Monthly Archives: March 2005

My dog Masha is the cutest. He’s a German Shepard, Doberman cross. He’s
getting old; I think he’s 14 this year. Which in dog years is more than
a lifetime.

It was the winter of 1991, my brother V and I were just getting the
chicken pox. So to cheer us up, my mom said we could get a dog. V and I
pored over the pets section of the classifieds of our local newspaper.
I was the one who saw the ad for a free dog, just a few blocks from our
house. After a few quick phonecalls, we piled into my dad’s pick up
truck and headed over to pick him up.

When we got there, my brother and my dad
went inside to talk to the owners, while I stayed in the car, thinking
of names for our new dog. A few short minutes later, they came back
with this cute little dog, who was terribly frightened about
getting inside a car. V said his name is “Masha” and told me
to pet him to calm him down. Poor thing was shaking. He was super
friendly and energetic, but it turns out the owners didn’t want him.
Masha was too hyper, and he wanted a calmer dog.

I used to play with Masha all day. I’d feed him all kinds of dog food,
always worried that he’d get bored of the same old kind of canned or
dried food. Always mixed it up and hid a few biscuits and other
assorted treats with in the food. I’d force him on a leash and attempt
to take him around the block. But it was more like we alternated
between dragging each other around the block. He’d always eat shoes –
he had a particular penchant for sandals. He had so much energy that he
would run around the house and chase after bunnies. He was scared of
cats and he liked to kill mice. Summers, he’d be humping everything in
sight, legs, little children, anything that moved.

I remember one time, when a visitor decided to bring his own dog, a
little Pomeranian, to play with our dog. Masha walked up to him,
sniffed him a few times, lifted up his leg and proceeded to pee on the
poor little dog. Heh heh. That’s my boy!

Now, with time he’s gotten calmer. He doesn’t move as much anymore.
These days, rather than run around the house, he’ll just look up from
his cozy little spot in front of the house (pictured above) and then
turn away, back to sleep. When he walks, I see his joints are stiffer
and he sometimes trips. Everytime I leave the house and then come home,
I look to see if he’s around, wondering if he’s okay. I know he’ll die
soon, and it scares to me to think how hurtful that will be.


A couple of nights ago, Y asked me if I’d like to have dinner with him
and his family. It wasn’t going to be anything fancy. Just dinner at a
restaurant nearby. Something they do every month. I hesitated at first,
knowing Y usually doesn’t ask me to these things ever. And I don’t
attempt to pry my way into them, as it’s his business to ask me along
or not. In the end, I decided to do it, interested in meeting all these
people he keeps talking about. I’d already met Y’s immediate family,
his brother and his parents. But this is the first time I got to meet
his extended family: aunts, uncles and cousins.

We got to the restaurant late (He makes it a policy of his to get
there with as little waiting time as possible. Likes to eat right
away). We walked in, and immediately, everyone says greets each other.
We take our seats, me beside his mom and him beside his uncle. Suddenly
I heard:

Y’s uncle: *Chinese*Chinese*Chinese*Anna?

Me: Huh?
Y’s mom: *Chinese*Chinese*Chinese* Anna, la!
Me: Oh, yes. I’m Anna.
Y’s uncle: Oooh! *Chinese*Chinese* Hey-lo!
Me: Oh. Hi! ha ha… ha?

I guess they’ve heard of me? I just wish I understood what they were
saying. It piqued my curiosity; what were they saying about me? They
could talk about me right in front of my face and I’ve never know it.
For most of the dinner, I just sat eating my quail legs and crabs and
scallops (mmm, Chinese food) and nodding at most of the questions
directed my way. (Because nodding is the universal polite answer to
questions posed to you in a language you do not understand?)

I knew they were talking about me at least one point in the night when
his aunts started looking at me and whispering to their children. Then
the kids looked at me with big frightened eyes and hid behind their
parents. (Great. I now officially frighten babies.)

They all also laughed heartily at me when Y’s mom tried to teach me to
say “eat rice” in Chinese. (Something about sick fans?) Aaah, well. I
guess I’ve have to learn sooner than later. Y already knows how to say
“thank you” and “salted fish” in Vietnamese.

Anyway, we had to leave early as well. (Y likes to go as soon as the
food’s over.)  We walked back to my car and for some reason, I
couldn’t help being so giddy. In the months we’ve been dating, I’d
never met any of Y’s extended family, save for the occassional cousin
or aunt. They’ve always remained a mystery to me, even though I know
they’re such a large and important part of his life. Maybe he wasn’t
consciously trying to keep me away. But it means something to me that
now I’ve met them and I’ve been allowed to see this part of his life.

