Usually, I would be awake by 7:30 a.m. because of the ruffling sounds they make, or the whispered greetings like "Morning," or "...breakfast."
Being awake and getting out of bed are two different things, so I used to officially get out of bed at 8:30 a.m. because a kid deserves a full 8-10 hours sleep. But on that very morning, I do not know why I decided to climb out of bed around 8 a.m. and walk down the flight of stairs with my dainty legs.
They were standing at the door as I sat on the stairs, my face palmed against the railing to watch them. Her swift fingers danced across the tie on his collared shirt, pulling it straight after she was done tying it.
Actually, does he not know how to tie his own necktie?
He smiled at her like the Christmas bear I have in the corner of my room.
Except my bear was always smiling and made me feel loved with his big furry hands.
"Bye." He gave her a kiss on the forehead, and off he went.
And I cannot remember what happened next.
It was a custom in my high school for all senior-year students to wear a necktie.
Apparently, it symbolises stepping into adulthood.
So all adults should, well:
1. Learn how to tie a necktie.
I never bothered to fully learn how to tie a necktie, because, I will not need to tie one.
I do not picture myself tying any neckties.
Pride was always a problem for me. Before, during, or after you.
So I was too prideful to ask anyone, or rely on YouTube tutorials on 'How to tie a necktie'.
Because honestly, why use YouTube when I can use my brain to figure things out?
Who am I?
A part of the most elite high school in the vicinity.
A student of the handpicked 600.
A part of the leadership community.
Was on the same level as you for even that one second.
So tying a necktie? It is just going through the loop and making it a triangle, how difficult could it be?
"Wrap the tie 3 rounds around your palms, take the furthest end, and cross it over to your thumb..."
Okay. So I caved in.
So how many times will I cave in and lose the bet? Where did the guts come from, obnoxiously declaring that one day I will get over you? When everything I do, reminds me of what we could have done, or what we had done?
Does my classmate who wears a blue necktie play a part in my inability bury the memory of you six feet deep?
I never told you about him. He was the school's cleanliness head in charge. He wears a pair of eccentric glasses. Even from afar, one could recognize him because while all were in the trend of wearing black-framed glasses, he decided to go with white. I always joked that he was seeking attention with that white frame, and he said I ‘conform to the world' with my black framed glasses.
Just like how I always joked around and said you follow a strict 11p.m. sleep schedule, and you said the things I do are ‘eye-catching’.
I did not know I had feelings for him until he decided to date my best friend.
I think it is a tactic for 5th graders to get the attention of the girl's friends, then snoop their way into their intended girls' heart. Is it not simpleminded of me, when I thought we were happily having conversations on how cheesy Taiwanese soap operas are, he was at the cinema watching 'The Ex-Files' with her; when we were doing homework after class together, he was already calling her for hours at night.
But like all 5th-grader relationships, they broke up.
It felt like he and I, broke up, too.
"How can it be so hard to tie a tie?" I roll my eyes as I try to recite that god-forsaken formula to tie a necktie. I should maybe get one of my classmates to do it for me tomorrow.
But, I am not a quitter, am I?
I think part of growing up, is understanding that when one door closes, another opens.
But not immediately.
No one told me that.
I always thought that some doors had to be opened by myself.
When someone creates a hole, it is an instinct to quickly find a replacement to fill that emptiness.
And what a foolish move, to be willing to jeopardize my friendship with someone I grew up with.
During our car rides, we talked about this.
We talked about, whether should people take risks and give it a shot.
Should people confess to their best friends they have romantic feelings for?
Should, if, an guy older, falls in love with a girl younger, take the risk?
He is my childhood friend.
He witnessed a lot of my firsts.
The first time I danced, the first time I joined a choir, the first time I acted, and the first time, I ate a vegetable.
I think it is a trend of mine. He too, wears a bright red necktie, demonstrating his "high-position" as the head prefect. He looks more like a teacher's pet with his black-framed glasses, and attracts a lot of people, from young to old with his talents. He plays every musical instrument, leads, showered in praises; and doing everything so much better than I ever could.
I disdain his perfection. Why does everyone adore him?
Why can he lead?
Why can he be a prefect?
Why is he perfect?
I hate that all girls my age then have a crush on him.
So I jumped on the boat and tried to be interested in him.
But ended up thinking: Am I not good enough to be liked?
This necktie will never cooperate with me, will it?
Just like how you will never cooperate with me in making forgetting you easier.
You. Unprecedented. Different.
You did not wear glasses.
You did not wear a necktie for the most time I saw you.
are not who I envisioned to even have an ounce of feelings for.
I tried to be enough for you, you have to believe me.
Better than enough.
I never told you I disliked strawberry-flavoured drinks. They generally taste like fever medicine to me.
But that was the best drink I tasted because you came all the way from work to give it to me. And it was even better because half of it was spilled in your car, but you smiled and said it was okay.
You made me feel I was enough.
That I was worth the trouble.
That I was not someone for you to get close to complete some ulterior motive.
That I was not some inferior being trying to chase after your footsteps.
That I was worthy.
Until we realized.
Age is not just a number.
Whoever said that cursed expression belongs to the dungeon.
Because that was what it felt like.
You are on the other side, while I am locked in, behind bars.
Maybe all of this was just in my head, and I lied to myself when I decided to move all the way to the end of the country to escape from you.
It was easier that way.
I find it amusing how,
every time a car passes by, I hope it is yours;
Every time I try to paint you a villain but I end up thinking about you more.
Every time in a crowded room I try to look for your face but I know you will never be there;
While I always thought the heart skipping a beat was a delirious exaggeration,
but mine really did, when I thought I saw your reflection.
It is an uncomedic punchline,
Now you own a pair of glasses,
and wore a red necktie paired with a white suit for your wedding.
I do not know if I am over you.
I think I never will.
So this is why I think I owe him an apology.
Because I brought all of you, all of them, to him.
I took advantage of everything he had to offer and fed him breadcrumbs.
Though, it always felt like I gave him a whole piece of bread because I have to learn to be vulnerable and to remember, that I am good enough.
I was willing to stoop low for you, but not for him.
I could not, and I do not know how.
He is a good person.
He wears glasses, he is smart, he leads, he worships, and he witnessed a lot of my firsts too.
He made me do things that I never thought I would do.
Unfortunately, throughout the whole time, I treated him as a stepping stone, to get over you.
I gave him a necktie as his graduation gift.
Then he wore it to an event he had no business wearing for.
But I know better than to bring it up.
Just like how we are now,
I lost contact with the cleanliness leader after his break up with my friend which cost me two friendships.
But I remember, the last message I sent to him was to offer my condolences on the demise of his mother.
I am slowly learning to refrain from viewing everyone who is better than me as my competitor.
He and I now lead a group of youths together.
If I were smarter, better, more confident, and within your age range,
Would you still have chosen me?
Sometimes, I feel like I could have saved all this trouble,
If that morning I had just continued to close my eyes to sleep.
if that morning I had not walked down that flight of stairs,
I would not need to convince myself that it was my mother who tied my father's necktie.