Met a boy and got kissed by the sun instead. Lived at my best friends’ houses, lazed about with dogs and glasses of Pinot Noir. Noticed that mum always brings home those satay skewers I like and that dad takes notes during my dentist appointments. I read on the couch and watched people on the train, with the same patience a grandmother has checking the window for signs that her grandchildren have come home. Told my sister secrets and hugged her before bed. Loving comes easy.
Never would I have expected such acute disappointment from being left without a kiss goodbye.
I walk slightly ahead of you, not quite knowing how we’d end things. What did I have to say? How much would be enough? What would it look like, the perfect sendoff? You must be anticipating it. It’s like that feeling when you play pass the parcel. What do you do with that thing in your hands? Hold it for a second longer or toss it away? What’s it going to be?
I’m nervous, can you tell? You must do. I don’t know what to do with myself. We’re trying not to be obvious and I think that much is obvious to the both of us. I miss the bus because its arrival rudely interrupted our conversation. “I feel like I have more to say”. I tell you in the most serious voice appropriate for the streets that I’m around if you ever need anything. And then we’re back to joking again. We’re laughing, and look at us, we’re so brave; we don’t look away.
It’s quiet again and we’re brought to the precipice. At any moment we might have to jump. When can we move and how can we do it well? I catch you glance swiftly at my lips and I can’t bring myself to reciprocate. But I recall that your lips seemed bruised earlier today and curiously how I had, for the second time, entertained the thought of kissing you.
There’s a kind of excitement that lust makes a mockery of. It’s in the exchange, an undercurrent that is simultaneously understated and intense in its purity. It’s in the way legs are crossed. When thighs fall together like balancing cards and when a smile is shared at the right moment. It’s our secret, because we know that every touch is significant. And when you’re reluctant to move, you’re screaming: I want to be close to you.
“I won’t keep you any longer”, I say. Another pregnant pause. Hug? “Another hug”, you say in an oh-okay-haha sort of way. We smile briefly, then you turn and walk away, whilst a million crazy thoughts flood my mind. Imagine if I were to be that girl who runs after the guy- wait! The grab and the kiss and the slow fade to black.
Maybe I should’ve said “come here”. Maybe you’d have cocked a brow and moved a little closer. And maybe I’d have to prompt you again, to tell you it was okay. “Closer”. Then maybe you’d finally get it. It’s okay. Just kiss me already.
Our foreheads melded together. Your skin is only the faintest barrier and I am inhaling you. I breathe out compassion: I only wish you happiness. Wherever you may go, whatever your past, I care for you. You warm, hopeful thing. You were made to be loved. If there is anything I know, this is it. And this pure, boundless love makes no sense. I don’t know you, but I know you are my kind. I want to laugh, I want to cry. I will kiss your cheeks, your eyelids, and hold you close until you believe that this is one shade of infinity. And our lips will brush- this isn’t lust, this isn’t corporeal. If there is anything I want, I want you to feel this too. Believe in this love and you will believe in God.
‘Anyone who is among the living has hope…’
After a year in university, I’m a changed woman. I now box/ kickbox regularly. And I actually enjoy reading the bible. That is all.
Sometimes I dream of people with faces that don’t belong to them. On the surface, I don’t get it right, but I feel the centers of everything, the souls of objects… Your voice, though. I know that voice. I hear it through different mouths, different lips, and I’m searching for your pair. I think I fancy people who look like traces of you– like you’re the first draft, the outline an artist makes before the alterations on top.
I hold onto the voice, thin and whispy through the phone. I think I must’ve been the one to call you, because it’s the one thing I try not to do when I’m awake. I ask how you’ve been and I don’t ask because it’s the polite thing to do. I want to know. I want to imagine the new place, your home. This other world. Do the pillows match the curtains? Are you happy? Are you in love? Tell me how you feel, so I can recover who I’ve missed. Will you tell me how you are? I grip the phone, press it against my ear, and quiet myself. I want more before –
I lose you. The empty buzz over the phone, the connection gone. I hesitate to dial again. Will you call me back? And it wrenches my insides, realizing that I’m the one calling first, ready to prompt you to give me more. Will you not surrender? Because here I am, waving white flags and poppies.
I don’t want this, I know that now.
When I find a good blog, I go on a rampage. I’m voracious, like I’ve been starved of words. I get through a year’s worth in no time, familiarising myself with a voice I’ll probably never hear. I’m that person who gives you 100 views on a day. Sorry not sorry.
I love it when people stop on the street to stare at dogs or babies. At first, I’m taken with the dog/baby. Then I’m taken with the person. It’s a soppy fest. Stop being so cute, all of you.
I might be a creep but I really like it when people are into their food. When they’re not doing anything but taking the time out to enjoy something as simple as a Subway sandwich. He was sitting there, no distractions, no headphones, no phone. Staring at his sandwich, biting into it. No laboured bites, no unnecessary mouth stretching. Not trying to get everything in now, at once. But slowly. Enjoying life.
Strangers who smile at me make me so happy. I mouth a thank you to the driver who lets me pass and I get a smile in return. I am waiting for the light to change and the construction worker smiles at me deliberately. Someone in a Ralph’s uniform shoots me a smile as I’m dazed by the pastry section. It’s a shot of happiness.
I was reading up on synesthetes on acid and a redditor describes in detail what it’s like to drive to music. I’m not going to share that though, because this is the best part:
‘But OH MY GOD WHEN PEOPLE SMILE. Sorry to shout, but it’s the most amazing thing. I make an effort to smile at random people all the time, because I love the feeling I get when someone gives me a genuine smile. It’s almost like an orgasm. I can see and hear and feel the happiness and friendliness. Almost any emotion, I think, is made more extreme by my synesthesia’.
