in the span of four days
Two days before Valentines Day, I slept through both of my lectures and woke up just after twelve. I remember thinking one last time if I should send you the card I had bought just the day before. The reason why I had bought the card so late wasn't because I was lazy, or because I had forgotten, but because I had been debating with myself how wise it would be to send a card out to a girl who I had no possibility of a future with. But we'll get to that later....

I turned on my computer and washed my face as Dave Matthews sang his heart out in my computer speakers the way that only he can. I walked back into the room while drying my face to check if you were on line. You weren't. With a sigh of disappointment, the kind of disappointment a child feels when he or she learns that daddy has already left for work without saying goodbye, I looked at the glittery card and pink envelope lying innocently on my desk.

"You are special, especially to me."

I had, purposely, avoided getting you a card that was too sweet or demanding, because I did not want to force you into a decision. "Special" seemed to be the most expressive I could be with you without crossing the line, though it hardly did justice to what I wanted to express.

Taking courage from Dave Matthews, I placed the card in the pink envelope and licked it shut. I quickly got dressed in a gray hooded-sweatshirt and jeans, and started toward the UCSD mailing center. It was a short walk, 15 minutes at most, but it felt like a long time with that pink envelope clearly visible in my hand for the whole world to see. I tried to hide it, even tried tucking it in my pants, but it kept falling out. I don't know why I was so afraid of other people seeing that pink envelope. Maybe I didn't want them to know that I liked somebody. Maybe I didn't want them to know that I liked you, you who I would be a fool to want. Or maybe it was just simply the very masculine embarrassment of a guy being seen holding anything pink.

I walked that long walk in the cool breezy afternoon, and I thought back to when I first met you. Charlie and I did not know each other too well during the summer between our freshmen and sophomore year in college. In fact, I don't even remember why I accompanied Dave and Eric in visiting Charlie that day.

When we finally arrived at Charlie's place, he greeted us wearing nothing except his yellow boxers, in typical Charlie fashion. I remember feeling awkward and out of place meeting Charlie's old high school friends.

And then I saw you.

You were wearing black pants and a black shirt, and had your hair tied back in a ponytail. Then you saw me. I was wearing a blue Old Navy long-sleeve shirt with cargo-khakis. We made eye contact...or did I just imagine that? No, I remember your surprised expression, even if it was just for a second; I caught it. And I was surprised too. You recovered first and said hi, and I managed back a simple hello. Later when you were away, Eric and Dave began teasing me, saying that they had noticed my reaction to you. I denied it all of course, not wanting to seem "uncool." That's when Dave told me the news.

"She's Charlie's sister."

Immediate shock, then shame, then disappointment followed. How can I go for a friend's sister? I could not think of any excuses. And when that day ended, I made sure you ended in my thoughts.

With as much joy as having to subdue a crack-addicted-gorilla-in-heat, school started again. I had not thought about you in weeks. Charlie and I became close friends. And when winter vacation rolled around, he asked me if I wanted to go to Magic Mountain with him and his friends. I knew you would be there, and I instantly agreed to go. Outwardly, I expressed all my excitement into wanting to ride the rollercoasters. But in truth, the excitement that I was feeling inside had nothing to do with a bunch of heavy metal carts. It had to do with you. Apparently, the impression you had made on me wasn't as easy to forget as I had convinced myself it was.

I wore a black v-neck shirt with those same cargo-khakis, and you wore a red sweater with jeans. "Damn," I remember thinking, you looked even better this time around. With your grungy-looking baseball cap firmly hiding your hair which you thought (mistakenly, I might add) did not look good, you looked almost like a child. I remember wanting to caress and kiss your milky white cheeks, cheeks that were still soft with baby fat.

Of course, I made sure neither you nor Charlie realized these things. I screamed during the rides, joked with Charlie, and avoided staring at you. I was fairly content. But as the day neared its end, I began to feel a tightness in my chest that only grew stronger with the coming of the dark.

Then it happened.

We were driving back, and Charlie had fallen asleep in the backseat. You played "Last Christmas" by Savage Garden, and I knew I would be able to keep in touch with you.

"Hey what song is this?"

"Last Christmas by Savage Garden, I love them."

"Yeah me too, would you...mind sending this song to me through AIM when we're back in college?"

"Yeah, sure."

America On Line Instant Messenger. It was our only means of keeping in touch, and yet how much it had meant to me, how happy it made me feel to see your screen name on my buddylist. I know that the on-line world is not the real world. And I knew how pathetic I was being to let a bunch of letters on a computer monitor mean so much to me...but I imagine, at the time, I would have rather been pathetic than without you at all.

We met one more time after Magic Mountain, but I don't remember when. I do remember I wore a green turtleneck with plain khakis, and you wore a long overcoat with a lavender shirt? Damn...I don't remember. Why does it seem so important to me now that I remember? The times...the clothes...I don't know. Perhaps it's because the little things are what are important. It is the little things that add up, and I've already forgotten some of it....

Once again, like a crack-addicted-gorilla-in-heat-bent-on-getting-revenge, second quarter of school started, sending you away to UC Berkeley and me down to UC San Diego. We've "talked" a lot since then, through our keyboards and monitors, but have we ever really talked? Do we really know each other? I told Charlie about my feelings toward you, about how you inspired me to write. I told him you were my muse, and he had understood.

Two days before Valentines Day, I sent you my card.

Two days after, you typed "thank you" and changed the subject.

As I stated in the beginning, I knew from the start that there was nothing possible between us. It was too far, too short, too Chinese, too Korean, too fun, too tiring, too typical, too new, too hopeful, too depressing. It was all just too much, and I wasn't enough. I had expected this, but that doesn't make this any less painful. Still, perhaps it is better this way. I never was a fan of happy endings.


Monday, May 7th, 2001


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