Good Morning, Heartache (part 7)

12 04 2012

Good Morning, Heartache (part 7)

Months pass.  Jake tries to get on with life.  His friends tell him it was better to end things with Heath before he became completely absorbed later down in his career and completely neglected Jake.  They tell him that Jake can do better, and that Heath was kind of immature anyway.  After all, as Jake reads, breakups, however painful they may be, happen to millions of people all the time.  What Jake is feeling has been felt before.

He starts by putting the gifts such as the stuffed animal Heath gave him in the back of his closet.  Harder to take down is the poem and a sketch of Jake Heath drew and gave to him back when they were first going out.  Jake had it framed and hung it on the wall of his bedroom.  He sadly takes it down from its place and also stores it on a shelf in his closet.

Now that his room is more or less Heath-less, Jake occupies his time with school and work.  He finds life relatively alright, and aside from thinking about Heath every now and then, he still feels fine. When he does think about Heath, it’s always about how they left things, how unresolved it feels.  He goes back to the things they both said, and all the things he should have done or said.  In his mind, Jake begins making a list of everything he did wrong, all the times he should have apologized but didn’t, and how things lead to the way they did.  What could I have done differently? he wonders over and over again.

When he goes back to school in September, he doesn’t see Heath around campus.  There are times when Jake is so busy with homework and projects that he has to go home right after to work on things, just like Heath used to do.  It’s times like these when Jake is glad he’s not in a relationship because he honestly wouldn’t be able to spend much time with someone.  It makes him wonder how much he time he really does need with someone, and whether or not he really does need to see someone as often as he thought he did.

It’s now December, Jake’s favourite month.  He still thinks about Heath, and wonders how he’s doing, and finds himself missing Heath a lot.

Jake is invited to work at the park with the Christmas lights again, and although he knows the park is where he and Heath first said, “I love you” to each other, he accepts, thinking it will keep him busy.

On his first day of work, he sees Eliza, whom he hasn’t seen since last year working there.  He and Eliza are very friendly and get along well, and she is the type of person in whom he can trust about telling certain things.  After re-introductions and catching up on life, Eliza says, “So, I heard about you and Heath.”

“Oh.  From who?”

“Mozilla.”  Eliza gestures behind her, where Mozilla stands nearby, making hot chocolate from chocolate syrup in a big tin (if people saw how it was made, would they still drink it?).

“Oh.  Okay.”  Jake looks down at the ground.  Any and every thought of Heath makes him sad.  “So I guess you know what happened then?”

Eliza shakes her head.  “No.  Only that things ended.  Mozilla doesn’t even know what happened.”

Jake is taken aback.  Mozilla is supposed to be one of Jake’s closer friends, who is also studying botany at school, and would likely see her somewhat often.  At the same time, how do you explain to your friends that it was your fault for not putting in much time in a relationship?

From her platform, Mozilla adds, “He’s just been saying he ‘doesn’t want to settle down yet.'”

“Oh.”  Jake doesn’t know what to say.  Settle down.  Like move to the suburbs, own a house, and drive kids to soccer practice?  That wasn’t what Jake wanted at all, and he didn’t think he made that impression on Heath.  What he wanted was just to be a loving boyfriend and to see where life would take them.  That wasn’t settling down by any means.

So Jake fills Mozilla and Eliza in on what happened.  After everything, Eliza is pensive.

“My ex-boyfriend and I would see each other on the weekends only, but it was an arrangement, and we were both okay with it.  Yeah, we have full-time jobs and lives outside of work, but we always made sure that we knew when we could see each other.”

And in those words, a spark ignites in Jake’s mind.  All this time, Jake had been upset that Heath wasn’t able to see him as much as Jake wanted.  In fact, Jake had been imposing his own schedule onto Heath, and since Heath was busy all the time, of course Jake was upset.  They never sat down together and worked out how much exactly they wanted to see each other.   They never agreed on how much time they could both dedicate.

It was all Jake’s fault he was ever upset.

