Let me tell you a story of friendship, a lifelong competition, and a partnership forged by tears.
I first met RAM in January of 2011.
I was still 22 (going on 23), he was 25 (going on 26). He was a scrawny kid from outside of the capital (oh dear, I think I just made him look like a country bumpkin, I mean he’s a bit like that but not entirely), and I was born and raised in the capital kind a girl with a need of personality swap.
He was patient, I was not. He was a good listener, and I like to hear myself talk. It was almost like it was match made in heaven, except that it was not. It was far from it. He had dreams to chased, I had nothing short of plan. But we made our friendship work.
I like his company. I like to monopolise. I tricked him into a relationship based on manipulation. Do I feel bad? Hardly. I was just so happy I get to keep my friend closer, and all to myself.
Then I fell in love with his kindness, compassion, and patience.
He didn’t pat my back nor did he try to tell me that everything is going to be alright when I cried for my Grandmother passing away. He sat next to me and he let me tell him stories of my late Grandmother. He braved my family when I was a train wreck after the news of my Grandmother passing away. I was so wrapped up in a world without my Grandmother, I forgot about him completely.
Then I move away, and so did he. We tried to make the distance works for us. We stayed up late on weekends, just so I can see his face, and he sees mine. We smile and we cry for the distance and the time between us.
I’m so used to his presence that it feels weird when he is not around. You could say I am sort of dependent of his presence, but wouldn’t you feel the same if you have such a great friend, like mine?
Then he realised that he had his ambitions that were left on the sidelines when we first start our whirlwind love affair. He wanted to chase his dreams again, and so did I. But, see, life has a funny way of hijacking people’s lives. He caught up to his dreams, and I did not.
For the first time since we were together, we live our lives on different paths.
Was I happy for him? Not initially. I may be in love with him, and may enjoy and crave his company, and he may be one of the very few people I call my best friend; but I am also a human filled with jealousy and anger, and so I was not happy for his success the first time around. But like a child coming to terms with his body growing out of his childhood clothes, I also come to terms that his dreams were his own, and his success was his own, and if I can’t have the same, doesn’t mean I have to chastise him.
He came back a year later a different man, and I left for my own dream. For the second time, we lived our lives on different paths. But this time, I no longer am the bitter person that I was a year ago, and he was a man with a mission. We are two different people compared to who we were in 2011, and yet we felt stronger and better.
We knew that when it comes to us, the only way is up.
I came back a different person too. The sabbatical year was good for me, for him, and for us. We live our lives together again, with its own share of ups and downs.
Just like little children that are afraid of the waves on the beach, we tip toe around the subject of being together indefinitely. And we realised, it was not for us. We don’t need a piece of paper to tie us down. We survived hundreds of miles away between us, a piece of paper is next to nothing for us.
But, remember when I said that life has a funny way of hijacking people’s lives? We got played by life again.
He was to go to a land we’ve never been. I was to remain where I am. And for the first time, we concede our lost against the game of life.
We signed the paper. We are trapped between happiness and anger. Or at least I was. I was happy for us, but I was angry at the fact that I still need a piece of a paper to be together with him. It’s just stupid. But, I love him, so it’s okay.
Then, like before, it was time to go. And, again, we took different paths.
And now, here I am, writing this story of my friendship, competition, and partnership with RAM. A friendship made happened by Rachael Yamagata’s song called Duet (coincidentally it is a duet with Ray LaMontagne), a lifelong competition due to our inflated ego for our self made success, and a partnership forge with tears and love and faith for we believe we shall overcome all obstacles.
Today, I have been married to my best friend, my rival, and my partner for one year, of which we’ve only spent it together for four months; but I’ve known him for close to seven years. And in those years, I have loved him, hated him, cherished him, adored him, and many more rush of feelings.
I don’t always love him, because sometimes he made me angry and frustrated, but I have never stopped loving him. Sometimes the love went AWOL, but it doesn’t mean I stopped loving him or that the love never returns. Besides, being married to someone is not about loving that someone for the rest of your entire life (although, that would be ideal), it’s about knowing that this is a two people’s game; it’s about compromise, it’s about respect, it’s about understanding, and it’s about knowing that it is not always going to be a smooth sailing from here on.
Look, I’ve only been married for a year, what do I know about marriage?
What I do know is that this thing that I have with RAM is something that I am building with my own two hands, with my sweat, blood, and tears. I have an immense respect for this particular project that I’m building with RAM. It has not been easy, but when has life even been easy?
Here’s to many more years to being friends, to being rivals, and to our partnership against the injustice that is life’s cruel jokes.
You know you are loved even though I don’t cook for you. You know you are sometimes loathed because you snore like a choo choo train. You know you are cherished even though I never took care of you when you are sick. You know you are adored even though I don’t get to say that to your face every minute of every day. You know you are respected because I respect myself and this thing we called family.
Handshake artwork on cover is designed by Freepik.