Updated: Apr 20
Earlier this was titled “10 things I love about my boyfriend”, but after writing it, I find the word appreciate reflects more truth.
This, also, is a bit private and can be awkward at some parts. I actually hesitated for almost a month before posting this. I wanted to post it a few days ago on his birthday, then ended up deciding I wasn't quite ready. But I'm happy today, and something sparked somewhere along my Instagram scroll back on the memory lane earlier. Something in the TLinh playlist I've been replaying today has woken up the empowered and encouraged me as well. Like, I'm actually writing for myself more than to prove anything to anyone. I'm trying to be a good reporter of my life events so that years later, I can look back and know exactly how I am feeling now. Isn't that the whole point of having this blog? Well actually, I'm still pretty anxious. But here you go, a glimpse into my inner world these days :) I probably won't know it, but do me a favor by keeping judgements at bay if possible, alright? :)
Okay, so my boyfriend...
He’s good at languages. No, not Korean, nor French, nor German, nor anything close. In fact, he’s having a hard time listening to his girlfriend pushing him to learn English almost every day. But, he talks to cats, and dogs, and especially the cat and dog versions of mine. While I believe I’m highly articulate most of the time, through my lifelong practice of translating my soul, there are times when I cannot do anything better than looking at him with tears streaming down my face. Except for when he’s high on jokes around his friends *roll eyes*, he always catches my falls and comforts me with a loving look. Then, he would come close to offer me a tight hug which helps remind my mind that I actually have a physical body to rest in. Oh, as for real cats. Once, when he was helping me with the terrifying Tet deep house cleaning at my parents’ (he was doing almost all the work actually when I was still sound asleep), he caught the sound of a stranded little kitty in front of the house. At first, she didn’t want to come out from the den she was lurking in. So he stood there for some minutes, talking to the cat, comforting it so it felt safer and slowly, very slowly, gave herself in for him. That little kitty was later named Muỗi ‘cause of the bold stripes on his belly. Oh yeah, it was actually a he.
He cooks. Not just that, he washes the dishes, sweeps the floor, goes to the market, does laundry, hangs the clothes, takes a chair up the rooftop to sit guard a bed sheet that’s dancing a bit too drunk with the wind. Oh, he makes the bed in the morning, folds the mosquito net and open the curtains for photons to come in every day. Well no, he’s not a helper and yes, I’m fully abled. He just does all those chores very voluntarily and never wants me to get tired by them unless I really want to and enjoy doing it. I myself did have my fair share of housework and have also taken on more recently, but his patience was really healing.
He shuts up and listens to all the beans I have to spill, sometimes for hours on end without conveniently imposing any quick solutions onto me. Doesn’t every lady love this? 😍
He’s handsome. Well. He’s not like the definition of hot. He has an interesting baby face that can trick most people on his real age. He doesn’t have six packs, either. His butt is also not so peachy - does that word exist and even if it does, do we use it for men? 😳 Anyway, he’s also tall. His beard is a mix of brown and black haha. Well he doesn’t grow beard, but whenever they come out for a few days and he has yet to shave, he always comes to me with an overjoyed face, exclaiming: Babe! My beard is brown! It’s fucking brown!
His inner family is not as crowded as mine (thank God), but that doesn’t mean that it’s any less lively, interesting and… annoying. He has an inner bitch that loves to roll her eyes at even the slightest inconveniences. He has an inner housewife who yells at all the ridiculous price tags in the grocery stores. There's even an inner lady boy who turns gayer and gayer as the sun sets, which makes most people we meet for first times secretly think that we're actually sisters 🙄 Of course, thankfully, he has also the man who loves to protect me, no matter when we’re walking together on the side of the streets, or when I’m suffering in a tearful talk with my parents. That man also supports me in all that I do. Oh, but that man is the vedette of this blog already. So…
He always has an eye on me and takes care of me in his weirdest way. One time, my close friend was having a hard time, so we went for a stroll along the beach with a secret wish that the sea will kinda listen and blow away all the sorrows. I was walking next to my friend, my palm on her back, trying to comfort her. He, after a few jokes at the start to make us all feel lighter about what happened, accompanied us from a few feet away. The sea was nice and sweet, as usual, with waves patiently kissing the shorelines. After awhile, the tide actually got higher and my brain started to worry about my long pants. But even before I could bring myself to think of how to kneel down to roll up the pants without my palm leaving my friend, he already walked behind me and bended to roll it for me, his face not showing any signs of reward demand or appreciation request. He just did it so naturally. Never known sea salt water could taste so sweet :)
He’s mindful by nature. He always notices all the smallest details around. The other day when I was diving in my work, he suddenly said: Oh! You have six leaves! I turned to him and see him talking to the Kim Ngân plant. Look babe! All the other branches have only five, but this new baby has six! Such luck! The more I write, the more I realize he’s like a child at heart. A child who survived? Who refused to grow up? The one that so much mirrors mine? But he still has the man version. So that’s okay 🤓
