a bubbly girl
Super peace busters are friends forever.
In grade nine, our first assembly was a remote-presentation with David Suzuki. Although we're taught at a young age to be quiet and respectful at assemblies, it seems we often forget these basic manners when we get to high school. Grade nine is a time where teenagers need to socialize afterall. So, it was no surprise that the grade nines would rather talk amongst each other, instead of listen to an old Japanese guy. It turns out that Nikki couldn't attend the assembly, but when she found out, she was furious! She posted a rant on Facebook, tagged the entire grade, and pointed out how rude we were to David Suzuki, the other schools, and our fellow peers as well. This was the first time I realized that Nikki was truly different. She cared so much about the greater good and wellbeing of other people, and wasn't afraid to let the world know. Nikki was unapologetically herself — a fearless, firecracker with rainbows shooting at you from all directions.
Nikki was the type of friend that you wanted to keep for life. I knew this after my first time meeting her. I fell so hard for her bubbly personality and her cheek-to-cheek smile. Although I tried hard to keep it a secret, it wasn't long before the entire grade knew that I liked Nikki. We didn't share many classes in school, and so every day after school I would try to talk to her by walking with her to the queue of busses. Although I would only manage to get a few words out, the small conversations we had would be on my mind for the entire bus ride back home.
Eventually I realized I had to act on my feelings. I tried many tactics. One of them was anonymously asking her on ask.fm if she was interested in Jeff. To my dismay, she would answer that I was like a brother to her 😂. Another idea was to indirectly confess. I told my friend to tell his girlfriend, who would finally tell Nikki, that I liked her. All of this must have had some effect, because eventually we went on a double date with two other friends right before Halloween. (To Nikki reading this, I'm calling it a date, even though we never called it a date!)
The boys' plan was to pick the scariest movie. Think about it. Scary movie. Girls getting scared. Cuddles. Profit. We picked the movie Carrie, a remastered horror movie which was originally filmed in the 70s. The plan worked (or more probable, the girls played along with the plan). Nikki hates horror movies, and so she burrowed her head in my chest, to which I would comfort her. The first moment she did this I melted in my chair. It was a young boy's experience with any touch.
After that, some time passed, and one day, Kavita (one of Nikki's friends) and I were talking, and Nikki came up in the conversation. Kavita told me that Nikki couldn't see us dating in grade nine, but rather in grade twelve. At the time I was ecstatic that Nikki could see us ever dating in the first place, but sad that she thought waiting until grade twelve was the right time. I never asked her why she wanted to wait until grade twelve. But I guess I didn't have to, because somehow that's exactly what happened.
After grade nine and ten, Nikki transferred to a catholic school closer to home. Well, I thought to myself, the me-and-Nikki-in-grade-twelve-plan was gone. I mine as well start letting go of the highschool love of my life. She's gone! I stopped talking to her completely on facebook, and stopped sending her snaps as well. Grade eleven was spent focusing on me, myself, and my grades.
Fast forward to grade twelve; I was sending one of those mass snaps that you send to your entire friends list. By accident, I included her in the list (yeah we all know it wasn't an accident). Luckily, even after not talking for a year, she replied, and we started talking. One thing led to the next and we decided to go ice skating.
I was so scared. I hadn't seen her for over a year. On top of that, my dating experience was quite limited. I remember googling all these tips and tricks on how to continue a conversation with a girl. We went ice skating, and had burgers after. Nikki wasn't afraid to eat an entire burger (it was quite messy) with fries. She wasn't the type that valued appearances. She valued being real. She would never order just a salad on date, she was the real deal, and wasn't afraid to show her true colors.
Our second date was at the movie theatres, where we watched Star Wars (Rogue One I think?). I faintly remember her saying she watched it with her dad, but that she would rewatch it with me. Regardless, I was so excited. It felt like a redo of our movie date from grade nine. We held hands and cuddled that night, and all I could think of was how great her hair smelled. After the movie, I tried to muster up the courage to go for the kiss. We chatted for a bit and when we were parting ways, it looked like she was going for a hug. And so, I didn't make my move, and simply hugged her back. (It turns out we both wanted to kiss each other that night).
