How it is: Chapter 23

“Hey, Val, do you have a moment?” Tarou noticed the Singaporean girl walking down the street and ran up to her. “Hi, Tarou. Actually, I needed to talk to you too.” She sighed. “Can we maybe go somewhere… more private?” The model suggested. “Yeah, that’s actually better for what I need to say too.” At that remark, Tarou could feel a creeping sense of discomfort boiling in his stomach. Was Valerie going to confess to him? Meanwhile, the pastry chef already could tell from the model’s facial expressions that Timmy did tell him; he most likely assumed that she was going to tell him about her feelings. But that could not be any further from what she was going to do in reality. After making their way into a nearby building, the two looked at each other. It was an intense silence. “So do you want to go first?” She gestured to him. “Nah, you look like you have something to say, and that you’ve thought about it for a while. Please tell me.” Tarou insisted. He wanted her to confess first so that he could at least hear her out. “So for a long time, I had a crush on you. Since high school, honestly. But after everything we have been through, I don’t have any romantic feelings for you anymore. So I just wanted to let you know that I still value you as a friend, but I feel like we are better off staying friends, and nothing more.” The model was dumbstruck. Save for the first sentence, that was not what he was expecting the pastry chef to say. “What did you have to say?” She looked at him expectantly. Truth be told, she was expecting him to reject her as well, so Valerie was relieved that they could meet a mutual agreement on this.

“Well, I was basically going to say that we should stay friends, and that Timmy told me about how you felt about me. But now I’m curious, what’s with the sudden change of heart?” “Well, I thought about it. A lot. And I even talked about it with chef, and she told me that I need to be blunt and think not about the emotional aspect of it, but rather, how this would affect us as friends. And the more I thought about it that way, the less I found myself attracted to you romantically.” She shrugged. “I see… well, I’m just glad we were able to sort out this awkwardness.” Tarou chuckled nervously. Despite everything, it still felt a little weird. “Look, Tarou, I think of you and Timmy as goofy brothers. You guys are two of my closest friends, and sometimes, that closeness can be a weakness for me. It makes the little things we do and say affect me on a much bigger scale.” She confessed. “But at the same time, it’s all in perspective. I feel like if you guys don’t see it that way, then I have no reason to either. We can be close without being so greatly affected by each other.” “Yeah, we can. And we will.” Tarou smiled in agreement. The two hugged it out and walked out. “So where were you heading?” “I was going to a study session.” Valerie sighed. Finals were coming up, and especially with all of the recent events, she needed to catch up on her studies. “Oh, don’t be late! Run! Run!” Tarou ushered her away. “Okay, I’m running!” She laughed, darting off.

“How did it go?” It was just a couple hours later, and Tarou was meeting up with Timmy for lunch. “It went well. We talked it out, and she was the one who told me that she was not interested in being in a relationship anymore.” He pointed out, much to the surprise of Timmy. “Wait, really?” He could not believe what he was hearing. “Yeah. She admitted she had feelings, but after thinking it over, she decided against acting on them because she did not want to affect our friendship.” Timmy had to give Valerie a lot of credit for that sort of maturity. Yeah, that was the reason why he fell for her to begin with, and hearing that made it harder for him to accept that they could not be together, but he had to respect their friendship before trying to compromise anything any further on his part. “You! You little motherfucker! How dare you bully our precious Tarou!” The two boys were startled to see an enraged Enya, Melissa, and Sarah storm up to their table. “You saw what I did to that table! And I can do much worse, you little bitch-”

“So it’s okay not to hate him anymore?” Melissa, frowning, sighed. She was hoping to snap somebody’s neck today. “Wait, I thought you said that you told all of your friends!” Timmy glared at Tarou. “Oh, I meant as in the people I was on board with.” He looked back at his friend before pulling him into a close huddle. “Plus, would you really consider those three my friends? They’re terrifying!” He noted in a hushed whisper before turning around to look at the disgruntled Melissa, who was being comforted by Enya and Sarah. “It’s okay, we can go to the gym and rent a punching bag.” Sarah suggested. Tarou smirked. “Yeah, so the two of us made up. The three of you are more than welcomed to sit and eat with us though.” The model offered. “Well, let me think about it…. fuck yeah, we’re sitting with you!” Enya laughed, as the three grabbed chairs and placed their bags down. It felt a bit weird for Timmy at first, being so close to people who previously wanted to slaughter him. “So, Tarou, what are your plans for the summer?” Enya looked at him, eagerly. “I’m going to be modeling in Japan.” He smiled. “OMG! I’m going back to Korea for the summer! You better visit me! I mean, either way, I’m definitely going to visit you!” She squealed excitedly. “Wait, no fair! We’re both going to visit you too, Tarou!” Sarah and Melissa chimed in. Timmy tried not to laugh as Tarou fought to hide his horrified expression. “Uh…. sure?” He shrugged. “Yay!” They all cheered.

