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27102023 - friendships, play, and love

26012024: i have kept this in my notes for far too long. i’ve been adding paragraphs on/off since october of 2023! but today, i am full sending this into the void. thanks for reading and i always hope that my silly writing can resonate with you.


i got very carried away with this piece, so i’d like to provide an abstract if you so desire to only understand the general gist of this.


on friendships;

we wished on pennies and threw them into the new york subway water. i pine harder than i ever had before, squeezing my eyes shut and focusing on the same sentence over and over. the mental image of writing lines on blackboards of my wish is sharp and i do not let it slip by me. one by one, we flip our coins into the murky puddle and they all make their way inbetween the tracks with the exception of mine, which lands on its edge and rolls out of the shallow basin. the reflection of the dirty copper mocks me and the fountain penny deity sneers at the absurdity of my wish.

i had thought it was fair, honourable even, to ask for my current best friends to forever be my best friends. for moments like these where my heart swelled from feeling lucky to have them in my life and when i could not imagine how life could get better. i am constantly surrounded by people i love and it is returned exponentially in the depths of my days, ebbs and flows of utter fortune seem to greet me at every corner. but it is fragile as the thought of time, of scarcity of these golden days, creep in the back of my mind. when does the illusion break, and why will it always be the result of my own shortcomings?

my friends always speak of dreams that involve us living in the same curated neighbourhoods. in rebuttal, my mind keeps returning to: will our goals even be aligned then? there are no cities nor townships that cater to all of our desires.  however, there exists a way around the geographical distance that grows ever-so slowly amongst my best friends. to be a beacon! a lighthouse! a place of warmth and familiarity no matter where you reside! the beauty of my friendships is that they transcend borders and although physical presence is a gift, it’s not necessary for the continued sharing of our lives. we may not talk for months but then we will see each other and it is as though we have never been apart. we go out of our way to be with one another, no matter where we are - and this is what defines Great Friendships to me.

a friendship that diminishes is a two-way street. if a friendship that matters to me now falls apart, it is because i (and not them) did not put the effort into maintaining it. i believe this because 1. all my friends are the Best and 2. energy doesn’t have to be equally reciprocated into perpetuity for a friendship to continue on and 3. i have the capability - nay, the utmost passion -  for caring for others.

in my time off, i spent a lot of time hopping to different cities where i had no business being in other than staying with friends. i sat in johnny’s apartment in brooklyn reading in his living room for a week. i cleaned anson and joss’s apartment in waterloo and made them my favourite beef noodle soup. i spent a day eating free grapes from wholefoods and playing pokemon with michael in toronto. i imagine a friendship line plot that increases over time, plateaus, but never decreases. every following moment spent together brings the x-value higher and every moment apart remains constant. it’s speed-running emotional connection, treasuring time spent together while always looking forward to the next time instead of letting it falter off. but moreso it is that my friends and i are beacons. we bring each other together! infinite friendships are about making ourselves available to other people throughout the progression of time. we may not talk they always feel comfortable calling me out of the blue and i never question picking up the phone.

i grabbed coffee with morgan’s dad in kingston. it is my absolute delight to meet my best friend’s parents because it just lets me absorb how they became the people they are. a lot of my friends are unlike their parents but there are tiny attributes and behaviours they adopt from them, or emotional resilience easily pinpointed as a result of growing up in certain environments. i wrote about anson and her family before here, and meeting morgan’s dad (who is arguably one of my closest friends of All Time) was a ride in itself. i asked him about the finitude of friendships and he took my question as it was, “friends will always change overtime because life demands different people as we grow.”

fair enough! but i refuse to believe this. if i agree, i accept that my friendships have an end and it is a self-fulfilling prophecy from hence forth. to this, i ask: how do i ensure that the people i care about now always know i care about them? how can i do everything in my ability to make sure that my bonds are lifelong?

my best friends are people with dreams i want to see come to fruition and that is the bond that permanently etches us together. even if we slowly stop talking, there is not a single world where i do not root for them. i make this intentionally known in every hour, in the way i treasure time together, and in carving out my life to be with others. this is my world of infinite love for my friends and there is no other way i’d like it.


i had somewhat of an out-of-body experience in the presence of old classmates who can only be described as cynical. it was as if my light was diminished and my radiance plunged into oblivion. in candid conversation, it seemed every remark was meant to put me down and for the first time in a long while, i felt a rage cascade through my body. i let the heat exhale in the next instance and with it, my soul hovered above me and i saw an arielle that was not me. it was an arielle of putting up with snideness, an arielle that begged to be liked by everybody, and the ghastly remains of an arielle that knew she was underappreciated. i grabbed the latter back down and we were back in my physical form, taking another breath and letting another moment pass.

