I remember the day I swiped right on James’ Tinder profile. His impish good looks and infectious smile drew me in and sparked the first blaze. We engaged in conversation for hours, discussing our love for cinema and books, and our discussions soon grew beyond the constraints of the app. We quickly swapped phone numbers and spent hours on video conversations, building an intimate and fascinating bond.
Our virtual dates unfolded in slow motion as if time itself had been slowed down to embrace the moment. I recall how his voice soothed me and how his grin could light up a room. We sought solace in one another’s presence despite the confines of the pandemic that kept us secluded in our own homes. Our virtual rendezvous overflowed with laughter and flirtation, and it felt as if we had discovered a ray of hope in a world filled with gloom.
While the world outside was ripping apart under the wrath of the pandemic, our bond deepened. The connection we built felt as rare as a rose blossoming in a harsh and cruel landscape.
James and I ordered The Inheritance of Loss, a book by Kiran Desai. I had read the book many moons ago when I was still a teenager, and he had always wanted to read it. Many times, we read the book aloud to one another. I absolutely loved it when he read the lines out loud to me.
We discussed each chapter of the book, sometimes line by line, and even argued about our interpretations of each chapter, the metaphors in it, and the feelings of each character. I remember hotly discussing the line, “Could fulfillment ever be felt as deeply as loss?” James said that it could be and gave me his reasons why it could be. I disagreed and shunned him by saying he was too optimistic and his opinion cloying.
When we finished the book, we talked about how, just like the characters in the book, the two of us were two souls who were caught in a maelstrom of love and desire, attempting to find our way through a world that was lurching forward toward an unknown.
Another of my favorite James memories was our first virtual date. We dressed up, cooked supper in our own homes, and then sat down to eat together through video conference. We laughed and talked for hours, and I felt as if I had known him for eons. It was magical. Really!
As our virtual encounters continued, we became more at ease with each other, talking about anything from our favorite childhood memories to the future we wanted to forge. It was as if we had discovered a means to span the physical distance that separated us.
However, as time went on, the weight of our long-distance relationship began to bear down upon us. I longed for the warmth of his touch and the comfort of his presence, but we seemed so far away while living in the same city. Our interactions became more strained, and misunderstandings became commonplace. Despite our best attempts, we both acknowledged that our love story had to come to an end. We made peace with the fact that our love, fostered in an unexpected realm, had been snatched away by equally unexpected realities of the world reeling under the pandemic.
Even though our love story had ended, we both knew we would always cherish the memories we had shared. In a world that had been plunged into darkness, James taught me that love could grow in unexpected places and that it is okay to be willfully bullish. Alas, I can optimistically say that, yes, fulfillment can be felt as deeply as loss.
APCOM staff share their activities for maintaining good mental health
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A (Wattana Keiangpa)
Arm (Siripong Srichau)
Mill (Natthakorn Chatsakulsri)
Shan (Tanet Vongvisitsin)