Letters

134 Rue de Paradis

January 13th, 2010

Dear Johnny,

          Blame this on my obliviousness, but is it terrible that I never imagined you dating people? Not that I actively believed you didn’t, but I’m not sure why I was taken aback for a moment. 

          Although, I have to say that I’m not surprised you have a theory on relationships. It’s strange, but until recently I was somehow wholly convinced that dating and friendships are like oil and water- by nature, they just don’t mix. Maybe it was the idea that dating is always a search for the right person, each trial inevitably ending in failure or success. Friendship is more stable and comforting, with the unspoken promise of permanency because it isn’t bound up in the expectations of fidelity and devotion, and the hurt if it all comes to naught.  (I can almost hear you thinking, ‘just what I would expect a ‘The Hour After Midnight’ fan to say. Stop.) Part of me still believes that is true. However, I will say that the older that I get, I’m beginning to appreciate the comfort of friendship within a romantic relationship. 

          What changed my mind about friendship within a relationship was my latest one. We started dating about a year ago, and in hindsight, I think the main reason we stayed together for so long was the comfort and reliability of friendship. A slow and steady relationship seems impossible in today's day and age. It seems as if there’s always a need to define the relationship before it even starts. But in this one, we didn’t need any of that. I would say she was a friend. Or continues to be a friend even after breaking up. The relationship didn’t work out; by the end, it was clear to both of us that it wasn’t meant to be. That's not to say that your theory doesn’t hold water. Maybe it was the friendship that made way for an amicable break up.

          With that being said, friendship is something very sacred. I’m afraid a romantic relationship that blooms from friendship may cause unnecessary strain within a relationship that would have not have existed if not for the pressures of partnership.  I don’t know if I would intentionally set out to look for love within a friendship, but if it so occurs and assuming the feelings are mutual, your theory is definitely plausible. 

Yours, 

Jaehyun

____

January 28th, 2010

Dear Jaehyun, 

          You’re right, that’s exactly what I would expect to come from a ‘The Hour Past Midnight’ fan.  How is friendship a promise of permanency? We change as people and in doing so our friendships change as well, sometimes they fray, and that’s okay too. I can hope for permanency but that is not something to expect from you or anyone else. That’s not to say the hurt will be any less due to a lack of expectations. Friendships are as challenging as they are comforting, it’s imbued with depth and colour as much as a romantic relationship. The same applies to romantic relationships: why do they have to be a means to an end that results in absolute success or failure? Even you said that your previous relationship ended in a friendship. I would call that a success. I’m sorry to hear that relationship came to an end in the traditional sense- but glad that you’ve still continued to be friends. You see? That is an adult relationship. 

          You seem to have a distaste in defining relationships, and yet when you do they’re reduced to certain ideal characteristics that I’m not sure are even possible. I don’t think relationships can be defined as fitting in one category. If a friendship turns into a romantic partnership, how is that not a natural progression? If the ‘added pressures’ of romantic partnership (as you believe them to be) causes distress within a relationship, maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. I think relationships are fluid by nature...we take on the roles needed from us when others require us to do so and vice versa. 

          For example, what is required of me right now is to rile you up before wishing you a Happy Birthday. It’s become almost a tradition between us during this time of year to argue about one thing or another. So bring it on, I’m ready to fight, I think it brings us closer together. Is it wrong to enjoy pissing you off? I’m hoping this reaches you before your birthday because I have a surprise for you. Wait for your birthday, don’t write me back until then. 

Happy Birthday! 

Johnny

____

February 11th, 2010

Dear Johnny, 

          I want to preface this letter by saying that I did receive your letter a couple of days early, and decided to write before whatever it is that you planned, because I expect I would not be able to express my disagreement later on. 

          That being said, what is this postmodern thinking? As if everything exists within a grey area where relationships drift untethered within a spectrum of familial to platonic to romantic and then familial again? There are differences between relationships, the boundaries that are set, the expectations you have from them. If everything is blurred, then how do you distinguish between types of relationships? Sometimes relationships are just one of those. It’s the differences and what we gain from them that keeps us seeking out those particular relationships. Us, for example; we’re friends, would you not classify us as such? 

          Okay, I’ll return to the letter later. 

(February 14th, 2010)

          I was right,  I wouldn’t have been able to write an apt response if I had not earlier on. 

