Warning: Foul language.
Six months of my stay in China passed by much quicker than I’d anticipated. One day I happened to be standing at the foot of the stairs leading to the base camp, in which I spent all that time with Deq. He was also there as it was him who dragged me, saying he needed to talk. Now he was looking at me, searching for the right words. I knew him well enough to be aware of the fact that he hesitated only when he tried not to lie.
“Well, Sam, it’s been half a year,” he began. “It’s a long time.” At that point, it had already been suspicious. Such an awfully familiar beginning, something that was rooted deep into my mind from the time when I had my dating game back in high school.
“Go ahead, Deq, I don’t have the whole day. Adaeze’s going to kill me.”
“I need to leave,” he had quickly taken it out of himself before he had a chance to make up another lie.
“Leave? Me?” In fact, I wasn’t startled at all. That was to be expected.
“Yeah…not only. Look, I’ve been staying here long enough. I need to take a trip somewhere else to do my job,” he explained.
“You don’t care, do you?” He asked, looking at me closely. I didn’t even bat an eye.
“I could’ve expected that. But I do, Sam. I have things I’d like to tell you. Would you mind it if I gave you a piece of advice?”
“Advice from you? Is that a joke? So yeah, I reckon you could, if that would make you feel better.” That beginning had already annoyed me to no end and I just wanted it all to be over. I’d been through it so many times I stopped counting a long time ago.
“I am not sure where to begin, but…please don’t be afraid. To be who you are.” He made a gesture toward my pink T-shirt. “You don’t have to manifest anything, really. It’d be okay to wear it if that was what you wanted to wear, but we both know it’s a really poor kinda manifesto. Don’t let your sexuality define what you choose to wear. Look, I know how cheesy it sounds, but you don’t have to wear the clothes you think are suitable to show that you’re the B in the widely known shortcut.” My chin literally dropped to the floor. I was seriously pissed off, but I was still trying to get a hold of myself.
“I don’t get what you mean, Deq.”
“You do, Sam. Think about the time you last wore what you really liked, something that didn’t show either that you’re as straight as a gun barrel or quite the opposite. You can be perfectly okay without this childish play.” That I couldn’t endure. No one tells me what I should and shouldn’t do!
“Like you knew anything about me, Dequan. The first rule is to live and let live. You don’t know fuck about what I am manifesting and what I’m not.”
“I’m only trying to help. And be sincere for once,” he tried to redeem himself, but I took no argumentation.
“Fuck off, you and your sincerity, and go back to the land where telling others how they should live is acceptable. I’ve been getting exhausted of you anyway. It’s excruciating, all your fucking lies.” He looked a bit surprised by my sudden outburst, but not as much as you might’ve expected him to. Still, he remained calm.
“Fine, I will leave, then. And I thought it’d be hard to break it off,” he said, heading for the stairs.
“Not so much, apparently,” I said snidely.
Deq left that very day. He didn’t even tell me where to- not that I fucking cared. I was better off without people like him in my life. Who would think that he would be just another waste of time? Still, deep down I had that feeling all along. I am not cut out for relationships.
“Concentrate, Sam. Your mind has been somewhere else throughout the whole training,” Adaeze ordered, looking at me with a frown.
“I know, I know,” I tried again, but Adaeze easily blocked me. I sucked.
“Look, I thought you were improving, but now I see only regress. What’s wrong with you? Either uphill or downhill. No in-betweens.”
“I miss being in a relationship,” I admitted, surprised by my sincerity. Adaeze sighed in response.
“Let’s take a walk,” she said after a while.
Adaeze led me to a place called the Scholar’s Garden, where she sat herself on a stone, looking like it was cut out specifically for meditating. I stood next to her, unsure of what we were going to do there.
“I like to visit this place. It is so peaceful in here and all the green, the fish silently burbling in the water beneath you makes for a great atmosphere for meditation. And I’m here, thinking that it may be something just for you.”
At first I thought it was stupid as Adaeze told me to take my place on the ground in front of her, with my legs crossed. Then I was told to control my breathing and focus on just this task alone. In fact it was harder than I thought it would be. My mind kept wandering to Deq and how I was single again. That time I didn’t manage to achieve anything meditation-connected at all. From that day, however, visiting the garden became the regular activity during my trainings with Adaeze. It took me a week to start getting a better understanding of this. After twice as much time I was able to clear my mind and achieve great relaxation.
It was the best thing that has ever happened to me. Focusing on my breathing let me take all thoughts away and just enjoy the moment. For once I wasn’t worrying about whether I was normal or if people viewed the world differently than I did. For once I didn’t feel like I had to check if my hair was still in one position or if I looked good enough.
With my head titled back I was enjoying myself to a crazy extent, one that I didn’t think I was capable of.
Meditation, however, wasn’t the only thing I did. As I reached the green belt, Adaeze said that we needed to focus on sparrings even more to get me ready for some sort of a championship. She also added that there was still a long way before me. When I asked her how long, she explained that I was somewhat close to getting to the middle of it.
I still remember the green belt as the major part of my martial arts training, because I have been training with it on for five years, which, contrarily, felt like the shortest five years of my life. This phase of it I refer to in my mind as the “meditating” phase, although it also involved a lot of sparrings.
Somewhere in the middle of this phase I started getting phone calls from work, asking me to get back. I told them to fuck off and it stands to reason that it was my resignation. I couldn’t tell how they took it, because I decided not to pick up anymore. I was very caught up, doing exactly what Adaeze asked me to. So I meditated a lot and always before a sparring, as she taught me. She told me plenty about the right fighting techniques and getting a hold of myself, how to keep my balance and my moves steady.
It was weird to think about the fact that I was nearing the age of 29. If someone tried to tell me anything about my 29-year-old self a few years back in time, I would probably say sarcastically that I’d never make it that far in life. It was sort of better then, when I could just focus on my training, which was excruciating, but at the same time weirdly relaxing. No cigarettes and alcohol were controlling me that time. It was me who had the power to do anything to my mind and body.
Don’t think I completely forgot about Heather. She was with me all along of course, close to 10 years of age. Her fur was getting slightly gray and I was getting used to the thought that I’d eventually have to say goodbye to her. It didn’t get to me, though. I said goodbye to so many people in my life, an animal would probably make no difference. I realized I didn’t even miss them. In fact the only thing I missed was being in a relationship and the feeling of appreciation brought to you by your partner. If it wasn’t for this annoying, nagging urge to find someone and feel important again, I would say I was pretty content, being halfway up the martial arts’ ladder.
Note: Because I have managed to plan everything ahead, I updated Sam’s chapter list with names for the upcoming chapters up to the end of generation 4. So if you are curious, you can read them here. I have also added publication dates, which are probably obvious as far as regular chapters are concerned, however you are also provided with the dates for the bonus posts about Hailey. The next one is going to be published this Wednesday, so stay tuned.