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We met as freshmen. I was naive. I was stupid. I lacked judgment.
Now I just have bad judgment.
Back when I first fell for you I had nothing. I sat next to you in econ class, watching as the econ grad student put down lagrangians on the chalkboard, those multilayered, multipaneled chalkboards that you could slide vertically back and forth. He would finish one board, then slide it up, and pull down the next one, and I would try to keep up on my notebook. I would fail.
You sat next to me playing QQ Kart Racing on your laptop, your Sony laptop that you always complained about because the battery would die in 10 seconds if the plug was pulled. You never took notes. I thought you didn't give a shit about the class until I realized you set the fucking curve on the first midterm.
So I decided to follow you back to the library one day. I didn't like you yet. I just wanted to bum homework off you. It worked out fine. You were a Chinese international student, a genius prodigy girl from Beijing, who scored a 700 on the gaokao, top 200 overall in Beijing, with math/physics/chem as your electives. You were fucking smart as shit.
You taught me how to feel stupid.
You taught me that I am stupid.
We weren't dating just yet and I didn't have feelings for you yet. I was still going through that macho phase in my freshman year when every club was a stepping stone to goldman sachs and every girl was just another conquest, her picture to be pinned up behind that whiteboard me and the roomies used for listing who bought what--our inter-roommate competition for the most hookups in a single quarter. I never tried to hook up with you.
We became partners. The partnership was that I would do your essays and you would do my econ homework and we would both come out okay. Later, when my parents asked if I had met anyone "good friends" (their code word for girls) at college, I said I'd met one who did my homework.
I still didn't like you yet.
Then my world came crashing down, in one of those long string-ups of #firstworldproblems that seems to come 6 or 7 months after freshman year starts. I failed out of the frat pledging process for losing two pledge pins in the snow, and with it, I lost my first batch of friends. I don't blame them. We were all wet concrete back then, so easily impressionable and yet so hard and inflexible once dried and set.
My GPA was slipping. I had disregarded that in my quest to be "cool" with the frat guys. It didn't work. Now I was lost, and confused. In stepped you.
It was MLK weekend. You showed up, back from China. Somehow you looked... more womanly. No more awkward coltish girl. Your face had filled out--less bony, softer, much, much cuter. Longer hair, though still not those gorgeous permed curls I sometimes chase after in my dreams. Taller. A little coquettish.
Oh, and your boobs were bigger. Or maybe it was the new bras your mom had let you buy, the bras that actually fit you? (I remember how the bras you wore your freshman year later simply broke when you tried them on)
We had dinner at that cheap Viet/Thai noodle place east of campus. You still remember, don't you? How we sat at one of the corner booths, I spilled the 4$ seafood ramen all over my lap, and you reached over and tried to wipe up my crotch, and somehow, in spite of the scalding soup, I got a boner, and then the rumor started that you and I were an item?
Throughout this time you were saying goodbye to your boyfriend who was going to Peking University. The long goodbye, I know. I know how it feels. I know how it feels now. I know how you didn't know what to say when he asked if you could wait for him for all these 4 years. I know because that's what you later told me when I was asking you the same questions, when you were interning in Hong Kong and I was interning in the States.
And I somehow liked you.
You see, my roommate was pretty obsessed with Evangelion, when he wasn't going to his Asian-American Intervarsity Meetings to pick up chicks and win the 2nd quarter bet. One day I was going to sleep, watching his computer go through pictures for its screen saver, and then you came up.
Not your picture, I mean. A girl that looked exactly like you. Well, with blue hair. I later wiki'd her and I realized your personality and hers was a dead match. Quiet on the outside, determined on the inside, and really, really fucking smart.
That valentine's day, I remember not having any money. Well, I had two hundred bucks but I wanted to save that for "emergency purposes" (god I was such a goody-two-shoes back then.) So I went outside into the snow, the fresh snow on the giant grass lawn that was the southern border to the campus, and as it was still falling around me, I walked out your initials, each letter ten yards wide. Then, around it, I walked a giant heart. I sent a text, telling you to come to the statue of Linnaeus at the southern border. I told you to bring a camera. I didn't say anything else and I didn't hear from you for three days.
Then I met you at the library. Or more specifically, I found your laptop, plugged into the wall. I found your laptop cycling through photos for its screensaver, and I saw the giant heart in the snow, all lit up by those orange streetlamps and the flashbulb of your roommate's Nikon camera. I sat at that desk for a while. You showed up and I asked you if you wanted help for an essay. You shook your head and simply rubbed my hair, then asked me to go grab a chair of my own, in that bossy tone Chinese girls use to show affection.
Now it's been years since we said our long goodbyes. I'm not any smarter. I just watched my first company go down in flames and I'm starting a new one. I have to talk to lawyers for bankruptcy in the mornings and lawyers for setting up a new firm in the second. And I know that if you were here, you'd be laughing at me and telling me what a sha gua I am for doing stupid shit twice in a row and expecting it to somehow work in the second time.
I look at the Hong Kong skyline that is my desktop background sometimes and I wonder how you're doing. If your 40-year-old engaged boss is still trying to finger you in the back of taxicabs, if you're still agonizing because you kinda like him but he's engaged and 15 years older than you. If you still want to webcam with me, even though we're both people that no longer hold each other in our hearts any more. If, when you send me those little heart-filled e-mail cards on my birthday, you really mean it.
Which pains me. But I still trust you. Because you were the one girl that liked me when I had nothing, so you're the one girl I can trust once I have everything.
And I am foolish. Maybe that's why I liked you. Because you were everything I never had, and so you became everything I ever wanted, and now you're everything I'm never going to get.
I miss you.