K: an intellectual equal.

I want to write, at long last, about K.

I haven’t used people’s initials in my narratives for a long time, haven’t I? I’ve noticed this too. I thought I would make an exception for him because that’s what he is and so strong is his presence in being one – an individual.

Months ago, when this friendship circle was forged thanks to our two-week introductory course, I was asked twice by two fellow team members – both females, naturally – on my ‘ideal type.’ “What’s yours?” They’d asked with a curious glimmer on their faces. My answer was an honest one – none. It’s simply never crossed my mind.

These days though, I keep recalling that question …and their follow-up question that was subsequently asked.

“What about K?”

I remember my reply to this: immediately, I’d laughed out loud, obviously amused. “I really like him,” I remember admitting this in both instances, “Because he’s fantastic and a great person. But it’s platonic between us.” 

Worry not – it’s still platonic between us. In fact, plot twist: he’s practically engaged, probably married in two years.

The reason I want to write about him is because I also recall the answer to another question I was asked about earlier this year: what is it that I look for in a partner? I remember staying silent for long minutes, surprised again. I’d never thought of this. “An intellectual equal,” I’d finally responded when pressed for an answer, “Someone who gets me up here.” I pointed to the top of my head; my brain. “Because I think the most attractive part of me is my mind. I’m all about conversations and perspectives – you need to sit down with me, like this, to really get to know me. So I’d like an intellectual equal.”

Now here we are, five months later, and here’s what I think when I think of K: oh my goodness, an intellectual equal – they exist. Because K – this is the reason and significance of his presence in my life, I think. To prove to me that such a person does exist; someone who not only gets me in the sense of what goes on where it matters most for me, but also one who enters into our friendship space, always, with a pair of nonjudgmental, patient ears; he’s out to challenge, never to belittle.

I think of him as my closest friend here in Miri, someone with whom I’ve bounced ideas and opinions back-and-forth on just about everything under the sun. Mostly work-related, of course, but also on the most random topics such as the one we texted back-and-forth this evening on validity of statistical representations of violent deaths over the course of two centuries; or even lighter materials like pop culture. A recent example would be Star Trek from last Saturday night when the both of us went to watch the latest installment together. We’d also bumped into a colleague-friend who had a genuinely shocked look on his face as he asked, “Just the two of you – alone?” And K replied, with his usual annoyingly too-smooth tone, “Yup. Dating.” I laughed and made you’re-in-on-our-secret facial expression, just to mess up with our friend even more.

When I think of K, I think: I was not wrong in not settling.

By that I mean, not settling when it comes to relationships – both with friendships through the years and any potential romantic love. I’m glad I never settled by caving in to societal or peer pressure, thinking a guy who actually likes me is as far as I’ll ever get. Because now I know better and with certainty – it’s not true. Because here’s a guy, a person, who once said straight-up to my face, “No. I do not think you’re work,” in answer to my question about always coming off as difficult. Here’s a friend who, nearly two months ago now, texted me separately after I’d caused tension in our group thread, “I don’t know how others feel on this moving forward, but you can always text me. If my usual delayed replies are fine with you, that is.”

When I think of K, I think: an intellectual equal – it is him. They exist!

I now believe they exist because he exists. I mean this in a non-romantic sense though by now, I don’t care if I’m misunderstood. Our friendship and his presence in my life at this point in time and space, this phase of life – not insignificant. I enjoy hanging out with him – which I never get to do often because he’s amazingly occupied – throwing ideas and life philosophies back-and-forth, challenging each other’s perspectives every time. I enjoy sharing articles and reading materials with him because guess what – he’s actually a reader with several common subscriptions between us. I enjoy revisiting my good ol’ days in Philly and especially, Stanford, because he harbors a Harvard dream which I love to set aflame. “If I made it to Stanford,” I’ve told him this several times by now, “There’s no saying Harvard is impossible for you.”

I love the friendship that we have because all these years of talking about a guy who is ‘on my team’ and ‘gets me’ especially up here – my mind – while never once perceiving me as ‘work’ or ‘too much’ as well as understand the need for alone time and individuality and personal growth spaces; I’ve officially debunked a myth. An intellectual equal exists.

When I think of K, I think: I was not wrong in not settling.

Back then, I didn’t. Now that I know better and with certainty – I damn well won’t.

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