I remember being in Angelina’s room when I sent what I thought would be one of my final texts to him.
By then, we had had quite a few back and forths about my feelings and his ambivalence towards them. I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t settled. I was so confused. I was told that it was a relationship. But no. No relationship would have me feeling so insecure. (Please tell me that’s true.) I long for one where I feel completely confident in my feelings for him, one where I don’t have to create a break-up playlist to prepare myself for the worst outcome, one that doesn’t make me almost-cry (just tilt your head upwards, so that the tears get sucked back in, and then tell – no – will those tears not to stream down your cheeks) on a bridge over the Pan Island Expressway (PIE).
So I texted him: “Hey I know I’m always sending you these late night(ish) texts. But I’ve been thinking that this thing with us is not really working out anymore and think we should just end it.”
We didn’t Skype (he didn’t see the point of downloading Skype), so text it was, as cowardly as it seems now. I was always better with the written word anyway. Maybe this was better.
As soon as I sent that text, I wanted to be as far away from my phone. I didn’t want to touch it. Did not want to hold it. Did not want it near enough such that I could feel its vibrations.
I did not want to know what he would say. Whatever his reply was would be too much information for me. His reply would either tell me that I had been wrong about our interactions prior to my final text – or worse, that I had been completely right.
For once, I did not want to be right. Just this once, I wanted to be informed that I was overreacting.
He texted back the next morning at 8.16am. I remember being on the crowded train on the way to the State Court when my phone vibrated. It had to be him. Yep, it was him. Still, I did not want to read the message. I have a full day of fishing for the juiciest crime stories, another day to try and make Page One of the paper, another day where I have to be friendly with lawyers, prosecutors, interpreters, another day of waiting at void decks of the accused or victims to try and get a little more than other dailies, another day of pretending, hoping, that I belong at the State Court with the other more experienced reporters. Another day of stuff that had nothing to do with him.
But that day had everything to do with him. I needed to know if I was right.
I checked my phone about three hours later (pretty remarkable restraint).
He said: “Jeez, you’ve been thinking a lot about this.”
And then two minutes after that first text, he said at 8.18am: “But yeah sure, I’m fine with whatever as long as you have peace of mind.”
I’m guessing it took those two extra minutes to show that he didn’t give a fuck.
Fuck, I was right.
It’s okay, I began the process to get over it. I guess I must not have felt as much for him as I thought. I’m actually pretty okay. I got a good story. I didn’t even have to whip out my break-up playlist (it has yet to be used). I’m fine.
Mostly because I had already started the process of forgetting everything. Forgetting why I liked him. If I didn’t have that information, then I didn’t have to feel.
All I know is that he was a mistake. The lack of information and memories in my brain led me to that conclusion. I have zero information left in my brain to tell me why I even liked him. I remember nothing. Was he funny? Was he smart? What did we even talk about?
I screengrabbed his texts and sent it to my closest friends. “You definitely did the right thing,” they said.
Actually, that’s how I remember all of this now. Those screengrabs are still in my “Screenshots” folder on my phone. I had deleted all of these on my main folder but hadn’t realised there was another album that had remnants of a relationship(ish) that I had almost no recollection of – until yesterday.
I went on a kind of… thing with someone (he thought it was a date, I didn’t even want to be there) recently and we were talking about past relationships. At 26, I felt like it would have been pretty abnormal to say that I hadn’t really been in a relationship, so I bring him up as an example of the only “relationship” I’ve been in.
I tell this “not-quite-date” (who likes to call me Babe and touches my arms unnecessarily) about G. He asks me what about him was attractive to me. My mind goes blank. What was it? I can feel my brain just flashing back to blank spaces that used to house memories that I’ve since deleted. I can barely even remember what he looks like.
I’m really attracted to guys who make me laugh. So he must have been funny right? So I tell this not-quite-date: “Er, I guess he was funny?”. I’m not convinced. Neither is he.
Yesterday, I looked at that album of screenshots. There were those break-up texts. (By the way, he thought I was joking. So I had to end it again one week later when he texted me because he thought I would “get over it”.) But there were also those texts that I screengrabbed so I could read them again. He had said to me once, after I made a lame joke that involved typing DONG 20 times: “Actually, my eyes always light up when I talk to you.”
I must have felt something then. Of course I did. Or I wouldn’t have attempted to save it. Nothing is based on fact anymore now. Just inferences of how I would have felt.
Two years later, somehow the lack of information in my brain, which disallowed any sort of memories of him to be stored in my head, enabled my heart to still remain whole, untouched, unscarred, pristine.
That means that heart is another’s to break.
I remember telling Shikin when I realised that this thing with G had the potential to become more serious than I was ever used to: “I don’t want him to be the one to break my heart.”
Admittedly, I said that mostly because he was perfect on paper. After all, he fulfilled my mum’s criteria of a perfect guy (catholic, Indian, engineer). And I could actually tolerate him. I didn’t want to lose that. I could settle for someone (at that point) as long as he would get my mum off my back (even temporarily).
Two years later, I still am the owner of a head that tends to over analyse everything, that tends to nitpick, and overthink – and then, forget.
But that same head is also now occupied with thoughts of another – a far better person, who for some reason makes me want to be a better version of myself, to experience life, to feel things, to just be me (but better!). He is flawed for sure, mostly in ways that I have yet to find out.
With him though, I feel like I don’t have to over analyse everything (admittedly on some occasions, I still do). It’s not because I’m confident in whatever this is. Quite the opposite. I have never felt so much uncertainty with anyone else before. But eh, I know I’ll enjoy the time I get to spend with him. I’m sure I may want more at some point. But for now, that’s enough.
One thing is for sure though – I do not ever want to forget. Anything. I do not want to delete information and memories from my brain so that my heart continues to remain unscarred.
It’s his to dent, fracture or break.
After 26 years of mostly idle activity, I think my heart should finally start paying its due and work a little. I’m strong enough to deal. (Besides there’s that playlist…)
Whatever it is, whatever happens, I don’t want to forget any of it. Of how ridiculously happy I felt during my last night in New York. All the colours in my head! His voice! My legs so casually intertwined with his, while he constantly readjusted the position of my head on his bony chest.
We listened to my favourite songs that I had compiled in a playlist for him a year ago, recalled the six days we had spent mostly together, heard his stories, learned more about him – I’m always so hungry for his words, his energy, his passion. I never want to forget the moment that I finally realised that this person my head was laying on had far surpassed the person that I had imagined in my head when we had been e-mailing just 1.5 years before.
As much as I wanted to at that point, now I don’t think I’d ever want to forget that second night in bed when I realised I was purposely sticking to the wall, as far as possible away from him, in an admittedly weak attempt to calm that beating heart of mine. I even tried rubbing my chest because I was afraid he would somehow hear it.
I never want to forget the feeling of his hands finding mine when we were out walking.
And I never want to forget the feeling when I knew I’d see him again.