3 April 2020, by Johnathan Chua
We were in the same secondary school. I had a male classmate that was crushing hard on her and he introduced her in hope that I could be his cupid.
(Hold on, hear me out)
I vividly remember when we first met. It was after school and we were at the park behind the school, across a canal. I was attached and very much in love with someone else at that time. But when we were introduced, I immediately understood why my friend had feelings for her.
She wasn’t drop-dead gorgeous, at least not back then. But beautiful nonetheless. There was something about the way she spoke, the way her cheeks creased to look like whiskers when she smiles. Conversations with her weren’t mindless or shallow. We
connected quickly and shared stories of our childhoods, our dreams for the future, both
seeing the potential in each other.
The fact that we both knew that I was playing cupid helped. We spoke bluntly, with both of us knowing that my agenda was rather platonic. Even us exchanging numbers felt
simple with no intentions for each other. She’d text me when our mutual friend was being weird. We’d laugh about it, then I’ll attempt to talk him out of it. Through this, I got to learn her likes and dislikes, her view of the world and her priorities in life.
Let it be known that I successfully brokered a relationship between her and my friend that lasted for a while. When they got together, I kept my distance knowing that I had a soft spot for her.
I too was nurturing my own relationship.
And then we drifted.
3 years and 2 breakups later, I received a text shortly after our ‘O’ Levels. She simply
wanted a friend to help her rationalise a situation. I was like “Yeah okay. Let’s grab a
MY HEART WAS RACING.
There was something about her. A vibe I couldn’t find in anyone else. Simply looking at
her name pop up on my phone gave me the butterflies. Of course, I downplayed it like a lot. But boy did I take the time to style my hair and choose my clothes. (Looking back at old photos, I did not make good choices)
We met and my broke ass suggested that we’d buy supermarket sushi and have a picnic on the roof garden at The Esplanade. That was my best possible idea at that time, I wanted it to feel like a date. But once again, I downplayed it with her.
It felt like we picked up right where we left off, we spoke on the phone late into
the night, caught movies together… her texts were the only one that mattered. They were the sole reason I had a phone. And then 2 to 3 months in, I asked her to be my girlfriend.
“I don’t feel the same”, was the summary of her reply. It crushed me. I was so sure.
We agreed to remain friends. Which I thought was a great way for me to get over her since I wouldn’t immediately lose her in my life. We went on to begin a new life in Temasek Poly. The influx of new friends helped. I accomplished my boyhood dream of starting a rock band. While most of us were terrible and beginner musicians, it never stopped us from playing at our school and multiple locations around Singapore.
Patrina and I kept closely in touch. She really was the closest thing I had to a Best Friend. She came to all my gigs and I sang to her with an audience. While I kept my options open, deep down I never stopped chasing her.
She started going on dates. It didn’t bother me too much since they weren’t all that
serious and I was busy with school and vying for superstardom with my band.
Patrina was going on a week-long vacation with her family to Hong Kong. Bear in mind
that this was back in 2008, a world without WhatsApp. I told her that I was really going to miss her and she said the same. I asked if she’d write down her adventures and thoughts for me whenever she felt like talking to me. She agreed.
A week or so went by. She called me when she arrived back at Changi airport, telling me that we needed to meet soon and that she penned down thoughts for me.
She wrote a letter for me, for each day that she was away. I’ve kept them to this day and dig them up every few years to read them again. This family vacation of hers changed my life (our lives). It was when she was away that she realised that we had something between us, and she wanted to date proper.
Will You Be Mine
It took me months before I had the courage to ask her again, to be my girlfriend. In fact,
she had to nudge me a few times. Planning on how to ask her again was nerve-racking. But this time, I’d know her answer.
On 18th October 2008, I brought her on a date. We were amongst the first to go up
the Singapore Flyer. I took her to a Disney themed restaurant (which was terrible). At
about 9 pm, I sent her home and walked her to her gate. My friends that were in on it
brought the props and hid near the staircase.
After we said our goodbyes and she closed her front door, my band members came out of hiding and sprang into action. We laid a runway of candles with (mushed up) rose petals. I held a bouquet of roses and waited.
In her home, her younger brother made her read her own blog. I guessed her password
and left her a note there asking her to ‘finally’ be mine, and a final instruction to open her front door where I was waiting.
The entire thing played out much nicer and much more romantic in my head. But what
matters most that day, was that
She said yes.