**For Tita Girlie. The person who always wanted me and those younger ones dear to her to experience life and learn from it. Happy Birthday!**
He helped me put my baggage in the trunk of the van that day I left for Taiwan. He said he wanted to see me off, but I told him not to because of the fans who will be around. He asked me questions nonstop to which I just answer, “Nae, Oppa. Ahrasso. Kinchanayo” to no end. I know he means well. Part of me wanted to protest, I’m not really a kid to be talked to like that. Part of me understood that he’s probably just having some sort of separation anxiety. Everyone around me was undergoing the same thing actually. When I accepted Hayate and the Taiwan projects, everyone who was anyone thought I had gone mad. Heck, even I had thought I had gone mad. In some moments it felt like my own little act of rebellion, like I was dying inside to be able to prove something to the world. To mark another milestone to this year I turned 20. And I remembered my own Cyworld entry last April, when I thought of how far along I’ve come and how far I still need to be. I guess I’ve been trying to race my own clock and it’s both exhilarating and scary. I’m proud of where I am now. And I know that if I compare who I’ve become to who I was last April, so many things had changed and I have moved maybe a lot of notches my own career-meter.
But still, there was him. And there was me. And there were these miles that will be between the both of us. It is already hard enough that we work out our relationship hidden from the public eye. Sigh.
I still remember when I told him my decision about Hayate, how he gave me that deadly stare, heaved a sigh and grew silent, almost making me feel like he was screaming over a pillow. He heaved too many sighs that night. Only to say, maybe after much careful thinking that he respected my decision. That my career and my future was more important to him, since it was what made me most happy. I have never felt more loved than that. I looked at him and still see worry lines form in his forehead. I wanted to tell him not to worry, but I didn’t, because I too didn’t know where this was all going.
When I heard he was going to be in a drama opposite Geun Young unnie, I wanted to think it was his revenge at me. But I realized we did talk about this long before. He told me he was reviewing the script back in June and was going to make a decision within a few weeks. Geun Young unnie was in the short list of possible other female leads but of course it’s hard to say she will end up being cast. He asked me if it was okay, and I thought it was nice of him to ask. I am scared, a little. But I didn’t tell him that. I was the one who made the first bold step didn’t I? I was the one who put a wedge of a thousand miles.
He gave me a call the moment he touched down and we hung up as the fans started to squeal about his arrival. He’s with me, at least for now. He had called me many times that week to check in on how I was doing. He told me I worry him a lot with the Twitter posts I was doing. And that it will be soon when he will be beside me again. “Shin Hye”, he had said, “you can’t keep being like this, you know? Because darn I will be flying every weekend to you shooting schedule be damned if you keep being homesick.” So, looks like my mom is not the only one anxious.
I am not a little kid. I wanted to hate what they do to me. This being anxious for my sake. Since after all, I accepted this risk so they can stop seeing me as being a kid. I want to grow past being the Shin Hye who is twenty who has grown up. I just want to be Shin Hye. Can’t people see that? I’m not ranting. Because deep inside me, I also know the child still exists and she hasn’t grown up yet, and in many ways not sure if she wants to grow up just yet.
He led me through the fan meeting, my second one with him, could also be my last, depending on what circumstances will dictate. And the fans were all gracious and it overwhelmed me, again. So much, that I cried. I cried because of all the love around me. I cried because for the first time, maybe I accepted that it really is hard to let go of Go Mi Nam, and now with my new project, I really have to bid her farewell. But he was there with me the whole time. Each step he made almost like a confession. Each word he said almost like a request, to those fans who loved us, to take care of me in his stead for the next three months, because only then will he feel at ease. The flowers he picked up on stage to give to me. The song we sang as if to commit to each other. They all looked like fan service to many, when it was not, definitely not when I looked into his eyes. And when he held my hand to lead me backstage, it had meaning. That in the time I will be away from him, while we are in each of our limelight on our career stages, after the last strain of whatever the song will be, he will always pull my hand and take me home.
This morning, it will be a packed schedule as always. I will still be spending the next couple of days with him before he flies back and our time apart begins. Reason and emotion know better to tell me to make the most of it. In a few days, I embark officially on a journey taken alone, but one that I hope will lead me back, bolder, more sure and wiser, into his arms and into the arms of those I love. Outside my hotel window, the sun shines bright. And I know that outside another window in Jamsil, the leaves are starting to fall. Colors are changing to signal a new season. Last Fall, the shades I found were those of lasting friendship. This Fall, the shades I will see will be that of a stronger me.