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Zoom Back alleys of Beijing. #China #Beijing

Back alleys of Beijing. #China #Beijing

04.20.14 0
Zoom Why climb down the Great Wall when you can tobaggan down from it. #beijing #China #greatwall #travel

Why climb down the Great Wall when you can tobaggan down from it. #beijing #China #greatwall #travel

04.18.14 0
Squishy
Strangers. Acquaintances. Colleagues. 
For months, that’s all we were. I had first noticed him because he reminded me of a friend from university. He would offer me the occasional smile whenever he passed by. I would nod my head in acknowledgment. Strange, how we had never had a decent conversation in the first few months we spent working together. However, all that changed. To think that all it took was one horribly written essay - about squishy. 
As I ruffled Max’s hair and soaked in the warm glow of his laughter, I could not believe how lucky and blessed I was. Within 5 years, all my hopes and dreams had taken flight and became reality. Every morning when I woke up, I was thankful for my two special boys. 
I smiled as I remembered the day everything changed. 
—————————————————-
My eyes flitted across the script as I scanned through the contents of the essay. Without warning, a laugh escaped through my lips. 
"What is it?" he mumbled softly. 
I tilted my head, curious. We had been sitting awkwardly beside each other for the past 30 minutes. Each absorbed in our own work. Amusement sparkled in his eyes, the edges of his mouth lifted in a slight smile. Without saying anything, I handed over the essay that I was reading. 
In silence, he bent his head and started to read. For a moment, I allowed my gaze to drift. I noticed his gentle grace, the slight smile playing across his lips as his eyes read line after line. The way his fringe flopped over, falling perfectly. 
"What’s squishy?" he questioned. 
"I… have no idea," I stated. 
Silence ensued. 
Moments later, he gave me a clueless smile that mirrored my own. That essay was beyond hope. We however, had unknowingly found our own glimmer of hope. 
"I’m Zack. And… you are?"
"Celine." 
From that moment on, it seemed as though all previous traces of awkwardness had disappeared and ceased to exist. We fell into a comfortable companionship, talking about everything under the sun. It was just the two of us, tucked away in our little corner of the office. ‘War’ stories and tales about mischievous students swirled together. 
Before we knew it, it was 4pm and I had to head for my last class of the day. With a reluctant smile, I picked up my stack of worksheets and left. Lost in the maelstrom of teachers coming in and out, we didn’t have time to say goodbye. 
Later, as I was perched on my chair, in the front of the classroom, he gave me a little smile as he made his way out. With a little grin of my own, I said my silent goodbye. 
That night, as I wearily turned on my laptop and logged into Facebook, I glimpsed a friend request. Without prior thought, I clicked on it, and my heart gave a little skip. With a shiver of excitement, I clicked on “accept”. 
Minutes later, I had a chat message. 
"Hi!" 
"Hey!"I typed. 
"What are you up to?"
"Nothing much. Just watching some funny videos." 
"Anything interesting?" 
"Not really."
It seemed that awkward starts were always going to be our thing. We spent the next few hours having a slow and halting conversation. By the end of the night, we had exchanged phone numbers. Over the next few days, we had the occasional, random chat about work, the recent news and even the weather. 
Suddenly, it seemed as though I had a new friend. Someone whom I was spending a great deal of time ‘talking’ to everyday. As the days passed, we shared more and more about ourselves. I was beginning to understand what made Zack click. We even decided to catch a movie or two together after work. 
——————————————-
As the weeks dragged on, our friendship grew. I found myself confiding in him, and in turn, I lent him a listening ear. In the space of 2 and a half months, it felt as though I had known Zack for my whole life. Unknown to me at that time, he was slowly chipping away at the walls I had feverishly build around me. 
Our friendship changed on my last day of work. I had tendered 3 months ago. As I waited for the clock to strike 7, nervousness and excitement coursed through me. I was officially unemployed. I did not know what the future held for me, but I was determined to meet my fate head on. Unbeknownst to me, fate came knocking, in the form of Zack. At exactly 7pm, my phone let out a beep. Eager to get out of the office, I keyed in my password, and my heart leapt. 
"I hope you had a lovely last day. Head down to the pick up point now." 
Grabbing my bag, I tried to made my way out of the office. I was swamped with friends hugging me and promises of outings that may or may not materialise. By the time I left, it was 7.20pm. Quickening my pace, I navigated through the peak hour crowd, desperate to get to the pick up point. When I stepped out of the building, I was greeted by a sight that I somehow knew I would never forget. There, standing in front of me, was Zack. He was dressed in his usual work outfit, minus the tie, and in his hand, were a bouquet of tulips. 
For a moment, everything came to a standstill. The crowd around me ceased to exit. I felt my breath hitch. With a reassuring smile on his face, Zack took the first step forward. Stunned and speechless, I stood numb. 10 sure and steady steps later, he was by my side. I was inhaling the now familiar scent of his aftershave. Later, upon reflection, did I realise that that was the first step forward in our future together. 
Without saying anything, he grabbed my hand, and gently tugged me forward. Still trying to wrap my mind around what was going on, I blankly followed him. He led me through the crowd, into a nearby lift, to where his car was parked. All the while, a silly grin painted my face. I was hyper-aware of his presence, of the warmth of his hand spreading into mine, of how I never wanted to let go. Unfortunately, I had to. How else was I to get into the car?
Once seated snugly in the cool leather seats of Zack’s car, I turned to face him, questions written all over my face. As I opened my mouth to speak, he swiftly placed a silencing finger on them. 
"Sssh. There’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for the past few months."He whispered, his dark eyes hooded and mysterious. 
Then, without any warning, he leaned over, and tenderly kissed me on the lips. The moment our lips met, fireworks exploded. I was giddy with excitement, and yet, I felt a strange sense of peace. As though I had finally found my home. With my eyes shut, I reached up to thread my fingers throw his hair. He gently caressed my check, deepening the kiss. It was a kiss you’d read about in fairy tales. A kiss you’d secretly dream of and yearn for. It was pure magic. 
As he reluctantly broke the kiss, he gathered me into his embrace. I sighed. Utterly content to lay my head against the steady beating of his heart. Deep inside, I knew with clarity that it was beating with love for me. Pressing a kiss against my forehead, he spoke the words that would forever change our lives. 
"Getting to know you over the past 3 months has been nothing short of amazing. Sometimes your understanding of my mood and emotions scare me. I know that you’ve been hurt before, but I promise to heal all those wounds, and take care of the scars. Celine, will you be my girlfriend?" 
"Yes, yes, yes." I squealed, overwhelmed and unable to stop the tears that were gathering in my eyes. 
Words were beyond me. Later, I would tell Zack how he had slowly chipped away at my walls, brought hope and sparkle into my life. How he made me feel appreciated by simply being there. How his sincere actions and stability taught me to trust and love again. 
3 shorts months later, with certainty ringing true in his voice, Zack dropped down on one knee and proposed. 
3 years later, as I lay in a hospital bed, cursing and swearing, with sweat beating down my brows, we welcomed little Max into our already perfect lives. 
————————————
"What are you thinking about" Zack’s husky voice broke through my reverie. 
"Nothing much. I’m just thinking about squishy. We never did figure out what it meant." 
With laughter ringing out, he grabbed my hand, just like he did 5 years ago. And held on tight, just like how he would for the rest of our lives. 
04.13.14 0
Zoom Clearing leftovers for lunch.