“You really need to tell them that you’re not into any of them, or else they’ll continue to pester you.” Timmy frowned. “Yeah, but Mel scares the shit out of me. She broke a table in half with her foot. That’s just one foot. Imagine what she can do with two and two hands. I doubt my spine would even be in two pieces after I reject her feelings.” He shuddered. Sadly, Tarou had a point. “Well, I’m sure it will work itself out. Maybe?” “Honestly, I’ve just come to live with it. It’s not the worst thing, having your own fan club. Honestly, it’s funny.” He chuckled, trying to ignore the awkward moments where the three girls would make him greatly uncomfortable with their remarks and advances. “Well, whatever floats your boat, I guess.” Timmy shrugged. The two laughed as they finally walked back to their dorm. Finals were coming up, and it felt like this semester went by too quickly. But at least they were able to finish the year with their friendship still intact. “It’s really been a crazy first year. Hopefully, it’ll get better next year, right?” Timmy chuckled. “Better as in easier, or less drama?” Tarou snorted. “Hopefully both.” The computer engineer groaned. “At least your major will get you a high-paying job.” The model pointed out. “Well, if you become a supermodel, then same applies for you too, you know?” The Taiwanese boy smirked. “Let’s see how this first international gig goes, okay? I’m not going to rush into any conclusions, especially when modeling is just a side hobby to make money.” The Japanese male laughed. Although truth be told, he was excited to be going to Japan for the summer. This was going to be a whole new adventure for him.

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Magical

She always wanted to have magical powers. To be able to help others and be a modern day superhero, she obsessively wished for that to happen. The beauty and grace that these magical girls in the cartoons exceeded, she was enamored. To save the day and let love conquer all, if she could do that, then she could have given up everything. That was, until recently. Since when did being a magical girl involve killing others? Murder? Death? Corruption? And how about consequences? Why did being a superhero come with such dire costs? Yes, reality did rear its hideous head upon her beloved childhood dream, but the girl tried to focus on what appealed to her about the genre. How the output outweighed the costs and sacrifices. How saving the day was more important than teenaged angst and drama. Looking at the small creature before her, she was hesitant. The opportunity to realize her childhood dream was just an answer away. But knowing what she did now, she knew that this door, closing would not be the end of her world. By turning her back away from it now, she would be keeping her dream alive.

rejection: realization 32

Recently, I applied to be a part of the Marriott Voyager Program; fun fact, they rejected me last semester. And even more fun, they rejected me this semester, this time, without even giving me a chance to interview. Rejection is like a punch to the gut. It takes the wind out of you for a good amount of time. And naturally, it’s hard not to think of it as a personal attack on your qualifications, capabilities, and your confidence. The human ego is probably the biggest enemy to rejection. We naturally lose a lot of pride in ourselves when we feel like others do not value us as much as we do. Our default to rejection is assuming that we are not good enough or that the interviewers felt that way about us. But that is not always the case. In fact, never take rejection that way. It will only hurt you more, even if that is really the case.

How I started to see rejection is more of a forked road opportunity. On one side, we have a chance to reflect on why we were rejected and how we can aspire to gaining the qualities we lacked. I could reflect on how I did not get a managerial position and what I can do to become better fit for that role. I know I am not emotionally mature enough to be a manager, because of how young I am, and that the only way for me to become a better manager is to deal with very intense situations so that I can be better suited in the face of pressure.By reflecting on myself and trying to find areas for improvement, I know that when the next opportunity comes around for a managerial position, I will be ready. But it does leave the question of, do I want to just settle for the thing I was originally rejected for? And do I want to strive for something else?