that was not myself, i thought, and i begun my recollection of times where i felt most correct. i feel most like arielle in times of joy and although i derive joy from most mundane aspects of my life, i especially feel it while spending time basking in other’s lights. this cathartic reentrance of my soul spawned a newfound appreciation of how special my nuclear friendships were, and spotlighted how terrible spending time with the wrong people could feel. time with my best friends, even those who i do not talk to on the daily, are full of remarkable emotions. we share moments of genuine understanding, thoughtful quips, gentleness. our space feels open and it is kinder than anything i have known. i feel most like myself in these bursts of gratitude in the midst of our sharing of views, or when i scatter things in my apple notes to look back on, or even simply when we share smiles and express how wonderful it is to be with others who inspires us to be better. this is the definition of my purest form of friendship: I Am Unforgivably Myself and there is no doubt that i am so, very, deeply loved and appreciated for it.

it is a pity that this feeling is much more rarer than one may initially theorize, but there is a noble artform hidden in curating these moments with strangers waiting to be heard, befriended. similar to my love, there is no shortage of kindness and vulnerability i can present to the world and an abundance of my lifespan left!

on play;

there are brief moments i share with others where our minds are intertwined and it is so physically visceral that i must stop to acknowledge the tenderness. they are in my head and it is warm, gentle, and it is in these moments where my guard was subconsciously lowered i feel more at ease than ever before. it disappears in the next instance, dispersing through and out of my body and i ache for it to accumulate together once more, to not leave my side and to forever engulf me in its homeliness. these are the moments i realize that beyond love, beyond friendships, there is merit to simply working with others in tandem.

sometimes they are small gestures; i stirred a pot of stew and took a taste when a friend put the exact seasoning i was thinking of into my hand. she had thought i would need it and the dinners we throw together taste exactly how they should. my ex lover would habitually organize my workspace, my mind, and generally the most important aspects of my life, all before the thought even reached me. that is the easiest explanation for why the home we built together felt so right even when we were wrong for each other.

lately, i’ve been thinking about this on a more grandiose scale: a partnership working in pursuit of a shared mission with the implicit intimacy that comes with sharing a mind. i always thought the notion of a “life co-founder” was some lame tech term that people used in place of a romantic relationship, but i’m beginning to see this a lot differently. there are people that are not my lovers but share the same love as me for abstract notions. at the end of everything, we desire happiness but we achieve it in unique ways and that is what makes every person so special. there is a lot of grey area/overlap between this and general friendship, and it always feels like it teeters between something more but the important distinction is that the shared partnership is implicitly too great to ever consider anything beyond that. this may be the one time that i am grateful for only being attracted to men because it means that most of my at-play, creative partners are women simply due to the fact that it is easier to distinct this feeling away from romance.

what is most interesting to me about these forms of partners is the abstractness of the shared goal. sometimes it can be as concrete as starting a tangible project together, tinkering on hobbies, but it can also be general life-setting. the way i think about this is seeking the same type of happiness and this usually arises from sharing very similar values. unbeknownst to me, what i wrote in twentyone.html serves greatly as my north star on how i see the world and, in my pursuit to find more of these partners, i find myself gravitating towards others who think similarly. here is my general criterion for someone who can encompass these traits.

  1. they share the same values as me (as linked above) but they may have different means of getting there
  2. we are open and earnest with one another. there are no thoughts too silly nor do we beat around the bush when shutting things down.
  3. and the kicker: the goal that we share outweighs the friendship itself. we are both willing to die on the hill of achieving this goal even if it means destroying something wonderful, and this is wonderful in itself.

i’m yearning to find this in an employment setting. the founder of my organization does a great job of telling its founding story; he wanted to create a professional home for every person he recruited in its early days. a tale as old as time to bring together a bunch of earnest, climate nerds in a room and duke out a strategy on a whiteboard. i’m working on building up the expertise to do this, but it is a rightfully-so slow process that requires time beyond all else. i’m not quite at this calibre yet, but there is only room to gain, and not lose, with coworkers like the ones i have now - even when i’m up against the greatest feeling of imposter syndrome i have ever experienced.

truthfully, it feels engrained in existence to be guarded against one another despite the rational sense of cooperation and the simple but effective virtue of Being Kind. the world can be cruel, but i have seen its beauty more times than it has punished me. however, there is no equilibrium that must be kept, so i put my heart on a plate and let it grow despite a few hiccups. yet, point two (2) above is beginning to fight back at me in my employment era. im seeking to curate spaces where everyone overcomes the natural feeling of not wanting to be wrong. when someone stumbles, be there to nonchalantly help them up without a second thought and proceed onwards. i must keep falling and tune myself to be okay with others watching me tear my knees and elbows apart. in the pursuit of playmates, there is nothing more rewarding than lack of fear.

on love;

it seems to be true that i have infinite love to share. it is not a very well kept secret that i am seeing someone wonderful, an old academic teammate of mine, but it’s strange! in the years before we started officially dating, it was so easy for me to casually drop that i loved him. i dug deep into the archives and i had told him i loved him more than a dozen times even when we were both in other committed relationships and did not have feelings beyond our brief, platonic encounters. that was (and still is) my nature: i can easily love parts of people and it is not difficult for me to express these feelings.

since we’ve officially started dating, i have not said it again because it feels more serious. but if anything, i feel the same love i had for him before but now it’s much more stronger, in more plentiful ways, across dimensions that unlock with every day that we spend together. i’ve been thinking a lot about the meaning of the word “love” - do i give it up too easily? do i really mean it when i tell my casual friends i love them? are there distinctions in my love? have i devalued the L-word, and if so, how can i now express “real love” to my partner(s)* when it’s arbitrarily time to do so?

