24 November 2012
I woke up a few minutes after 5 o’clock in the morning, as usual; save that there was nothing usual at all about that day. It was the day that would change my life forever.
I felt really tired, and my back muscles ached from staying up late the previous night. I got up from my bed feeling dreamy, as if what transpired the night before was indeed just a dream.
It was his call over Skype that had awoken me, and while I knew he was telling me something important, I found it difficult to shake my sleepiness off. Less than five minutes into the video-call, my eyes had begun to droop again and his words were only a mumble-jumble to me.
“So I cut my hair”, I very faintly heard him say.
“You what??” I jolted.
“I asked my mom to cut my hair, see?”
“Why?!”, I exclaimed in panic.
“Because you wanted me to.”
“Cecille”, I could hear desperation in his voice. “I thought you said I will attract unwanted attention over there and you don’t want that”.
Now I do remember telling him that. “I don’t know…I don’t know…I liked your long hair. I’m not used to seeing you like that!”…I seemed almost a child, unreasonable. I honestly didn’t know what I wanted anymore. Confused, tears started rolling down my cheeks.
“Oh, Cecille, please don’t cry.” He was almost pleading. “I have to go now, okay? My parents are taking me to the airport. It will grow back soon, anyway”.
It felt really weird for him to be consoling me then. He was the one who had one foot of his hair cut off and yet he was the one who was trying to make me feel better. I know he was kind of “attached” to his hair. He’s had it long since he was 11 years old. Looking back to it now, I thought it was frivolous for me to even mention the haircut. Of course, I tell him I never forced him, I was just…sayin’.
When we first started talking online, I didn’t really care about his hair. I thought it was hot and I was attracted to that mysterious side of him. As the day to our meeting drew closer, I became concerned. I think it must have been my conservative influence. Men with long hair are sometimes stereotyped as bad boys: wild and probably addicted to dangerous drugs! How ignorant does that sound?
Not all long-haired men are like that of course, but it was all about the image of it. I knew my family was going to meet him and I just wanted him to make a good first impression. I was like, “Who knows? We could end up getting married!” 😉 Little did I know, he was going to impress them anyway with his charms, his very polite demeanor and, as my father said, his outstanding table manners. But more on that later.
After sleeping a while longer, I got up to check my messages. I wondered if he’d left me anything before he boarded the plane. Boy, did he!
“Great! That’s all we need”, I muttered. A glitch right in the beginning of the two-week itinerary that we’ve been planning for months is a downer, I thought. My nerves were already wracked at the thought of seeing him, finally in the flesh, after four months of relentless correspondence. I was on the cusp of being stressed.
I waited until 8am for business hours to begin so I that I could speak with the hotel personnel regarding his reservation. He was supposed to arrive at 11 o’clock that night so I called the hotel to let them know that he would be arriving the next day instead. The unexpected detour in Alaska was going to delay his flight for 3 hours. This also meant that he was going to miss his Beijing to Bangkok flight, the last flight for the day. He was going to sleep in a hotel in China, alone, and catch another flight to Thailand on the following day. I could imagine how anxious he must be, travelling halfway across the globe for the first time, to places where he doesn’t speak the language, while encountering these mishaps at the same time. The horror!
I smile at the thought of him making that gesture to see me. I’ve got to admire him for being so determined. I was actually sad that I had to cancel the chauffeur service I had previously booked to pick him up. I wanted him to at least be comfortable when he arrived, after all the stress of intercontinental flight. I asked the lady if they could move the booking for the following day but she said they were fully-booked. Oh well! I tried.
I decided to let the stress of the rescheduled arrival go. There was really nothing we could have done about it. I thought: it’s only one night. I was going to see him tomorrow. At 1pm, I went about with my other scheduled appointments: Last minute girly preps that, without getting into much detail, included a nail spa. I would later reap the fruits of my tortured labor when he says the very first words that came out of his mouth upon seeing me. 😉
It took me several hours to finish and when I was finally settled in the couch, checked my messages again. Lo and behold! He was online and was typing to me, possibly as fast as he could!
“I’m in China. We did not stop in Anchorage”
“Will you be able to pick me up?”
“Uhhh…I changed my plans for the day. I’m here at my mother’s place”. Yeah, I forgot to mention that!
“……….” Nothing from him. It said he was typing.
“Oh!” He finally replied. Goodness! What was I doing?!? I must be freaking him out!
“Of course, I’ll pick you up!” I typed in haste. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to do it in my condition.
“Okay. Boarding now. I’ll turn this off”, he said.
I sent a quick goodbye then his little green circle was gone. I exhaled in desperation.
Now what? Decisions, decisions.
I jumped up from the couch, picked up my backpack from the floor, and began packing haphazardly.
“Where are you going?”, my mom wondered.
Silence. You can almost hear the wheels turning.
“I have to go, Mom”, almost a whisper.
“Back to my place”,
“But your foot!” Right! I forgot to mention that too. I had stepped on something earlier. I needed minor surgical intervention and my two feet were bandaged. Did I mention it was painful? I’d been downing pain killers the whole day.
“I’m okay Mom, I’ll be fine”. She was observing me as I was cross-checking my stuff with my list in hand.
“I thought you’re staying here tonight.” I didn’t respond.
“Just tell me what is it, okay? So I’d know.”, she prodded…I was worrying her.
“It’s Ian. He’s arriving tonight.”
What ensued was an exchange between a worried mother and a stubborn daughter who will do what she wants, even against advice.
“Will you at least let your brother take you to the airport?”
For all of my life, my family and friends were always there to support me. I’ve always had people to consult with for all of the major decisions I’ve made. But as I said, it was not an ordinary day.
“No. I’m doing this on my own”.
I’d made up my mind.
TO BE CONCLUDED