- Be okay with being unoccupied.
- Acknowledge the limits of your own emotional labour.
- Communicate more openly; Do not make assumptions about people’s needs/wants; Ask questions without fear of the answer.
- Be better with presents and gift-giving.
- Do something for Toronto.
- Finish five good books.
- Run 15km.
- Love without expectations, but remember you have needs.
I can’t honestly say I give 110% in everything I do – anybody who makes this bold declaration is a liar. But I can say that with someone I’m enamored by, I give them 110%. Maybe 210%.
Nothing encapsulates this better than what happened a few weeks ago. The time leading up to November 24th to be exact. It carries on from where this post left off:
After she left for Japan in mid-October, I recalled her love for this band, Pup, and how much she wanted to see them. It came up early in our conversations, I don’t recall how or why. But they did play in Toronto earlier this year so it wasn’t likely that they’d be back for a while. I googled their next show anyway.
Guelph. November 24th.
It’s a suburb of Toronto, about an hour or so away. … Rent a car and it’s totally doable.
So I asked her if she was free on November 24th. Her work schedule wouldn’t be out til a later time, but when it was out, she’d get back to me.
It came out in early November. She was free. And so I proposed to take her officially on a surprise date. She happily agreed.
With a rush of enthusiasm, I checked the Facebook event page to link me to the tickets page. I scrolled to the discussion board… and found out that on that very same day, people had started posting “Looking for two Pup tickets!”.
My heart sank. Are you fucking kidding me.
After checking secondary sales outlets like record stores Rotate This and Soundscapes, I quickly accepted that there was nothing I could do until the day before or day of the event, since people realizing they can’t make would only sell then. I was in limbo for the next 2.5 weeks.
I let her know that there was a wrinkle in Plan A – but quickly added that I love a good challenge and I’d work to make it work. I enlisted the help of F, asking her to post asking for tickets on the Facebook event page – so that She wouldn’t see on Her newsfeed. A week later, I was stressing to FL about this, and she suggested I post on Kijiji. I scoffed through my phone – who still posts on Kijiji when the heat’s all on Facebook?? Do you see these ticket-request posts piling up??? Regardless, there was nothing to lose, so I put up a Wanted post.
November 24th was a Friday and I decided to use up a vacation day for this date. The days leading up to it were hella stressful.
Casually talking to Her on the Wednesday, we organically came up with a Plan B. We would go to the AGO to catch the Guillermo del Toro exhibit, then hit up a few galleries afterwards, including her friend’s exhibit at the Mod Club*.
* This was actually another point of stress in my plans – I didn’t want to take her away from her friends important night. But the exhibit came up way after I proposed the date. In addition to trying to get these damn tickets, I was trying my best to make both their Toronto exhibit as well as the Guelph concert. @_@
The day of November 24th, I still had no tickets, despite enlisting the help of two others to post on the Facebook event page.
Oh, and two days before our date, I fell deathly sick. Everything was fucking perfect.
I met up with her regardless, letting her know I wouldn’t be able to kiss her since I was sick. Right before we met, I got a response from Kijiji, asking me if I still wanted tickets and he had two that may become available. I immediately responded yes. No reply.
She always looks gorgeous, but she put in extra effort that day. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have her hand in mine.
Right off the bat, I let her know I would try to be as present as possible, but that I was also trying to make Plan A work. If I’m on my phone, it’s to make Plan A work. And by 3pm, if it wasn’t going to, I’d let her in on what it was, and we’d follow through with Plan B.
I had an amazing time with her at the AGO, but as 3:30pm rolled around, and I was making last minute ditches on Facebook to attain tickets while also trying to keep an email thread going with Kijij guy Connor, it was getting pretty stressful. I had already told her to avoid checking Facebook as I try to make this work on my own (on the event page). I pushed the reveal-time to 4pm.
Ummmm make that 5pm.
One by one these Facebook posts were falling thru. Someone who listed 2 tickets for sale ended up selling one of them and only ended up having one to offer. This happened twice.
