We were just 17 when we first met.
It’s quite the typical story, actually. He was from a boys school and I was from a girls school. Neither of us had ever been in a relationship before, although we had our fair share of crushes. So there we were, two young people engaging in silly acts like wading in the sea in shorts and tee-shirts and doing mass dances in the hall of the school by the sea, all in the name of orientation.
He wasn’t terribly good-looking, just your average tall and lanky kid with a wacky sense of humour. I wasn’t that gorgeous either, all frizzy hair and gangly, malnourished limbs. But somehow, somewhere, something clicked between and up till today, I still have no idea why or how.
Coincidentally, he was from the choir in secondary school and so was I. He had every intention of joining it again in JC but I, not knowing how famous the choir was, wanted to try out other more exciting things. I suppose his persistent persuasion, coupled with the love I had for singing, eventually won over my wandering heart and I subsequently auditioned for, and joined, the choir.
We got together a few months later and things were initially rosy, as it always is in the first throes of love. We went to school together in the mornings (that sounds so childishly sweet now) and went home together in the evenings. We went for dates. We had meals in the canteen and roamed around places like Changi Airport, Parkway Parade and Tampines Mall. We wrote notes to each other and studied together in school.
But I suppose at 17, we didn’t know what it was like to maintain a relationship. We were far less matured that we liked to think we were and it started falling apart soon. In hindsight, my reticence was a major hindrance to our relationship (and as it was in a later relationship). I was never one to open up with my feelings and instead, expected my partner to probe me gently and lovingly. He didn’t know how to deal with me, I didn’t know how to deal with his opinionated views.
The relationship soon turned frosty and we were on-and-off for half a year before it finally ended. Neither of us could stand the emotional toll any longer and for the sake of our sanity and studies (I was flunking my way to Maths remedial classes), we called it quits over the phone.
That was my first brush with getting my heart broken and boy, did it hurt. Things got awkward between us, partly due to my inability to forgive him for the pain he caused me. In my state of misery, I directed all the blame to him and could not stand even being near him.
So we went on like this for years, not talking, not acknowledging each other’s presence. It wasn’t that I wasn’t over him, it was more like I didn’t know how to approach him, I was just so used to not talking.
Thankfully, the chill’s thawed somewhat over the years. We’ve bumped into each other a few times and traded hellos and silly comments. He’s turned out to be quite a cute dude, still equipped with his razor-sharp wit. In a way, I am still fond of him, the way one is fond of his childhood toys. Times does remove the bitterness and sweetens memories.
He will always have a special place in my heart and I hope that one day, he can find that happiness that he deserves.
Memories seem like so long ago
Time always kills the pain
Remember Harbor Boulevard
The dreaming days where the mess was made
Look how all the kids have grown
We have changed but we’re still the same
After all that we’ve been through
I know we’re cool
–“Cool” by Gwen Stefani