Hey there Julie. It's been a while now. How are you? It\u2019s been five years since you and I first met in that one-week long meditation workshop. We were sitting just a few meters away, blissfully unaware of each other. You had gorgeous short hair and a soft face that suggested meekness. Your face would light up with energy when you spoke. At first, we didn't speak much. We didn\u2019t even introduce ourselves. But when we were paired for the breathing exercises with our eyes closed, I knew that it was you.\u00a0 There\u2019s something about touching the hands of a stranger and feeling an urge to recoil, but there was no such impulse when your digits touched mine. I could feel the warmth of your hands like an electric fire against mine.\u00a0 A couple days later, as the meditation workshop came to a close, we finally spoke. You showed me pictures of your paintings and sculptures and told me stories about them. You then asked for my number on the spot.\u00a0 How cheeky! I thought that was the bravest thing I'd ever seen from someone I'd just met. As we parted you hugged me, and that was when I felt your frail frame for the first time.\u00a0 It felt like I was hugging a teacup, and I felt the need to protect you. We had our first date at a mamak stall When we met up a week later, that first date was at a mamak stall. You had specks of yellow in your hair and t-shirt from painting your uncle\u2019s shop. I laughed, because you didn\u2019t mind me seeing you all messy and raw and honest.\u00a0 Shortly after our date, you left for Penang, and then we texted for the subsequent months that we were apart.\u00a0 I was teaching in a middle school at the time. Even in the classroom, my mind and heart were drifting towards my phone, where I got your texts every hour or so. I felt as if I\u2019ve known you for many years.\u00a0 I told you about the funny things that went on during the school day, which kids worked hard and got a better grade, and that one time when Timmy vomited in the sink.\u00a0 You told me: \u201cKids with potential sometimes come from broken homes. It makes me sad and helpless to see them suffer from difficult upbringing.\u201d You said you wanted to change the lives of the unfortunate children who are already in the world before raising your own. You loved and cared for education and youth as much as I do.\u00a0 With every text message we exchanged, I came closer to the realization that I was smitten.\u00a0 We didn\u2019t say that it was a relationship, but I think we both knew what we were doing. We were helplessly in love with the person typing on the other side. But you lived far away. A 4 hour drive between Penang and KL, and you were a frequent traveler. Your soul seemed naturally drawn to faraway places, and your love of life had no boundaries. You were in Taiwan for a little bit.\u00a0 I missed you. We texted often.\u00a0 And then I remember, almost two months after we met, one day you texted me out of the blue: \u201cI wanted to tell you for a long time but I don\u2019t know where to start\u2026\u201d \u201cI need to tell you, even if that means you don\u2019t feel like talking to me anymore.\u201d I waited with bated breath, hoping it wasn\u2019t the one thing I dreaded to hear. \u201cI\u2019m in a relationship with a girl\u2026 for about 3 years now. We\u2019ve been through a lot\u2026 And you\u2019re the first person I\u2019ve ever told.\u201d I was\u2026 flummoxed. But I did my best to listen and respond without judgement.\u00a0 \u201cAre you a lesbian?\u201d I asked. You didn\u2019t say.\u00a0 Instead, you said that you were not attracted to women in general, but you did have feelings for your partner, who is a woman. You told me it was fully within your human rights to define your own identity, or even to leave it undefined. Simply put--you fell in love with the person, not the gender. I was surprised at my own acceptance of your sexuality Was I surprised to find myself, a straight man, dating someone who was not defined by heteronormative standards? Suffice to say, I was not expecting it. \u00a0But it didn\u2019t bother me as much as I thought. My previous relationship was with someone straight, and it ended badly. I don\u2019t think heteronormative relationships are any easier than non-heteronormative ones. You didn\u2019t say much more, probably figuring that I need time to digest. But I knew there was only one way I could respond. \u201cThank you for opening up to me, I know it\u2019s really hard to do\u2026 and I don\u2019t judge you.\u201d And I knew that you would understand my sincerity. We didn\u2019t talk much more about it, and things went back to normal for a while. We kept texting.\u00a0 There was a little bit of a language barrier since I wrote very little Chinese, but you seemed to understand me all the same. I played guitar, which you seemed to like a lot. I\u2019d send you voice memos of me playing, as a lullaby for you to fall asleep to. We continued to see each other as if nothing had changed We were far away, but the feelings were close. Soon, you were traveling again, but you would be in KL for a day. And even then, there was only a small window of time when we might meet.\u00a0 But fate intervened. You lost your keys, and while waiting for your friend you had a few hours to spend around Chinatown. I drove over to meet you. We went to a cafe in a part of town I'd never been to, and I wouldn't have ever gone there by myself. But with you, anywhere seems like an adventure.\u00a0 We walked around the streets of old KL and talked about everything. We stopped under the streetlights, you saw me linger and waited no more.