(Another notebook entry – Reggae Bar, KL, 17th Nov 2010)
When exactly, which night, did we really first meet? It embarrasses me, shames me utterly, that I can’t dredge it back up, rescue the memory from the haze of alcohol and sleep deprivation which marked my arrival in your world. Big’s quiz? Rob’s party? Honestly, it could have been either of these or neither.
There’s one memory that stays with me though, constantly replaying like an old movie clip inside my head. After a year I still remember the precise moment, that golden, wonderful instant, when you plucked my heart from my chest and tucked it into your pocket, a keepsake not stolen but joyously surrendered.
Dates are meaningless, it’s the events they encompass which give them substance, and that night we celebrated Dylan’s birthday. Not that the name ‘Dylan’ held any significance back then, my fellow travellers at that time were just nebulous concepts, yet to morph into more concrete realities; she was ‘firebrand dreads girl’ while you existed as ‘pretty, tall American girl’. My assignations then were crude but, I hope, meaningful. Accordingly, the invitation came out of the blue and, I must admit, I hesitated like a child stuck in a strange, new social situation, unsure of the correct protocol and terrified of making a mistake, but something inside moved me to say yes.
The majority of the night? It’s gone, a helpless victim both of the ubiquitous liquor of that interval and to the bullying of more powerful memories, the memory of that split second which transformed my life, gave me purpose and elevated my existence to an altogether higher plane. Something happened, something which forever altered everything.
It’s that simple. We were in Bang-Ruk, claiming what would become our rightful status of ‘token farang’. I was shy, painfully self-aware, terrified of further injuring my already near-terminal self-esteem with some clunky, unsophisticated display in front of my new, young, hip peers. My bruised ego, still paralysed from recent beatings, froze me into distant, fearful isolation at the edge of the dance floor.
You danced, and instantly I knew life as I had never known it before. There was no hesitation, only motion; you threw yourself into the rhythm with an abandon, a shameless passion such that I never knew existed. Your sublime, sculpted body was no mere vehicle, the music magically transforming your elegant frame into a pure expression of every beat pulsing through you. Your lithe limbs whipped every which way, at the same time masterfully controlled yet with a life of their own, snapping out like snares and trapping more of my soul with every twist.
Underneath it all, the foundation on which the entrancing, enticing display existed, lay that expression which became nothing less than the very reason for my existence. Your eyes blazed, possessed of a heavenly fire which no mortal circumstance could ever hope to extinguish. With every gyration conspiring to bring them into contact with mine I felt something primal stir deep within, feelings I had believed long dead, never again to be revived. And then there was your smile. My god, I could spend the rest of eternity vainly grasping at words yet never come close to describing its devastating power. So full of joy, beaming your love of life around the room like a floodlight of sheer exuberance; pure, open and honest, existing entirely in and for that heartstopping, world-changing moment.
In that one beautiful instant time stopped for me, the ugly, cynical reality I had built around myself seemed to crumble and I was changed forever, altered beyond recognition by the siren call of your dance. Like a beacon of beauty, a perfect flame of inspiration, you melted away my cynicism, burned away self-loathing and incinerated every doubt and vindictive thought I had ever entertained. In that second I was cleansed, I was pure and life, after all this time, was good.
Did you know what you were doing? Was there any inkling of the sublime radiance you were emitting? Were you aware for even a second that with a mere foolish dance you had utterly enslaved this poor boy?
Now fate has conspired against me yet again, mocking my happiness and stealing my joy, and there’s every chance I’ll never know the answer to those questions, but there’s one thing I do know. That is that I have no regrets and never will, that I completely and irretrievably lost myself to your dance and that I would never, ever, have it any other way.