The third date with her was quite an adventure. I told her we were going to Toronto but wouldn't tell her the exact location. I surprised her with the classic games-cafe in downtown, Snakes & Lattes. After the cafe and downtown-adventure, we returned home on the Go bus. We were exhausted from all the fun we had, and I was quite thirsty, so I asked to take a drink from her water bottle. After I took a sip, I told her a classic, cheesy, Jeff line. I told her we mine as well kiss since we already did so indirectly with the water bottle 🥴. And there, that night, on the bus ride home of my grade twelve year, was my first kiss. Shortly after, Nikki asked what I was looking for, and what I thought about ourselves. I responded by asking her to be my girlfriend, to which she said yes. I was so fucking happy.
From here on out we went on many adventures. I have so many great memories. If you're reading this Nikki, I had so much fun on these. Thank you so much.
- us ice skating, and me telling you we should hold hands because our hands were getting "cold".
- watching Star Wars with you.
- surprising you with a trip to Toronto, hanging out at Snakes & Lattes, and having our first kiss on the bus ride home.
- you surprising me with a date to the bowling alley and the best chinese food I've ever had (you're the best advisor TripAdvisor is ever going to get).
- you helping me with quality edits on my essays. I was another highschool math nerd who couldn't english for the love of my life. (I hope the quality of my writing nowadays makes you proud Nikki).
- our date to port credit. We watched the waves for hours. You got cold, and I gave you my jacket for the night.
- me surprising you on Valentine's day by leaving flowers on your doorstep.
- you initially disliking my blonde/silver hair, but eventually liking it.
- the hot steamy hot chocolate we would share on our morning dates.
- that time we went to the AGO, and our favorite piece of the day was a giant painting of a black circle that was off-centre. I told you it was the perfect representation of the Japanese way, wabi-sabi. You liked my interpretation, and agreed.
- you trying to get me to cry by making me watch the Notebook, proceeded with me not crying.
- us playing Mario Kart with your dad.
- the tech talks your dad and I used to have. The investing talks you and Mark used to have.
- me singing my heart out to Bohemian Rhapsody in front of you with my imaginary electric guitar.
- the walk we went on where we sat on that bench and watched the river for hours. I told you I thought life was just like the river in front of us. You made fun of me for trying to be a philosopher.
- us going for runs in the trails near your house. I can run 10ks now but I think you even had me beat with the triathlon training.
- the delicious fish and chips we had near my place after a long day out in Toronto. It was so cozy there, and the ambience was perfect. We split the dish because we weren't that hungry and sitting side by side was perfect. This was one of my favourite moments with you Nikki.
- you being over at my place the night before my birthday. You left without mentioning anything, and I wondered if you forgot about it. You then texted me that night telling me to look under my pillow, in which I found your handwritten note you snuck in while you were over.
- your second part to my birthday gift, by taking me to go bouldering. I had so much fun.
- you being so caring and loving to my younger sister who was going through some tough times in highschool. You were the older sister she never had.
- you being upset with me for being a morning person. Our dates were always quite early, and you were even willing to start our dates before your first cup of coffee.
- you introducing me to your lovely friends from your new school, Andre, Jen, and Melissa. I was so glad when you told me I got Andre's approval. (Once you get the gay best friend's approval you're pretty much set.)
- me showing you my passion project at the time with coding. I created a stupid little CSS framework for other programmers. It wasn't impressive at all but you treated it like it was gold.
- how our first few months of dates always rained!
- how good your hair smelt (Herbal Essences is the bomb.com)
- you always saying things were the "bomb.com"
- you challenging me to bike 50km
- that same day we biked in downtown, you saw some homeless people on the street and your heart was broken. You went to the nearest Tim Hortons and got all of them muffins. Not only that, you talked to them for a while after that to ask them how their day was going. I was so amazed at how caring you were.
- my surprise promposal to you. My friends and I drove to St. Josephs in swim gear. Because Nikki was a life guard, the sign said "breast, stroke, side and free, would you swim to prom with me?"
- the many times I pretended to be dead and told you "I need mouth-to-mouth CPR from the nearest lifeguard".
- my prom night, and your prom night. I can't believe we were crazy enough to do both of them. You looked so beautiful both of those nights.
