Today was one of the most beautiful afternoon for the whole summer season. You just knew it when the sunlight calmly hit the trees, their shadows covered exhausted human who could never stop playing. All the water was sparked everywhere, making this sparkly kaleidoscope of the sun. I was so ready to play.
Everybody was gathering in the park, especially the youngens, including me. These past few days were the hottest day in summer and everybody couldn't wait to play on the free water fountain that the city provides for summer. Everyone was so eager to wear their bathing suit and jumping around to every holes of the water fountain, waiting to be blasted with the cold water to swipe away sweats. I did both jumping around and taking memories--pictures--of this wonderful summer time, in fact, I probably have these kind of pictures for the past eight years. Since in elementary school and until now, college freshman.
Coming back to this small city helped me regain my nostalgic childhood. No matter how far I have lived or traveled, coming back here always make me feel like this is home. Staying at "home" has never been my thing, but coming to home always excites me. Especially when people who played a big part in your childhood life were also there.
My very best friend, my siblings, my seniors, all of them were also coming back for the hottest days in summer break. Some of them were still stuck in the city, collecting their childhood memories while they can, some of them already flew away and tried to make it back for couple days.
People who came to the park during the summer hottest days are probably people who have nothing really worth to do and wanted to kill some time. Most of them--again--are these youths that just went back home for holiday. Our older citizens don't like hanging around here and seeing children getting wet all over the place. It made the whole place slippery. Although there are some older citizens that came and just enjoyed watching us being a kid again.
My hometown's management is such a unique one. They attracted people by providing lots of free activities around the park for those people on break who have nothing better to do than daydreaming. They provided us free art tools, philosophy tutor, psychology tutor, all of the odds. Just to pop an idea in our head. Sometimes those tutor made an interesting theme for us to write, such as "A dream that you think is impossible and why", and something like that. We are odd people, and we like odd stuff, and I still have no reason to explain it.
Today's theme for the writing class that most people took before playing on the park was "To the person whom I never get a chance to give this letter to." It was a fun and huge class, nearly 50 people came in to write. I was so proud seeing the attendance for the day since it's my Mom's class as well. She seemed so happy standing in front of the willing students who chose to write instead of wasting their summer break. Although some of them just went out and played. Again, a way to kill time.
I decided to write a letter to my late teacher. She passed away several months ago and I have missed her so much. There were lots of things that I really wanted to tell her and I even once told her I will ask my mother to let me bringing her to my hometown for her novel reference. She wrote such a wonderful book about children, I cried when I realized that my philosophy teacher was her.
Finishing the letter, I ran outside with my friends that just came back from their school outside the town. We always have a chance to meet up every summer holiday, and we do enjoy being a child every year. I was wearing a surfing top and a baggy short and jumped right on the fountain. The water wetted my hair and my face, giving us better breeze for the hot weather.
Then I spotted him, and his friend, absolutely. All of the childhood memories came back in one piece, I was stunned for some moments back then. Both of them were my seniors back in my school. They're probably juniors in college, I think. Ah, what a nostalgic moment.
My friend dragged me to the fountain again and squirted her water gun to me. I nearly had no chance to surrender, so I told her I'm running to buy some drink for us. Then I was running passing them. He was very into the paper that he hold, while his friend was just looking around when he spotted me. His friend waved hand at me, and I waved back and ran to the vending machine. While he was still into the paper. I wonder what paper was he reading.
The warm afternoon sunlight hit me. I still remember the same feelings, the same memories. He was my very first love, when I realized that it was called love. I was in third grade of elementary school when I first had this uneasy feeling of being uncomfortable around someone and I thought I had some psychological problem. My heart beat so fast that I thought I had an heart attack. I told my mum while crying out loud and she once also thought I was sick. Then, on one fine afternoon, while me and my mum were walking together, he passed me running. I told her again, my heart beat so fast that I felt like it skipped a beat when that senior passed me, and she was laughing so hard, telling me slowly that I was "in love". Unless my mother's term of "in love" is not universal, I just realized I was in love because my mother thought I was.
And I googled it. How it feels to be in love and other stuff, I was so embarrassed when I read the definition of love that I couldn't see his face for a week without skipping a heartbeat. After that, I paid more attention to his gesture, his expression, his hobby. He's one of the reason why I love investigation.