We were getting hungry round 5pm, so we decided to go. I had gotten to the point in the conversation where Connor was telling me “don’t worry, it’s not a scam. Not that me telling you it’s not would make it not a scam”. Appealing to what humanity this maybe-scammer might have had, I told him my plan: “to surprise a date to a Pup concert in Guelph, which would require me to rent a car, drive an hour, and locate this place. So it would suck if it was a scam lol”. So if it was a scam, I’d hope that piece of personal info would persuade him to seek another victim.
He told me to e-transfer him the $75, which I had no problem doing (despite this psycho using kijiji and not facebook (!!!!!!)). I was hesitant. It wasn’t just the $75 – I might have to start a personal zipcar account (~$30), find a zipcar location, rent said zipcar (~$70), drive an hour out to Guelph, find the place, PERHAPS FACE THE HUMILITY OF OUR TICKETS NOT WORKING, then drive back. After a visibly stressful decision-making period, wherein She could tell how lowkey stressed out I was, I decided taking the risk from this anonymous Kijiji man was too big. I sadly emailed him telling him the hassle was too big and I’m sorry for wasting his time. The sad part comes from the thought of not getting to see her face light up when she saw who I was planning on surprising her with.
We were in line at the sushi place and I was still sniffly. Sniffly and bummed. She held me and went in for a kiss. I backed off slightly, reminding her I was sick, and that I didn’t want to get her sick. She said “I don’t care. I want to kiss you”. And so she did. And it was the sweetest thing.
I was about to tell her what Plan A was going to be, but decided to tell her when we sat down with our food.
As we sat down, I pulled out my phone.
A Facebook Friend request from Kijiji Connor. Along with a message.
“Hey, I was hoping you seeing my Facebook profile would provide some sense of comfort to know I’m a real human being! I have 6 people in line for the tickets…. but you messaged me first, and I’ll honour that. As well, I know that if a girl surprised me with a Pup concert, I’d be over the fucking moon. So I wanna make your guy’s night. Do you still want the tickets?”
He was right – it did provide me some comfort since his profile went back to 2012 or so. I was torn. I looked up at Her. Back at my phone. Should I? I looked at Her… and the answer was so clearly, obviously, yes.
“Fuck it, you’re gonna have to wait another few hours. We’re going with Plan A.”
Almost equally ecstatic was Connor. “If he’s not over the fucking moon, ditch him! Take me to a concert instead.” I wasn’t going to correct his pronouns then and there.
So I e-Transferred him the money, booked a zipcar under my company account (I’d make up the excuse on Monday that I’d “accidentally” used the business account instead of my personal one, and pay them back). We went back to her place to change out of her shoes and jacket, which she’d bought in Japan and would not want to get dirty if there was a mosh pit.
The car ride there was also amazing – we bonded over Rob Zombie and other music from my highschool years that she unknowingly put on. She was a huge fan of Die Mannequin too. It was pretty surreal. I love that the car ride gave us time to bond, over music.
And all of this was worth it when I saw her face light up when we got to the line, and she saw people wearing Pup shirts. That was the sweetest embrace.
I asked her “is this the best surprise you’ve ever gotten?”. She excitedly nodded. But I wasn’t sure if it was because she was in the moment.
So I asked her again the morning after. And without hesitation she affirmed yes.
The last thing to wrap up this date, was to correct Connor’s pronouns. For visibility’s sake.
So that’s what I mean by 110%.
It’s not sustainable or an “always, 24/7” thing, but that’s the amount of effort I am willing to put in.
I’m willing to put in the focus, attention, and affection.
I don’t know if I can fit that in a non-monogamous relationship.
But the debate about how a non-mono rel is more sustainable/satisfactory than a mono one is a debate for another day.
That’s a term I’ve been grappling with.
It’s what she currently is, and she’s not looking for a serious monogamous relationship right now. I can’t go in looking to change that – it wouldn’t be fair for her or for me.
“Isn’t that just a fancy term for dating?” a friend of mine echoed my questions.
