The Thoughts of Othello

SOMETIMES IT’S DIFFICULT TO APPRECIATE that this is my life right now. Rome and I are headed to Osaka on the Shinkansen, blazing through the Japanese countryside before his tournament tomorrow. And like always, I’m along for the ride. I’m sipping from a glass bottle of sake, and I have a Sapporo in front of me.

I’ll always be there for Rome, but I want to figure out what I’m doing here, too, what I’m really doing here. I came along with him practically on a whim; I had nothing better to do in the states, and Japan seemed to be the furthest place I could get away from home.

It sounded perfect, and in a way, it is. I’m along for the ride, wherever it may lead. But I wonder what I could have been if I took my chance if I gave tennis everything I had.

I just don’t know if I could have done it like him, given my body to this game which takes and takes, and the pain can be unendurable; I’ve seen it, and I’ve felt it. I don’t know if I can give my life to that fight, the constant uphill climb to break through the other side, and maybe, if you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll make it into the top a hundred.

I guess I’m different from Roman, but that doesn’t mean I’ll ever stop supporting him. He’s my brother through it all.

I at least know one thing that I love, and that is this. It’s writing, it’s observing, it’s being a part of the world and experiencing all that it has to offer. Outside the train, the light is being sucked out of the sky like a vacuum.

The passing cities of Japan fascinate me. The industrial mixed with the natural, a beautiful infusion of history and everything this country has been built upon.

The cities like Tokyo are so built up, futuristic, and teeming with life and energy, with lights and people who live and live and live, and give all they have every day without speaking their minds, without showing their natural emotion, without being human.

They fascinate me because while the culture can seem so strict, the people can be the most genuine and caring I’ve ever met. It just takes some work to get under the surface.

That’s what I want to explore in this life; the different people who call the planet home and the ways they interact, what essential character makes each culture and place what it is, and how it came to be. If I give Roman all I can and am there for him, my life will too fall into place.

What else can I do at this point besides that? He doesn’t quite understand my passion for writing, but he doesn’t have to. I know his mind is on other things, and all I can do is be a friend. I know things will turn around for the both of us, but for now, I’m enjoying this ride.

We’ll be in Osaka in about an hour. Rome is playing Burns, an Englishman ranked 84th in the world from what I remember. The sake is kicking in. I’m passing out for now. Sayonara.

Ican’t believe it.

Rome is up five games to two in the third set, a break away from taking the match. He’s never played this well, not even close. Burns keeps falling back to his backhand, and Rome is beating him down into the pavement. It seems like he actually wants it, like he wants to be here.

He’s hustling for balls I’ve never seen his break a sweat for; his serve is on point, like he’s in the flow state where nothing can stop him. Rome took the first set without much strain; he’s playing at a top 100 level. Burns took the second in a close one, 5–7. If Rome would have ever backed down in the past, he’s stepping up now, for everything.

Here we go. Work his backhand Roman; you got this.

Damn, lost the point. But I’ve never seen this sort of fire in him; Rome hasn’t looked up here once like he usually does to crack a smile. I wonder what the relationship was really like between his pops and him.

I guess I’ve never really asked. His dad was always there, always in the crowd like I am now; he was as passionate of a fan as ‘d ever seen. But maybe the pressure was too much.

Great return Rome, got it. 15 all. I got to give it to him. This Burns guy isn’t backing down either. If he loses, he’ll fall out of the top 100; he’s not going to roll over. Back and forth, Rome, take it to his backhand! A drop shot! Come on, you know that isn’t going to get it done.

Send this guy to his afternoon tea early! Rome is down 30–15. He’s taking his time between the points; I like that. Savor this Rome, savor this moment, think about where we are, who you are; nothing else matters but you and the opponent right now. Recognize your strengths and stick to them. Excellent point, that’s it.

That’s the cracking forehand I know. 30–30, and Rome has this guy on the ropes. The serve is up; a firecracker return! One more point and the match is Rome’s. Think about your pops, Rome. I know he’s here with you; I can feel his energy out here. Channel it. That’s the match!

It feels like this is the beginning of an awakening for him. Who knows, it may be the awakening that I need as well. If Rome starts winning as he should be, I believe he can rise into the top fifty in the rankings. Maybe he won’t need me anymore once he truly gives himself to the game.

Perhaps, that’s what I need to embark on my own journey. This is the time for me to figure myself out. I’ll always be there for Roman, but it’s time I do my own thing. I’m going to write about this journey and see things through here in Japan. I don’t know, it just feels like for the first time, Roman is taking his life seriously, and that’s inspiring me to do the same.

He thanked me for being here, in the locker room, with him on the other side of the world. I hadn’t ever thought about it before; why I’m really here. And it is because Roman is the best friend I’ve ever had, and it’s hard to imagine my life without him.

But he’s never looked at me like that, he’s never thanked me. It made me realize how special our relationship is; we’re together on this, not one over the other, but together as brothers at the beginning of an adventure. I told him there’s no place I’d rather be than here. And I mean that.

We’re at this stage of our lives that often feels empty of meaning. But we have each other to go to battle, and that gives me all the purpose in the world. To have a friend makes life worthwhile.

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