Us.

Love is only a word until someone comes along and gives it meaning.
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Manchester-bound!

Now let’s move on to the part of the trip that Dearie loves the most: Manchester! Being a Manchester United’s biggest fan, it has been his lifelong dream to watch his favorite team in the one and only Theatre of Dreams, and I was more than happy to oblige! He has bought us tickets to the United – Arsenal match and it cost us both our arms and legs (ah! We’re limping!) but it’s a good thing that we both travelled together so we could look for cheaper options in terms of lodging.
However, I have to say that our accommodation history throughout our stay in the UK has been really pleasant. The hotel we stayed at in Manchester was Travelodge, and it was much bigger than Stanley House Hotel in London. But even in London we were pretty happy with our place since we didn’t spend much time inside the room anyway, and they provided decent daily breakfast. The most important thing to us was the location – it had to be convenient and near to the metro station.
Anyway, back to Manchester! (The short attention-span-me.)
So, we made our way to Manchester by train from London. The train ride itself was uneventful but really nice (uneventful in this way means we didn’t get robbed, or take the wrong train, so yeah, uneventful is a good adjective here). Our seats were pre-allocated so it was relatively easy finding out way.
Fast forward to a few hours later…
Hello Manchester! You’so pretty! We arrived in the late afternoon so the sun was shining brightly and the wind was blowing and I was freezing and my luggage was heavy.. Oops, okay, I’m not painting a very good picture here, am I?
Seriously though! We managed to drag our luggage and we initially decided to take a bus to the city near our hotel since we saw there was a free shuttle from the train station. We hopped in, but I wasn’t very certain because I couldn’t see the stop name where our hotel was at in the bus route. Luckily we asked the driver and turned out the bus didn’t go to the place that we wanted to go! So we quickly hopped out and after deliberation, decided to just opt for train!
The train there was nice because it wasn’t underground and we could admire the view along the way! The ride wasn’t long, in no time we arrived in our stop! It was a beautiful place near the river and our hotel was perched nicely in the side of the bridge that connected this side of the road with the one where Old Trafford was.

After checking in at our hotel, it was probably around 4 or 5pm, and Dearie couldn’t wait to go to the stadium! The match happened the next day, so we still had that evening to go check out the place first before the big mayhem the following day. What was memorable about it too was the weather! The moment we stepped out of the hotel, it was hailing! Real ice falling down from the sky! What a welcome, Manchester.

The walk to Old Trafford itself probably took 15-20 minutes. And there we were, at the Sir Matt Busby Way! Throughout our 3-days stay in Manchester, we probably went to Old Trafford like 5 times.  Well, that’s the main purpose we were there! Anyway, that evening we just walked around the stadium, took obligatory pictures and checked out the United store. This was when Dearie bought the thick black jacket that would survive him throughout the rest of the journey.
The next day passed by like a blur! We woke up early and quick to dress in our Manchester United’s attire – Dearie in his red jersey, topped with Cantona scarf that he bought the day before, and moi in the blue one. The atmosphere was so lively on our way to the stadium as we saw fellow fans going there as well. The surroundings of the stadium now resembled a flea market, with booths and people selling match scarves, shirts and all sorts of memorabilia! 
Oh! Another awesome experience I must share here is the pre-match lunch in the Red Café! People who bought the VIP package were entitled this lunch before the match and it was amazing! We sat with 6 other people in the table, two from Ireland, two from Malaysia, the other two from the States and then there were us. What’s fun was during the meal itself, they actually distributed a quiz that we could fill in as a table, and the table with the best score would win some prize! The questions in the quiz itself mostly circled around sports, although I remember there was one question of: “What is the name of Jamie’s Cullum’s wife?” to which we answered, “Mrs. Cullum.” Well, that certainly isn’t wrong!
Anyway, the questions weren’t easy okay! But the group managed to answer quite a fair bit, and to my amazement, Dearie actually knew way more than I thought! I know he’s a major United fan, but his sports knowledge really went beyond that, and it made me proud! (Aww!) Especially when one of the Irish guy was a sports journalist, yet Dearie had more knowledge than him, it seemed. Even though our table didn’t win in the end, I think that was a very good and clever idea to get everyone engaged before the match, and a chance for us to actually make new friends along the way too!
Next, the match! All I remembered was walking and trying to find our seats, and all I could see was people, people and more people! We had really good seats at Sir Alex Ferguson stand and wow, the view from up there was simply sensational! I think these pictures can describe better than any words. I could see Rooney, Van Persie, Ferdinand and all those players I usually could only watch from the television screen at home. If I was excited, I can’t imagine how Dearie must have felt!
The game was fantastic and we won! The energy was contagious, people were cheering and shouting and singing along, and it seemed like everyone was in pure sync. We were like droids army, systematically standing in line and following orders. (Weird metaphor, but you get the drift, don’t you? Don’t you? Don’t YOU?)

