Tuesday, August 01, 2006

These foolish things

A cigarette that bares a lipstick's traces
An airline ticket to romantic places
And still my heart has wings
These foolish things remind me of you.

“So, how have you been?”

She was my first, way back when. Even though it's been a decade since I last saw her, she still looks the same, with her long dark brown hair tied with a pink scrunchy, dimples that seem to light up when she smiles and her still slim figure belies five years of marriage and two children.

I was looking for orchids as a housewarming gift for a friend when somewhere in between the flower pots and faux bonsais, there she was.

How strange,
To find you still,
These things are dear to me
They seem to bring you near to me

Funny how some coincidences occur. Just last weekend, I was just looking at some old photos in a long lost album while I was doing some spring cleaning. Pictures of the two of us were among the heaps of unarranged and yellowing images. The holiday we took in Singapore. Our karaoke session after the finals. My one and only mountain climbing trip. Looking at them now no longer evoked any bitterness or regret. I smiled thinking of the good times we had, wondering if it might have ended differently had I not….

You came, you saw,
You conquered me,
When you did that to me,
I knew somehow,
It’s meant to be….

Later, after that encounter, I would come home, a little bit dazed. I thought of how our separate lives have evolved since that tearful goodbye. In the ensuing decade, I had loved again a few times, ...and lost again a few times. But never with the same intensity. They say that the first love often determines the course for one’s future relationships. If that is true, then I fear I shall always be cursed to repeat the same mistakes that I made with her. And yet, as I look back, I realise that our time together has made me a stronger person. Less judgemental. More forgiving with the realization that everybody makes mistakes once in a while.

A tinkling piano in the next apartment
Those stumblin’ words
That told you what my heart meant

“I’m doing great” she says, a bit too enthusiastically, the way one tries to be upbeat when confronting an uncomfortable blast from the past. I find out that aunty’s doing fine but uncle’s confined to the wheelchair after a stroke two years ago. And her firstborn is now in pre-kindergarten – a fancier name for daycare, I suppose.

A man in his late thirties approaches us with two kids in tow. Tall and lanky but with a kind round face.

“This is Henry, my husband. Honey, this is the old friend of mine I told you about…”

Ouch! I have been demoted from an ex to an old friend. Or perhaps she’s now comfortable enough to regard me more positively. Hellos and handshakes are duly exchanged and I sense my cue to exit the stage.

The scent of smoldering leaves
The wail of steamers
Two lovers on the street
Who walk like dreamers

As I watch them stroll away down the road, I'm surprised to find that my heart has been palpitating to the point of being almost out of breath. She still has that effect on me after all this time......

Oh how the ghost of you clings.....

The blaring horn of an impatient driver behind me jolts me back into reality. I’m waiting in line at the traffic light junction as the infernal red light adamantly refuses to grant me passage forward for more than a minute. As Dinah Washington sings the last few lines of the song, my mind slowly reawakens from its melancholic lull, like the morning fog lifted by the blazing sun.

These foolish things
Remind me of you.





1 comment:

crewcut75 said...

Nicely written bro.

What's important is that she found happiness. There's comfort and peace in that knowledge.