I met up with a female acquaintance this week. It was a pleasant encounter- the sort you have with old friends. (I call her an acquaintance because, in truth, I hardly know her).
It was good to see her again after all these years. She didn’t seem to have changed much; she had that same vitality that I admired. Amazingly, she hadn’t lost it, despite having two kids, and holding down a full-time major job position - she's the head of a big govt bureau.
She reminded me of Audrey Hepburn (circa 1950s) – it was that confident look in her eyes which in the past had occasion to be haughty. Hrmm...
For a moment, seeing her again, I felt like the kid just about to enter the army. December 1986, I had just come back from Australia, after finishing my boarding high school, and was about to enter the Singapore army to do my two and half years of national service. My family were away in Kuwait, but we had an old empty flat and so I moved in.
One of my neighbors was this girl, my age, who had just done her 1st year of Uni in Australia; she skipped a grade. I met her at the staircase and she seemed to like me. Back then, I assumed that any girl who smiled was flirting with me.
For that first two months of army training, every weekend, I’d get back and see her. Gosh I was such a doofus. I remember when I first asked her out on a date. I had psyched myself up all week to ask her out. Through the harsh army drills, routine details, forced marches and training in the stinky tropical jungle, thats all I could think about all week… Then this girl opens her door… I look at her… something’s wrong, she looks different… suddenly I realize I forgot her name… I stare at her in slight confusion and blurted out my lines robotically.
“Hey, would you like to watch a movie with me?”
She looks back, stunned. And says, “Sure, ok! But who the hell are you?” Oh wait! You’re looking for YN!!!”
In the background, peales of laughter rang out.
Then I realize: Oh shit. That was her sister! No wonder she looked different, duh.
Also turns out that “sister” had a boyfriend who she had been going out with for over 5 years. And he was in the house too. He was most unimpressed with my dating faux pas.
Still YN agreed to go out to watch the movie, Taipan. It was trashy, she hated it.
I was really way out of my league. YN was a lot more smarter and intelligent than me… way more. She was also a strong Christian and thought I was a heathen. lol.
Anyhow it was good to see her again. We chit-chated for awhile. But it was different this time. I realized I had changed a lot. I wasn’t that naïve, unsophisticated geeky 18 year old kid who had spent his entire life in the company of @ssholes anymore. I didn’t feel the need to fill the silences with rubbish comments. We reminisced about the past, esp. the old apartment block. For a moment, she drifted back down in time.
She had lived there for a considerably longer period than I did. Her mom had passed away in the place… I still remember it… Christmas Day, 1988. Intrusively, I asked to attend the funeral but she was seeing someone else by that time and said no. My Lord was I obtuse.
To think that its exactly 20 years to the day that we first met, yet, it feels like yesterday.