Clearing leftovers for lunch.

03.20.14 0
Three
I stared blankly at the intricate lines on the wooden oak table before me. Without warning, the lines started swirling together. It took a few seconds for me to realise that tears had gathered in my eyes. 
I looked up, and there she was. Her blonde hair glowing in the late evening sun. Her hazel brown eyes contained secrets that only the two of us shared. For a moment, everything was right in my world. Smiling, I reached out for her. And just like that, she vanished. 
A memory. That was all that she was now. 
The way I used to run my fingers through her hair. Her sweet smell of strawberry and sunshine. 
The way her lips would pout in order to get her way. The fights so intense that they left us red face. The tears, arguments and pain inflicted on each other. 
The day I asked her to be my future, my destiny. The day I stood before her, legs like jelly, before getting down on one knee. 
That was only four days ago. The sound of Ellie’s laughter as the wind blew, raining golden brown leaves all around us. The last warmth of the days sunshine, gently enveloping us. 
I remember the carefully picked out diamond ring burning a hole in my pocket. I remember leading Ellie to the river bank that lay along our favourite spot in the park. By then my ever perceptive Ellie had picked up on something. Maybe it was in my body language, or the secretive, yet excited, look in my eyes. Or the slight tremors that seem to involuntarily overwhelm me. 
And then, as she splendid sun set across the horizon, I fumbled around in my pocket and dropped down on one knee. 
Before Ellie could squeal her three favourite words (oh my god), the words, that would forever change my life, be it for better or for worst, poured forth from my lips. 
"Ellie, my dear Ellie, will you marry me? Will you be mine?" 
Overcome by emotions, and with happy tears pooling in the depth of her hazel eyes, Ellie said the most wonderful word I had ever heard. 
"Yes."
As I slid the ring onto her finger, I envisioned our future. The cliched white picketed fence. Our children running around the backyard, chasing after their new puppy. Their first day of school. Graduation. Family vacations. 
The next three years, the next thirty years. We were delirious. Madly in love, eager to begin our future together. 
Three minutes. That was all it took to make her mine. For our futures to be forever intertwined. 
But within three seconds. My world came crashing down. 
Three years ago, she was just Ellie.
 