I guess if you’re just dating around, it’s a phase. But if you’re consensually non-monogamous, it technically implies this is not a phase – it’s permanent.
I’ve been reading up a lot about non-monogamy. It requires a lot of communication from both sides – much more honesty and checking in and self awareness than traditionally monogamous arrangements. One of the things people in or getting into monogamous relationships struggle with is jealousy, which comes hand in hand with insecurity. And the question “why am I not enough?” – which I have been struggling with.
I also learned about compersion – the ability to be happy for your partner when they sleep with or date someone else. I don’t know if it’s innate or if it can be learned, but if I’m to be with this girl, I’ll need to at least try to… “compert”.
She’s still seeing at least one other girl. And it eats me up inside. But that’s my own fault. It’ll take a while to adjust these expectations. She’s been very clear from the start.
We’ll just be cute together until then.
This is intensely new for me.
The first time I met her, I had my eyes set on someone else. Naturally I paid little attention to her, attractive as she was. I must embarrassingly confess, what attention I did give to her was initiated out of spite for the other girl.
I didn’t see her again for three months after.
In between, I did end up following her on Instagram, but alas, no followback. This alone was a notable detail, not for its ability to prod at the biggest of egos, but for what happened in September. When we did meet again, it was in a non-queer setting – I was with my planners at Hanlan’s Point, celebrating a birthday. I spotted her friend, whom I met her through, and went over to say hi / chat. I kept it brief.
But a few days later, she followed me back on Instagram. Maybe it’s a petty, millennial-minded thing to even think, but… the petty millennial-minded side of me tells me that I even crossed her mind following that interaction. I was grasping at straws here.
I still didn’t pursue her. I don’t know why.
When I did message her, it was completely innocent and from a genuine place:
“Where’d you get your hair done? It looks amazing!” And I meant it. And I meant it in a non-flirtatious way.
We talked a bit but it died down after a few days. I don’t recall how, but we started talking again.
After a few weeks of daily texting, the topic of art came up and I found out more about her – she works as a social worker but that was after she dropped out of OCAD for illustration. She’s been getting back into art with doodles at her neighbourhood cafe. I told her I’ve fallen off my art-gallery game and that we should go art gallery hopping.
And so we did. I had so much fun the entire day, from when we met and her bike lock was fucked up; to discovering that we actually knew a lot of the same things, like local artists; to dropping into vintage stores and learning more about her what she likes through casual conversation; to stumbling into the infamous Harry Potter store; to learning that she loved candles, skulls, and taxidermy, and that there was a Rosemary+Salt scented candle that she really loved; to spontaneous Grand Electric Tacos; to stumbling into a bike repair and coffee shop tucked into a residential neighbourhood and getting her a temporary lock from the goodness of the mechanic’s heart; to her lingering hand when we hugged goodbye.
I had such a good, cute time, I texted her almost immediately, before I even got home. We were already planning out our next “hang”. But it definitely felt more like a date than anything.
I went to New York the weekend after and stumbled onto a farmer’s market. At the essential oils stall, I was fixated on an oil burner. Deliberated it for a good 15 minutes (“am I moving too fast? Will she even like it? Should I spend this money on her? Does she even like me??”) before committing to buying it.
I gave it to her the next weekend I saw her, along with my mom’s chocolates. “She gave me too many and I can’t finish them all” was my half-excuse. She loved it.
We walked around Kensington and I decided to bring her to Fika. Despite having been in this cafe three or four times, I had no idea there was a patio in the back….
And to our delight, a hammock.
So of course we lay there for a while. And we talked. Then, for a bit, lay side by side in silence. Looking up at the clouds and blue sky. And it was comfortable silence.
We hung around a bit more, went into different stores. Then we went to Poetry Jazz Cafe where her cousin works, and she bought me a ginger beer – made in house. It was absolutely delicious and packed a punch.
We parted ways. And I texted her as soon as I got home.
I told her the hammock was my favourite part.
She told me it was hers too.
