November 21st, 2009 - Jennifer Pun
It’s November 21, 2009 and I am rushing through LAX—it’s the third time in my life I’ve visited the City of Angels. I zig zag past a family pulling large suitcases wrapped in plastic, a mother with a baby strapped to her chest, a group of flight attendants, men in army fatigues, Harrison Ford? (I do a double take, it’s not). I’m nearing the exit, but I still have to find the taxi stand and get to my girlfriend Tricia’s wedding before it starts.
At 33, I am recently divorced, having traded in the suburban life hosting barbeques and tending koi ponds for a downtown Victorian with four roommates and a severely overweight cat; I took up climbing, longboarding and a short stint trying to learn to play the guitar; I got bangs and my nose pierced. The movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story) —about an old man who grows young—had just premiered. I am Asian Ben Button, living life backwards, partying like I am back in college, except now I have disposable income.
The cab pulls up to the entrance of the wedding venue–an atrium with rows of bamboo chairs and deep red roses and a breeze that hints of the Pacific. Tricia floats down the aisle dressed in white with ruby accents. She and I are the same age, both Leos, and yet she is a woman surer of herself than I will ever be. Married, suburban homeowner me is a person I no longer relate to. I am rewinding in time to my early twenties where memories are made with lemon drops and Jell-O shots.
When the ceremony ends, I work my way to my assigned seat. A man sits beside me. He’s wearing a dark navy suit and striped yellow tie and introduces himself as Chris. “Friend of the bride?” I ask. He nods. “Me too,” I say.
I’ll spend the next five years traveling back and forth from Toronto to LA to see Chris. I’ll learn in the process that we hold our pens the same way—like a claw; we both share a perverse love of spreadsheets and have terrible memories. He watches movies in silence while I yell at the TV. Chris never asks me to grow up. He accepts my arrested development. Travel is my number one priority; I respond to the idea of settling down with, “Sometime, maybe.”
Eventually, I will become pregnant. My body will change in preparation for the baby’s arrival while my mind grapples with the knowledge that another life chapter is closing. For the second time, I’ll say, I do, and I’ll move south of the 49th parallel. I’ll give birth to our son. He too will hold his pen like a claw.
It’s summer 2019. We’re at our friend’s wedding in northern Ontario. It’s the first time in months Chris and I have been together sans child. Something clicks and I turn to him and say, “We’ve known each other for nine years?” “Ten,” he says. Time is not on our side. “Our thirties were fun,” I say. He knows me too well—my half-cocked smile and far off stare as I recall our early days of dating with the same fondness I once had for my twenties. “You’re Benjamin Buttoning again,” he says. I’ve lost the nose ring, but I still have the bangs. And I wonder if that feeling of wanting to go backwards will ever pass—of reliving the last decade and thinking those years were the best.
Today, our five-year-old wants to be older. “Six is so far away,” he says. Chris tells him, “You will never be as young as you are right now, so enjoy it.” I glance at our son; our urban family of three; and think: we will never be as young as we are right now. Or right now. Or right now. So, enjoy it.
I’ll try to remember that.
Jennifer Pun is a film and television producer. She holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. In her spare time, she devises zombie apocalypse survival strategies for her family.