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collective regret

Sorry I turned down your offer to have lunch together. What looked like a nonchalant refusal actually was me being scared we wouldn’t get along, stuck at small talks, and God forbid the awkwardness that would follow. I thought we would have next time that wasn’t next year. I should’ve accepted your offer, fear and cowardice be damned.

I should’ve hugged you tighter, kissed your forehead, mapped out every inch of you in my mind the last time we met; who would’ve known we wouldn’t be able to meet again for the rest of the year, and now I’m touch-starved.

You looked brave that day, for coming up to that stage, holding the microphone and speaking to the whole room. You looked composed and in your element. People didn’t notice your trembling hands, your eyes darting every so often, beads of sweat dripping down the nape of your neck, your pacing and near panic attack just five minutes ago in the backstage; they didn’t need to know. All they had to know was how great of a master of ceremony you were. I should’ve complimented you. I should’ve given you a packet of strawberry milk and biscuits and a post-it note. I didn’t.

You were cold. But that Friday afternoon, rushing from the cubicle of automatic teller machines, I saw you, crouching in front of a kitten and chunks of leftover food near your shoes. You petted the feline like a second nature. That sight alone stuttered my brain to a halt. Maybe it was the deviation from your usual stiff and towering-over stance (blame that on your height, I suppose), or your smile, or the careful way you watched over the kitten. You looked like a different person, soft around the edges, like you were made to deal with a less harsh world. I watched in awe, trying to commit it to memory for the next time I remember you as an ass.

The movies sucked, but your company was great, and the fact that you paid for the tickets and popcorns made it even better. Sorry I rarely offered to treat you back (I was broke and still am, but that shouldn’t be the reason, shouldn’t it?). I never really understand your fondness of sitting inside the cinema for hours on end. I know it’s fun, but I could get by just fine without it while you could die of boredom and craving. You’ve made it alarmingly clear how miserable you’ve been with cinemas being closed for God knows how long. I think you have an entirely different reason to enjoy movies. Maybe you find it calming or a momentary escape from your demanding job. I’m sorry I turned down your offer to watch some of them. We should go for another round after this ends.

I remember promising you lunch. I made that promise months ago, in a bet we had sloppily placed, a bet with no real consequences other than losing a small amount of money to the winning side. You won the bet and gloated about it for a whole day, to which I only grumbled, and conceded defeat. We decided to have lunch next week, after the class, my treat, only every access to the campus ground was closed before we could execute the plan. Now the promise was overdue and I didn’t know how I’m supposed to make amends. Let’s hope next year we could actually go together.

You evolved so much in college, I noticed. You looked more confident, socialized better, smiled brighter and made friends easily. You weren’t the person I knew three years ago, and I thought that was so great of you, to transform to such a cheery person, completely different from how I remember you as the reserved and soft-spoken kid. I never said it out loud. What a waste of an opportunity to rebuild a long forgotten friendship. But then, I doubt we could ever be as close as we used to be—if you considered us close, that. At least I thought we were. I didn’t know about you. I still don’t.

Your birthday was last month, the prettiest day of the month, one where a bunch of online shops took advantage of. I had made plans to give you a present, to go over your boarding house, to celebrate it with you, but now you’re so far away and I had to resort to merely sending you elaborate texts. I hope you didn’t age that day, so that the next celebration would be the same way as I had wanted it to be.

We hiked together in the past, to that ridiculously low hill, a mountain that had been dead long time ago, we came unprepared and you, you forced me to take up the trails like I was in the same spirit as you were. The whole way I complained and whined and declared . We’ve made promise to do it again but that wouldn’t happen in the near future. As I look through the photos we took that day on the top of the hill-mountain-whichever-it-was, seeing you and I smiling with nothing but clouds and twilight sky and rocky hills behind us, I miss you.

Dancing has become one of my favorite routine in college. Although yes, I slipped away from practice every so often, under the pretense of gathering and class and being sick and what else, but when opportunity arose, I made sure to join the recruitment for performance as often as I could manage. I had always been told by my parents that my body was built for dancing, and I have believed it all my life, the sole reason I took up dancing here and there during my school years, although always sporadic, never really settled down with one. But dancing in college is an entirely different area, for I’ve found that my love lies with this particular form of traditional dance—the energetic, loud, constantly moving one, not the slow, careful, and ethereal one. It’s just a matter of preferences, I think. I’ve found home in this place: the people, the routine, the warming up, the sitting together so close we’re practically squished together like fish in a net. The practicing until night and on Sundays. The memorizing lines and songs and which shoulder to tap and which hand to clap. The pain and soreness of limbs and peeled off skin and bleeding knuckles going on for months. The arriving at campus at five in the morning and the makeup and the stage trial. It’s all so worth it. To be doing it over and over again passing out becomes the only option. And overseeing the performance? Even more exhilarating. Although stressed out and I constantly second guessed myself, it’s all so worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat (just kidding, I’d rather be the dancer). I should’ve danced more often. Who knows when the next perfomance is going to be.

I forget how we became friends, or how I consider you my unofficial life advisor, for you always see the silver lining in every cloud and seem to never lose your rational mind. I think it’s your tendency to accept people for who they are, to understand people like a psychologist, or maybe we simply buzz in the same frequency. I often got so bored and sleepy in class that I resorted to using your shoulder as a pillow. You never really seemed to mind, or actually moved away, so I just continued doing that, and I made sure to sit next to you in class as often as possible. I thought it had become the second nature by now, to go for the furthest chair and put down my bag with little more force than was necessary. When I didn’t use your shoulder as a pillow and instead leaning on the wall, that meant I was thinking whether you would be distracted by me headbutting your shoulder like a cat for two and a half hours straight, but that streak of thinking usually got washed away when I leaned towards you again, trying to pin my attention to the lecturer right in front of us—curse your inclination to sit at the freaking very front of the class, and curse me for following it, and curse me for becoming accustomed to and even liking it—and not close my eyes for longer than was appropriate. Your boarding house was so comfy too, a place I once visited with the premise of doing group assignment, but quickly evolved to a loooooooong chit-chat about whatever came to mind and having instant noodle cup as dinner and sleeping over, for I stupidly stayed over the curfew and was unable to get out. I didn’t regret it. I was happy, even. We talked some more with the lights off and that day definitely went into my collection of fondest memories in college. Now you’ve moved out of that boarding house. I wish I had frequented it and sleptover more often. Dude. While writing this I realize I miss you so much. And I don’t even know whether you’re going to be reading this. So the joke’s on me, I guess.

4 thoughts on “collective regret”

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