Our mutual friend had a movie screening that she invited me to. Her best friend and their partner were also attending. It would’ve definitely been a double date. But both of them ended up cancelling, gradually. I wasn’t going to bail on her.
A few hours before meeting up, she texted me “Hey I know you have to work tomorrow, but do you wanna grab a drink after the movie?”
It was especially endearing since I knew she was very introverted. It was a deliberate move.
We met up, took two seats in the back of the theatre. I told her “I don’t remember the last time I went to a theatre and watched a movie”.
“What did you do the last time you went to a theatre?” she smiled.
I smiled and shied away.
It was her last night in Toronto, before going to Japan. For two weeks.
She almost walked into a wall. It was really cute.
She almost walked into the elevator handrails. It was really cute.
She walked me to the bottom of my condo. We were both abuzz with the alcohol in our systems. It was two hours later than I anticipated leaving – we were swayed by our new friend, who offered to buy us drinks.
“Well, this is me,” my drunk ass fell back on cheesy lines from even cheesier TV dramas. I looked at her sadly. She was going to Japan two days later.
“What?” She asked softly. But the smile I saw for a split second told me she knew.
It’s a little blurry what happened here but I told her I was sad she was leaving.
“What are you gonna do about it?” She hushed her voice, the smile showing more.
In a tipsy stupor, I shot from the heart: “… I’m just gonna kiss you”. And I went for it.
And we made out for half an hour at the bottom of my condo.
“I’ve been wanting to kiss you for a really long time, you have no idea”
Being on the receiving end of that text put me on cloud ten for the next 48 hours.
We texted every day for the next two weeks.
I’d wake up to photos she’d send me. I’d reply with Good morning. We’d chat for a few hours until it was her bedtime, on the other side of the world. We’d say Good night.
She’d wake up to a photo or message from me. She’s reply with Good morning. We’d chat for a few hours until it was my bedtime. We’d say Good night.
I delayed publishing this post for over a week. But, she came back on Saturday. What happened next is for the next post.
This is the first time I haven’t overthought someone. I’m keeping a proper and intentional lid on the overthinking. It got me this far. If I overthought like before, I’d have fixated on the fact that she’s probably leaving for Vancouver in a year. And I would’ve detached.
But she’s far too special. I’d be a fucking idiot not to take this chance… Love is not a balloon or elastic band. There’s no breaking point. Love is a muscle that you flex and grow. And if you hurt yourself, you heal, and you grow and persist.
We’re so different, but our core values and humour are the same. I learn so much from her, and I just want to make her happy. I was walking down the street for the first time last week, and it hit me: I finally truly understand on an emotional level what that lyric means “I was made for loving you”.
It’s too early to be using such strong words, but it’s how I feel.
I plan on surprising her. Next weekend, I’m going to rent a car and drive her out to see one of her favourite bands. I’m so excited. I just hope I can get tickets to this sold out show.
I’m getting better at storytelling.
Per the McKinsey workshop, storytelling is constructed on content, tone, and body language. The biggest praise came on my content, although I did get compliments on tone. I know my content is great – my stories, compared to those of so many around me, are so interesting – crazy even. I had them on the edge of their seats – and this was just a 3 minute story that was part of a work shop.
Anyways, the point of this blog is to note my progress in this goal of mine – being better at story telling.
Also, this blog is getting stale and I need to commit better to writing weekly.
I had a bad night on Saturday.
I’d spent the whole day with my brother, showing him around downtown so he wouldn’t be alone uptown. It was a nice and mellow days, and ended with dessert crepes. He left around 9pm and I was alone at home.
I was unwinding with Netflix and tabs of random Chrome searches in front of me and before I knew it, I’d slipped under a veil. I felt like something internal was pulling me in, down. And I hadn’t even noticed until I was ruminating in shitty thoughts, like I was readying myself to drown, like all hope was lost, and everything I had done/accomplished was futile.
Maybe it was loneliness. It’s probably loneliness-related.
I messaged J to make her aware that I would possibly cancel on our plans for the next day.