His feet smell, and he’s fine with it 😬 I think that’s the perk of being a boy? - Not giving so many f***s. I still remember a time when I was already dying on the Annapurna Circuit trek in Nepal yet still making every ounce of effort to clean my socks whenever I could. One day, I looked too terrified that my companion had to ask: What’s wrong? My… my… my feet smell… He couldn’t help it and burst out laughing. Don’t all feet smell? Haha. No! No parts of my body are allowed to smell, you know! I am clean and sexy and smell good, all the freaking time, period. Well you can start to have an idea of how deeply perfectionism runs in my blood. My boyfriend, instead, … Well he had never truly worn any shoes for long since we started dating until recently. He loved his crocs. He wore it too much I started to associate the crocs as one of his body parts. A week ago, he landed a job that requires him to wear shoes and stand for almost 9 hours a day. He came back with super smelly feet on the first days. While washing the socks at 11PM, he glimpsed at the shoes, light-heartedly reminded himself, well I need to ship the other pair of shoes here so that this one can breathe. This reallyyyyy stinks! Haha I couldn’t stop laughing. Later when we were cuddling in bed, I could still feel the smell. He immediately pulled up his left foot and breathed in to check (yeah he’s that flexible). He did that for 10 seconds straight, looked at me and said: I can’t smell anything. I washed it mam! Haha. Then he tried another time and concluded, the toes are fine but the soles still needs some work. I’ll do that later. Of course he didn’t do that later ‘cause sleep always wins. But my point is, you know, his feet smell, he makes efforts to deal with it, but he’s fine with them being smelly. How can I put it, I admire that acceptance he has towards himself, and hence, towards me.
His hands and wrists look sexy, especially when he has his sleeves rolled up and his watch on. Mlem mlem 😛
He’s always willing to give me the bed. We couldn’t find a good 2 bedroom/ 1 bedroom apartment that fit our budget, so we’re renting a studio. During the first month in the new city, we actually spent 24/7 with the presence of the other person within our sight. We cooked together, cleaned together, went to find groceries together, slept together, sometimes even showered together. As you can guess, at some point, privacy thirst came screaming hard. There was a time it got so bad I suddenly caught a fever for no reason. We kinda concluded it was my state of being ngộp-người. Then came a night when I couldn’t take it anymore and just took my pillow, rolled out the yoga mat and slept on the floor for the night. Of course he went down, trying to convince me to go back to the bed but I just so firmly refused. He spent the next day continuing to convince me, if I want to sleep alone, please use the bed. He was so happy sleeping on the floor. I was joking sometimes, “being sent to the sofa by the wife is real”. Haha. What I mean is, he respects my privacy. Hmm, normally, people do this. But I want to emphasize here, he’s the kind of person who doesn’t mind being around people for too long, especially the ones he loves. He actually kinda would wrap his skin around mine if possible 😶 It’s not to the point of being overly clingy or attached (Why am I sounding like I’m trying to convince myself so here), but it’s that it’s not in his blood. And for a non-introvert, non-overthinker, non-female, he’s just too good at respecting me, dealing with my needs without questioning them for once.
He always asks me what’s wrong. Yes, always. Even when he’s dead exhausted after a day’s work, seeing me lying on the bed facing the wall, the very first thing he did was to slowly climb on the bed with me, rub my hair, gently ask, what’s wrong babe. Well, so if my logical self takes a stand here, it would probably say that doesn’t look very healthy and well-managed young lady, it just means whenever you show signs of discomfort, he’d come running. Isn’t that a terrifying, alarming sign of codependence and manipulation? He’s not your pet, bitch. (Ouch!) But for the little girl that's still wrestling for almost every waking second with the deep belief that she is not important nor prioritized and should always keep herself behaved and non-annoying, that’s a real luxury.
He sticks around, even when I fail to contain the inner beasts. So growing up, I’ve grown a habit of taking myself away from my loved ones, as far away as possible, whenever I see a sign of weirdness from me. Like whenever a poop notices you that it’s coming, you need to stand right up and bring yourself to the toilet, you know? Like, yeah, I’m paralyzed at the thought of others witnessing me blow up or even be sad for too long, so there’s always a guard in me that’s ready to bring me far away whenever I raise a flag. It sure is a coping mechanism. It’s helpful and not so much, but a battle against a two-decade-long pattern is an uphill one. Since the first time he had a chance to greet one of the beasts, my boyfriend made sure I knew he was there for me. He patiently though non-strategically approached my inner demons and handling them quite smoothly. I mean, I’ve been trying to do that to myself, but like a single mom, you cannot juggle all those multiple tasks of releasing the demons and comforting them all at once. So his help came in in the most soothing way possible.