The revelation surprises Jake.  You see, Jake wasn’t simply dwelling on the past– that would be unproductive.  He inadvertently was analyzing everything to figure out a solution to their problem, despite it being months after their breakup.  It’s taken half a year, but he finally thinks he’s found the solution to Heath and Jake’s relationship problem.  No wonder it never felt finished.  He was looking for the answer all along.

After work, Jake texts Heath and asks how he’s doing.  It’s been months since they’ve talked.

“I’m fine.  Exams are done.  What’s up?”

“I just wanted to talk to you about some stuff.”

“Okay.  About what?”

Jake hesitates.  If he says it’s about relationship stuff, then Heath might think he’s still dwelling on things (which he clearly is), which might look bad.  He figures it’s better to be honest than to ambush Heath later, so he replies, “Well, it’s about a lot of things.  If you had to categorize it, I guess it would be relationship stuff, but it’s not really.”

He waits nervously for Heath’s answer.  When he gets it, he’s relieved.  “Okay.  Want to meet tomorrow at noon?”

Tomorrow it is.  Tomorrow things will work out.


“I don’t know where to start.”

It’s the next day.  The noise of the traffic whizzing by makes things harder to hear, and Jake finds himself having to say things a bit louder, which is awkward when he’s about to tell Heath what’s on his mind. The two are walking on sidewalk on the edge of downtown.  Heath seems fine, as usual, and Jake is nervous, as usual.

“It’s okay.  Just start wherever you want.”

It’s been so long since they’ve talked that Jake has almost forgotten how good a listener Heath is.

“Well… my co-worker Eliza told me that she and her ex-boyfriend made plans specifically on the weekends to see each other, and that worked for them just fine.  I realized that I never did that with you– made up a schedule of when we could see each other, and instead, I imposed my schedule onto you, and that’s not fair.  I now see that a relationship is based on two people, not just one, and it wasn’t right of me to expect you to see me as much as I wanted to see you. And I’m sorry.”

Jake pauses, to see if Heath wants to say anything, but he doesn’t.  Jake goes on.

“Just for the record, I’m not asking you back.  If anyone should be asking anyone back, it’s you, and I’m still leaving it up to you.  I just wanted to tell you what I’ve figured out.”


They turn down the street, now walking into downtown territory.

“I also wanted to tell you that you said you didn’t want to hurt me anymore by not seeing me as much as I wanted to.  But that wasn’t what hurt the most.  What hurt the most was that you knew, from the very beginning of our relationship, what happened with me and my ex.  I told you I didn’t want that to happen with you because I care about you so much, but you still let it happen.  That’s what hurt the most.”

Heath is silent for a few seconds.  “That makes sense.  I wish… I wish I could have done things differently.”

Is this an admission of guilt?  “What kind of things?”

Heath is again silent.  Jake wonders if Heath really meant what he said.  “I don’t know,” he musters.

Jake doesn’t what to feel.  Is there any truth to what Heath just said?  Who knows.  Heath, in all likelihood, hasn’t been thinking about the way things were nearly as much as Jake, so it would make sense that he wouldn’t know.

“Let’s walk up this way.”  Jake leads them down the city’s gay street, a street where the two of them walked many times together before.

“I also never asked you an important question that I failed to realize until it was too late with my ex.  What is it you want, Heath?”

Jake, not looking at Heath at all, hears Heath sigh beside him.  “I don’t know.  I don’t know what I wanted when I was with you, and I don’t know what I want now.”

Jake pauses, to collect his thoughts before asking the next question.  “So, since you don’t know what you want, I guess that means you’re not seeing anyone?”

Heath looks over and gives Jake a strange look.  “Just because I don’t know what I want, why should that mean I’m not seeing anybody?”

Now, he feels something.  It’s as if there’s a tsunami, building power and speed from the ocean, rushing towards the shore.  Jake feels something like that, something loaded in his question.  He can feel the tsunami closing in on him, and yet he needs to know.

“Okay, so are you seeing someone?”

There is a brief silence before Heath says it.  Jake will remember these seconds, the calm before the storm.

“Kind of.”

How does one describe heartache?  How does one describe devastation?  We’ve all seen it in the movies: crying, sobbing.  But is that really enough?  Words are so feeble in showing just how painful it can be, but I will do my best.

