Two One Nine

I feel the generation/ cultural gap between my mum and me widen into a chasm whenever we talk about relationships. The way she dated when she was my age is so different from the way I date now and I think we’re both aware of that. I feel her self-consciousness when she tries to relate to me and my love life. What begins as an awkward navigation through questions about me and O, becomes underhanded insults towards me.

Why does he like you?

Maybe he’s just trying you out for the time being?

I know the undercurrent too well. When I was little, my mum would warn me of my friendships with people who weren’t Chinese – they don’t understand us, soon enough they’ll reject you, best to stick with people like us. Now that I’m older, I know that this is her projecting her fears onto me. She did this then and twenty years later, she’s still doing it now. I know that this is an expression of love (in a way), her trying to protect me. She’s worried that O will eventually reject me but all I get out of conversations like this is that I’ll never be enough.

The other day I saw this meme that said immigrant parents were tasked with survival but immigrant children get the privilege of seeking self actualisation. I really love my mum, she is the strongest woman I know and I will never know the extent of the sacrifices and resilience it took to forge a new life in a foreign land. Maybe the way to bridge the gap is to remind myself of this – that my parents are fearful because of their experiences and the fact that I’m carefree is a privilege that’s come from a sheltered upbringing, which my parents gave me.

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One Seven Two

Tonight I went to a Sofar Sounds gig with O. It was really lovely.

The last time I went to a Sofar Sounds gig was with J, and I did find myself thinking about then, and how it is now. I’m okay with that, and I think it’s probably natural to do so – natural to have experiences and think on past similar experiences. I was a little anxious about tonight, knowing how in love I was the last time, and how that made the evening that much more special, being able to enjoy it with someone you really care about and who really cares about you.

I guess in a way, the same could be said of tonight. I am extremely fond of O, even if the feelings aren’t as obvious or showy as they were with J, I think there is a great depth of feeling that I could have for him and each day draws me deeper and deeper into those.

Maybe that’s why I felt a peace about tonight that I didn’t expect to feel. I thought this evening, being back in a similar space, would trigger me to lament over that past relationship but instead, it made me feel more at peace with my current relationship. I keep worrying that the feelings and the passion with O doesn’t match what I had with J, and thinking that this must mean it’s less than, or that something’s missing. But it doesn’t.

I’m learning slowly that love and like take different forms – sometimes it’s hard and heavy, other times slower and softer. Neither bad, just different. Tonight was still special, made all the more so by being able to share it with someone who I really care about, and who really cares about me.

One Four Zero

I haven’t written about him in a long time. Mostly because I’ve had other things, other people on my mind, because my life has been filled in other ways- not because I haven’t thought about him.

Truth is, I still think about him most days, and not just once or twice. I still wonder what he’s doing, where he is, who he shares his life with now. I thought I wouldn’t anymore, especially now that I have O in my life. But I do. And I want to stop but I don’t know how or when or why I can’t. The thoughts manifest into dreams and I can’t escape him even in my sleep. I like to think that I think about him less as more time passes but honestly, I don’t know that it is. That scares me. How much longer will this failed love haunt me?

I believe that we carry all the tenses of our being, that all the past versions of who we were shape the who we are. Maybe it’s that the past versions of who we were roll into who we are now, that they’re intrinsically woven together. The girl who had her heartbroken is so familiar to me still, it’s hard to differentiate what was then and what is now. I can still draw up the pain of rejection and unrequited love and feel it keenly. Certain songs will instantly knock me back to that place of brokenness and hopelessness.

The one thing that I keep coming back to is knowing that I did all that I could. I said everything I wanted to say and that’s all you can ever do. There will be people who don’t reciprocate the way you feel and that’s life. But I will never have to regret not saying enough. If there’s any regret, it’ll be on him.

Some months ago, I couldn’t fathom a life that didn’t perpetually mourn the loss of him. Now I can recognise that the loss is an event in the past and while my present self can remember what that awful time was like, I’m not currently experiencing that loss at the moment. I’ve been reading The Body Keeps the Score and learning that we need to integrate painful past experiences into our present so that we can live freer futures. So that’s progress right? I’m part of the way there! One day I won’t think of him anymore, in the same way that I don’t think about my first boyfriend. I’m not there yet but I will be, one day.

Sixty Five

I had a drink with a guy after work today. It was the first time since J that I felt remotely excited/ nervous leading up to it. We had things in common and he was fast moving which I appreciated (not a fan of having conversations for weeks without any initiation of meeting in real life). Conversation was easy and flowed well but I sensed a reserved-ness about him. Then all was revealed.