The other side of the fork is moving forward. Closing the door and going past it. While I was rejected for being a manager, I could always focus on being something completely different. Rather than staying in hotels for the hospitality industry, I could always branch back into my roots in restaurants, or even go into a completely different industry like banking or finance. By no means am I stuck in one place. Just because I have created a norm with this sort of lifestyle of being in hotels, that does not limit me to a future or entire life in them. By closing one door, you will find that there are hundreds still open. Other opportunities that you can pursue. Other possibles left to be explored.

Never see rejection as you not being good enough. Think about the ending in Cinderella, where the step-sisters tried to force on the glass shoe. The shoe just did not fit. But you will find that moment when it does and you will have your Cinderella moment. That moment when everything works out and all of the pieces fall into the places that they need to. Opportunities will come around, and rejection just pushes us closer to them. But the most important thing of all is to never let rejection get you down. Never think of it as you not being a quality person. You have the potential to become whatever you want to be. And with time and hard work, you will find that there will be many options for your future. Never feel weighed down and never feel trapped. Just because one door, even a hundred doors close does not mean that all of them do. Rejection happens, but so long as you know that there is still something out there waiting for you, then you easily live a feather-light life.

Boldness: realization 26

Like I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to write about Koda Kumi. Well, something that she helped me with was being bold. I talk a lot about being comfortable in your own skin, and trying to make yourself more comfortable. Koda Kumi is a JPop artist, popularly known for writing and singing songs about sex, same-sex relationships, and sexual acts. So basically, imagine if you were an uptight religious person who understood Japanese. And if you listened to Koda Kumi’s songs, you’d probably explode or need to wash out your ears with holy water. For me, I’m not complaining. I LOVE Taboo, Show Girl, Physical Thing, EscalateDriving, and especially D.D.D. and Juicy. Those are all freaking amazing songs and you guys should check them out if you are interested in JPop because they are fucking amazing. Emphasis on fucking. What? I’m allowed to be crude. The whole point of the post is being bold as fuck, motherfuckers. Sorry, for me, being bold equates to being crude.

But back to the main topic, which is being bold. What Koda illustrates is that you don’t have to be afraid of who you are, and in fact, she encourages that you take risks and try things you normally would be too afraid to do. I’d like to echo this idea in that you should never be afraid to put yourself out there. Yeah, rejection might suck the first 100 times it happens, but when you are finally accepted for just being you, it is completely and fully worth it. That feeling on belonging, it’s great! When I finally was accepted for being the quirky, weird, and at times, highly inappropriate person that I am, I felt a huge sense of relief. Being able to be told you are fine just the way you are (funny because Just the way you are is another Koda song), always helps with your confidence and sense of being.

Boldness obviously comes with a price. I mentioned earlier that you can be rejected even when you put yourself out there. Don’t let that get to you. I personally think being bold, direct, and just upfront about who you are in general, it should be rewarded. Even if you don’t get what you originally were aiming to from it, I’m sure somebody out there was impressed by the fact that you were brave enough to even try. Most people unfortunately are too timid or shy to put themselves out there, and that’s the reason why bold people are always so far ahead of them in life. Being shy is already shooting yourself in the foot. Even if you are likable, talented, or capable, if you are not good at selling that about yourself, you won’t get the recognition that you deserve.

Ultimately, being bold really comes down to how you present yourself. Make sure you are representing yourself truly. Do not try to pretend and be somebody you are not, and convince others you are this fake identity. Be natural and be yourself, and let others make the decision of whether or not they want to be your co-workers, peers, or friends, or whatever it is that you are looking for them to be. Rejection can be tough, but don’t think of it as them not wanting you, even if that is the blatant case. Think of it as you not fitting in, and that you would not have been happy anyways. And keep being bold and unafraid of being you. Eventually, you’ll find the right people. And by right, I mean the people who are right for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open doors: realization 23

Growing up is scary. I’m nearing the end of my career as a student and it has been stressful. My father always pressures me, using numbers like rent and salary to give me perspective on how fucked I am going into the hospitality industry. Thank you, dad, you know exactly what to say to make me feel confident about adulthood. In my college, what we in the hospitality school stress about is getting into management-in-training or MIT programs in restaurant groups or hotels. These programs basically guarantee you a manager position within three years, but they are rigorous and difficult; almost every MIT I had met has burnt out and quit the industry, with the exception of two. That’s how hard it is. For me, I was stressed heavily over trying to become an MIT myself. I thought by getting one in accounting, my life would be set, and then I can reach my 5 year goal of becoming a director of finance. But life, as we all know, does not like to work the way we want it to all the time. For me, the biggest issue was that I could not get hired for this program for accounting as of yet. And it stressed me out. For a while, I thought that this was the only way to shut my father up about my career and future.

