I met last September. I don't think I'd seen him again since then; I remember telling him about my trip to Nice at the end of the session and that was in September, and so I'd sort of forgotten what he looked like. But because English people are a bit lame in that they complain about the cold but find it 'too hot' to do outdoor sports when it's over 25 degrees (let's not even talk about when it's 30 degrees in the three days in the summer), the person that approached the tennis court could only have been him.
I thought maybe we'd play for an hour, an hour and a half, max. We ended playing for two and a half hours. Oh, it was glorious. I love feeling the heat beating down on me, as if embracing me; I love the way it feels so invigorating and draining at the same time, as if the feeling of being drained by the heat is itself invigorating. I love warm weather. I love warm weather even more than sophisticated winter fashion. It is ingrained in me, being from the tropics, and I never knew how much it is a part of me until I got to England and experienced its world-famous gloomy, depressing weather.
I did very, very little work today, since I used the afternoon to play tennis, but it was well worth it. It was also nice to break up the monotony of my days, as I was feeling very unmotivated and, well, bored, for want of a more sophisticated word, from doing the same thing every day for the past few days. It also doesn't help that ALL my friends are not around: John is in Italy, Raffie is in Oxford, and Ivan is in Porto. So I'd spent the last couple of days not talking to anyone. But I'm currently in the frame of mind that welcomes this solitude; I don't really feel like engaging with people. I just want to be left alone.
Anyway, tennis was fun. We played points at the end and I lost them all, of course. Fred is a man, obviously, and he's way better than me. Whenever I play someone who's way better, I always panic and do too much, try to overcompensate for my relatively worse level. I hit some good shots but basically hit a bunch of balls long, messed up the backhand, blah. I don't really feel like writing too much about it, primarily because I am exhausted right now but also because it's not that interesting to write about.
Two things, then.
First: last week, Raffael, John and I accidentally ate a piece of duck. We had dinner at a Vietnamese place opposite Magdalene which John wanted to try because of some mock duck in the vegetarian dishes. Raffie and I ordered the same dish, a curry with mock duck, tofu and lady's fingers. This dish was numbered 30. John ordered something else. When our food came, John stole a piece of my mock duck (he always steals my food) - and the second he chewed it, he had this look of horror on his face. 'That is weird,' he said. 'Something is wrong.'
So we asked the waitress: is this vegetarian? Can you check? She said, yes it's vegetarian.
So I started eating. I took a piece of the 'mock duck', tore it apart with my chopsticks, thought it looked kinda weird because it looked like meat; but because the waitress assured us that it was vegetarian, I ate it.
I immediately recognised the taste of meat. It is a very distinct taste. I don't quite know how to describe it. But it was immediately recognisable, perhaps because it had been 18 years since I'd last eaten meat. Yet, because the waitress said it was vegetarian, I second-guessed myself, thought, Wow, if they make mock meat so realistic, I definitely do not want to be eating this crap because it is vile.
Raffael started eating his dish too. He, too, was very suspicious. We asked the waitress to check again...and then she realised that we were asking about OUR dish, not John's. 'It is not vegetarian!' she said. 'It's number 13. It's meat.'
OH MY GOD I WAS SO HORRIFIED AND DISGUSTED THAT I COULD HAVE THROWN UP. Of all the meats to accidentally eat, I had to accidentally eat a piece of duck. DUCK. I love ducks. They are such innocent, harmless creatures, and super cute. Not to mention: it's my nickname at home. So I felt like I'd just eaten a piece of myself.
It was really traumatising. While I'd never thought about whether I'd stop being vegetarian (a clear no), this accident has certainly confirmed that never in my life will I ever eat meat ever again, ever. The taste is disgusting. The texture is pure muscle, pure flesh, a pure dead animal. It is pure death. And it is disgusting, not to mention immoral. It's been so long since I stopped eating meat that I don't remember anymore what I used to like...maybe chicken wings and some shitty processed sausage. For some reason, these two items are the first, and only, things to come to mind when I think of what meat I used to like. I guess steak, but oh my god, when I think about eating beef now, I'm just repulsed and grossed out.