Yesssssss! Mirror neurons at play? When you smile, I smile. My brain is literally firing smiling neurons before my lips get tURNT. And when you smile, I am reminded of the best feelings. Humans are so cute sometimes. We feed off each other’s joy. There’s a word for it– Mudita: pure joy unadulterated by self interest. When we can be happy of the joys other beings feel, it is called mudita; the opposite word is envy or schadenfreude. Unselfish joy inadvertently benefits the self, because nothing feels better than love. How selfish is love when you have obtained the most incredible gift ever? Lose your life to gain it. Jesus speaks the truth!
If you happen to lock eyes with someone, go an extra step: smile. I dare you. But not in a scary way. Practice in the mirror first.
I now know what I miss most about Hong Kong: bathroom doors that cover most of my legs. Why is it that in America, the doors are so darn high? Nobody should be able to see my ankles. God forbid, my undies. It’s not my fault I’m short.
In LA, pedestrians take priority. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a peasant in HK, so I tend to jaywalk and get frustrated when cars don’t let me pass first. They’re always so eager. It’s learned cultural etiquette, crossing the street. I remember the awkward stuttering feet, my hands and their hands waving back and forth when I first arrived in LA. What, me? Should I go first? No, you go. Me? No, you. I wasted everyone’s time. Move out the way, bitch.
When I hopped into a Taxi from the airport, I mentioned that “I’m going home!!!!!!!” The taxi driver did not dignify me with a response. And all of a sudden, I missed Uber. I’m going home! I didn’t vomit on my 15 hour flight! I’m happy and I want to share it with someone. Tell me about your home! Are you far from it? Do you miss it? Or do you know these streets like the back of your hand? Uber is a social experience. I love that- I meet the most interesting people. I may just write under a separate category for it. Apparently Uber is at work in HK. I doubt it’s very popular; most people I’ve spoken to have never heard of it. Taxis are cheap enough and people have better things to do. Such is the mindset of HK people.
MTR tickets are more expensive than I had remembered. Green tea is a whopping $12 HKD?! What has happened since I was gone?! Not impressed. It’s also been really really hot lately. It feels like a thousand mouths breathing on me, a centimetre away from my skin. For this reason, I’ve worn bare-backed shirts. But I quickly realized that I can’t wear them in HK without creepy eyes and intense stares on the MTR. People do not care if you notice that they’re looking. They keep staring. And when you move, their eyes move with you. I hate it.
The skies have been shot through with flashes of light- the way an old fashioned camera snaps in slow motion. The typhoon in Taiwan has left something that “looks like an apocalypse, no joke” said my friend in Taiwan. The world is turning to shit. Post-apocalyptic films always feature people with pre-apocalyptic attitudes that mess things up for everyone. Human nature, errybody. Mad Max knows.
Airports are funny places. I almost forgot I was still in America as I ate my sushi. I almost forgot to tip. I might as well have been in Asia, already home. We’re all on our way somewhere, not staying for too long.
“Is that a speaker?” they asked me.
“It’s a mic”.
“Yes”. And I was surprised by the approving looks security gave me. Maybe because I’m exiting the US rather than entering it they didn’t feel the need to treat me like a criminal- go terrorize some other country. Or maybe it’s the dress.
I find my seat between two big people in the last row. I’m not too pleased about the dude on the left with his tuna sandwich and having to lift the dude’s arm to plug in my headphones. I turn the hoody around and cover my face, like a fencing mask. Right Dude interrupts with a breathy chuckle and a comment to Left Dude: “just like my first date”. Ha Ha. I take the hoody off. I sleep face down on my personal pillow and ignore every flight attendant.
I watch two films. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is very good. Wonderful narration. I love older adults (old people) and I love films about them. I’m particularly fond of Mum from the James Bond movies (Judi Dench) and Dad from About Time (Bill Nighy). I fall in love with the culture, the vibrancy of the fabrics and spices, the beaming faces, the honking scooters, squabbling vendors, the children and the orange dust. I’m reminded of The Hundred-foot Journey, another amazing film set in India. These films depict a sincerity in their relationships, this respect and familial piety that’s hard to come by these days, especially in the western world. British dramas/ comedies and excitable Indians do not disappoint.
I watch While We’re Young and what strikes me is this: Jamie looks like this guy I knew. I met him one summer night, whilst cooking with the door open. I heard guitar strums, a voice, and I followed the sound to the roof. His friend was smoking, reclining on a deck chair under the moon. I sat on the floor, listening. I don’t know where he is these days. The last I heard from him, he was in hospital. I miss him. I’d tell him again if I could reach him.
It’s dark, aside from a few movie-lit screens. The Dudes are sleeping. And I think about you. Because I could’ve been on my way to see you that time you invited me. I could’ve stayed the weekend and for a moment imagine how I would’ve felt if this was it. How I’d shoot you a text when I landed with giddy fingers. The moment I’d see you again- how we’d both light up. And then I’m thinking about you sitting next to me, with the arm rests pulled back and the reading lights off. I think about your hands. And then I force myself not to think at all.
The hum of the blow dryer. Dad’s fingers sifting through the damp strands of my hair. Tossed, ruffled, falling like sand.
The sun on my chest. Blistering heat. Sticky thighs. Summer.
Thailand. I’m dripping onto the tiles and Iggy Azalea is trying to rap. She’s the realest. The taste of sweet sprite and raspberry vodka. Chips floating in the pool.
Grey. The sound of a thunderstorm. Calming. Blankets and cold toes.
Warm. Body Shop strawberry bath bubbles smell like candy. Sister and I must separate the big bubbles from the small ones.