That weekend you got married, my bags were packed and the plane ticket booked. I was leaving all this behind because there was nothing left for me. We said our last goodbyes during that last night together and I had exhausted all my tears for you. Call me a coward but all I wanted to do was banish all the memories we ever had. I held in my tears till the plane began taxiing down the runway and by the time it was in the air, I was sobbing so hard into the airline-issued blankie. All I remember of that flight was crying and nodding off to sleep, being woken for meals and then crying myself back to sleep again.
A friend once remarked sadly that time is no proof of love. I had scoffed at his cynicism at that time; how can love be anything but stronger as a couple stayed together? But almost five years later you announced your engagement to a girl you have barely known a year and I, your boyfriend, lover and best friend was no more. The grand love story of DQ and YL had ended, roll credits and please exit by the door to your left.
I had to leave this country where every corner held a memory of you, of our life together. The way you order your ice-kachang, “mai kart-ti, mai guni” (not too sweet, no milk) was when we first met. That half embarrassed smile when you realised I had overheard your order and the shy glances we exchanged that day at the hawker centre. The reckless abandon that overtook me when I picked up my dessert and went over to your table. How an afternoon scheduled for mugging became a day spent in each other’s company. How an ordinary Wednesday afternoon became the day I fell in love, utterly and truly.
I could never forget the nights we spent together. That little ticklish shudder when my hand trailed your body or the way you whispered in my ear your promise of love to me over and over again. I took for granted the mornings I woke up with you by my side, the sun brightening the room enough for me to see you, the only sound your even breathing filling the room. Your childish delight whenever I made breakfast for you in bed. The way you love surprising me with my favourite ice cream. How you get annoyed when I laugh at you for crying during sappy movies or even songs (because you were such a “macho idiot” to the outside world). And how I would always roll my eyes at you when you get excited over babies.
I never took seriously your yearning for children. I knew your mother wanted grandkids but I never thought you would leave me just to have kids. I would have done anything for you, gone to the ends of the world for you but that was the one thing I could never give you. When I realised the truth, that it was so selfish of me to make you choose, I chose to let you go instead. You never lacked for female attention and since we weren’t out to our family, it was simply believable that you would meet a girl and get married not long after. But the thing was, I kept hoping right up to the very day of your nuptials that you would call off the whole thing. How I made it through the weeks of wedding planning, I honestly can’t say. Pretending to be your best man, hanging out with your army mates and putting on the act was killing me. It all would have been bearable if you had just said to me once that you were sorry for putting me through all that. But you never did. And so I left.
Three painful years alone in a foreign country. I threw myself into work and did not bother with making many friends. The lonely nights I just missed you so much that it ached, I headed out to the local gay bars and got drunk, often not caring who I went home with. Looking back, it was appalling how reckless I was and how thankful I am that I did not catch anything lethal. But back then, I was hurting so bad from loving you that I would have welcomed any pain that could have pierced through the numbness I felt. Losing you put me in a really bad place and I blamed myself irrationally for not being able to give you what you wanted, not being a woman and most of all, for being gay and falling in love with you. The worst was when I dreamt of you. Because all the happy memories would come back and when I had to wake up, for a split second I would lie in bed thinking it was all real, that you never left. Then the knowledge would come crashing back and the hurt, ten-fold. The first thing I did every morning was cry for you and hate myself.
When it got to the point that I started thinking that it might be a good idea never to wake up, I was in a scary place. I penned several suicide notes but I never got to the end. I would either break down and cry (again) or scream out in anger and throw the pen away from me (I broke many ballpoints that way). I began to tell myself that you had fallen out of love with me and I had to move on. I tried picturing you with your new family, how happy you would be at being a husband and father but it always came back to me wishing that we could start over. My health and my work began to suffer from my erratic moods.
