I met you in kickboxing training, on the way out of another non-relationship. As someone who had previously never believed in the concept of Mr. Right Now, it was surprising to find myself in this situation time and time again, so much that I have decided to coin this term. A “non-relationship” is synonymous with “date-not-date” and they both describe that semi-significant he or she or they that you are currently seeing a couple of times a week. A bit more than a fling but far, far less than a fully-fledged relationship. If you don’t believe me, check the Merriam-Webster’s entry that I submitted, last month. Made you look.
But back to you, you like all the others, same same but different. We’d hung out a few times before, sometimes with mutual friends from our gym and sometimes we arranged to both be at the same weekend classes because we enjoyed sparring one another. But even alone, we were always chaperoned by strong platonic feelings. I had developed a certain fondness for you, but nothing more. That was my first undoing wasn’t it? Like a poorly thrown javelin at a pre-Olympic event, my feelings for you always fell just short of qualifying.
We found ourselves at a city-located Korean barbecue restaurant, on the night we first addressed your feelings for me. Between mouthfuls of bulgogi and kimchi, I was able to parry your every effort with excuses. You know the last guy I date-not-dated, I protested. I’ll give you time to think about it, I said, even though you were sure, because that buys me time to consider what you were proposing. By all measurable standards, you were a great catch. A clean-shaven young working professional with a job in a very respectable part of the city and a jawline sharp enough to cut glass. We had similar migrant stories to share and we both enjoyed video games. In my mind’s eye you were someone who would’ve gotten along with my uncle, as we sat around the dinner table with my family, eating steamed fish and herbal braised pork ribs with sea cucumber. You were nice. This was the reason I said we could try and also my second undoing, using the rational part of my brain to evaluate you when this should have been a matter of the heart.
It didn’t take me long to find the faults in your stars. They came so easily, off the top of my head, like I was just recalling what I had for breakfast that morning. For starters, you were cute but abrasive. I had attempted once to tempt you with dinner at a surprise venue which ended disastrously because of your lack of adventure. I also knew you weren’t the one for me when you made fun of my cat’s name. Now, I love little Shiso, but I’m not one of those overly-attached pet owners. No, it was a not defense mechanism, but the nature in which you did it, like a flaccid joke told at a whimper of a house party, which illustrated your clear lack of imagination. You also made me pay for your sparkling water. Mount. Franklin Lightly Sparkling purchased at the corner convenience store, not a stone’s throw away from my apartment. The loose change from my purse, another insignificant detail that I remember, which made me realise that you saw me as the hero of this story and yourself, the damsel that needed saving. These incidents are so tiny and so pathetic in the grand scheme of things. Reading back, I’m almost repulsed at how much I nit-picked at your flaws. But the fact I refused to ever compromise tells me everything I needed to know about you, and about me. So here is our third strike, you handed me the obligation of looking after your heart and I, put my hands in my pockets.
Together we were like jigsaw that had been laser cut closely enough that we ‘sort of fit,’ even though we were from two completely different puzzles. The more time we spent together, the more it became apparent that we were two people at a silent disco, dancing a different dance to two different frequencies.
Despite my best efforts at keeping it low-key, we were starting to give off that ‘couple stench’ which hung awkwardly in the air especially to our friends who I insisted we could not tell them about ‘this’. This was the cruelest thing I ever did to you. Not the elbow to the face I gave you by accident, the last time we saw each other and also the last time we sparred in kickboxing. But the outright unwillingness to acknowledge that there was ever anything between us. You never said anything, but I’m about 80% sure I hurt you, yourself esteem and your left cheekbone, with my elbow.
The end was anticlimactic. I sent you a text saying that this wasn’t going anywhere. You agreed and wished me well on my path to find who or what, I was looking for. It’s unfortunate that the only time you were ever able to disarm me, was here in our last message exchange. Because in that moment, my mind became a highlights reel of all the many instances where I did enjoy your company and all the reasons why I thought we could be good friends.
I wish all relationships and non-relationships came with a comment card at the end. Because at the end of ours, whichever it was, I’d be able to hand you yours and it would tell you that I was sorry, that there was never anything wrong with you and that I genuinely hope you find someone special.
I just knew that I couldn’t spend the rest of my life holding your hand, while looking behind you, just in case the love of my life was about to pass by.