May 31, 2017

perpetual summer

for kevin

Summers have always been difficult for Yale-NUS students. You spend the bulk of the year living, sleeping, eating and learning with the same bunch of people, and then for three months you don't. It's difficult to transition from hectic 8am-3am days, eating in the dining hall and readings-rushing in any available classroom with everyone you know and love, to waking up in the middle of day to an empty house and having absolutely nothing to do. Your friends have become your family, and then all of a sudden you have to part. The summer of our first year in college, I was set to spend six weeks in the States. The night before, you Sau and me stood at Botanic Gardens MRT after dinner, not really knowing how to say goodbye. We had been around each other almost every day for nearly two years. I gave you a very, very long hug, so long that she politely walked away.

Three days ago at Class Day, an hour after it was slated to have ended, the crowd was finally beginning to thin. We took a seat by the side and watched the rest. "Karen, I'm going to be so lonely after this," you said. "No, you won't be. We'll continue to meet up. We're both still unemployed anyway." You chuckled.

Two days ago on the day of commencement, Sau's dad got the three of us to take a photo together. Sau said "Kevin you have to make that sian face." "For what!" "You always makes that face," Sau replied, to which you and I both corrected her: you always make that face to us, because we and only we are your annoying little sisters. We're the ones who started your fanclub and refuse to let it die; we're the ones who run to you with squeezes and squeals. You're generally a nice laughy chatty guy to other people, but only we have the privilege of being given the look of exasperation.

You smiled for the picture instead, and put your arms around us. "I'm a changed man," you said. After it was taken you lingered two seconds longer with a tighter squeeze, bittersweet: "ahh, my little sisters!" You let go a bit too soon, and then the moment was over, and we parted ways to take pictures with other people.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in your room reading. Passport came over for a while to watch you play Overwatch before his flight at 9.20pm. I made us instant noodles with eggs, and eventually I got sleepy, so I took a nap on your bed while you and he chatted about his grad school plans and you continued doing whatever it is one does on Overwatch. Then he played for a bit, and then I drifted off. I woke up to quiet. "Oh, he left?" "He left for the airport," you said. "He cried. I teared up too. Stupid... stupid world..."

You and I were supposed to hang out sometime today after lunch, because we hadn't had the chance to chat in twelve hours, and a significant deal had happened since then. (I got a job offer, for one, but I thought the job would suit him better, and I'm sure they'd consider taking him in too.) But right after lunch you had to pack, and I set to crafting my portfolio, and the hangout never materialised. I made a quick trip to the SRC at 6pm, texting our three-way group chat about dinner plans on the way. Sau said she had to eat with her family, and you said the same. I spotted you walking towards the gate on the way back, and playfully shouted your name just for fun, as I always do. A pause. I casually asked if you'd gotten the trolley back. You said yes, it was with Sau now. I said okay. I took a better look at you, and realised you weren't walking anymore. You were leaning on the railing, looking somewhere past me. When I reached you you said "I'm leaving." I didn't realise you meant forever - and that I, too, was leaving forever - and it hit me just a little bit when you wiped your red eyes. You gave me a hug. You were sniffing.

"We'll still meet up," you said, and I replied "of course we will." We let go too soon. Your parents were waiting. You walked away.

I am sitting in my dorm room as I type this, my stuff still all over the place. We move out every summer, and it's never easy to say goodbye to my room. I've accomplished the incredible feat of moving everything in and out of college before - three times before, to be exact - but now I will pack and lug my things to the lift lobby and bring it all down to the car for the last time. This is the perpetual summer. We will have two rooms' worth of stuff in our bedrooms at home and we can no longer turn a blind eye to the mess in the reassurance that it's only temporary. Tomorrow we will wake up to an empty house, our parents having left for work, and the daylight will engulf us in a profound sense of purposelessness. And then eventually we'll get internships or jobs, but not just for a couple of months this time. This is the perpetual summer, and then a year will pass, and two, and maybe you and i will find Significant Others, and then in years to come we'll get married and move out.

Until then, we'll remain #overlyattachedync. We will crash Josh-Anshuman-Yihao's and Peiyun-Nia's apartments. We'll call for breakfasts and lunches and dinners and movie screenings and karaoke sessions and board game nights. We'll hang out at Island Creamery, or Holland V, or maybe even back in school. We'll find new ways to chill. We'll rage against the dying of the light. This is the perpetual summer.


postscript:
Thank you
That was really nice
But I was sniffing because I was allergic to the dust in my room LOL