One morning, after my usual night of drinking and passing out, I woke up in what at first seemed to be a girl’s bedroom. That was how I met Ms. Georgia Knox ‘Em Dead. Nope, not a girl but a drag queen, tranny or whatever label pleases you. To me, she was an angel that saved my life. She had been observing how I was running my life into the ground and that night, she decided to reach out and help me. After it was hilariously established that we did not have sex, she taught me how loving someone too much was bad for me. I had to accept the reality that that phase of my life with you in it, was over. Whenever I started wallowing in my pity, she would jerk me out of it with so much sass that my face would be stinging from the bitchslap. She did not feed the usual chicken soup sop about how I deserve better or indulge me by demonising you as a bastard and all that. Instead I learnt to honour and cherish the fine memories we had and eventually, I found myself once again smiling whenever I recalled a sweet moment we had, without the inevitable breakdown of tears.
There was one night when, instead of the usual drinks-and-get-drunk-at-the-bar, we were at my place, drinking and watching old movies on my laptop. It was a romantic comedy and suddenly I got choked up on tears and confessed that I would never fall in love again, not after you. She leaned over, gave me a tight hug and said, “Oh honey, you will meet that great guy who’s just perfect for you one day. He’s getting here as fast as he can, don’t stop believing that ok?”
That was not all Georgia did for me. One slightly hungover afternoon while I was at my shift, I looked up from a roll of boring receipts and there you were. Like it was the most natural thing in the world, you walked up to the front desk and asked for me. I could hardly believe my eyes - how could you be here halfway around the world, looking as good as you were more than three years ago? When you turned and spotted me, it was as if time stood still. I had dreamed of this moment for countless nights, the angry things I would say to you, perhaps even smacking you. Or the satisfying cold shoulder I would present to your heartfelt pleas and walk off as you did from my life, as you recede in the distance all alone and dejected (yeah I watch too many movies).
All that flew out of my head when you came over to me, took my hands in yours and said softly, “I’m sorry.” I wanted to tell you that there was nothing to forgive but you stopped me from speaking and till today, I will never forget what you said.
"I am sorry for what I did to you. I took you for granted because when you have everything in life, it is easy to forget. I don’t know where I will be in 3, 5 or 10 years but I do know I want you with me. I thought by getting married and pretending to be straight, I could have it all but there wasn’t a single day when I didn’t think of you. But what I didn’t realise was I married the wrong person. Gay or straight, it is the person you love that matters and that person is you. I miss you. I miss all the things we used to do together. The only thing that matters is you because nobody loved me as much as you did. And I am sorry it took losing you for me to realise it. And I won’t blame you if you won’t ever want to see me again but I had to see you one last time and tell you in person."
And you gave me the best hug I ever had. Did I ever tell you that you gave the bestest hugs in the world? That tight warmth that encircled me and made the world fade away and the only things that remained were your scent and our pulses racing. All my anger, hurt and bitterness vanished like clammy morning dew with the sunrise. And you were the sun. HAHA yeah cheesy I know. Some may think I forgave you too easily but that’s you true and through just like your ice-kachang, not overly sweet or covered with syrupy milk.
So turns out Georgia was a big snoop and she found your contact in my laptop. More specifically she called you one night while I was out cold from too much tequila and it was lunchtime back home for you. When you finally understood who this deep voiced Caucasian was (you were never good with accents) and she learnt that you were already divorced, she told you how badly I was doing without you. I found all this out when I held onto your hand and brought you back home excitedly to announce your unexpected arrival and her only reaction, “Sure took him long enough. Your boy needs to learn it doesn’t take him six weeks to buy a damn plane ticket!”
And that was last November. We have had a splendid year together; thankfully I make enough for the both of us. We miss home terribly and so I have been saving up to buy us plane tickets home. While he has been packing, I decided to write in and share this little story (because you have fans over here!) with his help, deleting some of the more embarrassing parts over my shoulder!. We are planning to drive up and get our marriage certificate before boarding the plane home. There is so much ahead of us, like coming out and breaking the news to our families for one. D left his job and we will both need to find jobs back home, not to mention a place to live! Ms. Georgia K.E.D. might visit us next year (she’s my best man/bride’s maid for the wedding, we haven’t decided!).
Life is so uncertain for us in the next few weeks and months to come but I know I will be able to face it all, with him by my side. I feel like I can take on anything life has to throw at me now but first things first when we land, is to head for the nearest hawker centre and order up all my favourite foods!
And for him, his favourite ice-kachang, mai kart-ti, mai guni.