*partners can be defined as my most inner circle; not limited to my romantic partner but also those who i am in play with, my best friends, etc.

generally, i’ve been thinking about my own definition of romantic love. as the days get colder, it feels like it’s much easier to fall into the coziness of someone else. the new relationships around me have been getting much more serious and “love” is being thrown everywhere! i’ve asked the people around me about what prompted their expression. first relationships and acknowledgement of romance from the get-go makes initial “love” a bit easier. “it’s a feeling that you can just… tell! it feels like you can’t hold it in; you need to express it to them and there’s just no stopping it!” and to that i replied, “but what about that person made it feel different from expressing love to someone else?” and that is a bit harder to pinpoint.

and there is no way to narrow down the reasons of telling someone you love them, no matter what kind of love it may be. it is already known before the verbal admittance and that is why it feels so easy and right. i said i loved him when he ran next to my bixi for six whole kilometres at 3am because i refused to pay for a $30 uber home, and it was true! i watched him by my side and i felt an overwhelming urge to blurt it out but it was hazy; did i love him in the way that i wanted to spend the rest of my intimate days with him, or did i love him in the way that i loved the moments we shared together, regardless of a romantic connotation? the resulting problem that has lingered in my head is the distinction of saying the platonic love i so easily share with others and the big elephant of admitting a unique, romantic love i may or may not have for my boyfriend. after a series of dreams and late night deliberations, i think i finally put my own definition of the different loves into words.

on general love:

i have come to realize that even though i hastily hand out L-bombs, they do not lose their meaning to me. i really do mean it when i say i love people, when i love something, & when i simply just love! in my mind, love is admiration, pride in else; it is my heart swelling at the eruption of an idea, then it verbalizes and depletes from my love-bank where my little L-workers duplicate at rates beyond my imagination.

now i think about how i can express deeper love through my actions. beyond verbal admiration, i will go out of my way to be with the loved, to allow them to occupy a grand percentage of my brain storage and for me to be perfectly content of letting them linger in my life for however long they are deeply loved for.

after loving so many people i’ve come across in my life, i find myself thinking about the face hunter from avatar the last airbender. every weary traveller who stumbled upon the cave and made direct interaction with the creature had their face features stolen for the rest of their lives. this is a gross exaggeration of a metaphor i am trying to convey; i adopt the attributes of the people i care most about into my own being until it becomes homogeneous with the rest of me. i fall in love with them and this love instinctively brings it as close as possible to me until it is me. this can be disastrous but so far, i just love who i am becoming because i have been so greatly shaped by people i love! this is general love to me - a feeling of submission to greatness i find in my life.

on romantic love:

romantic love is the feeling of utmost correctness when we are together. it is apparent when we talk together about anything, when our hands feel like they are perfectly made for each other, when we sleep beside each other, we never stir but we always wake together. it’s the feeling of comfort. it’s the confidence of our mutual acknowledgement of our luck & pride of one another, and the full trust that this feeling has no finitude. it is absolute security of knowing we can work through anything together.

i do believe in soulmates as evidenced in my friendships and in my playful partnerships of building companies/riffing off idealisms in life. there is no doubt that there are also multiple soulmates one can have in romantic relationships. each one of them are special, but ultimately the goal of romantic love (for me!) is to build a life together for our eternity. people can hit all of the criterion, even the mind bending compassion that consumes one’s mind without realizing, and still not be the right person for you simply because they Do Not Want To Be. and i’ve come to realize that this is OK. it is a little sad but what makes these relationships so wonderful is that they come and go. you become a tad bit wiser on how you go about treating others (and become steadfast on how you want to be treated)!

michael demo’d the work he’s been painstakingly crafting for the past few weeks to me and i felt the same pride & joy i do for all of my creative, clever, hardworking friends when they finish a project. it is a momentous eruption of cheers! i will root for you to the day i perish! then i felt the additional caveat of, “i am so lucky that my boyfriend is someone who is capable of doing great work he genuinely cares about. i cannot wait to build a life together,” and this overlaps into partnership territory (shared goals) in the context of romance (i want a family with him so badly it drives me insane sometimes lol).

this is the beginning of yet another grand love story for me and it just feels more intense from the get-go in all aspects. we are talking about topics i never discussed with my previous lovers, we have mutual alignment on short-term and long-term goals, we are openly expressive about our feelings and intentions and it just feels too easy sometimes. but love? love comes from him holding my hand to his heart when we walk beside each other. it stems from gratitude of him buying $4 apples for me to rate. its rooted in the security from the nature of his existence as he grows and proves himself capable, repeatedly and in every aspect of our shared life.

simply put: yes, i think i feel love differently from the love i’ve felt for him over the years. it grows tangentially alongside the platonic love i share for the world and it is unique to him, and only him. there are no percentages or perfect ratios. it constantly changes in the moments we share and it is everything a girl like me could ask for.

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