After hearing those two simple words, Jake feels something in his chest burst, like a damn bursting.  Physiologically, it feels like a sudden explosion of hormones or blood or something else right in his heart.  Mentally, it’s as if a nuclear bomb just dropped.  Metaphorically, his heart just broke.

The tsunami hits the shore, flooding the village, sparing nothing in its path.  It drags people and debris back into the sea where they drown.

Jake stares on ahead, unable to look at Heath.  His breathing intensifies, and a wave of nausea hits him.  Still walking, Jake’s legs suddenly get weak, and he is afraid he’ll keel over and vomit.

“I need to sit down,” he chokes out coarsely.

They walk over to a nearby bench, and Jake slumps down in it.  He whole body shakes, and he keeps gasping short puffs of air.  Thinking it’s because he can’t breathe properly, Jake takes off his scarf, and though that helps a little, he still can’t breathe properly.  He buries his face in his hands, then runs his hands through his hair, desperately trying to do something with his hands.  This goes on for several minutes, Jake gasping and gasping for air, as his heart pounds in his chest.

It’s not until Jake becomes aware that he’s breathing erratically that he calms himself down.  He starts taking normal breaths of air slowly, and his heart rate returns to normal.

All this time, Heath sits silently next to him, presumably staring at the ground.

Once he feels more or less normal again, Jake asks, against the better part of himself, “How long have you been together?”

Heath thinks.  When he’s taking a longer than usual time to answer, he says, “Hold on.  My timeline is a little off at the moment.”

Okay, well, it’s obviously been a while, thinks Jake.

“Since the end of August?”

Jake furrows his brow.  “So, a month and a half after we broke up.”


It takes everything for Jake not to start gasping for air again.  “But he’s not here.  He’s gone for 10 months,” Heath quickly adds, as if trying to console him.

“I don’t understand, Heath.  If you don’t know what you want, why are you with someone?”

“Sometimes, to figure things out, you just have to try things,” is Heath’s reason.  “Please don’t be sad.  You can choose to be happy.  I know you’re dwelling on things, but… I’m no good for you.  You’ll find someone; you’re only, what, 22?  Think of all the years ahead of you, all the people you’re going to meet.  People never end up with the first person they get into a relationship with.  You gotta go through two, three, four, five or more until you find the right person.  Just… try to be more optimistic.  I know it’s hard for you to do, and it might seem like it’s easy for me to say all these because I’m with someone, but I really mean it.”

It’s not Jake’s turn to stare at the ground.  Although he is hearing everything Heath says, he wants to leave the situation.  Nothing ever seems to work out for Jake.  This whole idea was stupid in the first place.

“I actually thought that you weren’t the kind of person who would ask me back, and now I see that I was right.”  Jake stares sadly at the dirty ground.  “I feel like such a fool.  I was a fool to ever believe you’d get back together with me, and I was an utter fool to spend the last six months after we broke up trying to figure out a way for us to get back together.  I’m such a damn fool, a dumbass.”

“You’re not,” says Heath, but even that sounds forced and untrue.

The two sit in silence for a little while.  “There was also something else I wanted to tell you today.  Do you know when I realized I loved you?”

Heath looks at him and shakes his head.

“Well, I’ll tell you, whether you want to hear it or not.  Do you remember when I asked you when we were together, how and when you realized you loved me?  You said you didn’t know, that there was no one incident that made you realize it.  I wanted you to ask me the same question, but you never did, and I never told you.  Well, here it is.  I was watching Glee — yes, I realized it by watching Glee — and there’s this one character, Rachel, who has a major crush on the high school quarterback, but he doesn’t even know she exists.  Classic love story.  Then, after they get in glee club together, he notices her, and then, after many, many obstacles, they end up together.  At the end of one of the episodes, she sings a cover of Paramore’s song “The Only Exception” to him in front of the class.  Have you heard that song?”

Heath shakes his head.

“I hadn’t heard it before I heard it that night on Glee.  Basically the song is about how the narrator never wanted love, that she distanced herself from people, and would “never sing of love if it does not exist”, but the chorus goes “you are the only exception.”  And in that moment, after hearing those words, “you are the only exception”, a link in my brain, unconsciously, connected it to you.  Immediately, I thought of you, that you were the only exception for me.  And that’s when I knew I loved you.”

