Yes, you read that right. My first (and to this date, only) loves were of the triangular variety…or should I say square? There were actually three girls involved, some with each other, and it was quite an interesting time indeed…
I first met Theresa at the first cosplay event I attended – which is also where I met most of a lot of my other friends. I can’t really remember the details but for some reason Benjamin Qwek and I ended up discussing yaoi manga with her (in particular the essays of Matt Thorn on the subject, which I highly recommend) in a café somewhere. Ben was totally freaked out by the subject (though he’s calmed down somewhat in recent years) and the latter was I think delighted to find someone (a guy no less) with whom she could talk about a taboo topic.
One thing led to another and I eventually asked her out. There was this cab ride when I said “I find you both mentally and physically attractive” – which is not that bad a line I think! We agreed to cosplay together and did a team from Saiyuki. She sewed my costume (Theresa was a more than competent seamstress) and it turned out really well.
I was Cho Hakkai and she did Sanzo, and then we signed up for the performance segment of the event and kissed in front of a hundred or so anime fans. So yeah my first kiss was on-stage with my crossdressing girlfriend. (We did a few practice ones but I’m not sure those count?) That’s another one for the record books.
We got a lot of shocked stares but also a lot of applause. One of the people who clapped the loudest was Shelley, who would become my second girlfriend…while I was still attached to the first. I sure moved fast didn’t I? Actually it wasn’t really a conscious decision on my part, it just sort of happened.
How did I meet Shelley? By writing Rurouni Kenshin fanfiction. I think she was running a roleplaying group at that time and lacked a Shinomori Aoshi (who I’ve always had a soft spot for) I ran up a page or two and sent it to her. She liked it and I was in. We didn’t actually end up roleplaying a whole lot but she noted (Shelley was always very perceptive) that I wrote in a dark and complex way and I replied that I was a dark and complex person.
So Shelley, being another anime fan, was obviously also at the same event that I kissed Theresa at. She seemed more than a little interested in our exhibitionistic nature and struck up a conversation, which led to walking at the riverside at night with some of our friends in tow, which ended up at a BBQ somewhere, and then at some point which I can’t remember now she also indicated her interest in me and I in her and became my second girlfriend. Theresa didn’t seem to mind at first – or maybe things had just moved on way too fast for us to notice? Ah, the follies of youth.
What about the third? I started talking to Allison on AIM because she messaged me about the Valkyrie Profile FAQ I wrote. We chatted about this and that until one day she suddenly wrote “Here you sit in front of me, the most intelligent and sensitive guy I’ve ever met. So tell me – what’s wrong with you?” I was completely and totally floored. And more than a little interested. This girl really knew what was what.
I sort of carried on with Theresa and Shelley while still talking to Allison on the side. Yeah I have no idea what the fuck I was doing, I admit it. Cut me some slack – I was 20 and my hormones were raging and I had all these mental issues in the background.
Theresa was a good artist, and I still have the few pictures she drew me. I actually wanted her to teach me to draw and I would teach her Japanese in return but that never happened. She was good enough to go pro and I often wondered if she ever did. She had a deep, hearty laugh and a smile that was honest and sincere.
Shelley would share with me her stories and fanfiction and man, could that girl write. Out of all of the three I think I was attracted to her mind most of all. She was razor-sharp and very, very intelligent. She had some original ideas which were startlingly unique and we spent many long hours engaged in discourse both literary and philosophical.
Allison sent me some of her work as well (as you can see I love artistic girls) but our conversations were largely about games as well as her friends and family – fertile enough ground for a bond to form. She told me about her own big brother (a jazz musician) and what she liked and didn’t like to do. She was easy to talk to and I could feel the stirrings of something besides friendship after a while. At one point she even offered to cyber with me but I turned her down.
I grew close to all three. I shared some of my work with them as well and told them what I could understand about my own family and problems. They were some of the first people I shared my depression with after the EVA ML and they responded in kind, telling me about themselves, their own issues and hopes and dreams.
I felt quite strongly for them all, so strongly that I can recall feeling more than a little frightened. And I think they felt the same way. Was this it? Was this what the poets wrote about, that people sang songs about, that wars were fought over? Was it that huge red heart in the sky, that capital letter L-O-V-E?
I think it was in part, and that was why I was scared. As Shelley told me in a late-night conversation (we seemed to have lots of those) “You and Theresa are what I’ve been waiting for all my life.” Whoa. Big words for a twenty year old to hear.
Some of it though, was most definitely teenage. Back then everything seemed So Important and Significant and hormones were raging wildly and home life was terrible as always and it was just a lot to deal with and process. Teenagers are not the most rational or understanding of beings.
Still, we were close, and some of what we shared I can remember even now. I was telling Theresa about my depression and I can remember her voice on the phone saying “but that doesn’t matter now.” No, it still mattered. You couldn’t destroy it that easily. But I appreciated the sentiment all the same.
Strangely, even as all life stories are filled with the roads not taken and paths not travelled, breaking up with the three of them was one of the clearest decisions I’ve ever made in my life. In fact, I think it may have been the first mature decision as a full-fledged adult I ever made. Many years later I still don’t regret it at all. Do I think about how it might have worked out? Sure, who doesn’t? But I knew it couldn’t have.
