Despite having only become acquainted in the weeks prior, this young woman seemed remarkably keen to unearth the cache of information otherwise obscured by my natural barriers.
Walking single file through the kickboxing area, heading towards the changing rooms, to my back I heard Jenny pose another inquiry: “So, I’m confused – if you’re so massively brain damaged how come you’re so good at BJJ?”
I chuckled, spun 180 degrees and continued walking backwards at the same pace. “I find jiu-jitsu doesn’t require a great deal of cognitive ability – just memory and ability to think under pressure,” and with that I completed the circle.
Walking past reception we emerged into a wide area presenting several different corridors. Jenny stopped to fill her water bottle at the drinking fountain. I looked on. She straightened, stepped back and seemed to assess me. The occasional person passed between us. “You are so interesting,” she said, almost to herself.
Seizing the opportunity, implementing my historical ineptitude at reading situations, while my own nervous system accosted me I quipped, “I’m glad you think so although it should be noted, Jenny, I think you’re pretty awesome too” – my head at this point started oscillating on my neck while my elbows periodically kicked out at my sides – “so how would you like to go out one evening to grab a drink, or an eat, and chat further, about stuff, someplace, sometime, somewhere” – my head was shaking so badly at this point I reluctantly dropped eye contact and physically, firmly pulled my neck down with my right hand just to gain some sense of stability – “somehow?” Peering up from the corner of my eye I concluded the gamut then, feeling a little silly, added, “I like to keep it general.”
“Oh,” she appeared taken aback at the question, which struck me as peculiar, “oh yeah, yeah, that sounds cool, but it would have to be in three weeks’ time – I have a big essay to do for my course…”
“Oh nice, how big’s ‘big’?”
“Um, fifteen thousand words.”
“Nice, so you have three weeks to do that..?”
“Yeah, so I’ll have to, like, kill my social life for a few weeks.”
“Fair enough, hey,” after a brief respite the limbs were flailing again, “well, do you want to, throw me your number then, and I’ll, give you a yell in three weeks?”
“Oh, oh, no, like, I’ll still be doing this, just I won’t be going out in the weekends.”
“Ah, right, sorry, misinterpreted, but of course, you don’t consider jiu-jitsu part of your ‘social life’.”
“No,” she laughed uncomfortably, “this is my exercise life, not my social life.”
“Nice one, guess I’ll be seeing you next week then.” With a brief wave I turned to leave.
“Bye,” I heard from over my shoulder.
Those few conversations took place months ago, spanned a number of weeks and aside from an awkward encounter some weeks after that, were the last time I spoke to Jenny.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Miss Indust Ending
Photography by Con Foose Yin