Saturday, January 28, 2012

Small Steps

The couple next to me at our table at Piedra Negra just recently got engaged. I found out about the engagement a couple of days earlier, through a news feed on Facebook but this was the first time I was seeing them in person. They were both good friends of The Banker, but in the last month or so I became more or less acquainted with the girl, so I could not wait to congratulate them when I showed up at the bar.

Her ring sparkled seductively as she shimmied her hand in my face, showing off the rock. I admired the cut, the feminine band that held the stone so gently, yet firmly within its grasp. And then I felt it.

At first I did not know what it was and I was slightly surprised and taken aback by the slight pang and the impact of the unexpected feeling that came over me.

You see, I've never been the one to swoon over engagements or engagement parties or bridal showers. I always vowed to be that girl that got drunk (but not embarrassingly so) at bachelorette parties, and took shots with all the single dudes at the wedding receptions, and danced my ass off in my smoking hot bridesmaid dress on the dance floor, and made out with the best man (but only if he was hot).

But this time it was different. I felt a bit jealous. I felt a bit behind the curve. I felt like... I actually wanted to look forward to an engagement party... of my own.

It was weird and confusing and maybe even conformist to the "societal standards". But, fuck it. Regardless as to whether I am brainwashed or not, I still want a fairly tale ending of my own.

The Banker ordered us another round of margaritas, blissfully unaware of the emotional mini-rollercoaster that was going on in my head. Meanwhile, I chatted away happily, but with various darker thoughts brewing in my mind. Like, why does he always introduce me to his friends simply as "L", not his "girlfriend L". Am I his girlfriend or am I just another piece that he is seeing?

I began feeling slightly tipsy from the alcohol in no time. Maybe it was the lack of sleep due to work-related meetings and meeting preparations the night before but, at some point, I just decided to let my worries go, as they were getting in the way of my fun. There was really no point in ruining my night due to my own emotional turmoil. I was being a freaking girl, after all, and I was not enjoying it one bit.

We were all expecting The Banker's friend Mr Hong Kong to make his triumphant return to Singapore and to the bar we were at. He was, apparently, coming back from months-long travels elsewhere. And as he finally arrived around 11pm, The Banker gestured for him to take an empty seat next to us and to join the conversation.

"Oh, by the way," The Banker said, after his initial greetings with Mr Hong Kong, "This is my girlfriend, L."

My head did a double spin and my heart pounced with excitement. Did I just really hear something that I've been wanting to hear for months now?

"Hello," I said, cool as a cucumber, extending my hand to shake his, "It is very nice to meet you."

"Pleasure to meet you too,"
Mr Hong Kong replied, "The Banker told me so much about you. It's great to finally meet the girl he's been talking about so much."

I know, I know. The whole situation may seem like such a non-event to some. Almost a banal example of a side non-conversation. But to me... well, to me, it was a memorable exchange to say the least.

The first time he publicly introduced me as his girl. A confirmation of our relationship, however nonchalant it was for him, it was a big deal to me, though I will never admit this to anyone in person.

I looked at the newly-engaged couple, happily intertwined in their new togetherness and I did not feel that pang of jealousy any more. Far from the point of getting engaged, nevertheless, I felt just right in my moment right then and there.

I raised my hand and waved down the nearest bartender to come and take my next order.

"A shot of coffee tequila for this guy, please," I requested, as I pointed to The Banker.

It was going to be a long, fun night and in a silent and roundabout way, I just had to thank my dude for making things just a little more official.

Good job, babe.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Love, When Life Happens

Eavesdropping is a no-no in my book, but when it helps to smooth out a situation, I think there can be a grey line that can be negotiated between the right the the wrong.

The other morning I was coming back from the land of the sweet, sweet dreams and opening my heavy eyelids to see the bright rays of a Sunday morning sun for the first time, when I heard The Banker, just in the room next door, talking via Skype to his brother.

Now, The Banker is a miracle of nature. He can drink like no other on a Saturday night (or retain an appearance of drinking heavily while maintaining his utmost composure), but he is up and running at 6am every Sunday morning.

I, on the other hand, like to savor the only God-given day of the week when I can actually sleep in so, whenever I am at his place or otherwise, I like to snooze it UP until at least 10am the next morning, hungover or not.

This particular morning I was stone cold sober and so my interest was instantly peaked when I overheard The Banker's conversation with his brother switch from the brother's girl troubles to the ever-cumbersome topic of The Banker's stay in Singapore.

"You know, I miss the US so much and the trip back home made me even more homesick.." I heard his voice trail off and pause, as it was, presumably, his brother's turn to talk.

"Yeah, to be honest, man, I don't know what I'm gonna do yet, but I plan on sticking around Singapore for a year or two more," he finally finished off his thought after his brother offered some advice (as I can only assume).

A year or two more?

Now that I can certainly take way better than just 5 months. That I can live with and spend the next year or two trying to charm the pants off this guy.

