We met in middle school. I can’t recall the first time we spoke to each other. Or when we found out we were both Khmer. We were part of the handful of mainland Southeast Asians in a sea of Filipinos and East Asians.
We shared one class together in 8th grade — math. Had seats next to each other, but I can’t remember if we chose our seats or if our teacher chose for us. We’d say our “hi’s” and “bye’s,” occasionally speaking about various things before class started. It wasn’t the kind of class to chit chat, especially with our strict teacher.
We would come to share a class again in high school — astronomy. Spending most of the class time talking about Kpop and your trips to KCON and everything else in between. We’d crack each other up about who knows what. Our friendship was good.
At some point during 12th grade, I realized you weren’t coming to school anymore. I thought perhaps you moved, but your younger sister was still coming to school. I would have asked her, but she didn’t know me and I didn’t really know her.
One of your friends was in the same web design class with me. We grouped up with another kid to work on our end of the year project, allowing us all to sit next to each other. I took an opportunity one day to ask about you. He told me you had a brain aneurysm and was recovering. I wasn’t exactly sure what that was at the time, but I knew it was bad. And I knew we would never see each other again.
I wondered from time to time what your life would have been like if it didn’t happen. Wondered what college you would have went to. What kind of career you’d pursue.
Our friendship was brief, but memories are forever. I remember you smiling all the time, your energy, your jokes, your Kpop obsession. You were the kind of friend I would have loved growing up with. It was our shared cultural identity that brought us together. It was the slow, mundane moments in school that brought us closer. I enjoyed every moment.
I hope you’re doing well and that life hasn’t been too hard on you.
Maybe someday, somehow, we can see each other again.