I keep thinking about how I’m almost at 365 posts and how bittersweet that is. I’ve posted every single day for a whole year and that feels pretty amazing to me. At the same time, it takes me full circle, back to where this all began, back to me nursing a broken heart in the only way I knew how – through words and tears. I’m not that girl crying in a cafe anymore, but I remember all too well what that was like, those painful memories are still familiar and very much alive when I think of them.
362 days ago I couldn’t have imagined I would be here though – finding love in someone else, having the time of my life with my best friends. So much can change in a year and I didn’t know that, wouldn’t have believed it if someone told me this is how my year would have played out.
I spoke to O today about the way that I’ve been feeling, explaining how birthdays and celebrations are important to me, as are words of affirmation, and also asked him to let me in more, and to open up more about his thoughts and feelings. He took it all really well. At first, he was a little teary eyed – I think he may have thought I was going to break up with him, which was a sweet response and I made sure to tell him before I left that I wasn’t mad at him, and that I really care about him. He apologised for not making an effort with my birthday, and said he would try more with the words and also opening up. I’m really glad I talked to him. I know that he never means anything by the things he does or doesn’t do, that it’s just a learning thing because I am his longest relationship.
I think it was a good conversation, I felt heard and my feelings acknowledged. I hope I communicated in a way that made space for dialogue too. The way he responded says that he’s committed to making this work, and I love him all the more for that.
I really love O. I feel the emotion rise with intensity whenever I’m with him. He hasn’t said it back yet and I’m really not bothered because I know he does things in his own time but I don’t want to overwhelm him with the pace of mine. So I’ll keep catching these words that I want to say. He knows how I feel and that’s enough for now.
I think one of the things I love the most about O is the way he opens himself to trying Chinese foods.
On the weekend, we went to Yum Cha with some of my friends and he not only ate and enjoyed all the food we got, but also was keen and ready to try the more different food – tripe, intestines, chicken feet. We didn’t get any of those, but I love that he’s willing and wanting to give it a go.
The shame and embarrassment I felt/ still feel sometimes about my culture is heavily felt when it comes to food. I have early memories of going to school with rice or chicken or a hard boiled egg in my lunch box and developing resentment for it setting me apart from the other kids. I wished that my parents cooked food like my friends’ parents did – roasts, pies, pastas. Chinese food is so fragrant, there’s no way to hide it away. “What’s that smell?” was a common question I heard when it came to food. I never invited friends over for dinner because I was afraid of what they would think about the food my parents cooked.
Food is so important. It’s like a binding ingredient for people. Food shared is life shared.
The fact that O loves Chinese food and wants to try the “weird” stuff that other people scrunch their nose at, is a real relief. I always took it personally when people didn’t like aspects of Chinese culture and saw it as them not liking aspects of me. But with O, the way that he comes to understand Chinese food and culture, makes me feel so accepted as I am. It makes me love him even more.
The first mistaken impulse of an undisciplined heart
I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote from David Copperfield. J was my first experience of a relationship that could go somewhere and I still think about him a lot but I think that’s cause we were fire and I got burnt and how can you forget a scar? But I also know that I was inexperienced and that definitely played into what I felt. Perhaps things would have been different if I had more experience with relationship. Perhaps. We’ll never know.
What I do know is that I love O, and it’s been a long time coming. I love him, and he makes my heart so full of joy.
I told O that I loved him last night. It was the first time I had ever said those words out loud to a boy and it wasn’t as revolutionary as I thought it would be. I’m not sure what I expected, maybe the slightest feeling like something would change in me? That my life would tilt in another direction? I don’t know. I think that might be the internalised misogynistic narratives playing in my head again, the same thread of thought that connects my life’s value and purpose to finding love in a boy. I felt exactly as I did before saying those three words. It felt natural and true.
He said he wasn’t ready to say those words yet. I told him that was totally okay. Then we went to sleep.
I’ve thought a lot about how I felt about him and whether or not to say anything in the recent wee while, pretty much since I realised and told him I thought I was falling in love with him. I don’t have a lot of experience with romantic love, but from what I know about other forms of love, I know that it’s freely given and comes with no strings attached. So it really doesn’t bother me that he doesn’t feel the same way yet. “I love you” means I love you in the present, in who you are and who we are.
Relationships are really hard sometimes. Right now I’m feeling mad and rejected because I don’t feel like O has made much of an effort to see me this week. I feel like I keep coming back around to this same issue of not being affirmed in our relationship. I don’t know if this is a reflection of him and his energy levels or something, or if it’s a reflection of the way he feels about me. And it’s that unknowing that worries me.
I thought I saw a ghost today. Walking back to my car, I thought I saw J sitting at a table outside a cafe. I can’t be sure because I didn’t let my glance linger long but I felt a familiar visceral reaction through my body and it’s that reaction which makes me think that it’s more likely to have been him than not. Funny how your body remembers before your mind is cognisant. It knows without having to be told.
When I feel the way that I do right now about O and us, it’s hard not to compare to an earlier time, a past love. I know that I was more hurt than loved in everything that happened with J, but he was a good boyfriend while we were together. He was affirming and caring and attentive. It’s hard to have experienced a relationship where we spoke the same love language, to then go to one where I’m constantly having to translate and bridge the gaps between us. It’s not impossible, just more effort.