He naturally gives me kisses and hugs whenever his subconscious feels like he can. If love languages are real, and the fact that we both have physical touch as the strongest love language is scientifically supported and matters, it’s a blessing we found each other. Well, and a curse, ‘cause I’m not sure what we’d do if we have to do long distance, but no, I don’t want to experience that dear Lord… Anyway, those organic affectionate interactions are my much-needed frequent calming pills. I can feel my skin soften each time at his gentle lips’ touch even when I’m in the most stressed out state possible. How blessed, really (trộm vía).
He writes notes on the fridge for me. I was given a fridge magnet with sticky notes on it a few years back but didn’t really have a chance to use it. So it’d been left untouched on the old fridge in my parents’ place. Until recently, I took it to our new place, and I guess it’s so happy to finally be used for the right purpose. Sometimes when he went to sleep early, I wrote him a note reminding him to drink water as soon as he'd wake up. Love birds haha. Sometimes it’s just some quick ‘I love you’ note, just to breathe more love into the space. This communication channel was actually inspired by Hạ Vi, who was generous enough to take me around her place a few months ago so I could notice her cute little notes for her boyfriend. Yeah, I love it.
There was a night when an old trauma hit hard and I found myself in a new realm I’d never been before. I sobbed hard, for very long. He wanted to be there with me for as long as he could, but he reached his physical limit after awhile and fell sound asleep. In the morning when I woke up, I automatically curled up under the blanket, listening to the sound of him cooking. He was more quiet than normal. Usually, he would greet me in the morning with a totally different kind of energy, bright and radiant, no matter how hard the night had been, but this morning he was quiet. So I got a bit worried. I went to the bathroom and saw no signs of greeting from him… Then I remembered, oh, it’s my Monday Me-day, he was just kinda trying to respect my day off. I waited until he was about to go out to go to the dining table for my breakfast. I glanced at the kitchen and saw all the food nicely cooked. I opened the fridge and saw a guava beautifully pealed and cut for me. Later, I noticed on the fridge a little note with his words on it. It sounded something like this: I cooked both lunch and dinner, just eat as much as you can. Now I’ll go out, call me if you need anything. Enjoy a quality day off of yourself, okay? I love you! Yeah...
Of course, the list goes on :)
Here comes a pretty epic and unexpected conclusion:
Relationships are easy, and not really so... No no no no no, f*** this trying-to-be-wise-and-calm thing I've been doing in this post so far, yes my boyfriend is awesome and not-at-all and I love him and sometimes I'm not sure but basically relationships are hard, at least to me, for now :( It is!!! Cohabitation is also hard. These s***s are hard! I've tried to act cool on lots of things in my life but not on this one. It's hard!!! And if I can be totally honest, I'm freaking out! It's not an overstatement to say I'd never been this deep into a healthy relationship where both parties are actually nurtured with wisdom and mutual love plus appreciation every day, so yeah I'm freaking out I'm freaking out I'm freaking out and my wired inclination towards catastrophic thoughts are just making this game even trickier and I'm gonna say that out loud until I dare to see it as my truth now I AM FREAKING OUT!!! 😟 Fight-or-flight mode, detected. Urges to run away, sure. Fears, lots of them. Doubts, lots of them. Unsurprisingly, criticism and pushes, lots and lots and lots of them! Phew...
Haha I might remember this moment forever as a milestone of my blogging life where I discover things about myself literally on the spot, when words come out and reveal truths, surprising even the writer. It feels so good to admit things. Phew! Yes guys, I'm struggling here and somehow learning to enjoy it. Our relationship is a miracle and a mess. It's heart-shakingly beautiful and it stinks (like my boyfriend's feet before haha the situation has been fixed by the way). We really don't know what the future holds. I have yet to come across any smart ways to deal with my control freak and harness my mind so it doesn't roam so freely on its favorite worst-case-scenarios playground. He's still patient with me, 'you're nicer to me than you always think' - his remarks on me, the fact that we're still more than willing to have those difficult talks whenever needed and rise beyond our differences, not forgetting to make and laugh hard at our own silly jokes whenever possible, these are things I'm holding on to. We also have your blessings on our journey ahead, don't we? 😊
Check out this earlier constipated version of the blog post conclusion if you want to:
My boyfriend is not without his flaws; instead, he came as a full package with tons of them. He got on my nerves a handful of times, and vice versa. It gets real hard sometimes, especially when old traumas of both take the opportunity to rise to the surface. It is still challenging now actually =)))) so instead of trying to write a philosophical and existential conclusion to this post, I'm gonna admit my not-figured-out-ness, then just shut up here, close the laptop and wait to welcome him home with maybe some kisses this time (instead of a tearful face a few days back).
Thank you for your time and whatever force that drove you to read this blog to the end :) I'm grateful that my words have reached you! Thank you, especially, for witnessing with me the moment of truth and light above :)