But then, that first love only stayed by itself in my heart. I thought not revealing your love is normal, so I never wanted to, because I was so afraid that my heart would literally stop. But then in his last year living in town, he professed his love to his friend, the pretty girl with curly hair. I was there at that time, and we were all clapping for them when they finally got together. I told my mother again about it, about how my heart now feels like being stumped and punched and squeezed I hardly can breathe. She just tapped my head for it. That was when I realized I had my very first heartbreak.
"C-klank!" The drinks fell from the mending machine. I eagerly grabbed it and ran back to my friends who were taking a short rest. I passed him and his friend again, but this time I didn't look at their way. But I noticed that now, both of them were looking at me. I could feel the heat on my back, for no reason. It's been... What, four years since I had my first heartbreak? I don't know.
We decided to take a break of the fountain, so I used my time wisely to take some memorable pictures. I am the girl of memories, especially when I can make a sequence of same memories over time. I like having that full collection of the very same day each year.
Smile, smile, laugh, frown... Wait? I looked at my object. It was him and his friend. He was frowning while his friend was laughing so hard. His friend waved again at me, so I waved back. I decided to act cool and walk to them just to say hi, a courtesy of childhood friends.
"It's been a long time since I see you guys!" I said with excitement. Most people thought I have no worries at all since most of the time I was being excited about something.
"Yes, we don't see each other very often, do we?" A familiar yet different voice came out. It was from him. My heart skipped a beat again.
"I usually come here on these days every summer break, I never see you guys here around this time, though," I was confirming. It was them who never came, not me.
"Yeah, most of our friends have errands to do at this time of the season, so we usually decided to gather up in the beginning of the break, but now we can come on this time," his friend was explaining with excitement as well. I just smiled and tried to laugh, covering my nervous heart from his tender smile. He was smiling as well. My heart skipped a beat again.
We talked about usual things, how's their school, any plans for the holiday, what summer classes did they take, how many people from their year came. Normal. Yes, it's normal, right?
"So you're saying you're in my mother's class a lot? She will be totally happy!" Indeed, my mother is a happy woman as she can be.
"I took some minor philosophy class in college and it was fun, so I do enjoy it so much," he answered my question. I smiled, trying to cover my shivers.
"I heard from your mother that you're in the veterinary school? That is just awesome!" That was sincere compliment. I always wanted to be a veterinarian, but my family was sort of opposing it. And I think I was glad they opposed it, since it's probably just a swing of interest.
"It's fun, you should try coming to the summer class," he said earnestly. His friend told me later that both of them went to the same college, but different major. Then both of them are minoring philosophy class, and they met each other again. I still remember how both of them were clinging to each other, which was quite weird for boys. For me.
"Do you think today's class was interesting?"
"Yes, I love writing letters, and Mom always comes up with different theme every class," I said excitedly.
"I know, I enjoy your mother's class so much. Whom were you writing it to?" His friend bluntly asked.
"My late teacher. I might leave the letter on her cemetery when I go back on campus. Who are you guys writing to?"
"My sister. She was on duty abroad, so I couldn't see her nor give this letter to her. I might have a chance, but I don't know, I just feel like writing it to her," his friend answered.
No answer from him.
"Oh, I haven't finished mine yet. The theme today... It struck me really deep," he was chuckling, although I am sure he meant it. I didn't really mind not knowing, so no problem.
After several chit-chat, my friends were calling and that's time for me to go back. I waved at him and his friend, telling them how nice to see them again and hope we can bump into each other one time.
I was smiling the whole time, my body felt warm and I was wondering whether its because of the sun. Maybe my heartbreak was not that severe after all?
At 4 PM, for the whole week, we saw each other, and for that whole week, we greeted each other. I told my mother about him and his friend and she was excited as well. The more we meet each other, the less nervous I got, and it's good.
I have come to a better term with them that now I can joke around and play. It was less awkward than our childhood times, because he's always with his surroundings, and I was always with my surroundings. We were like two fish groups that run for different bread pieces. Now, we're just youth.
His friend decided to grab a drink. Now it's only two of us when I saw him carrying a bulky letter that seems like a letter. I asked him cheerfully, "So, you finally finished your letter for that class?"
