We met completely by coincidence on a Thursday night, the 3rd of October in 2013 at a bar in Holland Village. I was having a wonderful drinking and catching up with a friend over dinner when we decide to shift outside. He appeared like a phantom, sliding into the empty table next to us and ordering a beer. He sits alone, quiet and peaceful. Blissful as I was, I initiated a friendly hello, asking if he was alone. And the night thus began its ascend into perfection.
Talking and laughing over everything that came to our minds, the three of us spoke with such trust and ease, it was as if we’d arranged to meet. Friendly, charming and confident, we had had the pleasure of meeting David. A Korean American, specifically from California, he was a Marine Corps pilot. 11pm came too quickly though, and he left as quietly as he arrived, with a hopeful plan to perhaps see us again at this bar the next day.
As chance would have it, I had plans to study at Holland Village the next day. From afternoon till evening, I poured over my essays, and yet a part of me longed to run to the bar and await his uncertain arrival. As fate would have it, who else but David wanders past the restaurant I was having dinner at. Waving him over, we smile sheepishly at each other.
I have to leave in an hour.
So do I.
Wanna grab a drink at the bar?
We walk to the bar, but there was no seat in sight. Thus, we headed to the furthest, but also the quietest one, laughing about the table flooded with dogs and the insanity of the night life on a Friday night in Singapore. There we talked and sipped on wine, his treat (cause he apparently forgot to pay the night before) and just enjoyed each other’s company. An hour flew by and he waves the waiter over.
Two more glasses please.
Don’t you have to go?
His very words, “it’s worth it, spending more time with you”
Or at least, along those lines.
It was a perfect night, filled with talks about our countries, how the government works, healthcare, families, and even books. He suggested 100 years of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which I’ve been enjoying so far, while I suggested Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk.
We walked to Coffeebean, where my sister and brother-in-law were waiting for me.
Wait, before you go…
And a pull into his arms, a tight hug and an apparently very common western custom of kissing the other party on the cheek.
He said something, a phrase of farewell, that till now escapes me. Did he ask me to take care of myself? To look to the future?
To think is futile, for it has been lost.
He walks me into Coffeebean, and offers to buy me one last drink. After declining, a last embrace, then he was gone. With the wind pulling my dress, the last traces of him fluttered out the door with it.
His voice, his face, imprinted on my memory, fading with every dream till he seems to be but an illusion, a farce. We didn’t get each other’s contacts, but perhaps that’s the beauty of the meeting. To have two wonderful days of beautiful, honest conversations with a stranger whom you’ll never meet again. Yet, in your old age, when you look back at your life, you will remember this moment, a perfect moment of true bliss.