I still don’t know if I can get into this program. However, I am confident in my ability to climb ranks and do well in whatever it is that my job is; my experiences with the culture club and food publication show that, with me becoming the presidents’ advisor in three years, and the editor in chief in two. I know that so long as I am given a hand of cards to play with, I have a great chance at winning the game. That’s because I am determined. I don’t want to give up on the life handed to me. Even if my father is a grade-A asshole for trying to freak and stress me out, so long as I ignore him, I know I can get to above where he expects me to go in due time. It’s his impatience and ridiculous sense of urgency that pisses me off, but I know I can do it.

The reason for the title of this post is that I have come to realize that life is full of opportunities: therefore open doors. There are endless possibilities of where you want to go with your life. You don’t have to just stick to one path if that path does not make you happy. I will admit that shifting gears and changing careers can put you behind peers of your age already doing the same thing, but you can push yourself and get to their level, if you really are passionate about it. One example is my sister’s friend, who I shall dub Mitch. Mitch, she started her career in hospitality in her 30s after teaching kids in Asia English and Spanish. She became a front desk agent after that career, so in her really early 30s. And within 1-2 years, she got promoted to being a human resources manager. Not even coordinator. Manager. And she is getting another promotion to become the regional HR manager for the hotel group, and it’s been less than 4 years since she started in this industry. She managed to rise to the same, if not higher level than most of her like-aged peers, in just 3 years. It’s because she found her passion, and ran with it.

I don’t know if hospitality is what I really wanted to do. I only enrolled in the hospitality school because I loved to cook. Granted, cooking for fine-dining was stressful, and cooking for a living, I would need to live in a box for the rest of my life. Honestly, the box does not sound too horrible. The hours don’t either. But I know with where my skillset is at right now, I would need either culinary school, or to keep working in kitchens to get to the same level as people who did go through it. I still don’t understand what is keeping me from completely going back in to the culinary world. With my four experiences with fine-dining, only one went badly. The other three, especially my most recent stint at a James Beard Award winning restaurant, it went phenomenally well. So maybe for me, I didn’t look hard enough. I got too carried away in what my vision of success was. Success, like perfection, they are both terms that are subjectively defined. For me, having a future where I can be financially stable and happy, that is success. Maybe that door will open for me someday. But for now, I keep looking. I keep working, so that I find my way to a feather-light life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sky Bird: Chapter 9

“And you guys went without us?!” Matt and Sophia frowned enviously. “Sorry, man. It was kind of a family and Jared feud-type thing…” Kendall tried to explain to his friend. The three of them were in English 2; it was the Monday after Kendall and Jared had made up. Fanny was not present because he had a cross country meet in Santa Barbara, and they had to drive up there. “Well, I’m glad it all worked out!” Sophia smiled. “Fanny told Carly and me all about it.” “Carly knows?” Kendall’s eyes widened in horror. “Yeah, we were worried about you guys, but when Fanny told us it all worked out, it was a huge relief. I’m glad we can all be friends again!” Sophia beamed. “But now that Fanny’s not here, I can participate the most in the class now! Nobody can topple me!” Matt joked, smiling mischievously.

Japanese 2 felt a lot lonelier without Fanny and Megan. Sophia, Carly, Sharquiqui, and Kendall were sitting together, practicing the new grammar form; tara, which when used between sentences, makes them hypothetical. Since the skit assignment, Carly and Sharquiqui have become really close; Sharquiqui likes to call them Carquily. “And then girl, I was like, you do not treat me like that! I have a 4.8 weighted GPA, I take 7 classes, 5 of which are AP or honors, and I am going to be the person who will send genetically modified clones after yo ass! That shit will be real scary! Like some sci-fi bullshit!” She pursed her lips and bobbed her head. “Yeah, he definitely doesn’t deserve somebody as bodacious yet intelligent as you.” Carly agreed. “Girl! This is why we are Carquily! You have my back!” She nodded approvingly. Sophia and Kendall just exchanged looks of amusement and confusion at the start of a very unexpected friendship.