Three days ago, she had been my Ellie. 
Now, she belonged to no one. 
03.12.14 0

Watching Arsenal play is the best medicine when sick. 

Can’t wait for Wembley!

03.08.14 0
The Hardest Step

Tension. The weight of it was bearing down on me. I felt as though an invisible hand had reached out and gripped hold of me. I blinked. Gulped. 

I took another deep breath, willing myself to stay strong. To hold back the dam of tears that was threatening to break forth. 

"Did I ever mean anything to you?" I mumbled softly. 

He could not even look me in the eye. I did not want to look him in the eye, afraid of what I would see there. Awkward silence reigned supreme. Nearby, birds chirped happily, oblivious to my internal pain. The gorgeous surroundings were a juxtaposition to the pain taking place inside of me. Bit by bit, my world was crumbling. 

"I’m sorry." was all he managed to get out. 

I wanted to beg, and plead. Desperately. And yet, something inside me held me back. Deep inside, I knew that this was the end. The end of our extended summer romance. 

We had a whirlwind beginning. To the extent that I can’t pin point the exact moment the both of us became a ‘we’. Our days were filled with laughter and the building of memories. The winter nights no longer long and cold. There were the inevitable frustrating moments, arguments and the clashing of two independent people. Being with you was easy, comfortable. 

Falling in love was forbidden. It was our iron clad unspoken rule. I had my walls. His insurmountable. And yet, his small acts slowly chipped away at the scars on my heart. Soon, I found myself relying on him more than ever. Sometimes, I could not recognise myself. There were times when I looked into his eyes, and managed to convince myself, that I was not alone in breaking the rules. 

Despite our confusion, the words unsaid, we were happy. Content. We were in a foreign country, on exchange. We were on hiatus from our real lives. And there within, lay the root of our problems. 

When we got home, reality was a harsh slap in our faces. We no longer saw each other on a daily basis. We had our family and friends to go back to. We had to pick up, and slot back into our individual lives, as if we had never left. Before meeting, we didn’t even know of each other’s existence. We had different groups of friends, different routes that we were about to partake on. 

I guess we tried to make it work. But life, is not that simple. I became insecure. He had his own demons to face. As the weeks went by, I felt him slipping away. There was nothing I could do. I was scared. I did not want to lose him, and I did not want to get hurt again. I told myself to wait, to give him time. To wait for the school year to end, to save us the heartbreak, the confusion. 

I was too late. 

Without me even noticing it, someone else was furiously chipping away at his walls. He knew that I was there, but he decided to turn to someone else. 

With shaky legs, I stood up. Despite the hurt and the pain, I knew. I knew that I had made the right decision. 

"I can’t be friends with you anymore. Not now…not ever." I said, in a strangely steady voice. 

He did not have to say anything. Deep inside, we knew that this was for the best. I did not want to be the desperate girl who would not let go, let alone be the lingering third party. I knew that he would be all right. It was me, that I had to worry about. I needed the clean break to wipe away the memories, pick up the pieces, and move on. 

As I turned to leave, a lone tear rolled down my sun-kissed cheeks. With my head held high, my gait steady, I took the hardest step I ever had to take. 

I walked away. 

03.08.14 2
Zoom
02.20.14 1507

I actually think we did a pretty decent job, all things considered. 

Just a little puzzled on why Podolski didn’t start.

02.20.14 1

The Italian ref is so fucked up!

02.20.14 1