10 years ago

10 years ago, i was somewhat legal (cigarettes and voting, no alcohol or gambling).
10 years ago, i had just finished high school and was enjoying my summer immensely. swimming and tennis almost daily at vasey's parents' pad, beach time and bonfires at huntington beach with friends, relative freedom in my still-new civic.
10 years ago, i was getting ready to move to the opposite coast for college.
10 years ago, i was spiritually in a good place, because i was broken and uncertain about the future.
10 years ago, in some ways, i was more mature than i am today.
10 years ago, i was about to begin an amazing growth spurt. not physically, obviously.
10 years ago, i was getting used to the fact that my mom had married a grade A a-hole.
10 years ago, i was learning that being an adult means that you sometimes need to consider the impact of your actions/inaction and that you sometimes need to put the comfort and needs of those you love above your own. even if you were right. the right fact and making it known doesn't necessarily equal the right thing to do.
10 years ago, i was a socially awkward dork just starting to come out of my shell and learning how to love myself and be confident in myself.
10 years ago, i fell in love with a boy for the first time.

10 years ago today, the bear first initiated conversation with me.

10 years and one day ago, i saw him walk into the meeting late--the cutest guy at the conference for sure. he had the requisite spiky hair, baggy shorts, cool t-shirt, sk8er shoes, and eddie bauer backpack that all cool AZN boys back then rocked. 10 years and one day ago, he saw my name and address on the conference registration list before walking into the room in which he was the cutest. he thought, "cool! someone from my 'hood."

we didn't talk that night as he was busy as part of the young adult planning committee for this convocation for the "racial ethnic" people of our church denomination nationwide (sadly, like 5% of the denomination's membership). since it was the first day of the conference, there was a quick meeting and then rest/unpacking time for the rest of the night. i was with my friend A (of the A+K sisterly duo), and we were busy getting to know the other people around our age and exploring together.

so back to that first conversation. between scheduled meetings and activities, a few of us gathered in the game room of our hotel to just hang out. he approached me, saying he noticed i was from southern california, too. we played six degrees of asians-in-southern-california separation and found out we had a mutual acquaintance. he found out who my mom was and made the connection that she had worked with his parents on some regional, denominational things in the past. he had even spoken with her on the phone briefly--to ask who it was and then hand the phone over to his dad. then someone wanted to take a group picture. i gave the photographer my camera, too.

bear is center in the grey shirt.
i'm in front of him in the white tank.

after that conversation, we hung out together with the group as a whole. the group bonded pretty well over the course of that week, and i have some great memories of that sweaty time in orlando. the bear was quite the popular one and kept us all laughing. during that week, i noticed his sense of humor, his quick temper, his utter dedication to things that mattered to him that in turn revealed that temper, and how physically attractive he was to me. unfortunately, he seemed to be interested in another girl that week. she was more outgoing than i, so they talked more than the bear and i did. i would be lying if i said i wasn't a little bit jealous. i figured that the attraction was one-sided and to forget it in favor of friendship. after all, i was off to college, the pseudo-real world, and big things that were more important than boys.

on the last day of the conference, we compiled everyone's contact information. a few of us had AOL and added our screennames because we were just so young, tech-savvy, and hip (read: nerds) like that.

as soon as i got home, i logged onto AOL. yes, even then, i was already addicted to the internet. i hadn't checked my e-mail in over a week! OMG! my inbox was going to be flooded with hilarious and interesting forwards, memes, and even actual e-mail from my online and cool dorky real-life friends that had internet. i added my new friends' e-mail addresses to my address book and their screennames to my buddy list. as soon as i did, i saw the bear sign on.

we talked for hours that night. yes, on AOL. i literally LOLed more than i ever had in my history of chatting online to that point. at around 3 AM, we considered going to carrows to eat as both of us were starving. hey, it was the only thing open at that hour in our area. i vetoed the idea as my mom was pretty strict about me going out late at night, and i was a good sheltered kid. we instead made plans to have coffee sometime that coming week.

that was three weeks before i was heading cross-country for college. we saw each other about two to three times per week for those three weeks and quickly became very good friends. our first time "hanging out" (date) was at green burrito for dinner, then coffee and amazing conversation at starbucks. the conversation ranged from the hilarious to the serious. i even told him about my dad's death on that first date. we played tennis together. one day on my way home from a friend's, i randomly had the guts to drop by his place, so he, his friend, and i went to dinner together. we chatted online and on the phone almost every night for hours. for those three weeks and even longer, we lied to ourselves about being just good friends.

the night before i left for new york, he took me to santa monica. i had told him multiple times how much i was going to miss the beach and the warmth, so he made sure he took me before i left. when he dropped me off at home, he told me to wait--he had a gift for me. he knew that winnie the pooh was my favorite disney character from before i could say his name properly, and that i liked the classic pooh stuff better than the new. he got me a classic pooh address book and stationery set--so i could stay in touch with my friends at home better. so i could stay in touch with him better.

we told each other we'd miss each other. i promised i'd keep in touch, and besides, i'd have ethernet (high-speed internet! OMG! OMG!) in the dorms. i smiled. we hugged briefly but hard. then he vroomed off. no, he didn't drive off, he vroomed off. he had the loudest exhaust on his lowered civic, of course. i was going to miss feeling hotter than all import models in the world combined riding next to him in his fixed-up car, especially since he had taken the A/C out to make the car go faster. i slowly walked to the front door. the summer night was cool and crisp as desert nights tend to be, but my face wouldn't cool down and neither would the burning in my eyes.

my mom, potato bro, and i flew off to new york the next morning. we spent a week in an almost-abandoned ski resort on the shores of lake placid to have some family time before i was really off to school (yes it was totally creepy, but we survived without being murdered or haunted). i missed all of my friends at home dearly that week i was away from the internet and the phone, but i missed the one i had known the shortest time the most.

as soon as i got to school and had my phone and computer hooked up, the bear and i picked up our conversations where we had left off. except for that one, yet unspoken one neither of us had dared to broach--that despite how young we were and how brief our acquaintance was, we had both fallen in love.

9 years ago today, the bear came to my front door with a single red rose and asked me to be his girlfriend.* he told me he wanted to ask me on a special day. i had no idea what that special day was. he reminded me it was exactly one year since the first day we talked. he even wore the same shirt he had worn on that day. never mind we already had each others' hearts for a year already.

*we were still teens, k?!? give us a break!


  1. This made me tear up. What a great story! Happy ten years to you guys! :)

  2. Cuties.



  3. I love that you guys have all these details to remember and share. So sweet!

  4. What a great story! I love it!

  5. I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Such a sweet post. <3

  6. Awwwww :) Nerds.

    But wait, my husband and I also bonded over AIM. Twinsies. Very cute story. Love the last part! He's more sentimental than you are :)

  7. Love this post! What great memories! More, what a great love story!

  8. What a great story. So touching and cute. Thanks for sharing it. I love this kind of stuff, lol.

  9. Such a great story. And I love the picture of little tater. So cute!

  10. Happy 10yearstogether!! Har har har. For real though, I love everything about this post. It made me so happy just reading it, and slightly nostalgic too. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  11. that is so cute. i just totally cried reading that.

  12. this is such a beautiful post! i didn't know you were such a softy ;)


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