And for some reason I messaged A. They are a social worker and I felt they would be equipped to help. Even if not then, at least they’d provide resources and I’d have a direction to move in. And they’d hold me accountable.
I got through the night, put myself to bed.
J was sweet. She said she completely understood needing that alone time. Despite last minute cancellations, she dropped by at the end of the day with cupcakes. I was touched.
Today is Tuesday. A messaged me a spreadsheet to resources. And it started a conversation.
They told me a bit about their past, ways of coping and addressing these issues. One exercise was a “Little me, Big me” message, where you first write as “Little me”, which is supposed to encompass all emotions and irrational feelings in their rawest form, and voice our your feelings. “Big me” then responds by validating these emotions and rationalizing everything. It’s similar to me writing out my emotions, but there’s empathy involved.
I couldn’t help but think, when they were giving me a personal example, that Little Me needed to fucking get over it. My immediate reaction was one of frustration and impatience. I told A, adding it was probably something I should tell a therapist/counsellor.
I’ve been pretty vocal about needing to voice out your feelings and engaging in dialogue, primarily to avoid conflict and blowing up relationships. But I guess despite my writing out my thoughts, I haven’t been aware of the emotional side of my relationship with myself – I haven’t been empathetic with my own feelings. I’ve been rather cold, actually, rationalizing them primarily for the sake of making them go away, permanently. A healthier approach would be to recognize these feelings and rationalize their existence, and… And then what? I suppose they won’t really go away.
Well the inner child in me is feeling abandoned by those around me. My friends are all either coupled or too busy for me. Or the ones I actually care to be around are too busy. I feel disappointed because I think I’m always there for them – whenever they need it. Where are they when I need them? Why can’t they tell that I need them? I feel angry. I also feel lonely. And I‘m frustrated that I let myself keep going back to those who treat me so disposably. Do I think so little of myself that I hold out for those who don’t have me as a priority in their lives? Why do I let myself get strung along by those who don’t have me as number one?
Big me: Nobody is anybody’s number one. Despite what social media, pop culture, or society tells you. Nobody is anybody’s number one, at least not permanently. Number ones do an entire village’s worth of work – to provide emotional support, financial support, physical labour, fun and fulfillment, and dependence, all while maintaining desirability. This is atypical of relationships. Different groups satisfy these realms of life – a single person cannot possibly provide all this (and more). So to ask so much of your close friends, let alone partner, is unreasonable. And remember to not have these expectations of your partner. At best, it will end in divorce.
Adjust your expectations. They have their own lives. They are making themselves better people. (And if you want to think selfishly, they will be better for when they do connect with you.) If you need them – truly need them – they will be there. You just have to voice it – you know you have to ask for help when you need it. What matters is they actually pick up, when you ask for help. And deep down, you know they will.
You take time to make yourself better, and you go about it vocally too. Don’t be selfish about what you preach – give them space to make themselves better.
That was therapeutic. I’ve always been very good at consoling and talking my friends out of their bad situations – so I’ve come off as self-possessed to many of them. What they don’t know is I don’t typically use this to this extent on myself. This exercise was good in separating my emotional-irrational from my logical-rational. There is no weakness in either side, but they need to be balanced out…
Patience and progress, Little me. Your friends are here for you. I am here for you.
Adults know everything. They are objectively correct and the systems that they have in place are not arbitrary, they are scientific.
You do not question them. You respect systems and the decisions of adults. We were not religious, but filial piety was as close to God as we’d have ourselves believe.
Life carries itself out within the walls of these systems.
Anytime I came close to these walls as a child, I was harshly disciplined. And you don’t get to ask why. “That’s just how it is.” “You just can’t.” Said mom and dad.
You don’t get to think outside the systems. It’s not like in North America or Europe, where at at least “creativity” was a commonly exchanged word. I still don’t know what “creativity” is in Chinese.
Within my social circle, I am one of the more curious ones – and my curiosity is nuanced. I’m always asking “how?” – particularly with people, and how they came to be. What happened in their childhood that made them this way? How conducive were their parents in honing this skill? What fleeting character in their life drew them in this direction?
