Tag Archives: memories

In dreams

Dreams can sustain, but paradoxically they can also drain. What having a dream gives, sustaining the hope behind a dream takes away. One can live perpetually in dreams, one can use dreams as a shield, as a mask, and one can be lost in a dream…
I

What did he dream for as a child? Simple, nebulous ideas of an adult life spent surrounded by riches. But then what did he know about wealth? It was a daydreamed future of penthouses and stuff, of first class travel and 5-star hotels. It was a dream formed by an impression of Pretty Woman, in short, he dreamt of becoming a prostitute, whatever that entailed.
II

He dreamt of high powered careers, one requiring expensive Italian bespoke suits and shiny hand-made leather shoes of every possible hue. He dreamt of being able to fly business class to exotic locales, of gold filigree cardholders and power lunches. Where people would call his people and deals were made over caviar, champagne and cognac. Perhaps his dream here was influenced by American Psycho, the movie. Perhaps he desired the life Christian Bale had, with the beautiful body but minus the blood and gore.
III

He never had any ideas about the realities of his future. His dreams were simple-pass this exam, then that one; a life signposted by academic honours. He did everything he was told to do-which was to excel in all things academic. Nothing else mattered, he was told. Do this one thing and all your dreams will come true. He knew that that couldn’t be true. For at some stage, he dreamt of becoming a fashion model, and really what fashion model needed good grades? He dreamt of his face in magazines, the high end ones only of course, on glossy pages carrying the bold monikers of the fashion elite-Prada, Dior, Gucci. He dreamt of hobnobbing with Tom Ford, of meeting Miuccia herself and being a favourite of Karl. 
IV

Of his disparate dreams of his future, perhaps one thing was constant-a life of security, of comfort. A life where money would never be a concern and excess extravagance was possible. He dreamt of the different ways to get to that place never really rooting these dreams in the cold harsh reality of life. 
For what use are dreams if they do not reflect reality? 

With every heartbeat..

.. There’s this song by Robyn, I am sure most who’ve heard it would remember it.. Who can forget the indelible message of that song; about how much moving onwards hurts, about the resignation that one feels when one knows that ‘we could keep trying but things will never change.’
I remember this song because once upon a time; my ex boyfriend’s best friend, the supposed lesbian would play this song when we were all deeply drunk. She would put this song on and she would cry. It was the only time she would ever cry; thinking about her own ex, and their acrimonious split. And it was also the only time she would ever allow herself to admit that: a) she missed her ex girlfriend and b) she was lonely.
I am walking down this strain of memory because I heard Robyn’s With Every Heartbeat again recently. Hearing it was like recalling an old friend; the old memories of times gone by. Hearing that song, I am transported back to my ex boyfriends living room-the dank muskiness of the carpet; the incense he used to burn to cover up that swamp smell-the weak lights he used because he didn’t like bright lights; I remember the smell of alcohol spilt on table surface; the strewn contents of the paraphernalia of weed smoking. I remember the couch my ex and I once had sex on. Above all, I remember the overriding sorrow of witnessing loneliness first hand; with the attached vulnerability. 
Of course beyond those memories, were also the weary thoughts of the latest man du jour. The flavour of the month… As much as I want to say that it didn’t hurt one bit-it did and does hurt. As much as I know that regardless of anything that eventuated-I cannot change the course of the present, I still wonder. It hurts each time I remember him, with every heartbeat, since I also know that nothing I can ever do will never change things. It’s futile, it’s hopeless, it’s a waste of time. I know. But I am weak. 
It does hurt with every heartbeat. And there is nothing I can do or try will ever change anything. It’s defeat and its failure and it’s moving on. 

Chinese New Year blues…

… I mean Lunar New Year, sorry.. Don’t want to be judged as being exclusionary to the other ethnicities who celebrate it.

It is tradition that on the eve of New Year, the entire family gathers for a family dinner. It’s one of the cornerstones of the celebrations.. As modernity has begun to encroach, even the oldest, most cherished traditions have begun to die out. As families splinter and move further away from the family nucleus, the eve celebrations have just become like any other normal day.