“Carly and Sharquiqui? No way!” Jared and Kendall were done with soccer practice, and were laughing about the recent friends; Jared couldn’t imagine them being compatible. “All of the odd couples in this school!” Kendall chuckled. “Tell me about it.” Jared sighed sympathetically. “So when did you know Fanny was the guy you wanted to date?” The brunette was curious, since the two soccer players recently spoke about this. “It was probably just how straightforward he was. When I was first getting tutored by him, I didn’t really know what to think. But the way he carries himself with so much charisma and confidence, I just felt like I could trust him. He made me feel safe.” Jared felt himself blush as he admitted this. “I see. Uh, does that mean that Fanny’s the masculine one, or are you-” “Okay, well I get why you’re asking that, but’s a hard thing to really answer. We haven’t really explored that part of our relationship yet. I guess we both are masculine? But he’s more flamboyant, while I’m more soft-spoken.” The blonde explained. “That’s interesting to hear.” Kendall was fascinated to learn about Jared’s sexuality, just to gain more perspective.

“Ugh! I’m so exhausted!” “I know! I’m pooped.” Megan and Chloe were sitting nearby the beach. The Junior Varsity girls’ race was over, and the two were relaxing just off the side of the race course in Santa Barbara, at the beach. “Oh, look! It’s Fanny!” Megan pointed as the boy darted towards the finish line. “Go, Fanny!” Chloe cheered. Other runners were catching up to the Chinese boy, who started to sprint faster. “You’ll never beat me!” He screamed as the crowd was roaring. “Ugh, we have so much homework to catch up on.” Megan sighed; one missed day of high school means five classes’ worth of assignments that need to be made up. It was one of the biggest reasons why being an athlete was taxing. “I hope the others are having more fun than we are.” Chloe frowned. “First place, bitches!” Fanny screamed victoriously.

“I’m surprised that you wanted to hang out with us!” Matt, Jared, and Kendall were sitting with Carly and Sophia. It was after school, and the five of them were walking towards Santa Monica Pier. “Well, we have no real homework today, and we figured, why not?” “But it’s a Monday!” Matt reasoned. “And we have nothing better to do, right?” Carly giggled. “Besides, it’s fun hanging out together!” The five finally made it to the pier, and just admired the ocean view. “Ooh! Let’s go on the Ferris Wheel!” Jared suggested, eyeing Kendall. “Oh, sure!” Carly looked excited. “I’ve always wanted to go!” “Sure. So how will we do this? Two people to a car, and then one person alone?” Matt looked at the others. “I don’t mind sitting alone.” Carly insisted. “Nah, you should go with someone!” Jared insisted. “Oh. Well, uh… Matt, want to go together?” She looked at the blue-eyed brunette, who felt uncomfortable responding. “Uh, well I think I’d like to go alone actually…” He mumbled. “Well, I want to go with Sophia.” Jared said, walking up to the Thai girl. “I guess that leaves me?” Kendall looked at Carly. “Sure. I’ll go with Kendall then!” She smiled. Inside, the green-eyed brunette was excited. This was a legitimate first for the two of them. Being able to spend time withs somebody as kindhearted, sensible, and all around likable like Carly was something he greatly looked forward to.

“Wow! Look at that view!” Kendall pointed excitedly. They could see Malibu from their car. “I’m so taking a photo of this!” Carly took out her phone, and starting snapping pictures. Kendall was excited to be in the same car as Carly, but something felt off. She was friendly towards him, but the more they spoke, the less in common Kendall started realizing they had. “So what are your interests and hobbies?” “I like to sew, bake, shop, oh, I love the Real Housewives and Jane the Virgin. Romantic comedies are some of my favorites movies.” She listed. “I just love in rom-coms how you know it will always end well.” Carly definitely had some of the qualities of a girl Kendall could love, with the right personality, but when it came to interests, she was basically from a completely different planet. “Did you ever play Pokemon?” “I’ve heard of it, but we never really watched it growing up. I was more of a Card Captor Sakura kind of girl.” She revealed. Again, a completely foreign genre to Kendall. “So you said you’re into journalism, right?” “Yeah. Are you wanted to be an aerospace engineer?” “Yup! But for journalism, what kind of stories specifically are you interested in reporting?” “Probably anything that is breaking news. Especially if it can help make our world a better place if everyone was informed about it. It’s great to make sure that everyone is in the know, just to keep the world a fair place.”

