I went to Toronto last spring for two reasons: the first was to attend an open house for a university I was considering attending; the other was to say hello to an ex-boyfriend, the only ex-boyfriend I had at the time.
Connor and I matched on Tinder a year ago when I was looking for a hook-up while on vacation in Toronto (although I never met anyone who would have sex with me until I visited New York this year). He was a shy Taiwanese-Jamaican boy whose parents moved to Canada to provide their future family a better life. With the exception of being exceptionally stupid, Connor was the stereotypical child of Asian immigrants (at least those that I know)—he burned his free time volunteering at an elderly home, never stayed out of the house past sunset, and took everything for granted. He was the first boy I ever dated, as well as the first boy I ever kissed. Although we never went on a second date because I wasn’t sure how I felt about him when he asked for one, we continued to converse online, even when I went back to the Philippines and was 12 timezones away.
Eventually, he asked me, “are you my boyfriend?” to which I replied, “if you want me to be.” And just like that, at 2am in my tiny bedroom in a small city in the Philippines, in front of the built-in webcam of my five-year-old computer, I found myself locked into my first relationship. I ended it a month later, specifically and by accident, on the day before Adele surprised the world by releasing Hello on Youtube. I had to end it because I didn’t want to be in a relationship with someone I could only talk to at odd hours on Skype. I also didn’t appreciate that he couldn’t understand how difficult it was to visit Toronto all the way from where I was.
As soon as I found out that I was going to visit the States this year, I booked my week-long side trip to Toronto for the aforementioned reasons. I wanted closure with Connor; I owed it to him to give a proper goodbye because despite never feeling anything real for him, he was and always will be my first boyfriend.
When I broke the news to him, I was surprised that he wasn’t as excited as I thought he would be. I eventually found out that he thought that I was moving there, not visiting for a week. He was being difficult with scheduling our reunion. He kept on insisting that I meet him on the day I was supposed to go to the university until I put my foot down and told him that I was flying all the way there to see him again; the least he could do was to make time to see me.
We were to meet at 3pm in a seniors’ rec center in Markham, a suburb that wasn’t serviced by the Toronto subway, which was my only way of getting around the city. I wanted to meet somewhere downtown because a) I knew my way around it, and b) I couldn’t figure out how to commute to Markham. I still agreed because I remembered that he had epilepsy, and that going downtown with all that stimuli, with just his service dog to accompany him, might actually kill him.
When the day came, I kept myself busy in the morning by brunching at St. Lawrence Market and by shoe-shopping afterwards at the Eaton Centre because I’m not the kind of woman who sits at home waiting for a man. Having no local phone number, I had to hop from Starbucks to Starbucks for free WiFi, since Facebook was my only way to communicate with Connor. At around 1pm, grabbing my third cold brew for the day to brave looking for a second pair of Stan Smiths, I received a message from Connor, telling me, “come here now.” I sought an explanation as to why he was forcing me to come and meet him two hours early. He said that his mom was acting up and wanted him to do something for her. I let out a loud sigh, imagining my shoes being taken away from my hands, and tell him that I’ll be there in an hour, since I was coming from way downtown.
A subway and an Uber later, I was in a quiet gymnasium-library combo that was occupied by bald Asian men in their 70s, disturbing the tranquil silence with their occasional outbursts in Mandarin over chessboards and bingo cards. I sat quietly in one corner where there are people my age busy reading from their iPads and heavy textbooks. I whispered a short prayer of gratitude when I found out that there was free WiFi.
My Facebook inbox was flooded with messages from Connor. Somehow, he was annoyed that my commute would take an hour, even though that was the standard time for any person to get to Markham from downtown Toronto. He also sent his ramblings, saying that maybe we should reschedule, but eventually settling on meeting me at 3pm, as originally planned. I suddenly become an amalgam of annoyance, hatred, and fury. I can’t believe that I let a boy cut off my shoe shopping and that the same boy was making me wait a whole hour to see him.
An hour later, I finished the book I bought for passing time on the subway, but Connor was nowhere to be found. He hadn’t left any messages for me, but I pulled a Chuck Bass and sent to him, “at 3:31, I’m closing my heart to you forever.” That would be the last 30 minutes I would spend on him. After flying all the way to Toronto and going through the trouble of getting to that fucking rec center in a predominantly Asian suburb, those 30 minutes were way beyond what he deserved. The only thing that kept me from going was the thought of the day going to a complete waste.
“Fuck you, Connor Lue Tam,” were my last words to him. I wanted to cry, but I wasn’t about to because my setting wasn’t dramatic enough. Instead, a petty revenge scheme popped in my head: I was going to go out with as many boys as I could that week, and Connor was going to know that he could no longer hurt me.