It has been precisely 6 years since I last participated in an eve reunion dinner.. My family lives an 8 hour plane ride away and I never felt rooted enough to make the journey back. I was raised to look forward and not back and inadvertently, for their part, my parents raised a child who would no longer hold on to the ancient traditions and old customs. Even the language, the one tie that could unite the family is lost. I do not speak any Chinese dialects making communication with my grandparents, the undisputed anchor of the family unit virtually impossible.

So I never celebrate new year. It’s just another day for me.. Which this year was besmirched by my foolish foolish decision to meet that man.

It’s a terrible thing, but on that day, not only was there no thought of family on my mind, but it was filled by deeply unholy, impure thoughts at that. By tacitly agreeing to have sex with him, I have ruined the one tradition that still held some meaning for me..

But again, that’s a choice-I can chose to mark this day with that calamitous event, or I can choose to see it as a day where I learnt that there are some fruits which should forever remain forbidden. I can pick to see that day as a somber day, one where I learnt that ‘perfection’ does exist and that I missed out on it. Or I can choose to celebrate it as a day I was finally able to be honest with my feelings, regardless of how inappropriate it was..

As I wrote previously, it all depends on points of view.. How I choose, that determines how I feel. Happiness is a choice, memories are a choice; there is always the option to remember things tinged with the red of anger or the calming blue-to pick between nostalgia of the bad events or to just choose the good memories. Traditions die out, evolve, they mutate and they change over time but memories, those last for ones lifetime.

Sacrifice. A reminiscence

That was the title of one of my favourite books in my mothers collection of.. ‘Romance’ novels which were really porn, in written form. I’ve forgotten most of the story, not that I actually read it in its entirety; only the salacious bits, and I haven’t read 50 shades which would be the most modern interpretation and the most well known of the mommy porn genre, so I can’t tell you how it compares. Both these books, from what I remember about the former and what I’ve been told about the latter featured some seriously non-conventional sexual habits. In Sacrifice it was a fucked up girl who enjoyed being hurt during sex and who ended up in a semi relationship with a ‘huge’ man who had to be handcuffed during sex lest he kill the women he sleeps with, whilst in 50 shades, there’s lots of chains and whips and that terrible sounding epistle of the tampon removal… Since when is that sexy?

Sacrifice had it all; good looking people doing bad things to each other, check; semi incestuous relationship between closeted gay man and his mother, double check; sex scenes in all their wordy descriptive glory, triple check. No wonder I was so fascinated by that book… It was probably the dirtiest most descriptive book of erotic fiction I’d read, although the comparison would be Jilly Cooper’s books which were relatively tame and had lengthy descriptions of men’s thighs. Which yes I also found infinitely sexy.. But I lie, the most stimulating book I ever read was a compilation of erotic stories which I browsed through in an airport in Brisbane. Were I not with my parents and 14, I would have bought that book. Note: this was all pre-broadband so yes, we did have to resort to other media for our stimulators purposes. Dial up Internet did not make for very good porn viewing..

Sacrifice as a term; that’s what I meant to write about; it was meant to start of with the salacious memory of the book of the same name and segue into the sacrifices in life I have made or my parents have made to get me where I am. Obviously that got slightly derailed by the charming aside about erotic literature… But here goes, when I think about sacrifice; I can clearly see that I have not made all that many sacrifices in my life. I have never had to make tough choices between alternative options; where the choice of either one would greatly impact my life.

Sure, I did make the choice as to what to pursue in university; that was a choice but there was no sacrifice required in that choice. For whatever it was I chose to pursue, I would have ended up hating and being dissatisfied. Because I am a grass is always greener when the side isn’t my own kind of person, never able to be satisfied with what I have and always wanting more.

When I made the choice to lose my virginity, I again didn’t sacrifice a lot. It was a choice in which the end outcome would always have been a loss of something, but a gain in knowledge. And so whilst my virginity was sacrificed to a man who wasn’t in the least bit appropriate to take it, it didn’t turn out to be that major of a sacrifice since I did gain some knowledge and experience. I know that there are some amongst you who will argue that the sacrifice here was not worth it and that it would have been better to wait for the right guy, for the right time when I wasn’t so lukewarm about it, when my virginity didn’t feel like a millstone around my neck. But the sacrifice of waiting could have meant that I might never have lost my virginity, and really what is that worth anyway in these days? When and if I marry, my partner is not going to insist on me being ‘pure’ because odds are he isn’t going to be either since as gay men, we have reputations to uphold….