“Why did you want to be in a car with me?” Sophia looked at Jared. “Mostly because we never really get a chance to talk. Like ever.” Jared laughed. “Well, we’re sharing a car now. Since we’re here, I just randomly remembered when Fanny told me about you back in middle school. It was so funny.” She tried to stifle her laughter. “Wait, what did he say?” Sophia’s remark warranted a skeptical eyebrow raise from Jared. “He just told me how you were really cute, and that you were patient with his personality. He had a feeling you were gay, but didn’t want to say anything to be rude.” “Wow, he knew since that early?” Jared was surprised. “Yup. Didn’t you guys meet in middle school too?” The blonde looked at her. “Yeah! Since you, me, and Kendall all went to the same elementary school, and Carly and Fanny went to a different one, the first time I ever met him was in 6th grade P.E.” “What was your first impression of Fanny?” He came off as very pompous and I definitely sensed he was gay. But he proved me wrong. Well not the gay part, but the pompous part. He was really funny, sarcastic, and I just enjoyed his commentary on everything.” Jared laughed, reminiscing in the plethora of sassy remarks Fanny has made over the years. “But tell me, Sophia. Is there any guy you’re interested in right now?’ The blonde looked at her. “Oh! Uh… well, about that….”  She trailed off, looking at the other cars. “This is so boring…. Ugh…” Matt sat in his cart, completely alone. “I hope the others are having more fun than I am.” He murmured, pulling out his phone. “I might as well put this on Snapchat, since I’m doing this.” He chuckled, recording the view. “On a ferris wheel alone. #single life” He captioned the video aloud.

Finally getting off the car, Kendall and Carly stood on the pier, waiting for the others to exit as well. “I’m glad we got to learn more about each other, Kendall!” Carly looked at him, beaming. “Thanks, Carly. It was great to get to know you better!” He returned the compliment. At this point, he was starting to realize, maybe Carly wasn’t the one for him. “Oh, look! Jared and Sophia are coming down now!” “Hey, guys!” The two waved to their friends as they walked towards them. “Hey, Carly, I was wondering if I could get your advice on some clothes. I want to get more into fashion, and you seem like the right person to ask about that.” Jared smiled. “Sure!” “Here, I have some photos. Let’s go over there.” Jared grabbed Carly and walked off. “Uh, what’s that about?” Kendall looked at the two of them before turning back to Sophia. “Well, I guess he doesn’t want our inputs.” Sophia frowned. “We’re not fabulous enough for them, I guess.” Kendall added, chuckling. “Oh, I forgot to ask! Have you finished reading Catcher in the Rye yet?” Sophia looked at the brunette. “Yeah! The ending, it kind of sucks, really. Holden ends up coming home after realizing that the world sucks. It’s so emo.” He scoffed, disappointed by the read. “I guess. I see it as him realizing that there are so many more opportunities left in the world. He just needs to keep growing and maturing at his own pace so that these opportunities will continue be possibilities for him.” Sophia retorted. “Wow. Why don’t you ever participate in class? It’s always like a battle between Fanny and Matt.” Kendall laughed. “Probably because I’m just not that kind of person. Being in the spotlight, it’s just not my thing.” She sighed. “Hey, guys. Way to abandon me!” Matt approached to two. “Oh, speak of the devil! We were just shit-talking about you.” Kendall joked. “Oh, you mean like how you guys made me get my own car? Well the joke’s on you! I got to put my feet up in the other chair!” He grinned triumphantly. “Ugh. Really? That’s the best you can come up with?” Sophia shook her head disapprovingly. “Oh, look, Matt’s back!” Jared and Carly returned to the three. “Thanks, Carly, for giving me advice. I’m definitely going to look into that tank top. I think Fanny will like it.” The blonde laughed. “No, problem, Jared. I’m glad that I was able to help!”