Jake waits for a response, but doesn’t expect any.


That’s as good as a response as he’ll get from Heath it seems.

“Things like Glee and movies like Twilight just perpetuate this idea of romance and love.  Reality is not like that.”

Jake looks over at Heath.  “No.  I suppose you’re right.  Winning people back is for the movies.”

Jake puts his scarf back on.  “I need to go to head home and get ready for work.”

“Are you going to be okay?”

What difference does it make? Jake wonders.  “Yeah.  Can I… have a hug?”

Heath offers a small smile.  “Of course.”

Jake hugs Heath tightly, not wanting to ever let go.  After they part, Jake stands up.



Jake paces down the sidewalk quickly, speed-walking.  All this time, the most insecure part of his mind kept telling him Heath was with someone new.

“I was right…” Jake mumbles to himself, not caring that people are looking his way.  The tears he was holding back now pour down his face.

“I was right… I was right…”

Good Morning, Heartache (Part 1)

6 04 2012

If you ask me or my friends, we will tell you that one of my characteristics is being honest.

A little while ago, I started writing an entry on my blog titled “The Scientist’s Experiment.”  It’s still in my drafts, incomplete.  It is unfinished because I have been trying to convey my thoughts in a somewhat prose-y, poetic way, while trying to say everything it is I want to say.

A friend told me a while back that I should write out my feelings on paper– no prose, no poetry, just write them all out, however you feel.  It would make me feel better.  And so I did.  Did I feel better?  Perhaps.  The thoughts certainly came out faster when I didn’t have to think about how to phrase exactly what I wanted to say to fit what came before and what would follow.

But I decided at the least minute to fuse the two together, so it’s not just an emotional unloading.  So for all those out there, here’s a story for you.

Good Morning, Heartache
by Aaron Chan

Once upon a time, there was a guy named Jake.  Jake, like many queer young boys, took in the idea that gay boys were supposed to find love after coming out.  It could also be that Jake was simply a romantic, but in any case, he longed for the day when he would find someone he could love and be that wonderful boyfriend he so frequently saw in C-grade gay films, and lackluster Hollywood rom-coms.  He thoroughly believed in the tradition of winning back someone by way of bouquets of roses, silent messages via placards during Christmastime, and admitting one’s faults after an exciting airport chase.  Although Jake is not very social when it comes to meeting new people, he finds talking to people one-on-one just fine.  Unfortunately, not many people happen to waltz up to the quiet loner standing in the corner of the room and start a conversation.  No, siree.

I know it can be strange to imagine, but Jake has always felt the need to love someone.  He can’t explain it.  The best I can do is this: some people claim they were born to be engineers; some say they “knew” they had to help people in developing countries.  For Jake, he always felt that he wanted to love someone.  It was as natural a goal and instinct as wanting to be a mother, or writer, or voting for the Green Party.

People always say, “you don’t need a man to make you happy.”  Okay, well, women typically say that, less for men.  Although Jake knew this had to be true, he couldn’t help but feel he did need — or at the very least, want — to love someone.  It was as if there was a piece missing from himself that could only be found when he found someone.  Corny?  Yes, a bit.  But it was life for Jake.

During this time, Jake also begins to develop his insecurity.  His lack of finding anyone remotely interesting who was interested in him makes him feel like a freak, like he’s not attractive.  Granted, he is mainly looking online and you know how shallow people can be, but still, for a dreamer and a romantic like Jake, it still hurts him every time he messages an interesting guy and receives silence.  At the same time, the only attention he seems to get is either from said older, usually white men who seem to have a fetish for young guys, or, less often, from guys so jacked up on testosterone they can’t communicate with more than a grunt or, in Internet language, “sup?”  Sure, some attention is flattering but after a while, when it’s all he gets, it made Jake feel as though he was doing something wrong, or else he just really destined not to find anyone.

