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Saturday, 17 January 2015

Our (love) story


Based on a true story.

I grew up in Sunday school. My dad was a pastor and my mom was one of the founding members of the church. Unlike some of the other kids who dreaded Sunday school, I loved it. Although I didn’t understand the concept of tithing at that point of time, I gladly saved up a portion of my pocket money every week. I gave with a cheerful heart - not because I was told to but because I enjoyed every single moment of being in Sunday school. It was nothing like primary school. We sang and danced, listened to bible stories and played lots of games.

The day that I was told to move out of Sunday school was one of the most dreadful days I had as a child. I was becoming too old for Sunday school. I was eleven at that time. I heard stories about the youth ministry – how it was a place that forces you to grow up, to leadership and to serving, a place where you are surrounded by childish boys who are in their rebellious phase, a place where worship becomes solemn and sermons, uninteresting.

It didn’t take a long time for me to come to realise that the stories were untrue. I enjoyed every bit of youth ministry. Well, almost every bit. I couldn’t avoid being surrounded by childish boys whom sole purpose in life was to annoy girls, and their cell group leaders. There was this particular boy who seemed almost gifted in annoying me, specifically me. Let’s call him Marc. The worst part was that he had a twin. An identical twin that was probably as annoying as he was.

I remember a particular incident that happened a year after getting to know them in cell group. (Cell group is a place where we go to, in addition to church service, to fellowship and study the word of God.) It was results collection day – the day that all primary school graduates had been looking forward to for the past few months, the day that determined where we went for the next 4 or 5 years. I wasn’t in a particularly good mood upon collection of my mediocre results. What I needed least was a call from Marc and his twin, asking me how I fared for the examination. I bitterly told them my score, expecting some form of comfort and encouragement. None. Instead, all I heard was their condescending laughter and exclamations of how I must have been lying. They couldn’t believe that my results were better than theirs. I had never felt as compelled to close the gap between our phone lines to smack them on their heads.

The following few years in cell group were a blur of events, with me being the butt of their unintelligent jokes. Frankly speaking, it wasn’t too bad. It was in fact pretty intriguing at times; but otherwise, it went overboard. (Warning: Here comes the corny part.) I can’t remember how and why but there was a point in time, after knowing them for 4 years, when I started to enjoy and crave for attention I received from Marc – more than I should. Instead of my usual mundane comebacks, my responses to him started showing hints of flirtatiousness. That was when we finally started texting each other, despite having each other’s numbers saved in our phones for years. We caught on like a house on fire and within weeks, we started calling each other “best friends”. Despite how close we were becoming, I was never sure of how he felt about me. All I knew was that I was inevitably becoming more emotionally attached to him. I moved as he moved, I smiled as he smiled and my gaze followed him wherever he went.

I was becoming one of the typical teenage girls; head over heels in love with my so-called “best friend”. I would thrum my fingers impatiently for class to end just so that I could draw out my cell phone and reply to his text messages. I would sit at the edge of the chair, staring intently at my screensaver waiting for the “1 new message” to appear. I would plug in my iPod and skip all the songs that were on shuffle until I arrived at my favourite love ballads. I would glare, with murderous eyes, at girls who seemed to be catching his attention. I just wouldn’t stop thinking, thinking, thinking about him. And miraculously, he seemed to be responding the way I wished he would. Until one day.

He stopped replying my texts. He stopped smiling at me when we met up in cell group. It was like he was intentionally ignoring my gaze. It was strange. No explanations. Neither did I have the courage to ask him why. I just let it go, let it go… It was heart breaking but I, being the stubborn girl that everyone knew I was, pretended like it didn’t hurt. Pretended like I didn’t give a shit. Pretended like he never mattered. That was the worst decision ever.

He left cell group after some time, without a single word. It was unbearable.

“Where have you been? I haven’t seen you in ages.” I texted. I missed him so much that my pride no longer stood in the way.

“Busy” was all I got in return.

And that one word spoke so much. He had no interest in speaking to me. I had to move on.

A whole year passed by without his presence. I was surviving. In fact, I was recovering. I stopped going to cell group secretly harbouring the hope that he would somehow reappear. I stopped scrolling through our old text messages, wondering to myself what on earth happened that could cause such a drastic change in his attitude towards me. I stopped stalking him on Facebook, trying to figure out what was going on in his life. I started smiling at things that made me happy. I started telling my girlfriends about that new eye-candy in school. I started listening to love ballads again without feeling that tinge of regret in my heart.

Finally.

Yet, just when I thought I was about to be liberated from the misery I felt of losing him (or never having him in the first place), he (cruelly, selfishly, mockingly) walked right back into my life. He came back to cell group. He talked to me as though nothing had happened. He reinstated my position as a best friend. Stupid, stupid, stupid me allowed him back in without a single bit of resistance. It then amounted to that one conversation that we had over the phone till 3a.m. in the morning, which revealed the mystery that had been burning in my heart for the past whole year. He was together with this girl. But they broke up. So now he’s back.

Jerk. Mean jerk.

Despite my mind telling me repeatedly what an asshole he was for keeping me clueless and anxious for one whole year just to find out that he was with another girl, my heart yearned to keep hearing him out. Stubborn me. I decided to be there for him as he recovered from the hurt of his broken relationship. That was the best decision ever.

