Friday, June 12, 2020

Excerpt: Seven and a Half Minutes

Before Roxy found herself “Single in Buenos Aires,” she was a single girl in London in search of true love. The third installment of The Polo Diaries series takes us back to that time, and we follow Roxy as she hires a love coach to help her navigate the dating scene. But the love coach comes up with an unexpected assignment: reconnect to a long-forgotten passion. For Roxy this means horses. Within weeks, she finds herself playing polo, thanks to a series of unforeseen events.

Torn between her desire to become the best polo player she can be and the dream of falling in love, Roxy steps fully into the exciting and demanding world of polo, where injury and recovery mix with hard training, and where celebrating the victory of a tournament comes at a high price. Will Roxy eventually become the polo player she dreams to be? And with polo being such a demanding sport, can there be any space left for love?

Seven and a Half Minutes – Extract 

Polo player Roxy turns to yoga in an attempt to get in touch with her feminine essence but does not anticipate what this would mean for her polo game…

While the week before I had been told off for dangerous riding and being too aggressive after smashing my dearest friend into the boards while fighting for the ball, this week... well, this week it’s a slightly different game.

I start by attempting to ride off someone. And that someone or something, either the guy I’m riding off, or his horse’s head, or his mallet, something knocks off my helmet, and I continue riding, blissfully unaware, until they stop the game and pick up my helmet from the muddy arena. I have three guys fastening it securely onto my head to make sure it won’t come off again, which says something about their confidence in my ability to fasten it myself. Then, a bit frightened by this initial ride-off, I try to be more gentle, until my coach starts shouting at me in an irritated voice:
“Roxy, what the hell are you doing? When I ride someone off it doesn’t look like I’m kissing him!”
I don’t have time to wonder what that was supposed to mean before I get shouted at again.

Apparently I’m in the wrong place, or I’m carrying the stick the wrong way up (never happened before, I swear). Then, trying hard to keep the ball away from our goalpost, I manage a successful backhand shot, and I feel pleased to see the ball moving away, until I hear another shout:
“It’s called a backhand because it’s done with the back of the hand! What’s that girly move?”

I realize I’ve hit the ball in a really awkward way, which is described as “shifting a handbag under your arm,” and even though it did the job, it’s seen as a big no-no by all those present.

Then I almost score a goal by hitting the ball into our own goalpost, and I hear my coach shouting again: “Dude! The other way!”

Somehow, “dude” feels more surprising than the fact that I was about to score a goal against my own team. Dude? Does he mean me?

Some more headless-chicken running around, not quite understanding where I should be, but I have a lovely feeling of being in touch with the energy, and my body, and the sun on my skin. The woman chanting in Sanskrit would have been proud of me, really. She would have, but my coach is not, and I hear another shout: “Mate! What’s wrong with you today?”

I looked around for the “mate” but, no, it’s me again. Mate? Probably sensing my lack of response, my coach switches to my name, but his tone is still harsh: “Wake up, Roxy! We’re losing here, big time!”

Fortunately, I’m helped by a kind guy from the opposing team, who, instead of riding me off and stopping me from scoring a goal, rides gently by my side and encourages me.

“Come on, don’t play the gentleman, ride me off for God’s sake!” I shout. But no, he decides to look after me in the middle of the game, like a true gentleman would.

And the game carries on, with my coach swearing, and with me smiling at the sun, at the world, and at my horse, and feeling like I should be really gentle with him—the horse, I mean—so I don’t push him or whip him, and this means everyone else is far ahead of me. And, no, I don’t push anyone into the boards today either.

And after the game, there are no more grumpy comments from my coach, who comes to give me a hug instead. And I get smiles and kisses from all the other guys, which is rare in England, where people don’t touch, don’t kiss, and usually freak out if there’s less than a foot separating them from another human being.

I have no idea what happened to me today, but someone please help me! My polo is going down the drain, and I think the woman chanting in Sanskrit has something to do with this!

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Roxana Valea was born in Romania and lived in Italy, Switzerland, England and Argentina before settling in Spain. She has a BA in journalism and an MBA degree. She spent more than twenty years in the business world as an entrepreneur, manager and management consultant working for top companies like Apple, eBay, and Sony. She is also a Reiki Master and shamanic energy medicine practitioner.

As an author, Roxana writes books inspired by real events. Her memoir Through Dust and Dreams is a faithful account of a trip she took at the age of twenty-eight across Africa by car in the company of two strangers she met over the internet. Her following book, Personal Power: Mindfulness Techniques for the Corporate Word is a nonfiction book filled with personal anecdotes from her consulting years. The Polo Diaries series is inspired by her experiences as a female polo player--traveling to Argentina, falling in love, and surviving the highs and lows of this dangerous sport.

Roxana lives with her husband between England and Spain, and splits her time between writing, coaching and therapy work, but her first passion remains writing.

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1 comment:

Murphy said...
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