Part I: [the beginning of our] Love Story

The shameless Tegoshi Yuuko would like to welcome you to my first post of the new year.

I really love this look on her. :Dv

Happy 2012, journal!

So as I watched NEWS cuts of the Johnny’s Countdown, I admit I was worried. This was their first live performance as NEWS-4; how would it go? Would they sound good together? What about their group dynamics?

I had no need to worry. It was imperfect perfection in my fangirl eyes. ♥ It WAS live and so they’re bound to sound differently in the studio when that time comes (soon? please?), but it wasn’t bad at all! Although Tegoshi’s vocals still overpowered the other three’s because his control is… :P

I am not the biggest fan of “Kibou ~Yell~” and so I do wish they’d stop singing it at practically every event -__-, but I’m just happy that they sang anything at all. And I know that song means a lot to NEWS fans. They apparently also did a performance of “weeeek” that didn’t air because of stupid commercials, grrr. They sounded great singing that V6 (?) song too. NEWS always does well during the group change medley, don’t they?

And they looked fantastic, together and individually! White works really well on these guys, and the LIVEx3 concert outfits made me feel all nostalgic. I like that they have different hair colors, teehee.

Shige holds his microphone in a way that makes me giggle. As Massu often says in interviews, his hands do look quite soft!

Is this another of Massu’s famous fails? Definitely in comparison with Tegoshi’s much more precise movements, It seemed like he had either forgotten some of the dance moves or he didn’t realize it was time to dance.

But in the dance routine with KAT-TUN and Koyama…

He totally made up for it. <3 My apologies, dear Koyama, but my eyes were glued to the fabulous dancer of NEWS.

Here’s to hoping this new year will turn out to be a NEWS year! Fingers crossed for lots of future fangirly posts!

. . .

(Other parts: ii, iii, iv, v, ivvii)

I found other songs that better suit my kind of romance but this song goes with the post title so let’s stick with it. :)

Even though it’s the name of a song, I hesitated in using that L word in the title, just like how I hesitate whenever saying it out loud in more than a “omg I love this cake!!!” way.

I only recently realized that I fear it, love. Loving someone, falling in love, being loved. It’s not so much a fear of being hurt, but rather of being the one unconsciously inflicting pain. I have the hardest time telling people those three powerful words, even to my family, so that means when I do say it — I mean it, truly and deeply.

I’m not saying I’m in love with Manny, noooo. That would be terribleeeeee. I’m treating this Manny affair as a short-term relationship because it’s so forbidden. I’m still a skeptic of the whole teenage love thing too, and like I said, I’m terrified of love in all forms. That is why I refuse to listen to my friends when I describe my feelings to them and they just nod their heads, saying “Girl, you got it baaaad” or “Sounds like love to me.” He is many of my firsts and logically I should feel very strongly towards him, more strongly than I’d felt towards any guy in the past — but it’s only a deep infatuation at this point. I wouldn’t exactly know what love is, anyway.

On to our history! Let’s make this as pointlessly detailed as possible, hmm? :DDD

Manny and I didn’t like each other as more than friends at first. Actually, I was in the beginning stages of depression at the time and was extra insecure and thought he hated my guts. You see, before he switched to his current job at Abercrombie, he was working at Hollister back then. He was walking a bit ahead of us that day, and Cappa, who loves to mess with him and feed him lies, told him that I too worked as a Hollister model.

I was already wary of him the moment I heard he worked at Hollister. Stores like Hollister and Abercrombie have a reputation for hiring only attractive people (or at least people who have a specific look), which automatically set Manny very high on the intimidation scale. But after Cappa joked about such a thing, I, not a model in any shape or form (even an in-store model which is really just a fancy name for a sales associate), shrunk into myself and died right there of mortification. He half-turned around while still walking, slowly looked me up and down, and sorta made this “uh-uh, no way is this ugly/unfashionable chick a model” face.

Me: God, will you kindly kill me now, please?

I probably imagined the death glares he kept shooting my way. Extreme paranoia, remember? -___- I asked him later (once we were friends) if this was true, and he said no of course not. But because I felt like he didn’t like me then, I clung to Cappa the entire time and acted like you don’t exist go awayyyy.

Understandably I was taken aback when he sent me a friend request on Facebook a few days after his roommate Benji did. After all, we were still pretty much strangers and he didn’t seem so fond of me. I accepted his request anyway. No reason not to.