When I think about sacrifice; I have to think about my parents, who undoubtedly sacrificed a large part of their happiness and comfort to ensure that I ended up where I am. Which is to say, highly educated in a foreign country where my rights are not trampled upon. I am where I am today solely by my parents sacrifice and not by my own steam. Which is of course why I always feel so goddammned inadequate. I never had to struggle or sacrifice and so I feel like I never achieved anything of note…

Which I guess has cast a long shadow over my life. The problem being, when you feel as though you haven’t achieved anything, then being with men who are high powered and successful gives you an inferiority complex. And that carries over into a relationship. Because when you feel like you have nothing to offer, you are more than likely to be happy to take whatever shit gets thrown at you. Basically, you end up being a doormat. And that’s the role you’ll play in every single relationship to come because you do not feel like you are worth more…

That is in itself a sacrifice of sorts; a sacrifice of self all in order to not be alone. But that is a sacrifice that is not worth it. A relationship is not worth salvaging ones self worth over. And in the long run, one cannot sustain being a doormat and besides, a relationship that unbalanced is doomed to fail.

Sacrifice; it’s a loaded term. Some people think they make sacrifices but really, they are just concessions. A sacrifice usually requires the giving up, not of a luxury, but of a basic human need. Time, perhaps; love, maybe. I don’t think I could ever be capable of making what could constitute a sacrifice…

In dreams…

Oh, the follies of youth… The invincibility and the promise that is part and parcel of being young; when one is bulletproof and all seems possible. Youthful belief and fuels dreams, and the world seems ripe with opportunity.

Whence did that pioneering spirit of mine go? I did have dreams. I remember them. Although now, many years later, the dreams I had seen almost blithely naive. Where did all that self belief come from? That ingrained attitude of confidence, unsullied by doubt. From whence did it come if not from the innocence that is a part and parcel of being a blissfully ignorant youth.

The years have not been kind to my dreams… It seems almost embarrassing to look back, delve into the history of my dreams. They all seem so absurdly grandiose; farcical and comical. Perhaps that is what being young does; gives one the opportunity to be grandiose, farcical and comical. Being young is a great excuse to live in denial of ones own abilities. For what use is dreaming if one only has practical aspirations?

And then age sets in, and with it comes wisdom. Mayhaps wisdom is not the right term here, pragmatism may be s better fit. Reality. The end of delusions; the day when dreaming ends… There comes a day of reckoning when we all come to realise the flimsiness of our dreams.

It is easy to look back and laugh at my wild dreams. But it is not a laughter that is mirthful, rather a laughter that is tinged with bitterness, imbued with a certain wistfulness. Not perhaps for the dream itself, but of the promise that I once had; for the time when I truly and wholeheartedly believed-those days are gone. And nothing I can do will bring those days back.

To live in the past; in dreams past-that is a foible that I cannot afford. For I must move on, desist from living in moments gone by. Time is not circular, but linear; moments once lost can never be regained. Memories are all that remain of times gone by. What use is reminiscing about dreams I once had? It is bittersweet nostalgia and a recognition that I once was hopeful, that I once was young, that I once saw the world as being full of opportunity..

Hello, is it me you’re looking for..

I sent a message to a guy on tinder. It said:
‘Hello, is it me you’re swiping for’

I thought it was funny. Obviously he didn’t or he was too young to get my bastardised old school pop culture reference…

My father bought our family’s first CD player when I was 8. He bought it back from Japan so it was the latest, most whiz bang model. I think it had a random play thing, which at that time was revolutionary.

As a family, we owned a grand total of 12 CD’s; the first 6 of which formed a set of ‘golden oldies’ or the kind of easy listening shit your parents listen to, the ‘Itsy Bitsy teeny yellow polka dot bikini’ and ‘smoke gets in your eyes’ type songs… Real easy listening shit. Growing up, my sister and I knew all the words to ‘I went to your wedding’ ‘love letters in the sand’ and ‘love potion number 9’ because that is all we had to listen to.

Eventually, my parents added to their CD collection with two Richard Clayderman CD’s-virtuoso piano playing for those not in the know, a Prince CD (the one where he’s nude on the cover. My parents, so revolutionary…), a double ABBA CD collection because, well Asians and ABBA; we all, as a family used to belt out ABBA songs as a Sunday activity. You haven’t heard anything until you’ve heard your parents singing ‘Dancing Queen’ and serenading each other with ‘Fernando’. And finally, we owned a Lionel Ritchie greatest hits CD.

