October 16, 2022
YARL WAS PACKED even though it was before nine; it’s a Sri Lankan place in Taman Tun, a bougie neighborhood in Kuala Lumpur. It was A’s first time here, so he asked me for suggestions. I’m getting the idiyappam set, I told him, partly because it’s gluten free. My doctor has recommended I cut out gluten, dairy and caffeine to manage my PCOS, and it’s mostly fine, but it meant I couldn’t order the puttu, which is made with wheat flour, according to Google. The Bru coffee and all the teas were also sadly off-limits.
We had a leisurely breakfast before going swimming at A’s apartment. I had suggested swimming and then breakfast, but he said it would be too cold. The pool is a long thin tongue of water that sits under the apartment’s gym. People on the treadmills could watch me flail as I freestyled. We swam two laps at a time, taking breaks to chat, with an interlude in the jacuzzi with its apathetic jets.
A. told me about his dating life and I asked him if he’s a serial monogamist. Not really, he said, but he has wanted a long term relationship for the last few years. I told him I’d met my boyfriend of five months during a time when I was genuinely happy to be alone, and he agreed that might be the trick.
“Look at you, a Cancer getting into my feelings,” he said “And we’re in the water. Oh my god!”
“A Scorpio and a Cancer!”
After a few more laps, we called it a day. A. offered to drive me home. I’ll get a Grab (ride share), I said, I live nearby.
“Grab’s ridiculous these days and the economy sucks,” he replied.
Can’t argue with that.
On our way out, he spotted a purse someone had left on their car in the parking lot. He looked inside to try to find the owner’s number. There was a passport, but no business card, and the building security office was closed. He ended up leaving a note with his number, saying he’d found the purse on the car.
Later in the evening, I got ready to leave for my boyfriend’s place. He’d said, see you around 7? But I will definitely be late. The fare on Grab was predictably high, but I managed to get a cheaper fare on InDriver. You can save up to ten ringgit using InDriver when Grab is high, but the only snag is you have to pay in cash. I only got to his place at 7.40 p.m.
I made broccoli soup and he made pasta for dinner. His brother came over and had dinner with us, complimenting the soup but ragging on the pasta, as is his custom.
A big part of why I’d come was to watch football with my boyfriend. Something that I would rather not do (and told him so), but he said he would really like me to. So here I was, sitting next to him while Real Madrid and Barcelona played. The TV sits under a big oil painting of red flowers that look like lollipops with black holes for centers. It, like all the furniture in the apartment, belongs to the landlord and is a little janky. Hopefully, my boyfriend will soon move closer to me.
“This is how poor people watch football, babe,” he said as he searched for a livestream for the match online. He found one where the commentary was in Arabic.
I spent most of the match scrolling on Twitter and also writing about my day, while glancing up at the screen from time to time. I also read a New York Times article about the life and death of Daniel Auster, the son of Paul Auster and Lydia Davis. The fact that Paul Auster and his current wife, Siri Hustvedt have fictionalised Daniel’s struggles with addiction, while also leaving him out of Auster’s memoir, icks me out. Something about the power dynamics of a parent using their child for material feels wrong. I couldn’t help but think of the Lydia Davis story “The Sock”, about a woman recounting an unpleasant visit from her ex-husband and his new wife.
At the end of the night, Real Madrid won 3–1 and my boyfriend was thrilled. He called his sister, who is a Barcelona fan, to gloat. I took a shower and we went to bed. In the dark, he told me it meant a lot that I spent time with him while he watched football. I felt touched by this and drifted off to sleep.
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