Sky Bird: Chapter 5

“Hurry up!” Kendall shouted down to Matt and Jared. The three of them were on the hiking trail in Malibu, Kendall far ahead of the other two. “Jesus, what’s gotten into you?” Jared panted. “I didn’t know he had this much stamina.” Matt sighed. “Oh, look who it is. I spy an a Kendolt.” Immediately, the green-eyed brunette froze when he reached the top of the hill they were climbing. Sitting at the top were none other than Fanny, Megan, Chloe, Carly, and Sophia, all of whom were admiring the view of the ocean. “Are you kidding me?” Kendall rolled his eyes. “Hi, Kendall!” Sophia and Carly waved at him. “Hey, what’s up?” The brunette tried to ignore Fanny and the fact that Fanny beat him to the top of the hill. “Wow, Kendall. Please explain to us how we managed to beat you!” Megan laughed. “It’s because he’s destined to be inferior to us, obviously.” Chloe teased. “Well look what we have here.” Jared and Matt appeared behind Kendall. “It’s funny to bump into all of you like this!” Carly smiled.

The eight decided to continue the trail together, since Jared, Matt, Carly, and Sophia were relatively exhausted already. “So Fanny, I heard you got one of the leads in the upcoming play! Congrats, man.” Jared grinned at the Chinese male. “Thanks. I’m looking forward to playing the main villain. Something about being a Hun general and dictator that really resonates with me, you know?” Fanny beamed back. “So, Kendall, do you have a group for the Japanese movie project?” Sophia looked at him. “Well, not really. I’m guessing that the four of you are going to be a group?” “Probably. We had this idea to do a love story, but Fanny doesn’t want to play the love interest, so we’re still brainstorming.” Sophia sighed. “Well, I don’t mind playing that if it means that I don’t have to story-write.” Kendall offered sarcastically. “Wait, are you serious? Because I think Carly wouldn’t mind that.” She laughed. “Oh, Kendolt wants to be in our group?” Fanny looked back at the two. “I’m not against it. But he better not cram our style.” Megan smirked at her older brother. “Hey, Megan! That’s not cool! He’s your older brother!” Carly frowned, crossing her arms. “Older brother or not, just don’t do anything to embarrass us, okay?” Megan rolled her eyes. “Shut up, Meg.” Kendall stuck his tongue out at the younger girl.

“Okay, it looks like we’re at the end of the trail.” Carly pointed out. “Well, that’d explain why we’re at the beach. Not that I’m complaining!” Fanny grinned, running up to the water with Megan and Chloe. “Last one to the ocean is a Kendall!” He squealed, sprinting. “Well, good jobs, you guys.” Matt smiled at Kendall, Jared, Carly, and Sophia. “Ah, it feels great to be a the beach.” Sophia stretched her arms before falling back onto the sand. “Yeah, it does.” Carly sighed in relief, laying down with her. As annoyed as Kendall was to be dealing with Fanny, he had to admit, hiking as a large group of friends like this, it was actually a lot of fun. These kinds of simple times, where the only thing he had to worry about were classes, he knew he would one day miss this. “Ouch! I can’t believe you guys gave me crabs.” Fanny glared at the younger two girls, who were laughing at him. “Ew, okay that just sounded wrong. We didn’t give you crabs. We just put a crab down your trunks.” Chloe rolled her eyes. “False alarm, guys. Chloe did not fuck her gay brother. Oh-” Megan covered her own mouth. Everyone just went silent. “What?” They all looked at Fanny. “I totally called it.” Jared whispered to Kendall. “Oh. I thought that was obvious. Is this breaking news to everyone or something?” Fanny looked confused. “Well, I guess? We’ve known you since middle school, but we still love you, Fanny!” Carly smiled.

“Well, what should we do now?” Matt and Jared sighed to Kendall. The three of them were exhausted, still on the beach with the others. “Well, the five of us were going to go to Korean barbecue in KTown? Want to join?” Sophia offered the three. “Ooh, all you can eat?” Matt grinned eagerly at the thought. “Obviously. If it’s not all you can eat, it’s a ripoff.” Chloe added. “Oh, heads up!” “Ow!” Right at that moment, the younger Chiang was hit in the head with a beach ball. “Chloe, you good?” Sophia and the boys turned to see that it was Fanny who accidentally spiked the ball at his sister. “You fucker. I’m going to send you back to hell!” She charged at her brother. “You’ll have to catch me first!” Fanny laughed, sprinting off. “Don’t worry, Chloe. I’ve got this!” Megan grabbed and water bottle and threw it. Spinning, it knocked Fanny over. “Perfect. Getting crabs put down your trunks is the least of your problems.” Chloe grinned sadistically, crackling her knuckles as she caught up to her older brother. “Oh geez, don’t kill him.” Carly got up. “Fine.” Chloe rolled her eyes, stepping back. “Seeing you eat shit at the hands of a water bottle, that’s already enough for me to be happy about.” She smiled.