Fast forward a whole bunch of years (because the life of a tween is not that interesting).  Jake, now a young man, finds that someone messaged him on an online dating site he signed up for.  What a revelation!  After weeks, months, years of being unable to find any sort of gay person, this guy, who appears to 1) not be a creepo old guy, and 2) have a good grasp of basic spelling and grammar.  So Jake and this guy, Dorian, meet and eventually start dating.  It seems they have a lot in common, and things are great.  Jake’s insecurity starts to disappear, as he is finally with someone interesting, someone worth dedicating his time to.  Ah, young love.

However, things don’t go exactly as Jake thinks.  Dorian is really busy with school and preparing for lots of plays at the university.  He’s so into what he does and is so good that everyone in the Drama building knows him, and he continuously gets requests from everyone to help on this project or that one.  Since he can’t say no, he accepts, leaving little time for Jake.  Oh, and Dorian is in the closet (no one in Drama would ever suspect him!), so all of Dorian’s friends that Jake meets know Jake as a “friend.”

Despite this setback, Jake convinces himself that it’ll be okay.  After all, Jake is patient and still that romantic I mentioned earlier, and he believes that Dorian is worth being with.  So Jake continues to be Dorian’s “friend.”

Eventually, Dorian and Jake decide to break up.  Dorian admits that were he to stay in the city, he would never come out, and although Jake truly cares for Dorian, he can’t take being known as another friend the rest of his life by his boyfriend.  Moreover, it’s gotten to the point where Dorian and Jake only meet once or twice a week– because of Dorian’s busy play production schedule.  So they part.

The piece is gone.  Suddenly, Jake feels alone, his goal for love thwarted.  Although it was a mutual separation, he still feels as though he has failed in some way.  The insecurity comes back.  He believed he was lucky to be with Dorian, now Jake sees his relationship as proof that nothing good can stay in his life.  Anything that makes Jake happy is temporary, especially love.

Calendar pages fly by.  Jake is alone, still thinking profusely about Dorian.  Instead of thinking about all the good times they had together, Jake ruminates about how he’ll never have them again with Dorian, and what went wrong.  It’s just his way of thinking.  Dorian, on the other hand, seems to have no problem getting on with life after Jake’s departure.  Jake can’t understand this, and realizes later that he does in fact love Dorian.  Unfortunately for Jake, it no longer matters– Dorian is just too busy to respond to any of Jake’s messages or emails, and I’m sure he conveniently ignored a bunch too.

It takes Jake a good while to get back on his feet.  Even though Jake and Dorian were only together for four months, Jake let himself get immersed in this first love.  All of Jake’s friends tell him that that dream guy that Jake has been fantasizing about all those years is going to find Jake sooner or later.  After all, they say, Jake’s a kickass boyfriend.  Good things happen to good people, like, all the time.

Press the fast forward button again.  A little more than two years later, Jake is more or less back to normal.  He’s back at school, has taken up writing witty greeting cards (“You’ve graduated high school?  Join the other 5,389,284,203,298 in human history!”), and no longer dwells on thinking about his ex.  Dorian can go suck it, for all Jake cares (although since Dorian’s in the closet and had disclosed to Jake that he wouldn’t have sex until he was back in a relationship, he probably isn’t sucking any). During all this time, Jake tries to date but it seems the town is in a drought; there’s a shortage of average, interesting gay guys in the city, it seems.  It’s discouraging, to say the least, but Jake figures trying is better than not.  So he keeps at it.

One day, Jake submits his greeting card inspired by Dorian (“I don’t tell you enough how amazing, fantastic, loving, wonderful you really are… but at least I’m buying you this card.  So when is it my turn?”) to the town’s annual Greeting Card-a-puhlooza.  And his card gets in to the expo!

After his card is showcased in front of a live audience and Jake talks a bit about how he came up with such an idea, he decides to head over the afterparty to meet the other cool, witty, snarky card writers.  At this party, a young, also queer guy comes up to Jake and starts yell-talking to him over the uhns-uhns-ing beat of trashy music.  His name is Romulus, and he and Jake hit it off.