Then, one day (September 22) while I was in the middle of struggling over my Facebook conversations with Benji, Manny sent me a message saying hi. How random of him, I thought, since, well, I DON’T KNOW YOU AND YOU HAVE A [beautiful but] MEAN FACE.

I didn’t really want to, but I started replying to him while simultaneously messaging his roommate. The longer I talked to the both of them and the more time I spent around them in person, I noticed something peculiar that I had brushed off as nothing… when in reality it was a blatant indication of something of greater significance.

I never felt comfortable around Benji. There were moments when I got close, but I could never fully relax when I was with him, even now, despite us being friends. With Manny, on the other hand, I felt entirely at ease once I got past that initial paranoia. I would be having long, personal, candid conversations with this almost-stranger similar to those I had only with Elaina and my three closest friends from high school. With Benji I had no conversations of the sort, lord no. With him it always had to be ~happy flowers and rainbow perfection~ aka Be Fake or Else He Will Think You’re a Weirdo. But with Manny… from the start it had been “HERE IS MY HEART NOW PLEASE TAKE CARE OF IT.” He had nothing to gain from befriending me and so I let it all pour out without fear.

Moreover, I liked talking to Manny. I don’t like talking to many people. This clearly meant something. Still, clueless Mimi took no notice.

Within a couple weeks, we grew closer. Closer than I initially expected us to be — i.e., not at all. Benji’s crush on me eventually fizzled out into friendship, or something like it. I still felt weird being around that guy, though, so I stopped talking to him online, which left just Manny for me to focus on. After four years at an all girls high school and then continuing on at a women’s college, it was nice having a male friend at last, nicer still that he goes to a different college in the city, living a life so unlike mine in the middle of a freaking ghost town.

Now, several months later, I’m going through our old messages on Facebook. I had no idea that we were messaging each other almost every day for three weeks, starting on that day in late September and lasting until immediately before I was sent to that mental institution and Manny deactivated his Facebook to focus on school.

I found it easy to confide in him. With his words he made me feel safe, protected. I was really surprised at how quickly he took me under his wing, treating me like a dear younger sister. It didn’t take long for me to see him as the protective big brother I never had.

I remember the first time he really showed he cared and that he was a nice guy. On that same day he first messaged me, there was a college event at the art museum close to his college. I wasn’t planning on going since the event started during my rock climbing class and would last until 11 at night. I probably wouldn’t make it and all that time spent traveling to Boston would be a waste. But — on my way back from rock climbing I ran into Sherry and her roommate Sera, both of whom were planning on going anyway even though it was late. I knew Sherry from my Japanese class but I didn’t know her yet. But I would much rather roam around Boston with strangers than study for my Japanese oral exam. To the city!

It took a while for us to arrive in Boston. And then we got lost trying to find the train station. Of course. Getting lost had wasted just enough time that when the train finally dropped us off in front of the museum…

The museum security guard would no longer let anyone in.

The event was supposed to end in 15 minutes, but unless we were already in there, we were too late, no admittance. Sera was visibly devastated, needing the museum to complete an art history assignment. Sherry and I didn’t know what else to do but envelop her in a big motherly hug right there, while college students wearing glow-in-the-dark bracelets/necklaces drifted past us to catch a ride home, casting weird looks our way. Then, from somewhere up ahead:

“Hey, is that Mimi?”

Sherry and I broke away from Sera to see who was calling me. Of all people, it was Manny! He and a group of his friends (one or two girls and a bunch of huge scary looking dudes) approached us. While Sera continued to moan and despair to herself on the sidelines, I explained our predicament. We also had no idea how to get back to our college and possibly would have to sleep in an alleyway for the night, but we’re all fine, thanks.

Manny & Co. would let us do no such thing. They offered us shelter at their residence hall since our bus wouldn’t come for a while. I admit that I eyed the big guys for a moment (they each topped six feet easily, compared to Manny’s five-foot-eight), but I knew Manny wouldn’t hurt us. His friends wouldn’t either.

Back at Manny and Benji’s dorm, the guys started figuring out how we were going to get home. What a strange sight it was, all these huge boys making a fuss over us three small girls who hardly look college-aged. I liked it, boys not being jerks. Not something I was used to.

In the end, we wasted even more time at their dorm and had to eventually blindly leave for our bus before it reached the stop first. Yep, without knowing where it was. Ultimately we just called a taxi cab to take us there. :P

Manny sent me a message the next day asking if we got back all right. It sounds insignificant, but it truly touched me that he cared to ask. It surprised me that he had recognized me outside the museum in the hazy moonlight. I have a generic and indistinguishable face, AND the guy had met me only twice before. That was the moment when I understood that I was no longer just the girl his roommate once liked.