He was stunned. "Um... Sort of, yeah."
"It must be a wonderful letter, you thought about it so deep. Will you give it to the person?"
"I don't know, it should be a letter that I will never be able to give to, right?" He got the point.
"You know the reason why my mother decided to choose that theme? She once told me this, 'Sometimes it's so hard for you to say something to your important person although you want to. Sometimes you have to take the step slower, and not many people like having slow progress. I did that theme to one of my college class one day, just to at least giving them chances to say whatever they want to their most important people. Letting them to write it down on a piece of paper, one day, sooner or later, they will have a courage to give it to that person, because all of the feelings inside cannot be contained, and with the letter itself, you have the courage for not being alone.'"
He was quiet for a moment.
"Thanks. I don't know, though, I might give it, but I felt like this letter shall not ever be seen."
"That's sad, I'm pretty sure that whoever you wrote that to will be very happy to accept your very well-thought feelings. I would," I was ensuring him. He just smiled.
"No you won't, if you see the content of it, none would probably be happy about it," he was chuckling while holding to it. That chuckles seemed pretty devastated to me.
"Then why don't you let me read it?" A shocking challenge coming from my mouth, I nearly shocked myself.
He was shocked for a moment, but then he relieved his face and laugh at me, "You won't be able to get it from me." And I knew he meant that. He's way taller than I am, and stronger, of course.
I didn't know whether he meant that I should not read it, or it was a challenge for me to get it. But I hate being challenged, especially in such childish matter. He might get angry with me for reading it, but such a pitiful man who didn't even have the courage to at least hand over the precious letter to his precious present just saddened me. Everybody should be happy, and the purpose of writing the letter is to give us courage, to be open about something, and he's lucky enough that the person he wanted to give it to is probably still alive.
I jumped to the seat and grabbed his letter from his hand so fast that he was stunned. His face turned blue and he ran after me. I was just laughing for being able to grab the letter. It was just like childhood. The seniors were playing prank with me and they grabbed the hat that my grandmother gave. I was so irritated that I jumped over them and grabbed the hat, leaving them stunned. He was also there, probably shocked as well.
He was calling me to stop, and I was just chuckling while trying to avoid him, when I noticed his messy handwriting on the top of the letter.
To whom it may concerns,
The young, fine girl whom I fell in love with but never got a chance to say a word to, and ended up breaking her hearts.
No, breaking my own heart.
They kept telling me that my junior liked me. A girl just one block away from my house. We played together occasionally, me with my friends and her with her friends.
I enjoyed playing with you. Although we are two years apart, two different kinds of friends and groups, I noticed you as soon as you were there. The short twinkling hair that seemed like it sparkled in front of me. To most of my friends, you are a kid (although all of us were just kids back then as well). You and all of your friends were just kids--younger than us, less superior than us. I see you as a girl. And I felt silly for feeling that way when I was just a fourth grader child.
If somebody asked me to write about things I have noticed from you, I would probably make a hundred lists of it.
The way you stroke your hair (still the same until now).
The way you laugh when it was funny, cheesy, a horrible joke, or a joke that came from your friend or people you don't know. All of them are different.
Your habit to climb the school tree.
How you hate being challenged.
How you proudly tell people about how great is your parents or your sick brother.
How you were smiling when you fell off the running track and your knee was bleeding.
How you always braid your hair on Mondays.
How you always refuse to get help on carrying the books because you're the big sister.
Boys are not supposed to pay attention, that's what my father said. But when we do, we pay attention with care. He kept telling me that if I ever look at a girl as a girl, when I realized how their hair smells so different from ours, their cheek seems redder that ours, their hands are getting smaller than us, and how we can just squeeze them with one single stroke of hug, pay them great attention of care. Because we're not supposed to pay attention like girls pay attention to us.
To whom I may never be able to give this to,
Growing while watching you growing as well left me behind with possibilities. Most of the men in my class probably don't pay a lot of interest on girls, like I do. They pay more attention to fancy stuff. But for me, they started to look cool and wiser when they have someone they loved dearly. They pay attention. Just like what I do. But we're not supposed to show it off, because my father said we're not girls.