I used to think that I would eat meat if the animal had died a natural death and the meat were fit for consumption. But now? I wouldn't even do that. I wouldn't even eat ethical meat (insofar as it is ethical to even eat a sentient being; it's like saying it's okay to eat a dead person, and no, I don't think the two scenarios are morally different) because the taste and texture are disgusting.
Needless to say, we will never return to that restaurant. Not only was it expensive (when I say something is expensive, it is expensive), but the mock duck was terrible. It was basically gluten, the worst sort that is used in horrible Chinese vegetarian food. I hate eating those things in Singapore, so it was stupid that I paid GBP12.50 to eat it in a bowl of curry -- even worse because it wasn't treated or seasoned in any way, just boiled in a bowl of curry. GROSS!
John felt guilty about our ordeal even though it wasn't his fault, so he bought us vegan cheesecake at the Rainbow Cafe. Raffie was all, 'We should have gone to the Rainbow! See what happens when we try something new?' I laughed at him for being such a grandpa. (Not to mention: his point was a non-sequitur!)
But the larger point, though, is that we ought to support vegetarian/vegan places as much as possible. The problem, however, is that there are a grand total of two vegetarian/vegan places in Cambridge. Have I mentioned how small this place is? It drives me crazy.
Second: I wrote the previous entry in very bad Chinese because I was feeling as if writing in English had become trite. By that I mean writing about Thomas in English, writing about the same thing all the time in the same language, had become trite. And since I'd wanted to write about him, I wrote it in Chinese.
(It really drove home how limited my Chinese is. I'm not alive to the nuances in Chinese phrases in the same way that I know the nuances of English words. I cannot express myself in any other way except simply and hence blandly, without any sophistication whatsoever. But I think my basic writer's intuition was nevertheless present, at least during the process of writing. It was too bad that I couldn't quite translate most of it into the actual finished thing.)
But Thomas. I broke up with him, or I thought I did; he accepted it, or he thought he accepted it. I left him, he texted, I didn't want to engage so I responded only to clear up a misunderstanding (how predictable, our on-going misunderstanding of each other), he said okay, I will leave you be.
45 minutes later: a barrage of words. A wall of text. Three paragraphs in a message. He and his usual eloquence, his way with words, a reason I liked him, one reason we'd even got this far. I suppose we are the same in this regard, persuading each other against our finality with our words; the only difference is that I am a lot more verbose than he is (and he uses the semi-colon way more often than I do).
After my short reply, another wall of text, three or four paragraphs in a message. I'd come back to college by then, after wandering aimlessly around town with tears in my eyes that I hid behind my shades, trying to lose myself in the crowd of all those happy shiny people out on a sunny Saturday afternoon. I came back to my room and I cried and I cried, and I texted, 'Can you come over?' My thumb hovered over the 'send' button, unsure, wanting but unsure, wanting but afraid, wanting but wary; and after sending it, I'd wanted to delete it but it was over the 7-minute deadline.
He'd started washing his Mustang, so he had to finish up before he came over. But he did. And whilst he was here, he displayed the urgency and initiative and desire that I'd been looking for; especially the urgency. I'd finally felt it from him -- that he really liked me, that he wanted this, and that he wanted to date me; in his words, that he wanted a relationship with me. He's not someone who's given to quick passions or show of emotion. He's exactly my opposite in this regard: I am impulsive and pushy and passionate, while he is reserved and quiet and stoic. My face is an open book; his is a closed one.
But that night, I saw it on his face, and I felt it when he grabbed my hand and held it tight as he said, unequivocally, 'I want to date you. I want a relationship with you. I don't want to be a typical bad boyfriend to you; I will be the person that I showed to you when we first started dating.' When he texted me the next day to say that he'd arrived in Spain like I asked him to, I said, 'Let me know if you change your mind about dating.' He replied, 'Not changing my mind; what I said yesterday at yours remains as such.'
