Wednesday, May 09, 2018

WAY BACK INTO LOVE

So half a year ago, I was on Tinder in Brooklyn although I'd never been in New York (don't ask why, I'm a little insane sometimes), and I matched with a guy called Ben. I then liked someone else, and got distracted, but Ben and I were Facebook friends. He and I continued to like several of each other's posts, but never really kept in contact. Two weeks ago, he asked me whether I would be free to have a cuppa with him because he would be in Singapore for a weekend. I said yes, of course. In the past two weeks, if I haven't been asleep or at work, then I have been most likely looking into his face. One of the first things I learned about him in person, was that he went to Harvard University, he studied English (read English? I dunno) and at first when he had told me, he said he didn't like how I was reacting and he didn't like to tell people and for people to treat him differently, but I liked it even more. I would think that being from Harvard would make it even higher odds that he could be an entitled highly-educated white prick, and I have met so many men who are intelligent, and none of them better human beings for it. This man, though, the first morning that we'd woken up together, he talked about social mobility. He said it's much harder for black families, they might get their way into the middle class but then fall back down the class ranks again, and it's very different from white families, and there's still a long, long journey to work and fight for. His mum passed away of cancer, and I see him still coming to terms with it, and when I asked him what his favorite food was, he said it was beef brisket the way his mum used to make it, and she taught him the recipe, but that his doesn't match up to hers because she'd been making it for decades, and he needs those decades to improve on his. I've brought him to eat local delicacies, things like laksa, and rendang - voted the most delicious dish in the world, in a poll by CNN International taken by 50000 people, and sambal stingray, and drinking sugarcane. He likes most of it, and he does this cute little review of sorts of our streetside everyday food, and he pronounces it in a butchery white man way, but I correct him, and he tries. Several days ago, my colleagues were having a conversation about whether they approved of Ben, because we have this joke that I am their mum, and they should approve of the man I'm dating, and the banter went back and forth but the consensus was that I was happy, and he was making me happy, and every screenshot I put up on Instastories of a conversation between us was cute and quirky and smart, and they like him. He's also turned up at work several times to fetch me for a meal or to send me home, and they think he is very sweet, and they are right, he is. Sometimes when I ask if I can film him for Instagram, he says "I'm not your show pony!" but then he does it anyway, because he said he likes that I so want to show him off. Last weekend, the public transport system fucked up again, and I hadn't known about it, so we had to take an extremely long detour, and my gripe about it was that nobody who was going along the same train journey as us, had seemed to know, and everybody was confused, and Uber was surcharging because everybody was trying to Uber home, so I said, we are a first-world nation with everyone owning and being hooked on a smartphone, it should have been easier to get the message spread on social media and make us aware of it, but I didn't say this, I yelled it while we had to walk past queues and policemen and volunteers trying to bring order to the situation. I also peppered it with constant "what the FUCK is wrong with Singapore? Fuck this shit!" and a whole lotta fucks, and basically I was in public-transport-rage-mode, and at this point, men usually understand I'm a basketcase with a lot of issues, but Ben, despite telling me he saw a five-year-old girl side-eye me for my rage, said it was normal and healthy, and distracted me and told me stories, and held my hand throughout, and I thought, damn, he does really love me. Whenever I say Jesus Christ, he says Superstar, like the musical, and I Instagrammed this and my manager Aileen was so tickled she kept singing it when I got to work. He dropped out of a community choir because the director kept gaslighting him and he accused Ben of saying that no non-blacks are allowed to sing black songs, and they had an altercation about appreciation and cultural appropriation. He also asked me what it was that I read and watch, to be in the know about such things as race and gender politics, and I told him I'm in an intersectional feminism group on Facebook, and the people on there had really helped me get through my miscarriage. This is the man I love, and this is the kind of white man I like. One of the things I hate people bringing up when the topic of my dating comes up, is that "white men only want sex", which befuddles me, because one, there is nothing wrong with sex, two, everyone wants it - white or men of colour, white women or women of colour, and three, men of colour, especially in Singapore, have not been introduced to the idea of systemic racism and gender politics. They hate being told that they've internalised misogyny, they hate being told that they're mansplaining, they hate being told that perhaps white men deal with gender politics better because they've been called out on their race politics and so have started to think about these things, and are thinking about the issue with a mindset that's a decade ahead than their Asian male counterparts. When we watched the Hamilton bootleg on my laptop, there's a scene in Aaron Burr, Sir, where they knock a beat on the bench and Laurens says "showtime! showtime! I'm John Laurens in the place to be!" and Ben asked if I knew where the "showtime" ref was from, and he said it is how crews start performing in public in New York, whether on train platforms or anyplace, that's how they start, and I told him I'd just read that bit of information in my Hamiltome and I knew it, and I thought, this man is living the life I want. He's living out the Hamilton scene I've been playing in my head over and over. Over the past week, I told him he shouldn't be making me fall in love with him, so he asked if I wanted him to do something horrible so I wouldn't miss him so much. I said, "well are you gonna hook up with someone else and disappear?" to which he responded that that would not be poetic, and followed up with "Hamilton is overrated." He said this knowing my feelings about Hamilton, that it's the American Dream taking place, but the cast is so diverse that black people and Asians and Hispanics see themselves as founding fathers of America, and if there's one thing I love, it's representation. Ben knows which buttons to push that I respond to, and he also knows to tell me he loves me, because I love being told that I'm loved, just as much as I love telling people I love them. This love has been a microcosm, perhaps like all loves, and I have enjoyed it so much, and I will miss you, Ben, always. Thank you for the best two weeks I could have had while turning 28.

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