I’m not entirely sure where to begin.
It’s been a long while since I’ve dared to put a story out there – and not in the meandering topics of articles that I once wrote at Poached Mag, but in true, honest posts mulling about thoughts and growing up and where life has taken me in the past week, month or year.
How do I begin a story that puts a comma to end a part of my life, and then leaps over to a brand new sentence for the next?
How do I begin the reasoning that comes with telling a questioning eye, that I’ve met a guy in the most ridiculous of chances or fate, or God-willing circumstances if you’re a person of faith – and that I know with every ounce of my being that this is the man I’m going to be with for the rest of my life? And that this comes with falling fast, but also falling cautiously. Laying out perimeters and talking with open, honest hearts. Testing grounds, with each day passing faster than the next.
12 days: A first date, 5 days of traveling alone for the first time in Vietnam, Christmas, my 23rd birthday.
12 days: Seeing a shooting start I’d prayed for my whole life on our first date. 5 days of finding myself amongst the Sapa mountains and quiet waters of Halong Bay. Watching my brother play game after game of Fifa with him, after family had left and Christmas was a little quieter, like he was the older brother he’d never had. My birthday waking up in tears and knowing that today was the day he was leaving me to go back home to Australia.
12 days: Discounting the conversations, parallel lives and coincidence after coincidence we uncovered til 3am on a Monday night. 5 days of brand new prayers – pleas of harbouring raw, abandoned emotion; asking quietly for guidance and signs once more. None of this was supposed to happen; I wasn’t ready. I needed time to myself; I hadn’t healed enough. But I had asked, and the answers came. All throughout and beyond the 12 days.
Halfway through the trip, sitting on high grounds overlooking the rice terraces – my first answer came. I reconnected that odd feeling I couldn’t place a finger on – the one where when he turned around to say hello, with the biggest smile on his face, that I stopped for a moment because I was sure that this wasn’t the first time we had met; that I had known him from some place before. And I reconnected it with a dream. One that I’ve dreamt of 4 times throughout my life. The first when i was 10 and had started going to church. The second, third and fourth time when i was 15, and had started going to church with feverent faith once more, after backsliding for the years in between.
So here’s where the fun part begins. I’ve had strange dreams before. I’ve dreamt about a body floating in a sack down a canal, the night my aunt had gone missing, only to wake up to find that they’ve found her body stuffed in a sack, floating down the canal at Kallang. (Not kidding, go figure, that story was all over the news) I’ve had the tendency to remember all my dreams in startling vivid details when most people forget their dreams the moment they wake up. And i get a fair share of deja vu, which is always my favourite part.
The thing is, I don’t believe a single thing about it. I don’t believe in soul mates. I don’t believe in happy ever after. I don’t believe in things that are “meant to be” or “fated”. I believe in the real life. I believe that you choose the path you want to take and the choices you want to make. I believe in hard work, faith and brutal honesty. I believe that love fades away and marriage comes down to 2 people who work well together as a team. I believe in a life led by calculated decisions, never a life paced by a rolling dice.
I believe in all of this but when it came back to this dream – this dream that I’ve grown up waking from and telling my childhood sweetheart excitedly about how I think I might have met my soulmate (and that it wasn’t him), and my best friend in school that I’d dreamt of that guy again and God, how I wish I’d meet him someday. But then life got messy, and I stopped going to church, and things got in the way. That dream though? I never saw his face. Which makes it even harder than it already is to try to convince the people I love that I’m not going crazier than I already am.
In that dream, it was always the same. Same dream, 4 times, over 5 years. In that dream, I’m standing outside a one-story building – it’s a restaurant of some sort. I’m standing just outside the glass doors of the place, facing the open carpark. There’s gravel beneath my feet and I’m standing there with my arms folded, shivering a little from the cold and shuffling my feet in the night. It wasn’t a snow kind of cold, kind of like a San Francisco kind of cold, 12 degrees thereabout. I’m waiting for the guy I’m with. He’s behind me, behind the tinted glass doors, at the counter seemingly settling the bill for the dinner we just had. I could see his silhouette through the doors, and I don’t know why I knew that he was ABC (American-born Chinese/Australian-born Chinese/whichever loose term that’s appropriate but that’s what I grew up with lol). I’d hear his voice then, “Ready to go?”, and I’d turn around to see him – and that’s always when I wake up.
But in that dream – it was late, and I was tired, but this was it – all those details could fade away from my memory right now but the one thing that had brought me back over and over again to this dream was this feeling I remembered right there. And this feeling had stuck with me throughout the years before I lost faith in a whole bunch of things and let go of the dream entirely. Feelings can jolt you back to memories you’d thought you’d forgotten and people, and places, can throw you back in time.
