A friend gave this book and told me, “This is your book.”
…the thing with your heart’s desire is that your heart doesn’t even know what it desires until it turns up. Like a tie at a tag sale, same perfect thing in the crate of nothing, you were just there, uninvited, and now suddenly the party was over and you were all I wanted, the best gift.
How many times did we tell ourselves that we were not looking for love, but suddenly, we realize that it has been there all long? Or, that it was just next door? Maybe?
There were a million things, everything. I didn’t know. I was stupid, the official descriptive phrase for happy.
“You have never been this happy.” You always tell that to yourself and to the people who patiently listen to you gush. This is a new kind of happy, one that does not feel forced or one that you never sought for. You find yourself smiling at random times of the day, because you remembered that a week ago, he caught you smiling and told you your smile was cute. Then, you wanted to smile always. Just in case he would take a peek at you again.
Ed, it was wonderful. To stutter through it with you or even stop stuttering and say nothing, was so lucky and soft, better talk than mile-a-minute with anyone.
Wonderful might be a weak word to describe how it was to spend time talking, from the minute you wake up to check your phone if he has sent you a message yet, or when you could not sleep and you talk about his hobbies or your dogs. It was wonderful to struggle to find words for a witty retort or to mask the elation that you well know will scare the both of you, to ward off the awkward air and stumble together to the familiar and comfortable, easing yourself with his voice, his laughter, and his warmth.
And this note was a jittery bomb, ticking beneath my normal life, in my pocket all day fiercely reread, in my purse all week until I was afraid it would get crushed or snooped in my drawer between two dull books to escape my mother and then in the box and now thunked back to you. A note? Who writes like that? Who were you to write one to me? It boomed inside me the whore time, an explosion over and over, the joy of what you write to me jumpy shrapnel in my bloodstream.
You ran your fingers countless times over that tiny orange post-it. Here comes another new thing: his handwriting in big, slightly curvy strokes of a little boy, seemingly trapped in adult’s body. You analyzed the strokes he made, from right to left, which, you later found out, was because he was originally left-handed, but his yaya told him he should write with his right hand. You giggled on the fancy curve of his M, thinking that he put extra effort to make his hand writing more presentable.
“Because I don’t care, virginity, different, arty, weird, parties with bad cake, that igloo . Just together Min.”
“Like everyone is telling us not to be.”
You felt invincible when you were in love. You thought you knew better. You knew him better. He changed from his womanizing, because you were different and you proved that you were the one he was looking for. You were of a different rank, because he dated cheerleaders but he still found you interesting. You thought of those times when he stared at you when you did something weird like make a lame joke, and then he would shake his head and smile at you. Because he had enough of made up women in stilettos and he liked girls in beaten up Chuck Taylor and Nirvana shirt.
Take it back, Ed. Take it all back.
And when things turned sour, you realized that you did not want any of these: the fuzzies when you see each other, the nerves while you wait for him in a bar or at the smoking area, the association of a cartoon to his lame excuse for stalking your blog, the thought of having him saved you when you felt bad at work. He could have them all back.
I wish I had Min’s youth when I, uhm, first experienced love, but, alas, I am four years late. With those years come more complexities in relationships and in non-relationships. Why We Broke Up irked many. They said it was a stupid book, and they criticized its Printz Honor. How did they manage to read that heavy book that made it so hard to read while lying down and not get annoyed of Min’s voice?
It makes me wonder what does it say when I feel that this that book spoke to me could be horrible to some.
I was on the same boat. The angst and pain always got the better part of me, and I forgot the rules on run-on sentences, that I should not have written a paragraph that would cover a page or two, and that I became whiny and annoying to my friends. I did not and am still not tired of stringing words to tell of the same pain while I fumble to find the right words to make sense of things.
It was not one of my proudest moments, but I believe that it was worth sharing.
Everything in this book was beautiful. I was even frustrated while reading the book, and Maira Kalman’s gorgeous illustrations of Min’s trinkets of her first love did not help. I want someone as artsy [Sorry, Min. I know you hate that word.] to illustrate my lame mementos and make them look more interesting than my ordinary, stupid love story. Her nuances as a character made her raw and genuine.
I hated to know that the story is bound to end up in a hateful manner, which of course, prompted the whole letter turned novel. I stood helpless, unsure if I wanted to save Min from the impending heartbreak, but more leaning towards wanting to salvage their relationship, just like what I want to do with my own (non)relationship.
Happy anniversary, The BiblioPile. It’s been a good year of reading and finding joy, heartbreak, and, consequently myself in beautiful books.