27. Business as Usual

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

~ Dr. Seuss

A couple of weeks after I settled into my new home, and got the internet properly set up, I went through my email notifications for news about Mr SG’s activities. I found that I felt no resentment towards him and reading the articles just seemed “natural”.

I continued to add on to the repository and saved images individually. When I had enough images, I emailed them to him labelling my emails with numbered subject headings, so he could figure out the set.

While in the past he would acknowledge having received a complete set, ever since that last meeting where I didn’t take a photo standing next to him, he just didn’t respond. I learned not to expect it.

There were some articles that did not sit well with me. He was becoming more involved in politics and some of the media pieces became more intrusive and not really newsworthy. Where I had an opinion, I wrote him. I cautioned him about how he was being presented, advised what I could for future reference and hoped he saw it not so much as nagging but a silent partner watching his back and being the voice in his head. If he read my emails.

It was not all hunky dory in celebrity land and I wondered if he ever thought that he had bitten off more than he could chew. As a demonstration that I harboured no hard feelings for things said in the past, and that I could set aside whatever personal affections I had for him to maintain a working relationship, I offered an olive branch.

It was about 5 months after our meeting as colleagues. The silence having started even before that. I sent him an email, said what I had to say about what I read, and offered him my ears as his sounding board whenever he felt he needed an outlet. While I stated that he need not reply to that email, I ended it with a proposal to forget what had been uttered and to pretend that none of it took place.

He replied a few hours after. His reply was simple: “Thank you” for the email and that he “appreciated it”. That was how we broke his silence.

Months after that, his PA had informed me that he was planning to visit my home country. He had asked if my family was interested to attend the formal event being held, for which he was the invited guest speaker. I extended the invitation to my sister and asked her to spread the word.

Unbeknownst to me, my family met him not only at the event venue, they also sent him off at the airport.

During the event, the sister who had met him before was re-introduced to him. He recognised her and in his opening address, she said he spoke of how good it was to see the familiar faces of people he regarded as his family. He then looked in the direction of my sister and the other members of my family.

How unfair is that??? They, he considered as family. Me, a colleague. If I had not had affections for him, I would have been very angry. :p

My family saw him leave at the airport and my eldest sister said he had taken the time to meet with them first before he left.

We continued to communicate through emails, snail mail for a few years after. I could still ask him what I wanted and when it counted, I always got a reply.

He eventually got engaged to the girl who had made an appearance by his side, as his date, at a community event. Mutual friends reassured me that I was better off. They got married in one of the most publicised wedding ceremonies for that year.

He was my Facebook friend for a while too but I had the strange suspicion (with less than concrete evidence) that she checked on my wall using his account. I promptly removed him from my friends list and was annoyed that he had allowed for my privacy to be compromised. I don’t think he noticed the disconnection. Most of his posts are probably updated by his PA.

 When their first born was delivered, I made the conscious effort to stop contacting him. I left it open to him to reconnect – I keep the same email and that was the most common way we kept in touch, and he has my mailing address, if he kept it, if he ever wanted to.

I just stopped everything on my end.

It was not all that difficult to do.

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20. Is it all just my imagination???

“Elizabeth could not help observing… how frequently Mr. Darcy’s eyes were fixed on her. She hardly knew how to suppose that she could be an object of admiration to so great a man”

~ Jane Austen (Pride & Prejudice)

So. How exactly did I get it into my head that Mr SG might be harbouring unspoken feelings for me?

After that gathering, he returned to that faraway foreign country where maintaining communication was difficult. He continued with the emails and where it would save time and effort, he replied through the group.

Without disclosing the content of the email, I found he was opening up, but then that all might be just my perception.

We met again on a few more occasions. Mostly before he completed his mission, twice after.

On one of those occasions when we did meet, I had my eldest sister with me. The rest of the members spent time with him in another section of the room, separated by a glass wall. I was told that he had asked for me to join the group but one of the members wasn’t too keen. She had asked why I should be there when I was not even from their country. Catty.

Once they were done with the meeting, he rejoined us. Photo opportunity. We took one of him with my sister and then it was my turn. We stood naturally next to each other and our arms automatically went behind the other person. I was not sure where to place my hand and felt around for the back of the chair that was just behind him. I could sense his hand doing the same with the chair behind me. It was comfortably awkward. I liked that picture.

As he was about to adjourn to another group, where his friends and brother were, I called for our transport and left with my sister.

From different individuals, I have heard that he said positive things about me. It was to the point that some jealousy arose from the other members. I didn’t really care about most of them. I was older than they were and wasn’t in the running for “games”. He and I are of the same age, and perhaps that was why we got along. One girl introduced me to her mother and friends as Mr SG’s “favourite”. When I asked her why she had said that, she mentioned being told so by another person and also because of the way he spoke of me.

I called him over the phone once, he was on a vacation abroad. It was new year’s eve. Had he been home, I wanted to invite him to join my family for our celebrations.

On another occasion that we met, after his mission was completed, he asked that I stood next to him as he looked at the gift I gave him. He asked for my number.

I had his number but he never saved mine, until that night.

It was another formal event. The atmosphere was a complete opposite compared to the first one I regretted attending.

While he signed autographs and took photos, I sat on the sofa right by him. We were not next to each other but we were close enough that I could see him and he could see me. He turned every now and then to look. Maybe that was just coincidence.

When almost all the guests had got their autographs and photo opportunity, I went to get mine (I have many but it was part of the event, so I was happy to have more). When I went to stoop down next to him (he was seated and though he was tall, I didn’t want to appear like I was towering over him), he stopped me and said he was going to stand.

We stood next to each other yet again. This time our arms went around each other spontaneously. The photo was not taken immediately. He was talking to someone on the other side, still holding on to me. When we were ready, my friend took the photo for us. She took 2 shots.