It was strange. But I remember feeling this sense of…peace. The kind of peace that only comes with true happiness and content. I knew the man I was with. It wasn’t the first time I’d been on a date with him. We’d been doing this for a long time, and everything was comfortable and at ease. I knew the man I was with. He was the person I was spending my life with. We weren’t new to the notion, but we were infinitely blessed, thankful…and happy. Happy together.
Feelings can jolt you back to memories you’d thought you’d forgotten and people, and places, can throw you back in time. I reconnected that feeling on a lonely cliff in Sapa, and had almost burst into tears at the sheer fear of it all. I had wanted so badly for that dream to be true, but when it comes barrelling in your direction – what are you supposed to do with it? Where do I toe the line between ambiguous events that occur in my sleep, and the reality of a person with feelings, and flaws and everything that comes with the human condition?
So I put that dream aside once more. If anything, it was a bonus and the strongest gut feeling I’ve had in my life, but I needed to draw the safety lines and rationalise things with every ounce of mistrust and skepticism (haha) in my soul. And so I did. And he’ll have you convinced that the number of times he’d looked me in the eyes to tell me not to trust his words, but to allow him to prove himself by his actions – a dollar for each time could have us fed for a long time. And perhaps we’ll never quite be able to explain the insanity that went behind the conversations we had about the real things in life and futures we dreamt of, and how everything matched up and fell into place – enough for us to ascertain after my family falling completely in love with him, and his taking to me as well, that we were going to give this a crazy…CRAZY shot.
12 days later, he flew home to Melbourne on my birthday. The next time I saw him would be in March, when I had to clear leave from 2014. But a whirlwind later, I found myself packing a bag in an hour, and flying over New Year’s to Melbourne. I crossed over from 2014 to 2015 being 30,000 feet in the air. I landed in Melbourne on the January 1st, 2015, 7.50am. And his face was the first familiar face I saw at the start of the new year. We spent 5 blessed days together with him and his family, and I flew back home landing to see my mom’s warm smile, asking what our plans were for the future together, because moms were allowed to have “gut feelings” too.
And so now, it’s 3 weeks until March 6th, 2015 – when I see him again. We’ve mapped out our timelines together and set our goals both personally and financially for the future. To a ton of “WHAT IS HAPPENING?!??!?!?”s from our closest friends, colleagues and family on initial reactions, that turned into some very wistful, bittersweet feelings of being happy for me, while being sad to watch me relocate to Melbourne mid-2016. With my rock and pillar in life that is my brother, engaging in a tear-filled heart-to-heart conversation that one morning, as we both realised we were all grown up now and not kids anymore. Time to go our own ways.
For anyone reading this, it sounds a lot like the foolish, unlikeliest love story to ever come about. One that will eventually end in an avalanche of tears and heartbreak. But from my Godma, who listened to me as I talked about him that Christmas before he came by – dismissively, and cautiously, in order not to put too much weight into my words and heart…she was a prime person who convinced me that I wasn’t completely mad. Because she knew what it felt like. And it was that day that I found out, she had met my Godpa years ago in Bangkok, on a conference she tagged along with my mom on a work trip back then. 3 days later, he’d sent her flowers at the airport. They dated for a period of 1.5 years, met 7 times when he flew over from Hong Kong to Singapore, and wrote letters in between (no such thing as email then), and then got married. Now they have 2 kids, and are still very much in love.
She had turned to my mom to warn her coyly, that long distance relationships have a tendency to move at a much faster rate. Distance propels couples quickly apart, or quickly together with such stringent testing grounds for relationships.
I blurted out, “How did you know that…uhm…”
“That he was ‘the one’? If that’s what you want to call it,” she smiled.
“Yeah I guess.”
She looked at me endearingly and tilts her head to the side, “靠感觉.” (rely on your gut feeling)
And I heave a sigh of relief. I’m not crazy after all.
For all the blessings that have been showered upon us so generously thus far, in words and wisdom and people and the all-important factors like work opportunities and the grace of our families – I am so thankful. Never in my wildest dreams since I’d repeatedly given up on moving to the U.S., would I have dreamed that this would happen. Well I mean. Technically there was a dream but. Man…my brain can’t deal with that shit right now lol.
I’ve penned this down virtually, as a moment etched in time. I’d like to remember what it’s like to connect with people through words again and to remember how to write with my heart once more. I’ve been journalling on pen and paper since the end of last year, and am still going strong. May this journey ahead be one bound by faith and love, and here’s to the next few years of intense, intense change :)
His name is Sean, and he’s the person who’s lifted me to embrace all that I’ve ever wanted to be and more.
‘Til we meet again <3