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 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.

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.
A picture of the characters Meiko and Jinta from the anime Anohana.