Being a romantic (and a tad desperate, but more romantic), Jake instantly imagines Romulus as a potential boyfriend.  But as they get to know each other, Romulus comes off as something better: a true gay friend.  Although Jake is a little disappointed, he is more than thrilled that at least Romulus is an interesting gay guy who isn’t into camping out to see the next Sex and the City movie.  Besides, Romulus is way too busy with his day-time job as a flame-throwing, homophobe-vanquishing superhero anyway.

Romulus invites Jake to help out with his own greeting card party.  It’s been a big passion of Romulus to write greeting cards but he’s always put it off for one reason or another.  But no more!  He’s decided to have a three-day greeting card write-a-thon, and has invited some other friends to help out too.

Naturally, Jake is more than willing to help.  When he gets to Romulus’s place on the first day, he sees a guy who looks familiar.  And since Jake has a creepily good facial recognition (I say creepily because a lot of people might find it creepy but if you think about it, it’s actually quite impressive), he instantly remembers who this guy is.


Now we have to rewind a bit.


While Jake was at school, he was taking an Arabic class.  One day, he and a classmate had to work on a project together.  The classmate told Jake that he was in the library “with my friend Heath.”  Thinking nothing of it, Jake went to the library and found the classmate sitting with a guy named Heath.  Since Heath was fluent in Arabic, he was able to proofread their inferior project so that they wouldn’t look as stupid when they presented it.

Heath was short, with short dark hair, and super skinny (but not anorexic skinny, thankfully).  He and Jake didn’t talk much that day, and when Heath was done with their project, Jake left.

End of flashback!

Now standing before him was the same Heath, who looked the same, even after almost a year.

“I know you!  You’re Heath!” exclaimed Jake, demonstrating his awesome memory.

“Ah wah??” said Heath, naturally confuzzled.

And that was the start of the romance to-be.

To be continued!

Now do you understand?

11 01 2012

Eyes bloodshot, you were crying more than I could ever possibly imagine.  No, to imagine would be to have some ground of reality.  But this… required dreaming– a different plane of existence altogether.  Tears ran down your face as you stared at me with pained eyes.

“Now do you understand?  Now do you feel what I’ve felt?” I asked.  It was supposed to make me feel good, for you to experience the utter devastation and pain I went through only recently.  You turned away, blending with the silence around you, and it was then that I realized I didn’t feel good that you were feeling bad.  I felt sad for you.  I pitied you– that you had to go through this, to be haunted by the ghost of yesterday, to feel jabs every time you saw something that reminded me of you and how you lost me– I pitied you because I knew it was one of the worst things one could feel.

Your heart was breaking, and I watched it do so.  I watched it and mine broke for you.

One Day

30 08 2011

I feel like it’s been so long since I posted something.  Here’s a little poem I scribbled at work.  It’s not very good, just as a warning.

One Day

Hands locked in perpetuum mobile,
while ours, warm together,
a bubble-palm on an iced December evening.

A few seasons later,
when the pin-pricks of cold become the blinding dazzle of lights,
I locked you around me.
And with my eyes shut tight,
filling my mind with fairytales,
a prayer to whatever alien entity out there for hands to stop entirely–
to pretend the grandfather clock was broken, however temporarily–
escaped me.
And so we lay there, with time on our side.

But even in fairytales,
there is an ending:
words no longer whispered in ears;
embraces unlocked.
The insect ghosts of winter gnawing on my hands.

“This doesn’t have to be the end,” you say.
And maybe, when I can start believing in you again, I’ll believe it.
That maybe one day,
while hands are locked in perpetuum mobile,
yours will come back to mine.

Do I dare?

2 09 2010

Not sure when I wrote this one.  Probably sometime within the last two years.

Do I Dare?

Do I dare to believe in you?
After I let you get so close,
You only bruise me.

As I let all meaning slip away,
You do as you wish.
Maybe I jumped in a little too early.

I can’t believe I fell for you,
And when I looked up, I see that I had tripped,
Over the doubt that had lingered above my head.

You broke my composure,
And I readily took you in,
And you harvested all the feelings I had wished away.

Though I did not hold your time,
I can see that it was mine.
Fighting is a concept you know not of.

So once again, with my heart shaded away
I look past the horizon,
Blinded no more, and guarded all the more.