This is, really, a message to my boyfriend. Alternatively, you may interpret this as a near rip-off of a popular Wong Fu Productions love story (fantastic short film by the way)…possibly because I didn’t really have the time to come up with a proper Valentine’s Day gift for you, so this is maybe the best (or cheesiest) thing I could conjure up in the midst of my studies. Not to mention that this is belated because my time management skills are downright laughable.
There were five other boys: Who, What, When, Where and Why.
Who I love was a schoolmate. I didn’t know him very well, and I still don’t. The only thing I know, which is not merely a fragment of my memory, is that he used to be my boyfriend’s classmate before he transferred schools in seventh grade, and that he borrowed a few sheets of paper off me during an assembly completely by accident (which he still hasn’t returned). We were never particularly close, much like how we almost never hung out: we only had occasional glances at each other in the school halls (which were outdoors), as well as moments when we sat adjacent to one another every day on the school bus for a year. For all I knew, he is the boy that most girls would immediately melt over upon seeing his face. With these superficial facts and the very few times I got to talk to him, I filled in the blanks about him like I were writing the story of the protagonist of my dreams. I never acknowledged for a long time that who I envisioned in my head was much bigger than the reality. When I was with him, I was the naive, infatuated girl who made every interaction more awkward than it already was with my childlike impulses and fantasies of the guy I don’t truly know. Although he left before we could ever have a true conversation, I couldn’t help but think that he probably felt something too: something that we both shared despite the silences and invisibilities that probably said otherwise.
What I love was a boy from a dance class. On the day we met, we became fast friends and we were almost inseparable with every dance lesson. It wasn’t just the dancing that brought us together, but it was our common interests that we had no idea about until our endless conversations from day to night: dystopian literature, rock music, satire…we could talk about virtually anything. When I looked at him and conversed with him, I saw the male counterpart of me: tastes, sense of humour, interests, character…it was all in him like how it was in me. The only thing we didn’t have in common were the feelings. Despite what we liked so much about each other, it was not enough for him to have felt the same way about me. It eventually overshadowed what we liked about each other before, only for the friendship to dwindle into a void of animosity and silence. Eventually, he threw away what we had, and I was forced to accept it and leave it all behind too. Nonetheless, what we liked in general that influenced what we liked about each other still remained, and it still reminds me of what we shared and laughed about that ended a year ago, for it is all I have left of him.
When I love was a childhood friend. I’ve known him since I was two, and even when we used to joke around, claiming that we loved each other, it was that innocence that made it true then. We can only be that age once, and it is that naiveté and innocence of childhood that’s so hard to relive, let alone rewind and start over. Even when we lost touch for ten years between the ages of 5 and 15, our reunion afterwards continued to remind us that even though we’ve grown up and gone our different ways in our youth, the innocence that symbolised our time together those years ago had remained. The memories of our play dates, spending Christmas together, or sitting in the bus hand in hand while our parents were in their grown-up world were the reminiscences that were intangible, but undeniably more than a mere part of our past that we had inadvertently lost those years ago. Even though we were just kids with no concrete idea of what the world is truly like, there is no doubt in my mind that with hindsight, when we were still there, we were in love deep down in our little hearts.
Where I love was a boy I met in New York. It was a job training programme at a summer camp that lasted two months. I initially believed that the two months would drag on to no end, but he proved me wrong with his very presence. Soon, the first month passed. Then the other. When the apprenticeship with over, I didn’t want to leave. It hurt me to leave New York, much like how it hurt me to leave him. His enthusiasm, sense of humour and his outlook on life were so refreshing, thus so reflective of the city we were in. He embodied the new energy and new experiences I had never imagined having. I had loved New York before, and he made me love it even more.
Why I love was a bully. He tormented me for seven years both verbally and physically, and walked out of my life in seventh grade to somehow start his life anew. I was unwilling to forgive, and was thus ensconced in the shadow of self-pity, as well as regret for having kept silent for all those years. For a while, I was recalcitrant to put him behind me; when I saw him again, he couldn’t look at me, for he was stuck in his own shadow of guilt. I figured that even when his new life still consisted of the good grades and athletic talent that he had showcased when he was still in my school, he was guilt-ridden for our past. He didn’t walk out into the light and the bright future ahead of him. He didn’t truly continue living. The image of him cowering away from me in the elevator stuck with me the most, because it’s such a waste to continue thinking of our past deeds and not move on and truly be alive: to give, receive…and even love. Why waste this life being stuck in the past, when there’s still so much more to live for?
H, you’ve asked me how many I had loved. They had taught me to not only love, but also love you. I guess I had never realised it before.
You are who I love: the boy I had conjured up in my head, the unrealistic fantasies come to life. You are what I love: the depth, the inside jokes, the nonsense, the best friend. You are when I love: my life with you started with a blank page that we’re slowly filling up, hopefully for our older selves to reminisce about some day. You are where I love: I’d go anywhere just to be with you. You are why I love: after finding you, my past and future now has a new, undefinable meaning that makes life so much brighter.