Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Happily Ever After

May I just say, right from the start, that Ying Yi’s solemnisation was really really lovely. It was just a quiet gathering of the two families and the witnesses (Me! Me!!) and Daniel (Ying’s Yi’s husband) conducted the ceremony as a qualified Justice of Peace. She wrote an account of it on her blog (which is probably a better one than the one I’m about to write, seeing how it was her who got married!) and also happened to write there that the presents I bought them still had the price tags on! Goddamit! That’s the last time I let a gift shop do my wrapping for me! From now on, you guys will have to accept the lumpy, tape-covered presents made by me instead!

The bride and groom looked great, although I have to say I’m partial to the bride… she looked gorgeous in this long, flowing green dress, very natural and happy holding a bouquet of Calla lillies that the best man’s girlfriend made her. The ceremony was simple and very sweet and went through the process of the vows and the contract of marriage as well as prayers for the couple and their new life together. Apart from the fact that it was in Chinese and so I was reading over Fongster’s shoulder and trying to make out where Daniel’s father was in his speech, I understood most of what was going on, especially the “speak now or forever hold your peace” bit. Earlier, we’d joked about me interrupting a huge church wedding at that point, but I managed to control myself and remain silent when the ceremony reached that part. Don’t think you’re safe, though, Fong, I might still break it out at your big wedding banquet!
When they repeated their vows and finally kissed, I got a little teary (inside though, mind! I wasn’t about to break down crying in front of her mum and dad!) which weddings tend to do to me. The best thing about the ceremony though, in my view, was the fact that despite it being a serious and tender occasion, there was also a measure of humour and fun that I’ve come to associate with both Ying Yi and Daniel and it made the wedding all the more special and enjoyable. We ended the night with an amazingly good ten course Chinese dinner (but of course! How better to end a wedding? Thanks, Dan!) and in an astounding feat of destiny, snow frogs were served for dessert again! It was a lot of fun getting to know Eugene and his girlfriend and Daniel’s siblings a little bit better and talking about all kinds of things from live lobsters to panda porn.
So Mr and Mrs *ahem* Ong, apart from telling you that you had a wonderful wedding and I’m really happy for you, I also want to thank you for having me there because it really meant a lot that I got to hold the rings and share in your special moment. I sincerely wish you the happiest life ahead wherever you guys may go. Also, may I say thank you for single-handedly curing me of asthma for the rest of my life! Just once more helping of snow frogs and I think I’ll be able to breathe underwater too! Till then, I’ll just content myself with breathing on land… and practising my banquet interrupting skills to boot.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Keepin' On

Despite having been MIA for a little while, the earth still turns… Dubya may return to Singapore, the Pussycat Dolls found their new doll and one of my best friends in the whole world is getting married tomorrow! I can’t believe that Ying Yi and Daniel are actually getting married because I still remember the time he got into contact with her, the time when they first met and the time she realised that he was the one for her. Dinner with them tonight was loads of fun, we went to a Chinese restaurant and ate good Chinese food, the highlight of the evening being dessert.

Daniel ordered a “snow frog” for me, which I pictured as looking something like a little green toad all encrusted in shaved ice, sitting on a herbal jelly lilly pad (appetising, much). It really turned out to be little frog lungs in a cold, sweet soup which honestly, tastes a lot better than it sounds. The frog lungs looked and felt a lot like little white puffy pieces of jelly and with the syrup, it was really like eating a normal, sweet Chinese dessert. I cannot wait for tomorrow because I just love weddings and Ying Yi looks happier than I’ve ever seen her.

The last few nights were spent curled up with M in a week of pure bliss, driving around drinking beer and playing Placebo too loudly, sitting on the sticky green couches in her lobby and watching TV. These last days of moving out of school and coming back home are slowly starting to sink in, the reality being that I have finished four years of school and now that I try to look back on them, everything is a blur of late night walks around campus and bleary-eyed classes, early morning Macdonald’s breakfasts and moving back and forth between hostel rooms. For some reason, it feels like I should have paid better attention, really treasured these days of freedom and new experience. Standing quietly in my hostel room on the night before my last exam, I felt a cold wind laced with rain buffeting through my open window and a thought suddenly came to mind: It feels so good to be young and alive.

Teetering on the brink between sheltered freedom and having to go out and make a living for myself, I suddenly see that the days are passing too fast. People are growing up and moving on. People are getting married. And before it’s too late I should stand still and hold time fast in my fist so that I’ll never grow old believing, as my parents do, that youth is wasted on the young. I want to be aware that I’m young now, not look back and start in surprise because I used to be. This sounds rather a melodramatic thought at 22. But I thought the same at 17 and I still look back on my college days and wonder why I didn’t throw a little bit more of myself into it. 22 is 25 before you know it, and then 30. Whole decades pass and life gets in the way. Things ebb and flow and work and family intervene and you don’t make time to do the little things you always wanted to do and then suddenly, you forget you ever wanted to do them.

And at some point, I suppose we all stop thinking, “Wow, there’s still a lot of life left,” and start wondering, “Where did I just let all that time go?” Dr. Matthews told us in our last lecture with him that he realised that had happened to him when he found himself working on the first Christmas after he got married. “Do the things you want to before it’s too late guys. Take some time now to figure out what the important things in life are. And I’ll let you in on a little secret,” He paused, lowered his voice and gestured to the stacks of copious notes we had made over the semester. “It isn’t this stuff!”

So that night, the night before my final paper, when the cold wind seeped through the window and breathed on my face, I cracked my window wide open and stuck my head out, letting the sharp breeze whip through my hair and spray gusts of rain on my skin. Then, in the same spirit which compelled me to eat a “snow frog”, I turned away from the window, broke into a canter and didn’t stop till I’d gotten downstairs. It didn’t feel like the time for notes or memorising or reading by the light of a desk lamp.

It felt like the moment for enjoying the fact that I could run, that I could still remember how I liked the sensation of rain on my face. I walked in the puddles with water percolating through the leaves and imagined myself standing out in the rain in school, then in Singapore, the world, the galaxy, the Universe and I forgot all about the impending examination, the six chapters left to finish before I could finally fall asleep. I strolled slowly in the cold, one tiny person in the enormous, unending scheme of things, enjoying the more fleeting phenomenon of my youth.

The trees, bowed deep in their neverending wisdom and silence, watched me.