The Longest Affair

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetI’ve fallen in and out of love with her for the longest time. She was my childhood sweetheart. Back then, the very mention of her name stirred an explicable euphoria within, one that I was, and still am, madly addicted to. She was an uncanny source of excitement and motivation. Most importantly, she was my excuse to dream.

Her name, is Writing.

While everyone around me groaned during essay assignments back in secondary school, I had always quietly relished those times in class when we were made to weave a story out of nothing. There was usually no particular topic, and we were given free reign over the content. And therein was the beauty of it – that ephemeral sense of empowerment; that god-factor which was bestowed onto you, where you could make anything you want happen. Worlds were created, blood was shed, hearts were broken, and miracles were but slivers of ink away.

I stopped writing after I left secondary school. There was this period of infatuation with music but my tardy fingers were hopeless on a guitar, or on any musical instrument for that matter. My voice was too low to reach most notes, and I couldn’t read music scores even if my life depended on it. The next best thing, I thought, was to become a Radio DJ. Adolescent naivety led me to Mass Communications in Ngee Ann Polytechnic, the place where I met some of the bestest friends I’ll ever have in this lifetime.

Year 3 was like a dream come true. I got to co-host a campus radio show every Friday with my best friend. No one actually gave a damn about us, but that didn’t matter. We were the kings of convenient pseudo-stardom, and at 18 years of age, that was more than we could ask for. The only form of writing, creatively at least, was in advertising class. I loved churning out taglines. But somehow it lacked a certain freedom.

You had to write to sell. The client had the right to yell. Somehow everything became dull.

Writing reappeared after two-and-a-half years in the army. She spoke to me and asked for another chance. I didn’t really know what direction my life was taking at that point in time, so I said yes, as if I was doing her a favour. I went to Sydney to study and took creative writing classes, falling in love with her all over again. I did so well in my first semester my lecturer even pulled me aside to give advice she said she normally wouldn’t dispense to students.

“I’m doing this because you have a gift. And I want to see you make the most of it,” she said.

That one line married me and Writing.

I scored a distinction that year, but I couldn’t do the same in the advanced module. It had something to do with keeping my thoughts under control, how everything needed to be coherent, because when we write, it’s not about fulfilling a personal agenda, but telling a story that the reader can understand. It was a wonderful journey, but somehow long the way I got lost. I got selfish. I got too complacent.

When I joined the workforce, my primary objective was to secure a copywriting job with an ad agency. Writing was not too happy with my decision. She felt I was abandoning my love for a tampered form of creativity.

Funny, I ended up at a wire news agency. As a photographic sub-editor.

Here, I learnt about the beauty of the still image. I was convinced that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. I also came to realise that in some instances, a picture was literally worth a thousand words. Freelance writing didn’t pay much. Photography, on the other, paid several times more. Charmed by pragmatism, I told Writing that we could not longer be together. I took up photography and stopped blogging almost instantly. I began to love everything about lights, the technicalities behind the lens, shutter and aperture. The money wasn’t too bad for someone of my standard. A full-day wedding shoot could get me about $1,500. That was A LOT of stories that I’d have to write.

Writing came back again when I left my job at the wire agency in search of a new challenge. She just sat there, in my new office cubicle at the local newspaper, and winked at me. She wasn’t angry, just amused that our paths had crossed once again. I said nothing, flashed a meek smile and gave her a hug. We were good together again, a match made in heaven. I had never been so in love with her. I wrote some of my best stuff at the newspaper. And then, after two years, we drifted. I wanted something more. I needed yet another new challenge. She heaved a sigh of dismay and kissed me goodbye. No words were exchanged, but I did catch a glimpse of a wry smile.

Writing and I continued to meet occasionally when I started my job at the magazines. As much as I enjoyed telling people what to write now, she was often at the back of my head. Come think of it, she is always at the back of my head, my soul, my very existence.

I love her curves in rhythm and intonation. I love her cleverly concealed intentions. I love her ability to make my mind race with adrenaline. I love the way she communicates, drawing my eyes from left to right to left to right, before planting a kiss and taking that moment to a full stop.

We’re back together again now since I left my job at the magazine. Closer and stronger than ever.

She knows that I know this might not last forever.

But I also know that she knows I will always be back for her.


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