I was a friend.

His acts of protective big-brother-ness continued to pile up. Most notable was that incident when his neighbor Micah became entranced by my weirdness. Manny had wrongly thought that Micah had wicked intentions and warned me about him. Some time after I went home, Manny actually confronted Micah about what he wanted from me. Cappa, who was there during the confrontation, later testified that Manny indeed threatened to put his neighbor in the hospital if he dared to hurt me.

I had assumed that he was kidding when he said he’d threatened Micah. Naturally. We hadn’t even known each other for a month yet, meeting in person a mere four times. Also, this occurred around the peak of my depression, during a period of severely altered reality. I wasn’t aware of much beyond my hypersensitive emotions.

Instead of me asking him if I could visit, Manny began inviting me to places. No no, not as dates! He asked if I wanted to come to a college party in Boston one time, and to the movies with his friends another time. But because of certain circumstances, I couldn’t go to either of those.

That day of the party, I had an essay to do and so I stayed at school to work on it. Erm, that didn’t happen either. Just countless hours of staring at my computer screen because my depression was hard at work that day, and when that happens you don’t feel like doing crap.

That was why I was still awake at 3 in the morning when Manny drunk dialed me.

He was super intoxicated, and I knew this only because he kept telling me he was. But besides him saying quite random things at times and repeatedly informing me he broke a window with his fist, he didn’t seem drunk in the least.

Once the initial silliness of me not knowing how to deal with this wore off, my depression began speaking for me. It poured out stream after stream of negativity and self-hate to someone who was obviously in no state to understand.

Or so I thought. Manny began giving me advice, countering everything I said with shockingly profound insight. He really made me think, this guy, this drunkard. I couldn’t even respond except to ask how could he be saying such things while under the influence.

“A drunk mind speaks a sober heart,” he told me.

Drunk mind, sober heart. Huh. That definitely explains what he said to me some minutes later.

“Hey Mimi. Do you like me?” he suddenly asked, not bothering with transitions or subtlety.

I just laughed at such foolishness. “Of course I like you! I wouldn’t be talking to you at this hour if I didn’t like you.”

“Noooo,” he slurred. “I mean do you like-like me?”

A simple inquiry. I didn’t like him as more than a good friend. I should have provided an honest no and that would have been the end of it.

I should NOT have felt the blood rush to my cheeks and my heart race at the very question.

So — I stalled. Tried leading him to an unrelated subject. Talked my way around the question. Said nothing. Spoke slowly.

Ten minutes later, he pointed out that I hadn’t given him an answer. Dammit. How sharp of him.

Seeing no way out: “I like you just as a friend,” I said finally. I truly believed what I told him at the time, yet I had no explanation why, if it really were true, why it took me so long to provide an answer.

This guy is remarkably adept at reading people, figuring out their personalities, judging character. So, fast forward two months to when we were lying together in my dorm room (hold your horses, that will be in part ii of this tale). I asked him if he knew of my crush on him — and he answered yes. He had known all along.


So that time when he drunk dialed me wasn’t just the mindless rambles of alcohol. He must have suspected I liked him for a while. I definitely liked him before realizing it myself — THE SINGLE WORST KIND OF CRUSH because you can’t control your behavior if you’re not aware of it.

Our Facebook messages ended abruptly a few days after that call, on October 13, 2011. That was the day before my forced hospitalization.

At the psychiatric ward, we weren’t allowed to have our cell phones. We were, however, allowed to extract numbers from our phones in case we wanted to use the communal phone to make calls to loved ones. I know my family’s numbers, so I quickly copied down the numbers of close friends who care about me and know about my mental state. From high school, it was Cappa, Christa, Adele. From college, it was just Elaina whom I trusted with this information. Not even my roommate.

I paused for a second, then wrote down the number of one other person. For yet another reason I couldn’t explain, I wrote down Manny’s.

Each person reacted in their own way when I called:

  • Christa: anger
  • Adele: sorrow
  • Cappa: frantic concern
  • Elaina: levelheadedness
  • Manny: laughing dismissal

Different as their reactions were, they all had the same message for me: You don’t belong there. Get out.

Originally, I wasn’t going to call Manny at all. I never intended on letting him know where I was, even as I was scribbling his number down. I had only known the guy for a little over a month, and so to call him and confide in him that I was locked up in a hospital? Too soon. But… for some reason, Cappa’s number wasn’t working. Manny was the only one who had her number for sure. I had to call him.