The truth is, when push comes to shove, I am not ready to leave this city. Feeling like a foreigner in a foreign land and being the minority (white woman in an Asian country) for the first time ever has actually not been all that bad and I am starting to truly feel at home here.

I would love to continue my journey with The Banker, but the truth is, no matter how heartbroken I would be if he left right now (and believe me, I would be sort of devastated), I would still pick Singapore for a whole slew of reasons (which I might talk about in more depth later, but these reasons are mostly career-related and mostly kind of super awesome)

Number one, though, being that I think I finally found my home, and I do mean home, here in Asia. At least for a little while.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

St(r)aying Away

Maybe I am just not good at relationships.

No, I'm not the best, but I tried. I definitely tried with this guy, that's for sure.

The impending feeling of doom is settling down upon me and I can see, with a considerable amount of fear, that this relationship might, just might, be winding down and seeing the last of its days.

But how can I full-heartedly invest in a guy who, point blank, says straight to my face that he is feeling so homesick that he is considering moving back to the States in as soon as four months? That he is thinking about continuing his career back home, somewhere in California, eighteen hours away from me.

I want to say, please stay, don't go. I like you so much. We've got such a thing going here.

But instead, I am numb and silent with the realization that he, despite introducing me to his brother and friends, and giving me the code to his apartment, is choosing something else over me.

How can I carry on with him as if nothing is happening when, in my head, there is a silent but deadly countdown of days left to spend with him. How can I not try my damnest to become as detached as he is?

I had this shit happen to me once when I told a guy I was moving away for grad school. I did not expect that he was going to abandon me, as suddenly as he did, then.

This time I can leave elegantly, quietly, and with dignity in tact. This time I can ignore that timid tug of heart that keeps telling me to stay and just see what happens. To text him one more time to see if he wants to go for a mid-afternoon bike ride or if he wants to hang out at his apartment or go to the pool.

This time I can even ask why the hell he is doing this to me... if I muster up enough courage.

This time. Before the four month death sentence rolls around.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I'm Not Yours

And a thousand of lanterns, their flames slowly glowing against the thin rustling paper, ascended up to the night skies of Patong beach, their peaceful, soft glow interrupted by a chaotic thunder of fireworks all around us. The crowds cheered like crazy, camera phones in their extended hands, trying to capture the last moments of 2011, only to post them later on Facebook or replay them to the friends that were not there.

He was an Australian, staying at our hostel for a couple of nights, traveling from Melbourne, and then to Singapore, Hanoi. Patong beach was his last stop of the holiday vacation. It was the last stop for all of us staying at the hostel. We started off the night as a large, international group but as we took random roads and routes, trying to get through the masses to the beach to welcome 2012, it was just me and the Australian left.

"Tell me the truth, do you like me?" he asked twenty minutes before midnight as he handed me a bouquet of roses that he bought from some random Swedish girl on the street.

I was surprised and flattered by the question. When I first saw him at the hostel bar, the life of the party, I envied his confidence and wondered what it would be like to talk to this guy, to be part of that crowd. And now here I was, with him, unexpectedly, wrapped around my little finger for the night.

"To tell you the truth," I said, "I do but I am dating someone."

We stood in our awkwardness and both felt compelled to say something to each other even though we were surrounded by throngs of screaming, celebrating people and would not hear each other anyway.

"What do you mean by dating?" he finally said. We both knew what I meant.

"You know what I mean..." I looked down at the roses. Their tiny delicate buds looked so fragile that all I wanted to do was to shield them from the people around us. I felt almost out of place standing there, with a simple bouquet of romantic appreciation in my hand, while everyone else around me was holding and imbibing from alcohol containers of various sizes.

"Does he ever give you flowers?" he asked, minutes before midnight.

No, he never gives me flowers. I don't ask him to but I wish he would. Just give me flowers once. No fancy dinners, just flowers. Truth is, I wanted to say, I am starving for affection and don't know how to ask for it. Feel like I have no right to ask for it, somehow. There is nothing like wanting to fall in love and being too afraid to, because of the fear of getting hurt at the end.

"No, he never gives me flowers," I said.

He shook his head. Not accusingly, not indifferently, but mostly just selfishly proud of himself for doing something in the first few hours of meeting me that my dude has not done in the months that I've known him.

"Kiss me," he said.

"You know I can't," I paused, "Not now."

"Then kiss me at midnight. Just one kiss."

There were moments left until the clock struck twelve. I had remnants of silly strings in my hair, my shoes were filled with sand, I clenched the strap of my purse in my hand, paused in some nervous thought. He was some Australian I would never see again, albeit a very handsome Australian, he was just a stranger on a beach somewhere in Thailand.

So I kissed him. Just once, when it struck midnight. And then once again a few minutes later.

A few stolen kisses. Something to escape the real world outside of the beach. Something to stop myself from thinking about The Banker all the goddamn time, while hoping for more, more than I am being offered.

And all around me it was 2012 all of the sudden. I wanted to never leave that place and to leave it immediately, all at the same time.

Happy new year.