First loves never really die, do they?
As I write this, I’ve got a playlist of my favorite songs from 2008 to 2017 playing on loop. It’s not on YouTube, no––but it doesn’t have to be. With every song that comes up, I can imagine the opening scene of every music video, the distinct color palette of the album that housed each track. All I really need to hear is the first beat of a song or the first few seconds at most. If I think hard enough, I might even be able to remember the exact order of the tracks on each album.
You know how everyone says K-Pop is infectious? It’s true. Those people who regard it like it’s some kind of epidemic are right to treat it as such. Look, I’m speaking from experience here. K-Pop was my good place. Concerts were a window to nirvana and YouTube videos escapist fodder for a girl like me. I spent a good ten years there, met some of the people I consider to be my greatest loves.
Is this how Lara Jean felt writing to all the boys she loved?
Kwon Jiyong, I’ll be real with you. You almost scared me off that first time. Scratched up and scarred, and eyes lined with kohl, you were hardly the paragon of what I imagined Korean pop would be like. It’s been years but I can’t pinpoint just what it was the drew me in. Was it the fact that you were making your own music when hardly anyone else was? Was it the questionable fashion choices (although let’s be honest, I still find myself raising an eyebrow sometimes)? Was it the heavy side-swept bangs and the fact that you were leading a group of boys into super stardom without knowing it? I don’t know. My guess is as good as yours, Jiyong.
In the end, I’ll always feel like I owe this to you. This being me, I mean. Even if you aren’t the same kid I fell for anymore and I’m not the same bespectacled kid who watched you through a computer screen and 480 pixel resolution (or was it 320?). You’ve grown into your Chanel wardrobe and me into my high school uniform, my college wardrobe, my workwear. We’ve done a lot of growing up, you and me.
And then there was you, Nichkhun. God, you and Jiyong were absolute opposites now that I think about it, but doesn’t every girl have a part of her that longs for a prince? I think I found that in your kind eyes and that smile you bear so readily to everyone. And I mean, your muscles. I loved those. I’m not even gonna deny it, I still do. I’m pretty sure I’d still be rendered a spluttering mess at the sight of you, Khun.
You could still get it tbh. Sweep me off my feet anytime.
Then there’s you and that heart of gold, Choi Minho. Always so thoughtful.
If I have any single regret, it’s that I didn’t see that heart of yours sooner. It’s so huge, how could I have missed it, right?! I fell for you somewhere in between 2010 and 2012, which was a weird time for you and your hair, but not even the yoyo-ing okay-ness of your bangs could distract me from that contagious warmth you had burning in you––and hey, that’s saying a lot. You know I hate bad hair.
Or at least I feel you’d know? Maybe it’s because I loved you the longest, always felt closest to you, like you’re someone I could meet in real life. A guy in school. An officemate at work. A handsome stranger on a GrabShare or something like that. Your height and your face hardly make you a beacon of normalcy but you’ve always been so genuine that I can’t bring myself to think otherwise.
Back then, I was a kid, so I always hoped that by now I’d maybe be introducing you to my parents or something. Or I’d at least know you, or see you more often.
I hear you’re still running from one place to another just to make it to your friends’ shows. It’s you and that golden heart again. Some things really don’t change.
You know, I’ve introduced someone to my parents. It wasn’t too long ago, a few months ago at most. I brought someone, a real, tangible someone, home to my parents. Who would have thought, right? He doesn’t dress like Jiyong or have Khun’s soft eyes or Minho’s competitive flair and kindness, but my mom loves him. Maybe I owe my good taste to the three of you. You’re the closest I had to love before this, so I guess you deserve due credit for any experience I had before the boy I hold hands with now.
I miss you, I do. I miss the fast-paced fangirling and losing my head over everything that had to do with you. But where I am now isn’t half bad. Maybe you could make time for my wedding eventually?
Art Macky Arquilla