It is 2AM and I am jolted out of my slumber, and I find myself unable to drift back to sleep. Then again, sleep was all I had been doing earlier in the day, recovering from the flu, so this was unsurprising.
My laptop blares not too far away from me, its light seeming like an invitation to browse through Facebook and do a quick social media check — perhaps the mundanity of events on my news feed would be enough to lull me to sleep.
I was right, for the most part. In the past five hours since I’ve resolved to go to bed, not much has changed as far as updates went. My mind then scampers off to a mental reverie about how this generation in particular has gotten so dependent on social media, and how it spurred the whole FOMO phenomenon. I was determined to keep my laptop shut, place my head on the pillow and try to sink back into dreams.
And there it was. In the wee hours of the morning was a profile picture update. You uploaded a selfie — unremarkably taken, but what was more remarkable was the image of a girl beside you. My mind then quickly recalls a recent memory of proxemics, thanks to a recent class I took in my six-year struggle with college*. I tried my best to mentally discern the minute inches of distance between your faces — whether it had crossed from personal to intimate; of friends to, well, more than friends.
(*But you didn’t know that — and I didn’t know much about you either, which makes us basically strangers at this point.)
Curious. I immediately thought of the last time I had come across your profile, maybe by accident. It had been months, I suppose, but nothing compared to the eight years we last spoke, drifted out of each other’s circles, and for lack of a better phrase, moved on. I got out of our little town, went to the city, wrote for a living, and entered a long-term relationship with a man whom I now call my soulmate. And although we had remained friends on Facebook, the website has a remarkable way of keeping those out of your spaces basically irrelevant.
I confess that I don’t remember much about us, but I do remember you in some ways — like in a Kanye West song that plays on the radio. I guess that’s what happens when people enter your life at some point: they leave footprints, blurred by time, but they’re still there. Yet with that little blip on my radar, I feel a hand pulling me towards a distant past, back when the world was still different.
For a minute, it’s 2008 again. When teenage angst was all the rage the same time High School Musical was, when all our peers cared about were prom dresses and first kisses, when you would wait for me after every recess time just so we can have lunch together, and when I spent too many blog posts on Multiply pouring my heart out on our breakup, as I endlessly played our last prom dance in my mind accompanied with an incessant loop of breakup songs sung by Freestyle. The blog posts has since long gone from the memory of the internet, not by me, but by the natural progression of things– we live and we forget to make room for new experiences.
It was a time when maybe, we were both far too young for anything serious, but that is all in retrospect. And while eight years later, when we’re both a little older and perhaps a little bit smarter, we can wonder whether it was indeed, love, once upon a time we both believed it was.
Time really is a funny thing. Just when I thought I had experienced the worst heartbreak of all and was ready to channel my desolation into songs a la country-era Taylor Swift, I fell in love again. The heartache faded, and the longing waned. I would daydream about conversations spent with this new boy, whom I would eventually grow together with. We still have those conversations now. It was the kind of love I can be sure of, the kind of love I could come home to. And somehow, a small part of me has you to thank for the happenstance of events that happened since then, that has led me to this path with the right person.
Perhaps it’s the same way for you too. I can only suppose that it is. And after a few minutes of “fact-checking” did I confirm that she was indeed your girlfriend, probably the first one after me. I look at your faces again with wide grins. I smiled. You look good together, I’ll admit. She probably makes you smile a little wider, and makes you want to talk a little longer. And with that, I scrolled upward (liking the photo might have been too conspicuous), shut my laptop, and sank back into bed.