The match ended with a 2-1 victory! Woo-hoo! I nearly had to drag Dearie outta there, cos he was kept asking me for pictures with his Cantona scarf. Bless him! Going out after the match was a pandemonium again! We made a stop at the store again to buy even more stuffs and we both bought the table-cloth jerseys and other souvenirs like coasters, mugs, and figures.

The next time we were at Old Trafford again was the following day when we went for the stadium tour and museum tour, checking out the football field up close and personal, hanging out in the players’ dressing room (no biggie..) and getting too much info on the club and its history that I cared to know. Haha, kidding! It was really fun!
One evening in Manchester, we went out to the city and had quite fancy Italian dinner with a friend of mine who was living there. I think otherwise we wouldn’t have figured out a way to go to the city beyond our hotel and Old Trafford so it was pretty special. Oh! Near to our hotel, there was this shopping center that has Nike’s factory outlet and I’m sure Dearie loved it because he bought tons of cheap football jerseys for his friends back home!
Thank you Manchester for the awesome experience! Thanks for making my Dearie’s dreams come true too!

Miss you, Mom.

Dearest Mom,
How are you Mom? I hope you’re doing wonderful up there, and that you’re finally resting and not having to worry about me. I know you’re always looking out for me, Mom, and I miss you so much tonight.
I miss waiting for you to get home from work so we can have dinner together as a family. I miss talking to you and telling you about my days while you’re cutting fruits for me and Dad. I miss finding you on your usual spot, reading the paper on a Saturday afternoon. I miss you teaching me algebra and chemistry throughout my school days. But most importantly I just miss you. I miss having you, I miss hugging you, I miss your advice and your wise lessons and I miss you. I miss you so, so much.
You are the best Mom I can ever hope for, and I’m so, so thankful that I have lived, always feeling loved and taken care of, by you and Dad. You gave me everything I need. I am who I am because of you. And it hurts too much, having you taken away from me so soon when I haven’t done anything to make you proud yet. Why? I don’t understand, and I probably never will.
I want to let you know that I miss you and I love you so much. I want to tell you that you’re so loved and that you’re the bravest, strongest, wisest person I know, and everything I can ever dream to be. I pray that you will always be happy, because you deserve it, Mom. You deserve it so, so much.
And I dream for a day when I will be able to see you again, to hug you and spend time with you like we always did. I know you’re always with me, in my heart.
But let me weep and cry, just for tonight. I’ll be okay tomorrow, Mom. Just that tonight, I miss you so, so much.

London!

I haven’t written much about my trip to UK, so I’m going to try now. I hope I’m not forgetting any important stuffs! I have a memory worse than a goldfish so yeah, bear with me here!

So, UK, yeah! Let me just say that it was like a dream being there! I had a big ball of awesomeness throughout my 2-weeks stay and I didn’t want to leave! It was colder than I had anticipated too, and I realized now how crazy I was to think that the weather would just be bearable with just one thin jacket. I think I have the tendency to underestimate things, especially weather! In my mind I thought I was a thick-skinned (literally) wonder woman. “Jacket? NO! I don’t need this shit!” (while continue packing tank tops and shorts)

Yeah, shame on me. Luckily my sister convinced me to bring along his winter jacket, and that ended up saving my stubborn arse! I would say London was still quite alright without that winter jacket, but as soon as we got to Manchester, goodness, we were welcomed by some crazy hailing action! Even Dearie had to buy a thicker jacket at Manchester United Store, cos the only jacket he brought was this one from Uniqlo. Well, the fact that it was a very cool, suave-looking jacket didn’t hurt either.

