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"thanks for making good memories"
It’s funny sometimes, the things that stick to memory.
I’ve always had a knack for remembering things. Faces, places, facts and formulas – inside of my mind they echo like the lyrics to a song, whether I like it or not. Usually this is unintentional, but on occasion it is because of a purposeful action, a deliberate thought of remembering.
There was a time in the middle of January last year when we were at His house and sitting together in His room side by side on His makeshift sofa with His heater sitting in front of us, warming our hands, when I reached up and touched the back of His hair right above the nape of His neck and He turned just barely to look at me and asked “what are you doing?”
And I closed my eyes and concentrated on the texture of His hair and I opened them and looked into His eyes and memorized the exact shade of His brown and at the scars just below them from chicken pox when He was five and at His hands clenched together, the shape of His fingernails and I said I was going to remember this moment for the rest of my life. I was going to remember.
He just shook His head at me and muttered under His breath in Korean, He probably said I was crazy but I didn’t care.
Here is something true: when I went to China, I changed. My life changed.
Here is something nearly always true: most of it was because of Him.
I would never change for someone else, never change to please someone else. Those kinds of changes are weak, subservient. Changing because of someone, though, is entirely different.
The last time I saw Him was a cold night that January. The snow had melted but it was chilly nonetheless and windy to boot. We had agreed to meet outside of one of our teachers, and his legal guardian’s, house. To ensure that he would come, I had told Him I was going to give Him a present, which he seemed happy about. Upon arrival he immediately asked “where’s the gift?”
I had waited for Him forty minutes in the almost-freezing cold. Curled in a ball, I took out the letter I had written to Him earlier that day full of praise and admiration, and wrote another note on the back. It read:
I have never met someone in my life as selfish and insulting as you are. Almost every day you get angry at me for some unknown reason and when I tell you things in confidence you use them against me to make me feel bad about myself. You say so many horrible things to me and you are so cruel to me. You have made me cry more times than I can count yet you still don’t give a f***. After you’re done yelling at me or embarrassing me, you tell me you love me and that I’m important to you. I’m sick and tired of your bullshit. I have tried to be a good friend to you but I get nothing in return. In a way I’m glad you’re leaving so that I’ll be forced to get out of this abusive relationship.
As of late the only time I can see His face is in a locket I wear more often than not. After I returned to America we kept in close contact for a month or so, but then I offended Him and was given the silent treatment for two months. He contacted me again in May after His older sister lost her three-year-long battle with leukemia. All He said was “it is done now” and told me not to ask Him about it again.
“Where’s the gift?”
“You’re going to think it’s stupid…” I pulled off a bracelet I had worn my entire time in China that he had once complimented me on. He laughed at me, “yeah, it is, I don’t want that” nearly rolling his eyes. I looked down, embarrassed. Why would He like my childish present? It was from my heart but it wasn’t something He would ever wear. I wasn’t terminal, He didn’t have to accept my gift as He’d accepted the fake coin necklace His sister had given Him in the Fall. He never wore that, just kept it in His bag with Him always. I had been hoping for a similar situation, but obviously I was wrong. With Him I always was.
I managed to keep my tears in as we walked together from the apartment to the hotel across the lake, where I would get a taxi to go home. Passing our school I read Him the letter of hate, crossing the bridge He apologized. We paused for a moment at the end of the bridge, climbing down a small hill to stand on a secret beach I had found the month before, overlooking the lake. We stood there for a bit just watching the gentle waves and feeling the crisp night air. Finally tears were coming. Seeing them, He urged me to keep going. We had to get to the hotel. There was no stopping now.
We sat together on a couch inside, waiting for the taxi. The only word I could think of was no. This is the last time you’ll see – no. This is the last time you’ll hear – no. This is the last time you’ll touch – no. I could not accept. Would not accept. I would do something. I could change it. We would meet again. This was not the end.
If He knew I was writing this now, He would be so angry. He would yell at me for betraying His trust. He would say what a terrible friend I am and how He was done with my bullshit and He would never talk to me again.
That happened before, you know. But it doesn’t really matter if He’d be angry with me, because He hasn’t spoken to me for seven months now. He wrote me in September:
I just wanted to say you are talented person. You will be doing well.
I’m sorry, I’m not mad at you. I’m just can’t being your friend anymore. It makes me so complicated.
I hope you doing well also in the future.
That last night, as we sat there, I turned to Him and asked “did any of this mean anything to you?”
He made a noise that sounded like a scoff but was sad; He too could feel the minutes being pulled away. “How could it not mean something?” We both looked ahead and not at each other, “those people…those people who don’t…who it doesn’t mean something,” His four years of learning English failed to provide Him with words, “I don’t…I don’t understand them”
A year after I saw Him last I went to the ocean wearing that damn locket with His face in it and I stood on the beach and I turned my body a little to the right so I was facing North-West and I whispered His name and clutched the container I keep Him in and I sent my love out across the sea. And that was all.
So now, I wait. For Him to come back, or for it to not mean something. Whichever comes first.