What I could never say
You are happy now. I know, because I have not had time to change my Facebook settings so that my newsfeed won’t display your happy life events.
I could lie and say I don’t mind seeing your wide grin and your witty thoughts as I scroll past my otherwise mundane social media page. But the thing is, I’ve always waited for you to smile like that. For me.
You never did.
Meanwhile, I am here questioning every single decision I made in the past two years, tortured by the thought that maybe if I had chosen to be more honest with myself, or if I had hopped on the same bus as you, we would still be together.
I wish I could call you up and talk to you like I do when I daydream: where you look at me and I wouldn’t find any trace of disappointment in your eyes; where I feel like I deserve you and you deserve me.
But that’s only ever going to happen in my head. Because I am not brave in real life. I mean, if I were brave enough I wouldn’t be writing this. Instead I would put my head on your shoulder and close my eyes until our breaths synchronize. Then I would tell you exactly how I feel.
I would tell you that I never thought I’d end up liking you. The first time I saw you, you looked away so quickly that I thought you were a snob, and so I decided that you were never going to be part of my circle. You were just a background character in the novel that is my life, a passing individual that would play no important role whatsoever.
There were no butterflies or slow-motion reels. But somehow, here I am, nursing my heart without you even knowing it.
I would tell you that, at first, it was nothing serious — a joke that you went along with, remember? — but it became more real day after day. I slowly saw you for who you are and I liked it.
I remember seeing you deep in thought over a science book and feeling satisfied just watching you. I liked how you’d bite the corner of your mouth when you were thinking. Do you still do that, I wonder? You’d probably roll your eyes if you’re reading this right now, like you always did whenever our friends teased us (while I was secretly thrilled that they actually liked to pair us up).
I would tell you that I was really impressed with your vocabulary, which was far superior than mine. And your handwriting, which made mine look more like random scribbles than actual letters. I would tell you that you are one of the reasons I regret leaving university.
We belonged to the same organization and had the same friends, so we were as close as fate would have us to be, if you believe that sort of thing. We had a lot in common, too: from having a knack for arriving way too early for our (already too-early) 7 a.m. classes, to having the unparalleled endurance and patience for our MRT commute home.
If my life were a Nicholas Sparks novel, we’d be dating within the first 20 pages. But my life is the farthest thing from a sappy romance novel.
In fact, I think it more or less resembles a horrible imitation of a Shakespearean tragedy (not that anyone dies, just that everything is a little bit too dramatic than normal).
I guess that’s one takeaway point here: Just because you have a lot of things in common doesn’t mean you’re going to end up together, or anything like that. It takes a lot of effort to make things work. And that was what I didn’t have. I let the chance pass, and now I’m left with this article, a sorry attempt at trying to compensate for what didn’t happen.
But, despite my lack of assertiveness, there were instances when I thought I might actually have a chance. Like the times I brought homemade desserts and satisfied your sweet tooth. Or when we saw each other somewhere outside the university, and you didn’t look away like you did the first time. Tell me, was I wrong in thinking that?
I’m trying to get over you, you know. I’ve been trying since the moment I realized we will never happen. It’s hard when I’m constantly seeing your face on my Facebook feed, and every little thing reminds me of you (like Mace in “That Thing Called Tadhana”). I hope this will be the last thing I do that’s about you.
You were not the background character I thought you were. You were the antihero, the elusive character that was complex and layered. In the end, it seemed like it was me who was the background character in your life. Gone as soon as I appeared, unnoticed and unimportant.
You are smart, handsome (pogi, you never forget to mention that word whenever you can), God-fearing and responsible — basically the kind of guy every mother hopes her daughter marries someday. So maybe it was a given that I’d eventually like you. Your girlfriend will be a very lucky girl (and her mom will be a very happy mom).
I hope she’ll be nothing like me.
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Alicia Faye, 23, graduated late and is still figuring life out.
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