Four Years

After two lonely November 6ths in different continents, Alec and I finally managed to celebrate our fourth anniversary together two Sundays ago without the aid of undersea fibre-optic cables. This rocked.

My posts here about Alec have become popular among many of you regular readers because they generally describe the latest self-mortification, idiocy or utter weirdness that this man has managed to involve himself in. But just for once, I’d like to say something about my boyfriend which doesn’t involve ritual degradation. Indulge me for a moment.

Four months after we started going out, Alec chose Valentine’s Day to tell me that he would move to Singapore for me when I returned to serve my bond. I was a little taken aback – he had never been to Singapore, and it was theoretically possible that I might turn out to be an unfanciable psycho bitch in time to come. How on earth could he be sure I was worth it, after just four months? But that’s a weird thing about this man – he might dither for ages about where to go for dinner, but for things that matter he is always decisive.

For various reasons, he couldn’t follow me right away. For one and a half years we sustained our relationship through daily phone calls and occasional wonderful holidays. Many other couples have gone through worse, but many have also been unable to last through less. I’m proud that we got through it so well.

He moved here in January, and started looking for work. He treated job searching like a job in itself, spending the work week elbow-deep in CVs, cover letters and the Saturday classifieds. He hung out with my mum. He volunteered at Riding For The Disabled. And in typical fashion, despite a lot of disappointment and frustration which I can’t even begin to describe here, he hardly ever whined.

Finally, his efforts in building up contacts from scratch paid off, and he now has a good job. He so fucking deserves it.

He’s adapted well to Singapore. He eats hawker food with as much gusto (and chilli) as any Singaporean. He detests the sort of expats who stick only to their own kind, and takes a dim view of those who make no effort to bridge cultural gaps. Perhaps this is why Singaporeans have been so universally nice to him.

He gets on incredibly well with my family, and they with him. He regularly cooks everyone multi-course Western and Asian dinners. When my mother had chicken pox recently, he seriously considered taking (unpaid) leave to help look after her until she insisted it wasn’t necessary.

I could go on, about his popularity with my friends, about how even after four years a chance five-minute meeting with him on the number 14 bus in the morning is enough to make my whole day, but I’m trying to keep an eye on the mush quotient of this post.

Stating that it takes effort to build a solid, happy relationship sounds like a useless truism, and I’ve certainly spouted it enough times when trying to help my friends through relationship problems. But I have a confession to make – I’ve never personally identified with it, even though I know it makes sense in theory.

Because I look back on four years with this man, this thoughtful, trustworthy, hilarious, romantic, utterly endearing man who through some miracle chooses to be with me, and the effort eludes me. It’s kind of like this photograph below, which I took on our anniversary. It required very little effort or artistic skill to capture, merely the ability to recognize something beautiful.

Sunset on a kelong in Bintan, Indonesia