What was the system within which they grew up like, that shaped them to be this way? I want the whole picture.
In my first year of coming out, it was an incredible amount of self-reflection and questioning my own becoming – to what extent did my unique ‘system of systems’ craft me to develop these ticks, quirks, habits, annoyances, insecurities? I needed to figure out why I was profoundly irritated by certain things, why I sought to detach as much as I could from others, why I felt so misunderstood and the differences between me and my closest friends. I was obsessed. And I documented it all here.
And it’s been hella disappointing. Cultural values, socioeconomic hierarchies, social mores and taboos have all shaped the way I think. And as I’ve met more and more queers, I’ve found a significantly larger amount of common ground with several of the gaysians I’ve met than with most others – and I’m talking depth as much as breadth. The way we think is so similar and as refreshing as this is, it’s also astounding. And the systems within which we grew up are so similar – nuanced, but similar. And I attribute the similiarities in the way we think to the commonalities in our childhood systems. We have parallel sources of shame.
So I’ve found myself analyzing why.
And it’s not helped my overthinking.
It wasn’t until recently that I contrasted my childhood faith in systems with my disdain for how they’ve failed so many of us in so many ways.
Whether it’s our voices muted by helicopter parenting, or our inability to make decisions by way of one-way parental trust, or our inability to form healthy attachments to other people as a result of abandonment… we’re all victims of our circumstances. We’re all victims of our systems.
“How would you feel about just staying friends? Would you be able to do that?”
I grimaced – it meant she had little faith that my feelings were reciprocated. Discomfort also arose from me not having an answer ready. I would probably be okay – she is optimistic, career-driven, gay, and is a connection on the west coast. She’s already offered free accommodation and to be my personal Uber driver and she’ll “take me to do all the outdoorsy shit and I’ll hate her for it but my instagram aesthetic will be strong”.
“I have a crazy story to tell you” She said.
My heart started beating real fast.
“I have a feeling I’ll be back in a year. Maybe two. Vancouver won’t be permanent.”
I delighted with her, in her revelation. But beneath, I yearned to know why… not why she had this feeling… but why she would tell me this. Why would you dangle hope in front of me, when I don’t even know how you feel about me?
Then a week ago, she asked for my address. I gave it. Then my postal code. I gave it. And she bought me her favourite book.
I’m tired. She’s seeing someone else. I can’t stomach it.
Usually I would detach. Oh it would be emotional violence.
But I want to try something new (partially because I genuinely believe I am better than the person she’s currently seeing, if we’re being brutally honest). I want to persist. She’s a friend worth keeping, I’d like to think. So I’ll bite my tongue.
I’ll persist, with hope.
This is fine dog in burning house .jpeg
And next thing you know, we’re texting every day. I know a lot about her. She’s poured unto me everything beneath her skin; I’ve laid upon her some of my deepest thoughts and insecurities. I’ve carved a dependence into her life. You would think this is a double-ended sword but familiarity makes me immune. I know this old tune and how it goes and there’s a bitterness to it.
Then it’s just a matter of time before my wandering eyes spot a scapegoat.
And then I detach, violently.
I’ve afforded them no explanation. If they cared they would dig deeper.
I’ve also afforded them an explanation. The ends don’t justify the means.
I’ve done this before. It’s muscle memory by now.
I feel great. I haven’t spoken to this one in a week. It was painful when she followed up after three days and asked “are we not okay?”. It’s best we give each other space. I get over feelings systematically. Her – not so much.
I’m only now wondering how it’s like on the other end. I’ve never been on that side before. How does it feel to have someone so close pull away so abruptly?
We didn’t have a future together – what are we even doing? Why are we wasting our Now when we have no Later? Let’s just move on.
I’m great at cutting people off. I’ve told her this. I’ve gotten good. It’s not healthy. “Am I next?” she joked. I don’t remember what I said.
I think I need counselling.