I detected hardly a gram of concern in his tone when he learned where I’d been for the past few days. He even laughed off the seriousness of my depression. Then again, that was how he always reacted to my negativity, whether through our Facebook messages or on the phone. Nothing new here. He promised to pass on my message to my closest friend.

Well. Months later, Cappa told me through Skype what had happened on the other end of the phone after I hung up. Manny was much more worried about me than he let on. He even tried calling the hospital, but after an eternity of being redirected to different lines, confidentiality issues prevented them from telling him if I was even a patient there. He looked and sounded almost angry when he found Cappa, telling her to do whatever the hell she could to get me out of that place.

He cared so much and I had no clue.

The hospital discharged me on Thursday, the 19th of October. I had been trapped inside a stuffy building for nearly a week; I had to leave for the city as soon as possible. So on that Sunday, I set out to meet Cappa in Boston because I was supposed to have met with her a week earlier but… you know. The loony bin.

That meeting never happened. Cappa had a religious commitment to attend to (aka Sunday liturgy), leaving me alone in the middle of the city with nothing to do but think. Thinking is dangerous. Let me tell you, you do not want to let someone suffering from depression out in the open by themselves. I had just been released from the hospital and was therefore as depressed as I had ever been. That day in the city proved it: everywhere I turned, I saw a way to remove myself from the world. Throw myself in front of a car. Fall onto train tracks in front of an incoming train. I even walked into a pharmacy and pondered over which drugs I could overdose on. It was awful. You really can’t understand the powerful grip depression has on a person until it happens to you. I’m never like this normally.

After Cappa called me and told me she couldn’t meet me that day, she said that she knew for sure that Manny wasn’t doing anything and that I should go hang out with him. I had yet to fully comprehend that I had in fact fallen for him gradually, but I couldn’t deny that my heartbeat quickened at the mention of his name. I couldn’t explain it; I just felt it. It confused me.

I wandered around for two hours in the chilly autumn day, literally doing nothing but wandering. On several occasions I pulled out my phone and thought about calling Manny. Each time, the fear of being a bother overwhelmed my longing for company. Back in my pocket the phone went.

It got so cold and windy that I eventually hopped on a train for warmth. Fifteen minutes later I mysteriously found myself within the perimeter of Manny’s college.

I risked fifteen more minutes of developing hypothermia before I worked up enough nerve to call him and ask if I could drop by. He sounded fine with it, but…

He emerged from his residence hall slowly and sleepily because oh my God I had woken him up asdfghjkl. D:

He didn’t look angry at me for waking him up like I badly feared. On the contrary, it was the first time he had smiled upon seeing me, which surprised me so much that I moved forward numbly as he reached out for a hug. Once inside, we talked a bit about where I’d been, how I was, what he’d been doing. Catching up. We then headed off to his dining hall in a different building because he was hungry.

We could easily be mistaken as a couple, I caught myself thinking as we walked, noticing people staring at this mismatched pair. The thought hit me suddenly, entirely unexpectedly, and it sent a flame of warmth to my face.

I sneaked a sideways glance at him, at his face that I oddly found so much more beautiful than before, and I blushed harder and turned my head away. The second I understood what I was doing, the pieces of the puzzle all came together.

Jeez, took you long enough, dumb bitch.

The day did not end well, though. Later, after Benji and his new love interest joined us to go see a movie, I spent the duration of the walk to the theater just loathing my very existence, to the point where I was physically tortured by it. I never felt as worthless as I did then. It took tremendous willpower to prevent myself from actually running away from them, and I was doing rather well. Until we entered the theater.

Benji and Friend went up ahead, but I reached out and grabbed the hem of Manny’s sweatshirt, pulling him back. I just told him in a low voice that I’ll be heading back to my college now. His face registered concern and he wanted to walk me back, but I just had to get out, away. Immediately.

In the end I HAD run away, after all.

The next time I saw him would be three weeks later. It was a time of much-needed recovery for me, and I had to ban myself from leaving campus for the time being. Meanwhile, I focused on schoolwork and mentally healing and trying to figure out what Manny was to me.

Honest to God, I believed that he saw me as only a little sister, and I was content with such arrangements despite my crush on him. Otherwise, I would have never asked if I could spend the night at his dorm one mid-November evening. That was the night everything changed.

[to be continued, hehe]

Until next time,

~ Mimi :Db

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