I fell in love with a girl I met on the last day of school.
She was in my grammar class. I had never spoken to her before, but she left an impression on me. She was cute, had a bob of hair, wore bright red flats, asked smart questions, and gave good presentations. An English major myself, I had a small crush.
On the last day of my undergrad, I saw her get on my bus. I was sitting at the back. She sat in the middle. I told myself to go talk to her. I told myself it was the last day of school, and that I had nothing to lose.
The A1 stopped at the library, she got off, and I quickly dashed after her.
“Hi!” I said a bit too loudly.
She stared at me with wide eyes, wondering who I was.
“I’m in your grammar class,” I explained quickly. “I loved your presentation on Singlish.”
Her shock turned to delight, and we began to chat about the course, our degrees, and what we were doing after graduation.
She had to rush off, but I saw her later that day in the class that we had together. We had a snack party because it was our last class, and we continued to chat. We talked about books we loved, our time at NUS, and our passion for the humanities even though many people around us didn’t think it was practical. She was about to move to Japan to teach English. I was staying in Singapore for grad school.
The class came to an end, we wished each other good luck with life after university, and I told her it was too bad that we didn’t meet earlier. I didn’t make many friends during my undergrad, and it was nice to know that someone existed out there who seemed to see things eye to eye with me. She said the same.
We went off in opposite directions, but a minute later, I stopped in my tracks, ran after her, and called her name. She had a smile on her face. I told her that as English grads we should keep in touch. She said she’d like that, so we exchanged numbers and added each other on Facebook.
We ended up chatting online that very night. And the next day. And the next. We met a few times to study for our final. We chatted more – we didn’t do much studying. After our final, I asked her out to dinner. We stayed out until 2 in the morning, walking around the city.
At the time, I had just left a relationship of two years. It wasn’t a good one. There was a lot of breaking up and getting back together. My ex and I knew we weren’t right for one another, but couldn’t bear to leave. We hadn’t been faithful to one another either.
I told the new girl about this. She told me that she had a challenging relationship too. She wasn’t from Singapore, and had an older boyfriend back home who was hoping for her to return and start a family with him. She wasn’t ready yet. She wanted to see the world.
The final we took together was our last final, so we both had a lot of free time. We saw each other every day. We went for walks on the beach, explored the city with our cameras, and, after her roommate moved out, I’d visit every night after taking her home. The first time I went, I saw her large bookshelf. The books on it were almost identical to the ones on my own. We talked about the writers we loved and the ideas we loved. That was when I knew I had fallen for her.
We were running out of time together because she was about to fly back home, and from there, Japan. So one evening, after a movie, I confessed my feelings for her. She smiled and told me that things couldn’t work, but it was nice that we had the time together as friends. Then that night when I was about to leave, she told me not to go. We gave each other a big hug, locked eyes for a while, and had our first kiss.
The next morning, she gave me a call, and sounded very serious for someone I was able to chat so openly with just the night before. She couldn’t sleep, and had Skyped her boyfriend and told him what had happened. He forgave her, but told her not to see me again.
I had booked a restaurant for us that evening because she was leaving the next day. It was a fancy restaurant. I promised her that it was just a goodbye as friends, and after some whining on my part, she agreed.
We both dressed up for the dinner and had a great time. She had mussels and fries. I had steak. We talked about the serendipity of our friendship.
I joked that I said hi to girls on the bus all the time. She was upset for a moment before I told her that the truth was in fact the opposite: I never said hi to anyone even in class.
She told me she was glad I said hi to her. She told me that she liked that I was brave.
We said bye to one another outside. But when we gave each other a final hug, we couldn’t let go. I didn’t want to say goodbye, I told her. She said the same. After a moment eyeing one another, we kissed.
We went back to her place and I ended up spending the night.
I had work the next day, so our final, final goodbye before she got on her plane was a bus that we rode together. Looking back, it feels poetic that our last goodbye was on a bus. We held each other’s hands so tightly and didn’t say much.
Would things work out? We didn’t know. She had a boyfriend. She was moving away.
But before I got off the bus to make my way to work, she told me she loved me. From the sidewalk, I waved goodbye to her, and her me. The bus drove off and tore our gazes apart.
As soon as I got to work, I went into the washroom and cried quietly.
Things fell apart soon after. She told me she couldn’t leave her boyfriend. I told her that I loved her, but in my loneliness, I went back to my ex. My ex ended up sending her a message, and told her that I didn’t really love her because I had gone back to my ex.
The girl sent me a final email, telling me that I had betrayed her trust because I had told her that I loved her while I was actually with someone else. She told me that we could never talk again. She blocked me on Facebook so I couldn’t see what she was up to.
Time passed. I’d send her an email every month, telling her how I was doing. She never replied. I eventually stopped.
Two years later, I graduated from my masters. I thought of her again, and decided to make a fake Facebook account and see what she was doing because she had blocked me. It turns out she married her boyfriend back home.
My own relationship ended up a wreck, as expected, but things are better now for me. Though I still think of what happened with that girl every time I pass somewhere we went.
It was torture for a long time because the house she rented a room in was on my commute to school every day. I’d think about her all the time.
The other day, I took the bus to that house and decided to look around. It was empty and overgrown, because they’re about to redevelop it into condos. I peeked through the windows into her old room and thought back to our time together. I hope she knows how much she still means to me.