Why I love @skinnylatte

by wynlim

@skinnylatte and me, we share an atypical relationship.

I don’t call it a friendship, as I once mentioned it to her before, “I am not your friend, I am a figment of your imagination.” And she replied in the next instant, “And I am also a figment of yours”.

Before any strange ideas fire off in your head, no, we are not romantically involved. Never have and will never be, the official reason (we actually never spoken about it before because we never needed to) is we’re not each other’s type. The unofficial reason is, we both know we have other roles to play in each others’ lives.

In this instance, we really knew each other before we had met. I have fallen in love with her writing when she was 17 and working in an Apple reseller store – I cannot remember how, but if you’re gay, Singaporean and into blogs, there is really not much of a chance you have never come across popagandhi.com.

Her writing has taken on various different incarnations over the years, but here are my favourites – Portraits of Love. She has taken them offline a few times before, but I’ve always maintained that those have always been to me – the best, truest part of her.

I’ve always looked forward to every single piece of her writing, whether she’s off travelling in some remote region of the world or if she’s waxing lyrical about someone, reading her writing feels like a travel experience in itself. Traveling to a different plane of the universe.

If it was left up to me I would never have thought I’ll one day meet her in person. But as fate would have it, she was looking for a designer, I was one of the very few independent designers in Singapore, so she sent me a polite email (the one and only polite email, since then, her need to be socially polite to me has since disintegrated) asking me if I was available.

I remember receiving that email in Tokyo back in 2009 (probably almost a decade after I’ve first seen her writing), I remember the joy of being contacted by someone I so deeply admired. I wasn’t able to take on the project, but I sent her a long emo email explaining why and how much I was in love with her writing.

It must have amused her greatly, though she truly captured my heart by sending back an equally long email.

The rest, they say, was history. Or not. We didn’t get to meet up until a long while later and she had to deal with a socially awkward version of me.

We didn’t meet each other again until another long while after. She was always not in the country, as expected for someone who lives and breathes wanderlust. But it was significant to me, by the second time we’ve met, I remember feeling the inexplicable thread of familarity which still exists between me and her.

Between then and now, I’ve started my own travel journey – am not sure if she knew this, but I was afraid to travel alone (and afraid to sleep in the dark), but I motivated myself to do so by using her as an example. If a 24yr old (then) can travel alone to Yemen and barely escape a suicide bombing due to a last minute change of route, I can definitely travel to Phuket by myself, can I?

So it is with enough credit to her that I started my own journey of incessant wanderlust on my own and I have never looked back since.

They say familarity breeds contempt, in a way though there were times when I feel like wrapping my hands around her neck, she was never afraid to be herself with me and therefore in return I reciprocated by never being afraid to be myself with her.

That’s just part of the equation. The other part is our overlapping interests across different spectrums and our common ADD in these interests. We have been talking about channelling our ADD into something meaningful for our communities we share, we have never really gotten around to it because we’re both evolving so much in our separate personal lives. But it is on the way, I promise.

I build and she writes. She tells me in a while I can expect her to build while I write for a change. We shall see.

And if so far this makes it sound like we’re BFFs, we’re really not. That’s why I said I’m a figment of her imagination. We see each other barely once a year, if ever, and we communicate much less than most other social relationships. We don’t hang out much, if at all.

That to me is the atypical part of it and that is why it is beautiful. It is a romantic un-romance tied together with the possibilities of our common desire to make a difference to this world.

I tell her to keep herself alive despite her instinct to put herself in every threatening situation possible, because I said to her, I do not want to live without her.

Because she has been my benchmark for my own insanity, whenever I feel like I am crazy for jumping off a cliff, I refer myself to her, what she has done and my internal sanity meter is instantly calibrated.

The most cherished part of this – she understands why certain issues matter so much to me, when I exist in a sea of apathy it is really appreciated when another human being knows exactly what I live for.

She is crazily optimistic about the things she can do, through that I derive strength for the things I can do. I celebrate her successes as though they are mine. I know doors can be opened because she was there to open them first.

There are certain relationships which need not be quantified by time and space – this is one of them. In my personal reality it is as though she doesn’t exist, most of the time she manifests as an instant message, really.

Through the wonders of 3G I’ve had random IM convos with her at the top of some hill I’m climbing here in HK, almost rolling down it because she says the most unexpected things at the most unexpected time, while she’s wandering in some unspecified street at the opposite end of the world. Once in a while she sends me a nonsensical message and I give her an equally nonsensical reply – with a thousand words in between the lines.

With her, it feels like we’re living in the future. Our communcation doesn’t feel tangible, we have never neeeded physical space to prove each other’s existence.

Thank you Adri, for existing. I am not sure if I’ll always love you, but at this very moment in time, I am grateful you exist and you deserve to have my gratitude locked into cyberspace for the rest of our lives.