- that night we were over at Melissa's and we were all outside. I started the fire and you were so happy and proud of me. While sitting together on the lounge chairs, we threw our blanket over our heads so no one could see us. Everyone thought we were making out when really, we were just looking at each other's eyes and laughing.
- our inside joke with the 🐵 emoji whenever one of us was being sarcastic over text.
- us battling over who texted the last "good night".
- us going over the "36 questions that lead to love". The last question was, "what is something that you would regret not saying to your other?" I told you that I loved you. You told me that you loved me, too.
- me texting you and facetiming you when I was climbing cranes and scaling highrises. You would always be so concerned for my safety. The roles reversed these past few years when I was busy studying at school, and you were travelling the world.
Unfortunately, all good things eventually come to an end, and our relationship wasn't an exception. Near the end of our grade twelve summer, right before the start of college, we realized there were some differences with our core values, and, decided to part ways. The break up was hard for me because, well, she was my everything. I had to disconnect with her on social media — seeing one picture of her cute smile would bring me back to square one. Even with all that it still took me a good 4 months to get over her. She was my highschool sweetheart after all.
A couple of months ago, I decided to re-follow and connect with her on Instagram. Enough time has passed to heal those young highschool scars of losing my first love 😂. Nikki and I replied to each others stories every now and then, but she didn't continue any conversations, I think, out of respect for the person she was currently seeing. That's how awesome she is.
The past week I've cried more than I've ever had in my entire life. I went from not crying deeply in years, to bawling my eyes out first thing every morning after waking up. At first, I was somewhat confused with my body's reaction. Was it normal to cry over a past girlfriend you haven't truly talked to in almost four years? With a lot of reflection this week, I realize the answer is yes. All of this sadness is from the love I had for you back in highschool. In this world, love and happiness are inherently tied with hate and sadness. When you choose to love someone, you also choose to accept the sadness that comes when you lose them. I loved you as my girlfriend, but more importantly, as one of my best friends. Although these feelings have been packaged down with my studies, jobs, friends, and new relationships over the years, my feelings for you were always there, and will continue, to always be there. Once you've met someone you never really forget them.
You have taught me so many things Nikki. You were my first major crush, my first kiss, my first real girlfriend, the first girl who met my parents, the first, and second!, (and only!!) promdate, but most importantly; the first girl who saw me, for me. Unfortunately, you're now the first to teach me what it feels like to feel the loss of a loved one. You're the first person who I care about deeply that is leaving this world. You, Nikki, meant so much to me. And you always will.
The last interaction we had was just last week. I posted an instagram story with a dance clip, telling everyone how grateful I was for Origins (Waterloo's competitive hip hop dance team) to give me the chance to fall in love with dance. You replied to that story, reminding me that I always loved music and dancing! It was always inside of me afterall, and you noticed that in highschool, from the the awkward grade school dances, all the way to our romantic ones at prom. You reminded me of my humanity, and how dance has always been inside of me from day one. I was so happy that we reconnected; that you were able to watch me dance from the sidelines, as I was able to watch you travel from the sidelines.
A question that comes up often in the dance community is
why do you dance? For the past year I didn't really have a
good reason. Because I liked music I guess? Because of the community?
But now, I've found my reason.
I dance for you now Nikki.
Why? Because you showed me how important humanity is. You taught me what it means to respect people like David Suzuki who share their passion with the rest of the world. You taught me to check in with people, and to make sure they were having a good day. You taught me how God cares about everyone. You taught me and everyone else how beautiful the world is through your travels. Through everything, you taught me what it means to be grounded, and to be in touch with your humanity. The past few years I've been quite carried away with math, programming, and chasing jobs, but dance has been that one thing that has kept me grounded. I know you're not too fond of me going overboard with work and programming 😅. Dance is how I stay in touch with my humanity, and now I will continue that, for you. You brought joy to the world, and you wanted to share with everyone else what joy this world could bring us. Dance is one of those joys too, and now I get to share it with you from up above.
Rest in peace Nikki. I remember you always joking with me that He was your only true man. He'll take great care of you now, one of the best angel's that's ever been. I hope you visit me sometime here on Earth, and I know you'll always be watching me from up above.
Love, with all my heart,
Nikki's favourite song in grade nine.