Oh, sorry for jumping the gun here. Let’s start from London, our first stop! I figured we can split this into a few posts so you won’t have to read everything at once (read: I’m just lazy, give me a break!)

Our flight from here was like, 9 in the morning so we got there early for a quick breakfast first. I was so excited! Have I told you I love airports and flying in general? Anyway, I think I spent most of my time on the plane watching random stuffs on the entertainment system. (Yay to that!)

It was evening time when we finally landed in London and we actually took the train (or subway, or metro, as the Brits call it?) to reach our hotel! (Bless Dearie and his awesome navigational skills!) We reached our hotel late and most of the places were closed by then. We managed to grab dinner at one of the restaurants in the metro station, which wasn’t far from the hotel.

The next few days seemed like a blur, really. We visited all the places we had wanted to see, and more! Tower of London and Tower Bridge were the first few places we checked out on our first day.

You know, just chilling out, at Tower Bridge. 

Second day, we went to Warner Brothers studio where they filmed Harry Potter (yes, I’m a geek that way!) and it was super fun! Seeing all the props and costumes and we even tried Butterbeer! (not so good, though.) If you’re a fan, you would really enjoy checking this place out. I hope Dearie enjoyed it too. (I made him watch all the movies before our trip, and he seemed to like them, but that may have something to do with the fact that I might have given him the evil, threatening eye when I asked if he liked the movies. Psst.)

I even got up close and personal to Hedwig!
Third day was an eventful one! We were walking around the city, visiting Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square, seeing the Big Ben and London Eye from a distance, and ended our day watching Les Miserables at Queen’s Theatre, which was really, really awesome! It was funny though, we went to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of guards, and there were tons of people there. There was this moment when the ‘knights’ actually rode horses to the palace, and one of the horses pooped on his way, so there was this pile of poop on the street for the rest of the procession. And one of the guards had to walk on that road, and you could tell he’s trying to avoid the poop but it was right on his way. Haha. Damn horse can’t hold it in!

Also, we caught a glimpse of the Queen twice! (I actually just saw her once, because I was too short. But Dearie saw her twice.) And, that day apparently there was this delegation going to the Palace too, and guess which country?
Indonesia! Ha! Indonesian flags were everywhere, and Dearie made me take picture with it, it was really funny. Overall, the whole experience was just really memorable. 
After seeing the ceremony, we made our way to the theatre to see Les Mis. It was actually quite a distance, but once again, bless Dearie, he managed to find his way (through the map!) and we got there with half an hour to spare. Because we haven’t had our meal yet, we decided to step into one of the steak place nearby, and wanted to have a quick bite before the show. But it actually took a while for them to prepare our steak, and by the time our food came, we only had like 10 minutes before the show started and I just gulped my steak like I haven’t eaten in one month and in the end left quite a lot of french fries. We rushed back to the theatre, and the show has started! We had to wait until the next scene before they could bring us in, as to not interrupt the show. 
Now, this is one of the things I regretted. When we went to see the show at that time, we didn’t have much idea about Les Mis. The reason why we wanted to see it was because it was highly recommended by my sister, but we didn’t know much about the story and songs and everything. But since that trip and as soon as we got back to Singapore, Dearie and I started watching the show through DVD and absolutely fell in love with it! There was a period of time when I just played the songs over and over again throughout the day until my younger sister once came in to my room when I was listening to the song for the hundreds of times and she said, “Maniac.” Haha.
I made a mental promise to myself that I would go back again just to watch the live musical again because I can definitely appreciate it a lot more now and pay more attention to the details that I may have missed the first time around. 

What a majestic sight, huh? 
The next day, it was Dearie’s turn to be geeky so we went to National History Museum to see some dinosaurs! 
Dearie and the love of his love. The T-Rex.
And afterwards, these two geeks went to 221B Baker Street! Woo-hoo!