He has just come out of a 6.5 year relationship. They were living together and had been for several years when one day she came home from work and told him that she wasn’t feeling it anymore. That was in August this year. It’s November now. So they’ve been broken up for 3 months. 3 months!

The fuck is he doing on Bumble.

I could be more understanding if he had done the breaking up, because it could have been a long time coming for him and in that case he probably had grieved and made his peace with the end of the relationship by the time the actual break up happened. But in this situation, he was the one who was blindsided, thought everything was going well and is probably (very likely) still processing the loss.

Did I mention they were engaged too? Yup – wedding was going to be in a few months time.

I know the pain of heartbreak all too well, and I could see that he did too. 6.5 years is a very long time to do life with someone. There’s so much history, you can’t just turn that off. I remember when J and I first broke up, I went back on Bumble too. I wanted that intimacy that was all of a sudden ripped away, I wanted to forge something new that would distract me from the loss that cut away at me. But the more dates I went on, the more I realised that I didn’t want intimacy if it wasn’t with him, that I needed to confront the loss and just be sad for a while. Maybe that’s the same with M, maybe he’s looking for something to plug the gaping wound when what he probably needs is to air out the wound and let it heal on its own.

Fuck, how awful would it be to lose a relationship of 6 something years. I can’t fathom that at all. But also, is this all who is left?! Boys who have been dumped or are non-committal or are really weird?!

This can’t be it… right?!?!?

Sixty Four

I’ve been thinking about home since my last post.

There are so many times in my twenties where I feel in between two homes – that of my parents, and the home that I’ll build with my own family. And often I feel like I should be closer to that second home than I am. But actually, home is where I am loved.

Home is at my flat, with those crazy, incredible and wonderful girls.

Home is going to the pub at 5 and coming back at 7 to cook sausage rolls and bake cookies and watch a cheesy movie together.

Home is singing the first three words of a song and knowing those girls will be your harmonisers, dancers, percussion set and hype men.

Home is having people who will support you no matter what – in song and in dance and in life.

Home is loving, and being loved.

Sixty Three

Home.

What does that mean? I used to think it was a place, somewhere familiar and known, somewhere I knew like the back of my palm – the place where I grew up. But recently, the place where I grew up has started to feel more and more foreign, my old haunts dredging up nostalgia that sits at the back of my throat. I don’t feel like I belong there anymore, I’m like a tourist visiting the sites of old memories. Here is the place I went to school, here is the place where I had my first kiss, here is the place I watched the river for hours, trying to calm my soul.

Hometown.

It means the place you’re from, but more than that – it is the town that you call home. My hometown doesn’t feel like home anymore. When I drive through the streets, I see everything that I left behind and each return feels like a regression, a return to a past life that I’m disconnected from.

I was thinking this today when I was back for a wedding. I was in the town that raised me, saw me slowly morph into the person I am today, the town that homed me for so long. I saw old friends who had stayed and remembered the friendship we had once, which is so different now, and the distance between us. I guess this is what happens when you leave a place and settle in another. You have to redefine what home means.

The place that I once was so fond of, and proud to be from, holds nothing for me now. At least, for this time in my life.

Today, after the ceremony and catching up with old friends, I had a little bit of time to kill  before the reception. Growing up there, I always loved going down to the river and reading or writing or, mostly, just watching the water currents. It’s muscle memory that takes me there, I drive without a destination in mind. I parked, and walked to where I used to go with my first boyfriend after school.

I found the rocks where we used to sit and watch the river from, talking about things that teenagers talk about, remembering the excitement of that first relationship and the rich potential of what could be. I sat there like we used to do and watched the river for a while.

When we broke up, he said that I was naive about relationships and love. I think I still am, twelve years later. Maybe the disconnect with my hometown comes from being reminded of a younger version of myself, and how I’ve failed her in where I am in life now. I thought that by my twenties, I would know myself, know others, and know love. But I don’t know any of that, and that’s the only thing I know. Maybe hometown doesn’t feel like home anymore because I’m not comfortable there, always confronted with who I was, who I thought I would become, and the reality of who I am.

At least in my new city, I don’t have that history to bargain with. I don’t have to justify the present me with the past me. There’s a freedom that comes from breaking away from the past.

But isn’t that just running away? The past is still there. I can’t actually be free from it. I have to face the fifteen year old me and tell her that life doesn’t work out the way you think it will, that there will be times of deep sadness that will elbow its way out of you in silent cries, but that there will also be times of intense joy that leave your abs sore from laughing so much. That you won’t have the experiences you hoped for, but that there will be experiences so beautiful and wonderful that you couldn’t have imagined or hoped for them. Yeah, I think that’s what she needs to hear.