“Ah, this is the best.” Matt sighed, completely satisfied. He was slumped in his booth, stuffed to the brim with grilled brisket and pork belly. The eight of them were sharing a table at a Korean barbecue restaurant, Dream. It was a great day. Hiking, fun in the sun, and they were ending it with all you can eat Korean barbecue. Kendall in particular was happy, because he was sitting with his two best friends and Carly on one side. He finally got one-on-one time with her. Or at close as he’s really ever gotten before. “So, Kendall, do you know what you want to do after you go to college?” Carly asked. “I’m thinking about aerospace engineering.” He replied, a bit startled at her forwardness. “Oh, really? That’s so cool! I know Sophia is actually thinking about engineering herself.” She pointed out. “Oh, yeah, I am!” Sophia piped in; the girl was sitting next to the four. “But I was thinking pre-med with a biomedical engineering background. You know, got to keep my options open.” She added, grinning shyly. “How about you, Carly?” Kendall looked over at the girl sitting across from him. “I’m probably going into journalism. There’s something about reporting, it’s like history in the making, and I just love that.” The girl’s eyes gleamed with a deep-rooted sense of inspiration. “A journalist, huh?” Kendall drifted off. He was already imagining Carly, reporting the next big scoop in America. And there he would be, loyally tuning in every night, eagerly reading her every article, just being as supportive as he could of her and her dreams.

“Well, Kendall actually thinks he has a shot with Carly?” Chloe whispered to her older brother. Sophia, Chloe, Megan, and Fanny were all in the booth directly next to the other four. “I highly doubt it. Carly’s too put together and career oriented. Yeah, she’s nice to him, but she’s generally really nice to everyone anyways, so the way she’s acting, she only sees him as a friend.” Fanny dismissed the idea immediately. “If you’re talking like that, it sounds like you have seen Carly in love before?” Chloe wondered aloud. “Something like that, I suppose.” Fanny grumbled, chewing on his pork belly. “But it got really awkward really fast.” He sighed, reminiscing of a deeply embarrassing middle school moment. “Fanny, I like you!” A much younger Carly confessed. “You’re always looking out for me, and I could see myself living the rest of my life with you.” “Uh, Carly, that’s touching and all, but I’m gay, so that will never work. Sorry I didn’t tell you earlier.” A middle-schooler Fanny shrugged. The present-day Fanny shuddered at his words. He didn’t mean to reject his best friend so bluntly, but it was the truth and there was no point in hiding that from somebody he trusted. Looking back on that faithful day in 7th grade now, Fanny still felt really uncomfortable about the entire situation. He wasn’t expecting anyone, let alone a girl, to confess their feelings to him like that in his lifetime. Besides, he only had enough room in his heart for one person: himself.

“Thank you, Fanny!” Carly and Sophia waved as they were dropped off at the Grove. Both girls lived nearby that area, and they’d generally like to take a detour there before heading back home separately. “Well, looks like I’ve got to head back with my brother.” Megan rolled her eyes as she got off Fanny’s car, and walked over to Kendall’s. “Later, cool-peeps.” She grinned mischievously, waving at her friends. “Megan, what do you even see in those people?” Kendall scoffed at his little sister as she entered his otherwise empty car; Jared and Matt were already dropped off earlier. “Well, for one, they’re good people. I just like spending time with Fanny and Chloe. They’re funny, they’re hardworking-” “As hardworking as our parents? Those two have never worked a real day in their lives. They’ve just been skating by on their dad’s money. There’s no natural talent there.” The older brunette was fuming at this point. “You’re the only one who says that! Mom and dad, even Gil, they all love the Chiangs! You just hate them because they’re better off than us, but the truth is, Kendall, you’ll never be as talented as Fanny! Period!” Megan finished, before quickly realizing the severity of her words. “Look, Kendall, I didn’t mean-” “Shut up. We’re going home. And you’re never allowed to talk to me again.” Her older brother finished as the car took off. He was visibly angered to the point of being dark red, but he was deeply hurt by what his sister just told him. And it only made him dislike the Chiangs that much more. They even took his sister from his family.