You can’t see it, but I was absolutely freezing here! There was a line of people queueing and it was really, really cold outside my teeth were cracking and I just buried my face into my scarf and I couldn’t even talk! Anyway, finally we went in and basically inside they had all these Sherlock Holmes’ artifacts from the costumes, pages of the books and the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, figures to re-enact some memorable scenes and a chance for us to snap some pictures.
Us, in Sherlock’s living room and fireplace.
We bought some souvenirs from the shop, it was cool!
That was London. It was all I could imagine and more. I wish we could have explored more places and had more time to spend there. I got a bit sad now thinking about it, but hey I will be back, I’m sure of it! As soon as I’m back in Singapore, I’m missing the weather and the cute accents and my scarf and my boots! But most importantly, I’m missing the adventure I got to share with Dearie! It was priceless. 
So on that note, we continued our trip to Manchester. Until the next post, let me leave you with this picture of me with Darth Vader himself, built from Lego.

Expectation vs Reality.

At the end of the work day on Friday, my colleagues would pose me this question, “So, what are you going to do this weekend?” In fact, that’s probably the first thing they would ask on a Monday morning as well, and I always wish I could reply them with a list of the amazing things I did over the weekend which would leave them speechless.

This is what I would like to happen:

“Oh, you know, I just flew to Bangkok for a shopping spree. It was FAB! You have to see how many pair of shoes I bought!”

Or

“Funny you should ask! On Saturday I went to Jamie’s Italian where I dined with Jamie Oliver himself. He was really nice, he let us sample all his signature dishes and even open a bottle of Champagne just because he can.”

I’m sure THAT would make a wonderful story. But instead, this is what actually happens on most occasions:

“Er. Nothing, really. Slept the whole weekend away.”

Or

“Oh, you know, really glamorous, thanks. I stayed home, ate instant noodles while watching Criminal Minds reruns.”

Nope. Not glamorous at all.

Sudden thought of you.

It’s a funny feeling, looking back. I love my life now, but at times I do allow myself to slip into nostalgia; to the times when nothing much matters. Responsibilities and pressures were just faint reflections of what future may hold. I knew they were there, but I didn’t need to face them yet. Let them lurk around at the back of my mind, underneath my consciousness. When I was 19 years old, all I wanted was to have a good time and experience college lives as much as I could.

In those years, I met so many people and experienced new things that I never thought I would. And they could mean both good and bad. But I’d like to focus on the good.

Friendships were naïve but sincere. Boundaries were pushed to the limit. Trust was tested, youth was all that mattered.

At the end of my college year, during my transition from ‘Tina Before’ to ‘Tina After’, I met someone who still, to this date, made me smile in remembrance. He wasn’t the most handsome, or the most charming, but it was his sense of humor and our odd similarities that made me notice him during our first encounter.

I remembered, the loud noises and dancing people in the background, yet we just talked as if we were alone. I think we were talking about movies, or books, or something geeky like that. We continued our conversation outside the club ‘til the night turned into dawn. Until there were no more people around us, and yet we seemed oblivious to our surroundings. Or at least I was. All I knew from that brief meeting was that I wanted to see him again.

We did see each other again; from that day to 6 months later. And those months were the best times I could remember. He was someone I could connect with, joke with, goof around with, dance myself silly with, and he made me happy, like I had something to look forward to at the end of every day.

We met almost every day; usually the days would end up with us watching a movie, either in DVD or on his laptop. I would come to his campus and have dinner at the canteen and we would just hang out and laugh. He encouraged me when I was struggling with finding a job and not being able to stay in Singapore. And when I had to fly back to Jakarta, or while he was traveling, we still talked and mocked each other through long, ranting Facebook messages.

I let myself be swayed away with the illusion that maybe our relationship could work out somehow. But I knew I was just kidding myself, as it was almost time for him to head back to his country. In actuality, I knew from the beginning that he and I could not last. Yet, how could I not have tried?

I think, even though it sucks parting ways when we had to, and going through some days afterwards feeling the loss of someone who used to be so close, I’m glad I had those 6 months of fun, adventures, and laughs.

In the end, his positive influence on me was what I took away from this all. And let it be a wonderful memory to remember. When I see our pictures together from that time, I would smile and reminisce.

I guess, my point is, it’s amazing how someone so important in your life at one point of time, seemed like just a flicker of memory a few years down the road. And it gives me hope. That I can bounce back from everything life throws at me, eventually. Time is a healer. Everything will fade to nothing more than a faint memory.

Well, everything, unless it’s something that lasts.