During the past two Saturdays, through some stroke of coincidence, or maybe because they were fortuitous days, quite a few weddings were held.
So, for two consecutive Saturdays, I attended weddings of old friends from primary school. One was Jasmine, a dear friend from then to now, another was Iong Ying, a friend whom I kept in touch with intermittently, but he had done a lot trying to keep us all connected.
After all, at this day and age, I guess it's quite rare to still be able to remain connected with friends from primary school! That's even harder than high school! Yet we did, with our teacher Tu Lao Shi (Lao Shi as in "Teacher", Tu as in her family name, although her actual English spelling is Thor, which gives her an even cooler name, Teacher Thor), starting from Friendster groups to Facebook groups to Whatsapp groups, whatever it was, we kept up with times.
It's not that we communicate that much, but the line of communication is still there. No one is lost forever. Perhaps that's the beauty.
The truth is, I've become increasingly fascinated by this connection of ours. 18 years after we have left primary school, all of us 30-year-olds connected by collective memories of ourselves when we were 11, 12-year-olds.
Perhaps there is nostalgia for simpler funner days, perhaps there is a feeling of fondness of seeing how all of us have chosen disparate paths in life. Some married, some single, some corporate, some artistic, some in the country, some out of the country, yet for a few years in our childhood, we all spent everyday together in a tiny little classroom.
I have always been fonder of my primary school days than secondary school. Things were simpler, people were nicer, I was less angry, less cynical, less bitter. Perhaps that is why I connect less with people from secondary school. Perhaps the feeling is mutual, based on my current contrasting relationship with my secondary school and primary school,jeez.
I openly feuded against my old secondary school because they almost jeopardized my film shoot. On the other hand, I remain forever grateful that my primary school had listed me as a notable alumni during their 100th anniversary and invited me to meet up with the kids. Yup, primary school is nicer. :)
This was a conversation from after a wedding, with someone who is skeptical about attending weddings of people he haven't kept in touch for years, it made me thing. This is not an accurate transcript, because I don't have a photographic memory, thus it is dramatized for poetic effect:
Him: I find it odd and awkward to attend wedding dinners of people I have not kept in touch with for years. In truth, we have all drifted apart. Why invite old classmates from a long-ago life?
Me: I too, am always reluctant to attend wedding dinners. Or rather, things generally happen during past weddings of friends. A film shoot, a preparation of film shoot, being in Japan, people assuming that I were still in Japan, being in a film festival etc. I generally have no interest in attending weddings if it's from a Facebook Event invitation. But if I were personally contacted, then there's cause for consideration.
Him: We are no close anymore, or ever, therefore, to me, it's rather odd to attend these things. Life goes on.
Me: (Musing) As much as I build my life in chasing after an unknown future, I often find myself sifting through memories. His wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, we, as primary school classmates, were parts of his childhood memories. There is nothing wrong with him trying to reconnect with his past in such a special day. The day belonged to his, and we are there because we are bridges to more innocent time. There is nostalgia, there is fondness. He is who he is now because of his encounters and interactions with us, the past is bloody annoying, so are memories, but then, they define who we are now. Perhaps that's the beauty of these things. The wait can be insane, but if your presence means something to those who are there, then why not?
So ultimately, it's really about the convalescence of past and present.
I found myself remembering something I posted on this blog in 2013. About someone who was reluctant to attend weddings. It started like this.
The idea of attending a friend's wedding had always been a scary one. They remind him of the passing of time, or his inability to find love.
Yet this was an invitation that he was unable to turn down.
He knew the groom since Standard 1 (they were both seven), at primary school.
He knew the bride since he was in Form 4 (they were both sixteen), at secondary school.
The bride and the groom were high school sweethearts, having been together for eleven years.
Thus, he decided to attend his first wedding of friends, which were seemingly different from the wedding of uncles and aunts in his memories, different from his cousin's weddings, different from the weddings of his parents' friends, or the children of his parents' friends.
When he arrived at the venue of the wedding dinner, he saw a sea of familiar faces, either from primary school or from secondary school.
Happier than he expected himself to be, he said hi to everyone he could recognize, and hi to those he thought he recognized, and hi to those he didn't really know but were either friends of the bride or the groom.
The post went on and on from a supposedly detached, third-person perspective that had probably alienated the majority of its readers... but it ended like this.
A few hours earlier, when he was on his way to the wedding dinner, he recounted the whole thing to the driver (one of the best friends of the bride, and also someone he himself knew since they were both seven).
"The feeling of having people from my past attend my screening is a very strange thing. I think this whole filmmaking part of my life had separated myself from my past, everyone had gone on to live their lives. Mine is one of solitude. To see both of them drive all the way to Kuala Lumpur for my screening, the gratitude I felt was indescribable. I was moved." He said, without irony or sarcasm.
And without noticing, they became part of his life again. An unexpected convalescence of past and present.
A few hours later, "Old Wolf" was the one to give him the ride home. Looking out through the window, the night view of Kuala Lumpur city passed him by, streetlights, buildings, the Petronas Twin Towers.
The idea of attending a friend's wedding had always been a scary one. But somehow, after being to one, for reasons he was unable to comprehend, he felt at peace.