Love gone stale

It's been awhile since I've had the time to walk these familiar streets, without needing to be anywhere soon, having the time to reflect, and remember. Walking in the cool, watching the golden setting sun reflect off the roofs of cars and glass panelled buildings.

It struck me how M is like an old lover. Love that has gone stale.

That year, for the first time I had to learn how to layer appropriately, how to dress in something besides a T-shirt, shorts, and flip flops. Well, the excitement of having long coats, boots, stockings, scarves hasn't completely worn off.  I saw trees turn from a lovely crisp green, to yellow orange red, falling in heaps with the strong wind, and becoming bare skeletal branches - oh yes, I was seeing seasons for the first time in a decade.

I was delighted with being able to walk the streets at night (yes it's dark where I come, yes there are street lights, as well as crocodiles in our gardens, and we do ride kangaroos to school.) I've never spent so much time just gazing into the reflections in the river at night. I hopped on my first tram and arbitrarily chose a tram or train line, and only headed back when I felt tired of exploring. I saw terrace houses for the first time - with intricate designs, squished next to each other, looking very small, and I never knew how deep the houses were. I was also fascinated with just living with other students, and all the possibilities of apartments, hostels, colleges that I could live in, in the years to come.

That year, I had so many different mugs of hot chocolates, and spent more time studying in cafes than I ever have, or ever will. At that time I had never been to a typical Melbourne cafe. That year I tried my first bah kuh teh, nasi lemak, and met more Singaporeans and Malaysians than students from any other backgrounds. I happily discovered that it was possible to buy dinners for $6.50 or less, and eagerly tried all the affordable eating places nearby. Well, at least the appreciation for the sheer variety, and quality of food, and the sense of excitement when it comes to trying new food hasn't waned at all. M, you are still my favourite and beloved, for food.

That year, I said goodbye to my closest friend at the time and the prospect of a year apart felt like eternity. That year we argued often until late and somehow, our paths changed courses forever. I appreciated for the first time that the sunlight in the garden can't be caught and caged. And like many of my high school classmates, learnt to be skeptical about LDRs.

23/02/7 Long distance relationships, friendships even, pretty much the same thing. You once shared each other’s world, were a part of each other’s daily lives. And now, living in two different worlds, meeting new people, you slowly begin to drift, begin to have less to say to each other, less common experiences, interests, you begin to live a good life with or without the other person.

That year I was seventeen, never cooked a real meal, started university not ever hearing about a cell. I spent more time sleeping than being awake in lectures, because I simply did not understand the content. At all. That year, I visited a church alone for the first time and literally no one, not the adults, not the young people, talked to me. I've never felt so ignored (and have definitely not been back since) and instantly learnt my lesson about cliques. One evening after dinner, I walked along the campus, wondering if I will ever settle here.

Where I lived, I met a creep who was a guy but had hair like a girl's, who had a room directly opposite the female toilets, and the creep tried to hang out in my room by pretending that his laptop was broken. Ha, very funny. That year, I shared food with 303, little knowing that it would result shape my entire university life. That year we cooked and shared so many meals, had picnics, visited places, had so many birthday celebrations with a group of friends who, with the exception of one or two, turned out to have nothing to do with me from thereafter.

In some ways this semester is more like that year than any other semester. I'm here, I've walked past the old haunts, eaten out often, taken public transport instead of driving, gone back to our green, leafy campus every week after hardly being there at all for more than two years. But M and I have passed our infatuation stage. What I see in M is a place with too many cars, too many traffic jams, long commutes shared with untreated psychiatric patients who shout and carry on. The serene night walks are replaced by frowns at numerous clubs, brothels, "gentlemen" clubs, weekend party goers in long noisy lines, drunk people slurring uncalled for comments along the sidewalk. M has too many people, who are too cold and distant, to be a place of community.

M, I will never find you quite as amazing again. Just like a relationship. The unfortunate stage when little remains of beauty and all that you once loved, and much is replaced by difficulties, disappointment and cynicism.



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