Another Saturday night at home. (This weekend job is doing a number on
my social life.) Jerry Maguire‘s
on television. At the part where Jerry
kisses Dorothy even though he’s not entirely sure he’s into her and
she’s not entirely sure this is a good idea. It’s painful to watch this
scene when you consider that he’ll break up with her soon because he’s
more in love with her kid than he is with her.

Why? Why do some men do this? If you’re not sure, if you’re not ready,
why?  Why not just leave it before something happens and someone
gets hurt? Maybe I’m asking this in hindsight of all the hurt I’ve been
through in the past.

Last night, my friend slept over and we talked the whole night (Oh God,
I got one hour of sleep before I went off to work). We were discussing
our disastrous love life last year. Pouring over the details of what
happened and why. We were both in relationships where our expectations
were brought up and then crashed down from such great heights. I don’t
know the exact situation which played out with my friend, but it occurs
to me that maybe, the person I was dating wasn’t really as into me as
much as I was into him. And maybe he was just trying me on, trying a
relationship with me on for size to see how it fit, even though he knew
that I could have been (and was) really hurt. Hmmm, I suppose this is
what you’d call having been played?

It makes me wonder how sometimes a guy can forget or ignore the fact
that there’s a real person with real feelings behind the girl he’s

I know Jerry’s a good guy in the end who means well and is more than a
little confused. Eventually, he realizes he does love her. But most
relationships don’t end up this way because our lives aren’t written by
over-sentimental scriptwriters and aren’t played out on screen.

Bleh, when did I become so cynical?

The restaurant is familiar. It’s been months since I last stepped in
here. The oily smells of the Chinese cooking, the clinking of the
chopsticks against the dishes, the regular customers on Sunday morning.
I scan the place, looking for him, although I have a hunch about where
he’s sitting. He doesn’t like change; he likes to do the same things
over and over again. So it comes as no surprise to see him sitting at
the table in the corner.

His back is to me, and I take the
opportunity to look at him. His shaggy hair, his striped shirt. He
laughs with his friends, unaware of my presence. It hits me that his
life has gone on without me so well.

I finally walk up to his
table, ready to give him back the jackets that he left over at my
place. The ceremonious exchanging of things after a break up. Only it’s
been months after our breakup and I didn’t realize I still had some of
his things. It wasn’t until I finally cleaned out my closet that I
found the two jackets, which I instantly recognized as his.

heart pounds as I gather my nerve. Is he still angry? Will he yell at
me? I smile and hand him his things. He looks up at me, more out of
pity and politeness than friendliness.


The silence that follows is heavy with awkwardness. Dozens of unspoken words are exchanged here in my mind.

“Can we talk?” I find myself asking, suddenly.

take his hand and lead him outside. Somehow, I’ve led us to a bench
outside where we used to go as a couple. He realizes this at the same
time, I think, and he takes a deep breath.

“Hey, remember when we used to come here?” I offer some small talk.
“Yeah,” he smiles, his eyes looking over the garden.
I think we used to fool around over there in the circle,” I point,
bringing up a memory of one night so long ago when we were together.
Except it’s not the past anymore, and we’re not together anymore. It’s
the present. And I know this. Before he has the opportunity to reply, I
bite the gun.

“I’m sorry.”

He looks at me surprised.

“It’s just that I needed you to go away. I needed to make you hate me”
“Make me hate you?”
“I needed to make you hate me so you’d get out of my life. So I could stop thinking about you. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

flooded as I let these words out. The guilty of the past couple of
months hits me. I don’t even realize how sorry I am until I am here
beside him. He looks at me in surprise.

“I don’t hate you,” he offers.

look down, ashamed of my actions. It was what I needed to do at the
time, but now it feels like a big mistake. He touches my arm, to tell
me it’s okay.

“I wish you would’ve understood. I wish you
would’ve been able to accept me for everything I did.” I am still
looking at the ground.

“I wish you could’ve said something different that day. It never made me different. I was still the same girl, y’know?”
“I know. But I can’t,” he quietly whispers. He doesn’t remove his hand from my arm.
hate how we’ve ended up,” I venture, starting to cry. I know it’s a
mistake but I need to say it. The misunderstandings of the past few
months have been torture. And although this may not change things,
although we’ve hashed this out when we were breaking up, I need to say
it again. “I wish you’d change your mind.”

Before I know it, I realize I’ve just asked for him back.

He takes in the past few months and all that has happened between us since. He lets out a deep breath, full of thoughts.

finally look up at him, and we lock eyes. He puts both arms around me,
and it brings me in close. I smell the nostalgic scent of his cologne.

then I open up my eyes and realize I’m not in a garden with my
ex-boyfriend. I’m in my bedroom and it was all a dream. And I realize
how much I do want him, no matter how much I deny it.