The first time I picked him up from the airport, I had the full intention of proving to myself that the boy and I weren't going to make it together as a couple- What do you expect? The boy tells you that he's in love with you, demands to hold your hand, and then flies off to Thailand with a girl (yes, just the two of them) for a week (yes, for that long) the very next day (yes, the very next day).
When you see his face, I reasoned to myself, when you speak your first sentence, or maybe when he speaks his first sentence, you'll both realize what a horrible mistake you two are making and he'll start trying to find some way to escape or you'll just pretend that you don't exist. Something like that.
I waited at the Delifrance cafe, drinking cups of tea and browsing through thick magazines when he finally arrived. He sat opposite me, hair as messy as ever, glasses slightly askew, small dark eyes turning into two tiny lines as he smiled happily at me.
"Why so late?" I snapped.
(Crap, I still can't believe those were my very very first words to him. Yes I know, I'm so mean.)
His smiled vanished. "Sorry," he said.
"I spent fifteen bucks on magazines you know, because I was waiting for you. Waited more than an hour okay."
"Oh. Sorry. Er. I pay you back?"
I went back to sipping my tea and flipped to the next page of my magazine. We kept quiet for a short while, then he mumbled, "This was so not what I imagined..."
Slightly shocked at how formal my tone was, he went on, "I thought you would be waiting for me at the gate. And then once I come out you'll hug me and tell me how much you love me and how much you miss me."
"But... I'm tired! Waited so long for you! I bought new shoes and my feet hurts... But they're so pretty! Don't you think they look damn nice? Do they look pretty to you??"
He glared at me with disbelief, "You were the first person I wanted to see and I came all the way back from Thailand just so that you could tell me about your new shoes."
"Yah?" I uttered, instantly realizing how stupid I sounded.
"You want tea?" I asked, changing the topic, "I was craving tea, that's also why I didn't wait for you at the gate."
"Don't want," he sulked.
He's very good at this- turning the tables on me. I'll get mad first, and then after he feebly attempts to apologize to me for a bit, he'll get mad and I'll be the one having to apologize instead.
"Sorry lar," I cajoled, "Next time you go away and you come back I'll do... Whatever it was that you imagined okay?"
"Which was... Whatever you imagined me doing lar!"
"See! You don't even remember!"
"I do! You want me to hug you right? Or... I don't know, something like that?"
"Hmpf." He folded his arms. We stared at each other. He drank my tea. We stared at each other. And then like a goldfish with an exceedingly short-term memory, he brightened up and grinned at me.
"What?" I asked.
"Wait," was his response.
He opened up his enormous bag, and started digging around in it and taking out little items which he carefully placed on the table in front of me- a terribly ugly brown shawl (which is hidden inside my closet and will never see the light of day), a handphone pouch, oh-my-god-the-boy-thinks-he-knows-my-size! slippers, a ring, notebooks and... I can't remember what else. He was so excited and animated as he talked about how he got each and every item, and where exactly he was and what he was thinking of when he got them.
He laughed softly at himself, "Everywhere I went, I'll think of you and I'll think of buying things for you."
My first reaction should have been: Sooooo sweeettt! But really, it was more like: SHITTT. I had no idea he liked me this much.
Later on, he would tell me that that was one of the most terrible nights he ever had with me. He felt like he was with an acquaintance, or a friend of some sorts. We didn't touch. We didn't even hold hands. We had supper. We made awkward small talk. I listened to his stories and look at the photographs he had taken with polite attentiveness. He walked me back to my house, carrying with him his heavy backpack and numerous plastic bags and everything.
And then just before he left to hail a cab, he grabbed me from behind and almost crushed me with a bear hug.
"I miss you," he said, "I never thought I could love anyone this much before."
"You think what? This is Titanic is it," I remarked sarcastically, "I'm not Rose. And you're not Jack. There is no 'you jump, I jump'."
"Oh. But if you jump... I'll jump."
"Oh pleasee," I said, nearly wanting to gag.
"You mean, you don't miss me at all?" he asked.
"Miss what? Miss who?"
I sighed, "Miss you lar!"
"Okay," he beamed contentedly, holding on to me even more closely than before.
Strangers who didn't know what was going on would have thought that he was holding me hostage for some kind of ransom.
That was more than six months ago.
Yesterday, when he came back from Paris, I nearly knocked him off his chair when I literally threw myself at him. I hugged him so tight that he had to very kindly, while struggling to breathe, tell me to stop choking him.
I'm the one buying him ridiculous little items like a nail clipper and toothpicks. I'm the one constantly molesting him and telling him how much I love him and miss him.
He's very good at this- turning the tables on me.