Dear Esther,

Hi — you probably haven’t thought about me in a while! Or maybe you have. Acutally, I’m pretty sure you’ve been thinking about me, because I hope that by the time this reaches you, you would have enough time in your day to stay a few extra minutes in bed or in the shower to think and ponder about interesting things. And based on all you’ve been through these next three years, I’m sure that I’m a pretty interesting person to think about.

Honestly, as much as my immediate reaction is to imagine you living in a lofty apartment in the middle of Manhattan, I’d have to say I’m pretty shortsighted to be able to tell where you really are. You’ve always been a person who’ve strangely made strong associations between emotions and places, despite the fact that you’ve moved around the world so often. I hope you’ve been able to grow out of that attachment. Or — you’ve been able to find a place that makes you truly happy. Who knows, you might be sipping hot chocolate while reading War and Peace at a cafe in Vienna. Or you might be getting ready for your client presentation, rushing a few things in your spacious, buzzing office in downtown LA. Or you’re in Hong Kong? Is Hong Kong completely dominated by Mainlanders by now? Regardless, I hope you had a chance to go back and eat those delicious pineapple buns at that old cha chaan teng — the one you went to with Sonja, remember?

Are you in touch with your friends? I think you would be. Maybe the first year or two have been too hectic for you to keep up with them frequently (and I’m sure a lot of your friends are in similar positions too), but I sincerely hope they are still an integral part of your life. At least from experience, I’ve always had a good grip on who I think would continue on with me down the path I choose to walk on…although college is such an overwhelming and exciting collection of experiences that I’m not even sure if things will turn out the way I expect them to be. In three years, Emily will still be in dental school, either in Columbia or Harvard (she got an interview today). Natalia would definitely be back in Manila — and perhaps married to Jaime… although I don’t think Annika would be anywhere near marriage by this point. Colin and Emily would probably still be living together, in New York (they say they want to move back to Asia ASAP, but I don’t think they’ll be able to leave the US for a while. If you haven’t been in touch with them, you should hit them up soon). I’m guessing Christine would be in San Francisco, maybe working on something of her own? I think Alice and Vivian will still be in New York, doing what they’ve started. Cody would also be in New York, most likely. He always pursues and gets what he wants. With John…I just have no idea. He must’ve been doing well in Hong Kong all these years, but somehow I feel like he’ll be back in the US. And Ira would be in SF, I’m sure of it — somehow meeting person after person in serendipitous meanderings to get to where he is now. You should give him a call…

In case you were curious (and I’m sure you are), I just went upstairs to the GSR to help Kevin W. on a BEPP question. My midterm is tomorrow and I’m so tired of studying for it…wow, you must’ve been free of exams for ages by now. Do you miss it? Obviously not solving stupid problems and cramming material the night before, but the communal suffering in Huntsman and the late night Wawa runs. I can definitely see you missing that. But hey, don’t you still go through these shared experiences of pain? I’m sure your two years in banking have definitely shown you a different angle on what it means to suffer together.

What are you doing right now? I mean right now. Are you lying in bed, trying to recreate your experience at the diner downtown on paper, when you suddenly decided to scroll through your archives (as per usual) and eventually found this? I hope you’re having good food, and that you still go to yoga. Maybe in three years you’ve been able to master the tree pose and have already moved on to Vinyasa. But as the yogi back in West Philly always used to tell me (before I broke my elbow), that you don’t do it for the pose, but the pose does it for you…

Now here’s the real question. Are you still single? I’d be surprised if you haven’t had a serious relationship within the three years since I wrote this. But given that you were in Singapore for two of those three, maybe it won’t be too much of a surprise. I just don’t see you mixing with Singaporeans in that way.

Maybe you’re in America now — not to pursue the fairytale love life you’ve always dreamt of, but to catch the fleeting artist within you. Art in the form of writing — I feel like you’ve always been in denial of your talent and your love for writing, despite seeing consistent success in its every application (Philosophy papers, Shell IPO offering circulars, love letters, e-mails to teachers, school magazines, buyout project write-ups, birthday cards, and words of apology…). And in the midst of it all, as you came to understand yourself better through the medium you love the most, others gathered around you, somehow subconsciously attracted by the genuine gleam it emanates. Hopefully, you’ve been able to wisely select the crystals from the phonies, and keep a strong, supportive network of friends around you.

I’m sure you’re happy. Happier than you are now. But even if you aren’t at times, I just want you to know that it’s okay. I’ll always be here for you — a constant reminder that you’ve always gotten better from previous versions of yourself. And that’s what really matters.

With love,

Esther (December 15, 2016)

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Esther’s story.