Throughout the entire period of his recovery, I remembered asking him repeatedly if he was prepared to consider getting into another relationship. “No, not yet. I want to make sure that the next girl I get together with is not a rebound.” I appreciated his sincerity but a part of me wished that he would consider me already. Our friendship grew deeper as we started sharing things that were intimate to the heart. Love languages, prayer requests, personal struggles, New Year resolutions…

It was the New Year again. 2012. By then, we had heard each other’s stories countless of times, we were becoming familiar with each other’s habits and peculiarities, and we were finally close enough to talk about relationships. The first time he mentioned it was when he told me that he was praying about a girl he was interested in. Call it female instincts or whatever – I knew he was talking about me. Of course, I pretended that I didn’t. I kept probing and probing, but all that time, he kept mum about it.

The wait was frustrating. 17th January. That was the day when I decided to drop some hints. I reciprocated by telling him that I, too, was praying about a guy I was interested in. I expected him to have guessed who it was but I was completely wrong about it. This was how it went.

“Who is it??? Oh my gosh. You have to tell me who it is.” He said.

“No! I’m not telling you unless YOU tell me who the girl is.”

“No way. You have to tell me or I won’t be able to sleep tonight.”

“I can’t tell you…”

“Why not???? You’re driving me crazy.” His eagerness gave me confidence.

“Because…”

“BECAUSE WHAT.”

“Because it’s against my morals.”

“…Huh?”

“For a girl to confess her feelings to the guy she likes.”

He pauses for a long while. And then, smiles.

“Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I like you too.”

And that was how it all began. 17th of January 2012.

After we got together, he revealed to me all the missing pieces of my mental puzzle. I asked him why he became so cold to me when he was with her. No, he wasn’t cold to me because he was with her. He was with her because he thought I was impossible. He was cold to me because he was trying to move on. I couldn’t understand. He explained that he had thought I was with some other guy, and that reminded me about the intimate pictures I had uploaded on Facebook with a close friend of mine. Oh, Facebook, what a deceiving world. Apparently, everyone thought I was with that guy… But that wasn’t the point. He liked me. I was right. HE LIKED ME! Damn it! I was so stupid to blow the whole thing up with stupid Facebook photos. What’s even stupider was that I confessed first. I know, I know, a girl should never confess her feelings first, whatever. I came to find out that he had planned to confess his feelings for me on Valentine’s Day. If only I waited for another month… But I guess it didn’t matter; we ended up together anyway.

During the first few months of the relationship, we - or maybe just I - were extremely awkward with each other. He would look me in the eye and tell me how much he loves me. He would grab my hand out of nowhere and tell me how he never wants to let go. I would be extremely jumpy and giggly, unable to reciprocate to his gaze, unable to look him in the eye. He could tell me all day about why he liked me but I found it so difficult to utter a single word of affection. For one, my confidence is in writing, not speaking. I could write letters and poems to express my love for him, but I found it hard to even verbalise the reason behind my love for him. Yet, he forced it out of me. He managed to force it out of me.

 “What about you? Why do you like me?” he asked.

“Hmm…” It took me awhile before I thought of my answer. “No reason.”

“Whaaaat? After all I said about you, you tell me there’s no reason?”

“Yeah. If there was a reason and one day that reason is gone, wouldn’t it make me stop liking you? Mm, no reason.”

He smiled, obviously pleased with my answer. I heaved a sigh of relief…

Three years have gone by in a blink of an eye. Many things have happened – some have brought us immense joy, and some, a similar or greater amount of pain. Yet, we have tided through and emerged even stronger. Occasionally, I would look at new passionate couples with envy, and worry about the state of my own relationship. We no longer post Instagram photos of each other with corny captions. We no longer look at each other with awkward-yet-excited grins. We no longer act like we’re in our own world when we are around our friends. I would ask him, “Are we done with our honeymoon period?” And each time I ask with uncertainty in my voice, he would assure me with an even deeper conviction.

“Don’t be silly. I love you more than I did on the first day we got together, and I love you more every single day.” Yes, we no longer do what new couples do but that doesn’t mean that we’re no longer passionate about each other. It’s no longer the thrill and excitement that I derive from getting his attention but the deep and quiet passion that makes me certain that he is the person that I am going to spend the rest of my life with. We no longer post Instagram photos of each other with corny captions. There is no need to when these captions have become our every day speech to each other. We no longer look at each other with awkward-yet-excited grins. We look at each other with certainty - knowing that this is the person that I am most comfortable with. We no longer act like we’re in our own world when we are around our friends. We’ve gotten so used to hanging out with each other’s friends that we are now all friends.

Our journey in pictures

When we first entered Cell Group. Yes, I'm the tiny little girl right there...

A few years forward, and we still aren't exactly very mature. Look at our (coincidental) kissy faces!

And things became awkward between us... Look at both our awkward faces! (He's the twin on the right, just in case you're confused.)

But when things got better, we started with hanging out with a bunch of close friends.

And then studying together...

And going out together...

And finally, we're together :)

But announced it on Facebook only a year later hehehe.

My source of support

In every thing I do

And in every decision I make!

Going on holidays with our close friends.

Finally, studying and exploring the UK together.

And making new friends in Manchester!

Walking hand-in-hand...

Through the good...

And the bad...

And the cool :>

Into eternity :')

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