But I thought I was old enough to tell you that. I was old enough to come to you bravely and professed what I called love back then. My mother always says that honest man is a knight. I want to be your knight.
But instead, I was afraid of the response. I didn't know if honest man is ready for the bad possibilities as well. I didn't know if being a knight means I have to accept whatever the result it. I thought I was ready, and you were the one who weren't ready, I was blaming it on you for being younger and childish--although that is just a mere assumption. I was afraid that you didn't take it seriously, because you're younger.
And I should have been a knight instead.
To whom I may never give this to,
I made a huge mistake by choosing what people think the best for me, what my friends think the best for me. Even for the slightest moment back there, I felt that I broke your heart. I wished I did broke your heart, because then you would take me seriously back then. I am no more a knight.
If I did break your heart, I am sorry and I still truly love you.
If I did suffer you, I am sorry but I truly love you.
If I didn't tell you at all, I am sorry but I just want you to know that I still love you.
I am old enough to know it is love. And I know you are ready, no matter how young you are.
It seems that it's just my selfish cowardness for not being frank to you.
And no matter how many times I came back, I will still regret it, for I always have a chance to be freed from this anxiousness that kept me awake for the past several years,
I know the time will come when I can finally say I love you bravely, just like that knight.
To whom I may never be giving this letter to,
I stopped after the very end of the letter. It was well written with his messy, small handwritings, and he wrote my name at the end of it. My name, out of all other names.
I managed to climb a tree and he decided to wait down because it seemed that there no use of him trying to take the letter anyway. He could've taken it if he wanted to, because now is the perfect time for it.
I was still stunned with what I just read, and then I heard him inhaling. Exhaling.
"Are you done?"
I became silent. It's pretty normal if he got angry after what I did to his letter, reading it when it was supposed to be private. I felt silly for grabbing it in the first place.
"Yeah... Sorry," I murmured. I dropped the letter down and just hoping that he will left me alone. I didn't know why it suddenly became so quiet.
He suddenly climbed up and sat across me, on the other branch. I turned to the other direction, not wanting him to see my red face after reading such love letter, if it was.
"What do you think? Should I give it to her?" He said bluntly. I was silent. You were planning on giving this to the lucky Tama and asked to the poor Tama that also likes you very much whether to hand such lovely letter or not?
Snap, I said I liked him.
"I... I don't know. But I think it's very beautiful and personal, you should give it to her," I finally embraced myself to the previous me, the one who kept giving sill suggestions to him. The one who started this destruction.
He inhaled and exhaled again.
"Tama, I like you for a very, very, very, long time."
"Yeah, she will like that, too," I said, a bit shivering. Where's my mother when I needed to ask her about this?
There was a big pause between us. I was the one who encouraged him before. I was the one who told him to be truthful.
"...and I have loved you for a very, very, long time. Even when you... Professed your love to that very beautiful lady, even when you went somewhere far for college, even when I didn't even realized that I still love you, and even after seeing your letter to that lucky Tama... And I love you for taking veterinary because it made me think how fun it would be if I were to live my life with you. Or every summer coming here to enjoy the same scenery, the same memories..." I said it. I said all of it.
"So will you take the letter?"
"Of course I will! If I were that lucky Tama to get such letter from you, to get such attention from you, I'd be dying out of happiness to own that letter, to be the one whose name is on the very end of the letter..." I was out of breath. Still not looking at him.
Wait, wait, when he said take the letter...
I turned back and looked at his way. He was smiling, shy, and earnest.
"Out of the possibilities in this world, how many Tama do you think I know for my entire life?"
"Here. I had hard time writing it down because I don't know what to say, and I thought I will never be able to give it to you. But the. You just magically appeared, and I felt the urge to write this down." He handed me the letter that I have read brutally before. My hand was shaking band I started to weep.
"You broke my heart."
"I was a coward, I realized that."
"You thought I was a kid."
"My fault. I wasn't ready for rejection."
"But you yourself is a kid."
"I know that very well."
I looked back at him with teary eyes. No matter how I see it, it's like my first love coming back to me. His young, eager face still clinging to me, and now I can replace that with his new face, his new expression.
Mother, my first love is here again.
Aaaaand I woke up, it was a great, long dream.