\u00a0 The flowers I bought you were yellow. Your shirt was sky blue. And my cheeks turned rosy red as we wrapped our arms and shared a kiss on Petaling Street.\u00a0 You told me you were going on a trip, and she was coming along. You flew off the next day. I said goodbye on my balcony, sitting with the vase of yellow flowers. You said I should keep them. I watched a plane and its contrails snake slowly by... Were you on it?\u00a0 You were on a flight to India, where you would be spending two weeks traveling with your roommate, through Delhi, Chennai, then onwards to Kathmandu.\u00a0 It was shortly before you left that you told me, your roommate was the girl you were in a relationship with, your now-ex. Knowing you were traveling with her was a complicated feeling. Did I feel jealous of your ex? Yes. Honestly, I would have been equally anxious about the tenuous nature of our relationship when you revealed that you were traveling with your girlfriend, regardless of her gender.\u00a0 The next two weeks passed slowly. Every day I waited on the balcony, watching the flowers slowly wilt and turn brown as they reached the end of their short lives. I felt sick waiting for you to return, so that our life together could resume. And I couldn\u2019t know if there was a possibility that you\u2019d get back together with her and leave me.\u00a0 I had no way of knowing the outcome, but there was nothing I could do, except wait for the return of my beloved adventurer. I wasn\u2019t sure if you were still my beloved Every other day, you'd text me pictures of your food. The colorful people you've met. And the interesting things that you saw on your journey. You even wrote a letter to me, and texted me a picture of it. But I never got it; it must\u2019ve been lost in the mail.\u00a0 When you finally returned, I greeted you in text. I wasn\u2019t sure if you were still my beloved, but I was going to accept any outcome, even if it meant we were to stay as friends instead.\u00a0 Writing this from the future though, I know that we did continue as lovers for a while. We had many little adventures of our own, and we even traveled together for a while. It was some of the best months of my life, it felt like a dream. Me on the beach, sitting next to you, playing my guitar. And your head leaning on my shoulders as the cool breeze and the tide rolled in.\u00a0 The tune of Don Mclean\u2019s Vincent playing as we watched the birds return to their nests, and listened to the sound of cicadas as the night approaches. It was fleeting and ethereal--yet I remember every grain of sand that touched my feet on that beautiful secluded beach. Just because something is beautiful, doesn\u2019t mean it lasts. Just because you click miraculously well with somebody, doesn\u2019t mean you can stay together forever. Romance is often tricky and, even without gender preference in the mix, it\u2019s not easy to sustain a long-term or long-distance relationship, and not for lack of effort. You wanted to study and live abroad and I wasn\u2019t in the right life stage to follow you. We had other clashes of opinion that had nothing to do with any past relationships.\u00a0 But in the end, we both approached the breakup conversation maturely and were able to part on amicable terms. The night we broke up, there was no anger. Though there were definitely tears. It\u2019s been a few years since... and our little chapter has come to close. The night we ended things, you gave me a gift with a goodbye note attached \u2014 my last birthday gift from you. We hugged, and I cried on your shoulder.\u00a0 You were starting a new life in a new place, and I had a gut feeling that before long, you would be with someone else.\u00a0 How I told my friends about you It feels funny recalling this story, since it was so many years ago.\u00a0 Whenever I tell this story to my friends, I get the same questions, and each time, my answer has remained the same: \u201cWeren\u2019t you angry that she hid this from you initially?\u201d I\u2019d reply: \u201cActually, I thought she was going to reject me and I was trying to let myself down easy. Now, in hindsight, I\u2019ve realised that people usually have good reasons for keeping some things to themselves. And in this case, I didn\u2019t feel the need to disagree. It\u2019s her right to privacy, and her right to decide when and if she would be ready to tell me these things.\u201d \u201cDid you feel like your relationship with her \u201cturned\u201d her straight?\u201d I\u2019d say: \u201cI think this is a misconception. Just because she dated someone who was of the same gender, and then dated me, a person of the opposite gender, doesn\u2019t change how she identifies herself romantically. And throughout our time together, there was no change in her personality or character, or the way we treat each other.\u201d My biggest takeaway from the experience Julie \u2014 You were a positive presence in my life. You were who I needed at a time of emotional brokenness after my previous experience in love. It was wonderful while it lasted, but eventually our lives pulled us in different directions, and we chose to cut the thread and move on peacefully. We\u2019re both with different people now.\u00a0 I haven\u2019t spoken to you since a year after our breakup, and it was only to wish you the best in the new life that you are leading. I have no regrets for everything that transpired, just the good fortune to meet and spend those extraordinary eight months together. I had, and still have, nothing but blessings in my heart for you.\u00a0 For more stories like this, read: Here\u2019s What Happened When One Malaysian Couple Experimented with Polyamory.