Till this day, the words to the song ‘Hello’ are burnt into my memory. And listening to the song brings back memories of.. a certain loneliness and longing that I felt whilst listening to the song. I also remember the first time I watched the music video.. It’s the one where a lady is making a clay bust of Lionel. It’s simultaneously creepy and… I don’t know.. Funny? It’s not a video befitting the song in my opinion anyway.

Back to that tinder message; I hadn’t thought about that song in a long time. Not until I saw several memes utilising it as a linchpin. It seemed funny to me, to use what had recently been revived as a pop culture touchstone in my greeting…

Of course it wasn’t really. Not to him anyway. He’s not worth my time then.. Now I am going to watch the ridiculous ‘Hello’ music video and listen to that song on repeat, it won’t heal any wounds but it’ll bring me back some good memories…

Now and then..

Dear past self,
It’s me, your future writing. This isn’t some kind of Lake House shit with a magic postbox or anything… These are just some things which I wish you knew back then.

It’s not a shameful thing to still be a virgin. There was no need to rush into losing your virginity. You weren’t missing out on anything earth shattering, I can assure you of that much…. You should have kept your sense of your own worth. You shouldn’t have just given your virginity to the first person who came by, like it didn’t mean anything. Because it does. And once you sold it at such a low price, your own sense of self worth was debased. I am not blaming you, but from the distance of time, it seemed like a really stupid thing to do. So what if your younger sister was getting it on? What crime would it have been to have saved it for a man who would have truly valued it?

Ah, past self. I wish you hadn’t confused love and desperation. When you are desperate, you sell yourself short. Yes, certainly there was a swelling panic at the aegis of time. But look where it’s gotten us? In the future, where I am, you are still where you started out from, single with no prospects. I wish you hadn’t gotten into such hungry desperation that you threw yourself, unblinkingly, blindly into the arms of the first man who showed you any interest. I wish you hadn’t sold yourself so short and bent over backwards just so that this man would not leave. Look where that got you…

Past self; if there’s one thing I wish you had understood then, it’s to have put yourself first; to always ask ‘what is it that I want?’ Not ‘what is it that other people want for me.’ Yes, had you thought things through, you would undoubtedly have taken a different route. Sure, in terms of the career, you had to do what you had to do: the stark choice was to go home to a country where your sexuality would have been repressed; so I understand, it had to be done. But past self; I wish you hadn’t been so scared of trying new things, I wish you had joined the gay swim club earlier; I wish you had taken the opportunity to mingle with other gay men who would have guided you through your early days of being a homosexual. You would not have believed, mistakenly, that shows like Queer As Folk were an accurate representation of what gay life involved; that all gay men slept around, went to clubs and freely gave their bodies away, all in the name of liberation. What was so liberating about having a different man each week? What was so freeing about being on your knees in a club toilet blowing of a man you didn’t even know? And as much as you call it experimentation, rebellion even, I know that you felt dirty after. I know that you would come home, lie in bed and cry. It was empty, and I wish you’d known it enough then to have stopped.

Past self, I wish you hadn’t given your heart away so easily; I would have told you that you and D would never have lasted. And that M was bad news right from the start. A was never going to have found you an equal. I wish you hadn’t tried so hard with them that you tried to be what you thought they wanted. It wouldn’t have worked. I wish you hadn’t given up your spirit, your fierce unwillingness to compromise. Just because you were lonely. Weren’t you lonelier when you couldn’t be who you really were with these men?

Past self, I know that were you to meet me, you would insouciantly ask me what the fuck happened. How did we end up this way, you would ask. This isn’t what you wanted, I am aware. You never wanted to end up a sad sack 30 year old with no idea of what he wants and no genuine prospects. And I apologise. Because as the years went by, past self, we kept making the same mistakes; and with each mistake, I got more brittle. I am sorry we ended up this way. But I cannot go back and fix it. Neither could you have known this was the future.

All we can do now, is to ensure our future self is fixed. To do that, I must embrace my past self, and integrate those lessons I learnt the hard way into my life. Past self, I promise you that our future will be brighter…