Why? Once again pathology and abuse rear their ugly heads. Theresa had some SERIOUS issues. She used to cut herself and once took so many sleeping pills that she ended up having her stomach pumped…and her parents weren’t even there for her the morning after. Her family might have been one of the worst I’ve seen.
In her eyes I was essentially her father figure. I had read enough psychology to know that by now! She used to follow me around with stars in her eyes and be So Impressed by everything I did.
Shelley wasn’t nearly as bad but she could be more than pathological about work. Workaholism is quite common in young Asian females but she took it to the extreme more than once. She also used to get really fixated on things and that scared me more than a little.
Allison had father issues as well. Her father had died suddenly while younger and I don’t think she really ever got over that. Her mother was stuck in the same situation as mine – having difficulty completing her PhD – and she ALSO had a younger sister who has having problems. Where did these girls come from?
Everything I knew from my study of psychology told me that people with unresolved issues should not date people with unresolved issues. In fact, I had given the very same advice to Sean (from the EVA ML) just a while back. He had run away from home and gotten himself involved with a girl who may or may not have been sexually abused by her father. I told him gently but firmly that he had to let her go. He was initially very angry at me (“what the fuck are you talking about? I love her man!”) but saw the light after a while and apologized. So I was prepared to cut them loose gently.
My parents were absent for most of it, like they were for most of my life at this point. I asked my Dad for advice when things got complicated and he said that we should all sit down, write out what we wanted and talk about it properly and clearly. No wonder my mother divorced him.
I think the only comment my mother ever made was to ask me if I had ever taken any of them out for a “proper” date. Which to her probably meant dinner and a movie, and most definitely NOT watching gay anime pornography over at the girl’s house.
The anime in question was Ai no Kusabi, a post-apocalyptic homosexual romance. I call it (I still call it!) the Evangelion of yaoi, and you should watch it regardless of your sexual orientation. It’s that good.
Theresa was practically ecstatic as she watched it, and frankly I think she was more turned on that I was not turned off by all the hardcore gay sex in front of me, and that I was analyzing and noting the stylistics of the scenes. We watched that, and then Kaze no Ki no Uta (The Song of the Wind and Trees) Less hardcore, more romantic, equally gay.
I’ll always remember her room though. She was really into homosexual relationships (being a yaoi fan and all) and her bedroom posters were Haruku Ten’ou and Michiru Kai’ou from Sailor Moon (probably the Most Famous Anime Lesbians Ever) and the other side was Kurama and Hiei from YuYuHakusho – definitely a yaoi fan favorite. That girl had taste.
What other dates did we have? Well, I took Theresa to the red-light district once. It was quite an interesting experience for two young kids. I got a lot of shouts about how women weren’t supposed to come here but I think she enjoyed it. It was certainly a sight to see. We had comparatively “normal” dates as well, like going shopping for yaoi anime…well ok maybe not so normal after all.
I don’t recall ever dating Shelley much unless you count her coming over to my house and talking, as well as me fetching her back from work on multiple occasions. It was a long bus ride and I can still remember the feeling of her head on my shoulder. And on another occasion, her warm hand under the covers.
Allison? She did want to come to Singapore to meet me but any dating we did was online since she was in the US.
An astute reader will probably have guessed at this point that I was the closest to Theresa. Yes, I was. If I were to search my feelings I would probably say Allison came next and then Shelley. But I loved them all in my own way.
At some point Theresa got really upset at Shelley hanging out with us in that way and we had a good old-fashioned teenaged crying session on the phone with lots of melodrama that I honestly too embarrassed to relate her…ok, ok, I give. At one point I said “can you put down the phone before I hurt you anymore?” (Ok gonna go out back and shoot myself now…)
I panicked and asked Allison for advice…yeah, real smooth going there right? Like I said I was young and had mental issues. No excuse, I know. So basically this led to Allison getting upset as well as then things went downhill from there. Shelley never really seemed to mind that much but she was always hard to read and I could never tell what was going on with her.
I don’t regret any of it. We didn’t have any “official” breakups but just gradually drifted apart. Theresa started to smoke and wanted to Be Cool and I didn’t want to be a party to that (though now I can see she was probably just going through a phase and acting out)
The same thing happened with Shelley. To this day I always get the impression that she was more interested in Theresa than me. We shared an intellectual bond, yes, but the way she would look at the other girl, especially when she thought I wasn’t looking…well! Whether or not the two of them were bisexual or lesbians or whatever is something that I’ll probably never know. She went to the US for a poetry symposium or something and I think she started living with a guy there?
Allison started playing Ragnarok Online (man, count me OUT of that one) and I think she met someone there as well. Whatever the case I hope they’re all happy now, wherever they may be.
In the final equation I think it’s best that it ended the way it did. We were all too young and fucked up to really handle any kind of relationship. I think if we had started out slow and then ramped up (and were older and more mature) we could have made it work out, but we went from kissing to sharing our souls in the space of a month.
I didn’t date after that because well…you’ll see in the chapters to come.
I was always a bit torn up about it though. Dating, not the girls. (whom I wish well in every regard) Thirteen years to go with no relationships is a bit rough! I felt I was dying in a wasteland more than once, bereft of any sort of female companionship. But looking back on it I think I made the right decision. Though it’s impossible to be completely free of issues, it does make sense to have cleared at least some of the major ones before you involve yourself with someone else. That was the decision I took at that time and I believe that it was for the best.