He's finally living up to the idea that I had of him: reliable, capable of commitment. And I say that he's reliable despite the events of Saturday because he said that he will work on problems as they arise instead of taking the easy way out and ditching me -- which was precisely what he'd thought we would do until I told him that it was over.
He is exactly who I think he is, he said. He said that a few times. And I don't think he's self-deluded; I don't think he's wrong or lying about it. I find it hard to put all these into words. I was almost panicky a few days ago when I recognised the huge gulf between what my heart wants and what my head didn't want my heart to want; when I saw how irrational I would be acting if I changed my mind about the break up.
But I have thought about this quite deeply over the past few days. I have read and re-read and re-read again his messages. One part struck a chord in me: I would have known in time, he said. In time, I would have known that he'd displayed the rare version of himself, just like how I had displayed rare versions of myself.
Sure, the rare version of myself that I'd shown him didn't hurt him in the same way, with the same magnitude, that the rare version of him had hurt me. But the point isn't invalid. In time, I would have known, he said; and this familiar phrasing took me back to the last email that I sent to him in which I had writte something similar. If you hadn't been so quick to end this, you would have known...
I think we are a lot more similar than we think ourselves to be. We've both made poor judgements in this 'relationship'. We've both managed to convince the other to reverse these judgements. Ultimately, we both want the same thing; we just haven't managed to want it with the same certainty and at the same time. But now, he wants what I'd wanted; what I still want.
Oh, Thomas. This attraction to him is somewhat inexplicable. I sat across from him in the Waterstones cafe, readying myself to deliver the bad news, and I couldn't help but feel this attraction, part physical, part something else. When have I ever gone back and forth with someone so many times? He said, too, that he'd never experienced anything like this before. But I think here's the real crux of the matter: I know that I am right about who he is. What had hurt was why he didn't feel compelled to be that person when dating me over the past two or three weeks, as if I didn't deserve the best version of himself.
Irrational, perhaps. But that's exactly what feelings are. My feelings for him can be honestly rationalised only to a degree; anything beyond that, and it becomes disingenuous, for we can rationalise anything, including genocide. I was afraid of dating him again because I thought that I no longer had any rational reason to keep dating him; and acting irrationally strikes fear into my heart. Maybe I really don't have any such reasons. Nevertheless, is there no part of a romantic relationship that is impervious, and rightly so, to the strict dictates of rationality - the requirement to give proper, good reasons, to justify a choice or course of action with reference to those good reasons, to form judgements based on facts, the action's of one's beloved, the gap between his words and his actions? Is there no place in a romantic relationship and the decisions it involves for a strong sense, a feeling, something almost supernatural that cannot be explained? It cannot be explained, only described, and it is a fact that I have never felt such a strong sense about someone before. I'd felt that he was significant, that he wasn't just another face in the revolving doors of men that have shuffled in and out of my life. I cannot explain this. I do not understand it. I do not believe in fate, or soulmates, or the one, or destiny; I resolutely do not believe in any of those things. And yet, I've had this sense about him, in varying degrees of intensity, throughout. Do I ignore this in favour of the facts that are telling me not to date him again? Do I choose the facts over what my heart honestly wants? Do I bet against the possibility, or probability, that he is not self-deluded, that he knows what he wants, that he means it when he says that he wants me, that he will now live up to his words? Do I ignore the fact that he has lived up to his promise of not bailing when things get rough?
Credit where it's due. His actions after I said that I wanted to stop dating him matched his words. And there's still the matter of this inexplicable feeling about him that I have. It honestly freaks me out because it's weird and completely irrational and yet undeniable. I don't know what else to say about it. It is just weird.
In any event, I asked that he gave me some space and not text me until I text him. I'm sitting on this; I want to be sure that it is what I want before I do anything. I wish he weren't in Spain right now. This is the sort of conversation that I would prefer to have face-to-face.
He was the first person that I thought of telling about my accidental eating of the duck. When I saw a grey Mustang while walking along The Backs, I thought of telling him. Apropos of nothing; I'm tired, don't know what I'm saying anymore, my neck hurts, my body is pain, I want a damn massage but there's nowhere to get one, whatever, I'm going to bed.