I look up from my phone which I've opened up the matchmaking app I stumbled upon, and manage to stop myself from nervously checking my assigned seating for the nth time. My heart feels like it's going to jump out of my chest, and my legs seem more jelly than muscle and bone. At least I have the help of ushers, and I'm grateful for them as they lead us to sit on white plastic chairs facing a small makeshift stage. Who cares if they're wearing obnoxious white angel wings and strapping a garish yellow halo on their head?
A small, mousey man bounces onto stage, and his entire energy seems to light up the dark and dimly lit ballroom. That, and his purple sequinned tuxedo that bounces light off of the weak lamps in the room.
"WELCOME TO IN HEAVEN!" He nearly screeches into the mike, and while everyone is clapping, I shut my eyes, wincing. "Please grab a seat in front of your assigned table," he continues a bit more calmly "Good luck! I hope that you will have a good time mixing and mingling with all these singles, AND I HOPE YOU'LL FIND YOUR MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN!" He yells out the last line, and the microphone feedback reverberates throughout the room. This time, everyone winces.
I already can't wait for this to end, I think uneasily to myself.
But it turns out that this day is just beginning.
As I walk to my table, my heart thuds to a near complete stop. My steps quicken and I almost collapse into the seat. I can't believe it's her!
"How've you been?" The girl sitting opposite me smiles cheerily at me, and I can hardly believe my eyes.
"What are you doing here?" I stutter out.
"I was just about to ask you that. How's the relationship with Jay?"
I sigh, and tentatively wring my hands, debating on the best way to tell her. Quickly, she catches on.
"I'm sorry. When?"
"We split about two months ago." This time, it's her turn to sigh.
"I can't believe it. I really thought you guys were such a good pair."
"So did I." I murmur sadly. Then I straighten up. "To be fair, it wasn't completely smooth-sailing. Jay already started showing me lots of red flags in the beginning. He hates the pop-punk bands I like, and I always followed him to watch Kpop concert after concert after concert."
"Well pop-punk is amazing. I know he doesn't like talking about his feelings either."
"Precisely. I always had to beg and compromise just to say what I wanted to say. One time, just to get him to sit down, I had to promise to buy him the newest PS5 for his birthday, even though I had already nearly depleted my own paycheck."
"I'm assuming that the initial high of getting together faded after a while."
"Yeah. I just felt worse and worse over time. More and more unhappy. But I managed to convince myself that these were normal relationship signs, and that if I just ignored them-"
"You'd be happy." I nod.
"I wanted too much from him, or so I thought. And in the end, even though I was more unhappy. he pulled the plug first. Which is..."
"Totally unfair!" She cries out, and I laugh a little.
"Dead-on." I reply.
As if sensing that I'm about to fall into another pit of despair, she quickly interjects my depressed mood.
"I can't believe we lost touch for three years! It's so good to talk to you again!" Her cheery voice cuts through my sadness, a little like a ray of sunlight splitting dark grey rainclouds.
"When was the last time we got together with each other?"
"At J-uh, his party." She grimaces, and rolls her eyes. My mind flashes back to that night of drunken fun, plastic cups strewn all over the floor, streamers hanging haphazardly from the ceiling and people sleeping in every single room.
"I think you threw up on him." She says quietly, hiding her laughter behind her hand. The way that she cups her hand over her mouth as if to protect it is so familiar.
"Well you got so drunk that I think you stuck your head into a toilet and we had to get the fire department to pull you out." I counter, grinning widely. Both of us burst out laughing, attracting a few annoyed glances. Her laughter is still that thin, inhaling kind of laugh that I would hate if it was anyone else, but on her it's perfect. "Time's up!" Both of us groan, and reluctantly, I take my leave.
"We hope you had a good time talking! For those of you who aren't ready yet, please follow our ushers out of the marked door, and we'll lead you out of here. Those who are ready, please go back! We wish you A LONG AND HAPPY RELATIONSHIP!"
This is the happiest I've felt in a while, even with Jay. Together, we walk out of the room, talking and laughing the whole way.
"Where should we go first?" I ask.
"Definitely the movies." She answers, grinning widely.
As she starts walking, it dawns on me. I can't believe I never realised that her sense of style is truly impeccable. A green army jacket, sleek black boots and navy blue jeans, all the things I used to love wearing before I met Jay. It's also only now that I realised she's wearing that band shirt we bought together three years ago. "You still like Paramore?"
"Of course! I still adore them. Weren't they your favourite too?"
"Yeah, it's just...with all the KPop concerts, I never had time to go to any of theirs when I was with him." Her pained expression is more than I can handle, and hastily, I turn away from her concerned and pitying gaze.
"I'm fine," I tell her, but it's obvious she doesn't believe me.
"You're not fine," she corrects me, "but I know you will be."
Quickly, I clear my throat and change the topic. "What should we watch?" I say excitedly, but still bracing myself for a conflict.
"Horror!" We both say at the same time, then giggle. My heart skips a beat in excitement. He never had the stomach to sit through all the horror movies with me, but she does. Matter of fact, she loves it.
She smiles at me, and we walk to the ticketing counter together.
"Ticket for one, please."
Man, dating myself is amazing. And cheap. Why haven't I done this sooner?