He then sat down and asked me to whom I wanted the autographs addressed. (He knew I had many already :p). I gave him a couple of names and then he asked, “who else?”. It seemed to me that he did that to keep me there. When he asked for more names, I asked if he would mind if I called my sister, to see if she had any requests. He agreed. I even let them talk to each other on the phone. All that time, I stood next to him.

We eventually stopped as other people were returning for more pictures with him. A group wanted a photo with him altogether and their photographer asked if he would stand. He said, “No.”. I teased and said, “Mr SG would only stand for me, right Mr SG?” and without hesitation he replied, “Yes.”

18. Getting to Know Mr SG

“It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy; it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.”

~ Jane Austen (Sense & Sensibility)

Since I was not able to attend the first meeting with Mr SG, I satisfied myself with reading about the event, looking at photographs captured by many of his “fans”. There was also a video recording.

Our correspondence continued both through the group messages and through email.

He was very forthcoming with information about himself. For the most part, the communication felt very official. It came out as very practised and vetted; as if he was cautious about the audience reading. However, there were times when I felt that he had more to say if only I read between the lines.

The style of writing alone revealed a lot about the man. The content filled in the gaps.

This was mostly how I got to know him. We had eventually met in person (will write about that in the next blog) but most of our communication took place online. Face-to-face, I was very aware of who he is, and there were always others watching and judging. We didn’t talk as much. I always wondered if that was why he sometimes seemed cold, if he thought I was not what I seem in person as I was via email.

I wanted to do something with all the information he gave me. I remembered setting up web pages when I was part of a chat community. The members there taught me the basics. I remembered enough and started a website for him. The information at first was sparse but when I showed it to him, he provided more detail and even included pictures whether or not I requested them.

I worked on that quietly, not quite ready to show it to the group. I was not sure how it was going to be received. I had not intended it for the public anyway; it was a gift for him.

The group that I joined, by the first gathering, became an official fan club for him. As a natural progression, a website was suggested and a graphics professional from within the group was asked to set up an official page for him.

The page was fancy, with bells and whistles that I could only say I have used, but never included in my pages. Still, at one point, he said he believed the site I created was ready to be shared. I did.

In spite of what happened between us afterwards, we had kept in touch through email… at least for a couple of years.

2. Conversation

“Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after.”

~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh (Gift from the Sea)

It was during one of the breaks at work that the following conversation took place.

It has become a habit for me to take my break either in the staff lounge or in the dinky makeshift room where we keep our shoes, bags, and other belongings while we work. It has been dubbed the “staff room” or the “break room” but in my mind, it will always be the “tub room”. (It used to house a sit-in hot tub).

Though not ideal, it is convenient because it is right within the ward. It is because of this however, that during a 12-hour shift, the ward is all we see. When everyone on break congregates there, it becomes even uhmmm … cosier.

That evening, only 2 of us were left. The others had either gone back to work (having started break earlier), or to make a phone call somewhere more private, or to smoke.

I don’t always like to share my personal life with people I know, unless I know them very well. In that respect, I like the Japanese way of classifying people in their lives. This person I was left with, at break time, was somewhere in the outer circles; a little closer than an acquaintance but not more than a colleague.

I didn’t want to be anti-social.

She is a little more daring than most. Despite my brief answers, she kept persevering. While she can be blunt, she is actually a nice person. Eventually, it was not so much her questions that became annoying, but the answers that I had to figure out.

Her: So … do you have kids?

Me: No

Her: Are you married?

Me: No

Her: Have you ever been married?

Me: No

Her: Why?

Me: *crumpled brow and thinking ‘really’???* I have never been asked

Her: Do you have a boyfriend?

Me: No

Her: But you have had boyfriends before, right?

I thought a “yes” would invite more questions about the relationships

Me: *lying, really wanting the conversation to end* No

Her: (in disbelief) So … are you telling me that all this while you have never had a boyfriend and never got married???

Me: *nodding*

Her: How come???

Me: *shrugging shoulders* I don’t know, you have to ask the men.

The conversation went on for a bit after that, but it all ended with something to the effect of “I don’t believe you”.

The only lie was the not having had a boyfriend, but everything else is almost true. We looked at rings, one of them and I did… but things fell apart about half a year after. Not one of those boyfriends proposed – which means, none of them wanted to marry me.

I know that sounds awful. Honestly, I am o.k. I am comfortable and contented with where and what I am right now. Of course, things can always be “better” but right now, things are not bad either.

It did however made me think back about the other men in my past, other than the boyfriends, and wonder if I had missed any signs of their interest.

Could there have been someone else interested in something more than friendship with me, and because of my ignorance, they thought I was a lost cause?

1. Unspoken

I know that I do not know”

~ Socrates

We’ve all heard about unrequited love, one-sided love, loving in vain … or whatever else people choose to call it. We either went through it ourselves or we know someone who did.

This is not about that.

This is about that love that could have been reciprocated. The kind of love felt for someone but was never disclosed to them because they never said/showed us that they could possibly return the sentiment. In our fear of being rejected, or worse, lose a good friendship, we decided that we would just bury the feelings and be satisfied with a platonic closeness.

That said, could it be that in our obsession to preserve the good companionship, we missed the hints from the other side that they might like us too? Perhaps they too wanted to save the status quo in case we didn’t feel what they felt?

Or maybe, those hints are just wishful thinking on our part that we might have been loved as much as we loved…

One of the guys I know told me that I was brave to confess my interest (to him).

To me it was not courage. I often believe that if you have feelings for someone, if you feel they deserve to be liked or loved, then you should tell them. They should know that there is someone in this big world who loves them. You never know if you might be the only one to tell them so.

You might be the first. You might be the last.