i am on a cab. everything honestly feels like a blur. i have forgotten what it’s like to feel the alcohol run through my veins, to feel it gingerly on my fingertips. i am in control and not entirely. i think of the blotches on my face due to the omnipresent asian flush and i do feel slightly self-conscious. did they see the flaws in my make-up application? did they notice how widely i smiled compared to my usual subdued and overly serious persona? i am still on the cab. i did not realize how quickly we have travelled from point A to point B. i called shotgun and everything is wide in perspective. he, the driver, is driving extremely slow and i find myself drumming my fingers on my laptop. hurry up, i think. but “is it possible for you to drive faster” i ask.
then in my head i visualize him speeding. finally. we are moving faster. but then we hit a car. and there i see myself in the bird’s eye view that i had when i read the bell jar many years ago. lying on some pavement, my body is contorted but i can’t make out my facial features. maybe the skin has been torn off or maybe i actually didn’t look at all.
it flashes in my mind for a second and then it’s gone.
it was real, wasn’t it?
it has been a while since i last saw this photograph. it has been filtered and squared; it is ready for instagram. it is strange looking at it again after so long and it feels even stranger looking at it from a third party perspective. this was a photograph taken by a lover. distinctively, i remember where i sat with you, i remember looking at you and thinking that you are so beautiful. so, yes, i did take the photo. yes, it did happen but now i am a stranger. for the longest of times, i succeeded in convincing myself that i didn’t truly love you. but tonight i know with a final certainty that i did. and i struggle with this because i love someone else but suddenly i am unearthing past loves. i recall what it was like loving you and the intensity of it all; it almost feels as if i am still in love with you. then i stop questioning myself as i realize that there are some people your heart never forgets despite having let go of. and it isn’t all that bad.
i tried to search my archives for the last time i ever wrote about you. i think it was in december. or was it in october. i don’t know how we stopped talking but i know that it must have stopped because i decided to stop whatever it was that we were trying to begin. and i regret not ending things properly because i’m uncertain on how this felt for you. but we tried so many times and each time it felt like something was amiss and something was never quite right. i think at least it was that way for me.
i was also aware that you always wanted a place in my life and disgustingly enough, i exploited that. i only talked to you when there was a void in my heart because i knew you would be all too ready to fill up the gaps. you were there whenever i wanted and needed you to be. and this selfishness was only something that i realised towards the end. and that was the reason why i decided to stop seeking you out. your presence was always comforting. or was it the fact that i knew you always wanted me in your life that was comforting? i liked the familiarity that you gave me. we could be strangers for months (because i had there priorities and you were at the bottom of the list) but when things fell apart, you were always there to pick up the pieces. and i always felt awful and eventually grew in awareness of my own selfishness and unfairness towards you, but there was something inexplicable about us that always reconnected us.
and so a small flame felt like it was lit up in my heart. knowing that i would see you again on saturday night. but this was a reunion of the saddest reasons. i remember the sudden pangs of deja vu as we drove past your block. and it felt as if the box of memories from when i was 16 decided to unwrap itself as i remember walking with you to your house. i remember you showing me your room and us just using your computer. i remember that you told me that your mom nearly caught you smoking and the way you mimicked the tone she uses when she nags. and as i felt myself gingerly walking to the brightly fluorescent lit wake, your face was the first that i saw. you looked visibly worn out and tiredness was written all over your face. i had so many questions in my head but all i did was give you a hug and i don’t remember what were the first few words i said to you after these 5 years.
this isn’t a post of rekindling old loves. seeing you just brought on a wave of nostalgia and i wished that we weren’t meeting for the first time in a long time for those reasons. but it felt like this is the way life is going. we talked about how it used to be 21st birthday party invitations and then marriage invitations and now, the new norm would be in paying respects to somebody’s loved one. you told me that you have been meaning to catch up and you told me that we should after things have settled on your end. i thought that it sounded good. because this time, you have finally found somebody who loves you the way you should have been loved. and i was happy that you’re in a stable relationship whereas i haven’t even crossed the 2 year mark before.
i looked at you and i thought of how it’s so possible to still love and care for somebody you loved before. it also hit me that you are the only one that i have stayed amicable with and it’s strangely bittersweet because you were the first person i was together with. the funny thing is that when people ask me of my exes i don’t even think of you. i don’t see it as a “i loved you” thing that went on between us – at least for my part. it never felt like the kind of love that just swept me away. i think it had to do with how young we were and how it was never really considered a mature relationship whereby we experienced growth and shared more in-depth experiences together. regardless, i know that i always cared deeply and that you always had a special place reserved in my life.
and so, just when i thought i had lost touched in writing, here i am again. adding a new archive link to the right sidebar for 2016. all thanks to the first boy who loved me.
i sit cross legged on his floor and then slowly stretch my legs out as the environment gets more familiar and more comfortable. my eyelids are heavy and i think i could fall asleep anytime if i wanted to. somebody brings a bag of fries and i realise that i am hungry and my hands keep reaching out towards the bag of lukewarm goodness. i sit diagonally opposite him and i feel out of place. i shouldn’t have stayed. again, i am watching him smile, laugh and talk to others from a different lens. i wonder what conversational topics are exchanged when he is not with me, i wonder if he is the same person and when the night is done, i feel hollow. i don’t like big gatherings. but i am aware of this difference in my myself as well; i am someone when i am with him and i am someone else when we are not together.
who am i and who is this person sleeping next to me?
she asked me “what is it that you are afraid of?” and it takes me a while to gather my thoughts. i answered “the distance” in the end because those two words seem to sum everything up neatly. i am afraid of the time difference, the lack of communication, being abandoned, being forgotten and the absence of: feeling his skin on my fingertips, playing with his hair and ruffling it up, warm hugs, having a physical presence, coming back after a long day to see his face. so i feel myself building up walls of misery and i shut everybody out. now, i get a head start on being comfortable with the loneliness and this is a crash course of being abandoned 101. i feel miserable but at the very least, i am no longer a prisoner to dependency.
it has been a while since i have last seen your face. i behave exactly the way i have rehearsed in my mind should i see you again; i avoid you. you are wearing a green checkered polo and jeans and all this feels familiar. you have put on a surprising amount of weight and it looks good on you. and then you react in a completely different way from what i expect; you are confrontational. i hear the apology that i have long given up on hearing and finally that chapter has came to a proper close.
but my eyes open and his face is the first thing i see. i hear the words but it isn’t registering. it takes me a few moments to get up, forget and go. and when we get into the car, i remember. for the first time, i tell him and i allow my vulnerability to show. i am honest but it is a half truth. the other half i don’t allow myself to say aloud is that your ghost is still on my shoulders.