          You know, I’ve always thought that those who have their birthday on a popular holiday or date must slightly resent that it does. It’s very selfish, but when you’re younger and it’s your birthday, you feel you should be the center of the world. When the holiday has more weight than your birthday, somehow the importance of your existence becomes secondary. I imagine if families get together for Christmas and New years, and your birthday happens to be on one of those days, your birthday is reduced to a convenient coincidence rather than the main event. 

          Valentines Day on the other hand, in my experience at least, can be either one of the two ends of the spectrum. If you are in a relationship, then I can’t imagine a better day to have your birthday on. You’re absolved from any responsibility to be the one that makes the day special and still enjoy the day, both as a celebration of life and love. And then there are other years where there’s a certain type of mild annoyance that the day brings. Not because of your insecurities (maybe because of that as well), but rather the ever present expectation of the community. Oftentimes your friends have prior engagements, and you’re stuck going to a concert alone among the hundreds of couples that are celebrating valentine's day.  That's just a hypothetical, I haven't actually done that. 

          But this year,  I have to say,  I hadn’t felt that. It could have something to do with the wild goose chase that you sent me on today. I wasn’t even aware that telegrams could still be sent, but after receiving it this morning with just an address, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. It was Yuta that suggested that I should probably go to the place. The flower shop that you sent me to gave me a white rose and sent me to a cafe, who sent me to a bookstore and---

          I have no idea how to thank you without sounding… well, like you. When the clerk at the bookstore gave me a first edition of the book, I swear my heart stopped for a moment... Thank you for that. I know how hard it must have been on you to give The Hour Past Midnight as a gift, and for that, I am doubly touched. 

          I know it was a birthday gift, but, what with it having been Valentine's day that I received the gift, and having self-appointed myself as your tutor to the culture, I think this is appropriate. Have you heard of White day? It’s somewhat of an ‘answer’ day one month after valentine's day. Where those who received gifts on Valentine's day would return the favour. From what I know of how it's celebrated there,  it’s a little different from the west - women give the gift on Valentine's day, and on White day men who received gifts are supposed to give women sweets. If I’m being honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the gendered aspect of it all- you know, it’s just very traditional. Still, I think the idea of appreciating your partner is nice. 

          When you get this, it may be a little early for White day but I’ve included a box of chocolates along with the letter and I hope you enjoy it. I got them from this little local shop that I think you would like. It's a small place on the outskirts of Seoul. I can’t really explain it but the place reminds me of you. Is that weird? Maybe. Anyway… Happy early White day!

Yours, 

Jaehyun

____

March 2nd, 2010

Dear Jaehyun, 

          Relationships do exist within a grey area. My parents, who have been a guiding force in my life, had and still do support me as parents, but in certain circumstances, they lend support as one would expect from a friend. As I grew older, our relationship has changed and grown, turning into a more level playing field, as opposed to the child under their care. That does not mean that I have stopped looking up to them as parents, but it means the boundaries and expectations change depending on the scenario. 

          To your question, I don’t think I can classify us into anything. That is my point. You are a friend to me, there’s no doubt about it. But to limit you to a label of just ‘friend’ also doesn’t sit right with me. Not that the label of a friend is offensive or inferior... it just doesn't fully capture how I feel about you.  You’re right, I do agree that labels in relationships help set boundaries and expectations. I just don’t think it's useful in defining relationships for me. If ‘friends’ is, to you, what best describes the expectations set on our relationship, I suppose, that’s not something debatable. 

          It’s good to have friends who make your heart stop for a second... Right? Just kidding, I’m so glad you like it. 

          Honestly, I wanted to do this last year. But I think what stopped me was the fact that your birthday fell on Valentine's day. So I suppose your resentment is valid. (And before you use this to prove your point about how my reluctance was because“it would be inappropriate between friends”, hold your horses, that’s not why.) I just thought that if you happened to be in a relationship, the gesture may be misinterpreted and not appreciated by your partner. But since that isn’t the case this year, no harm, no foul right? 

          The person who criticizes my post-modern thinking, not keen on traditional gender roles and expectations. I guess there are some things we agree on after all. Thank you for the chocolates and as always, for being my guide to the culture. One of these days I’m going to have to see these places you talk about in person, but in the meanwhile, visiting these places through your eyes has been so wonderful. I’ve always felt a little distant from my roots, but Korea is starting to feel not quite as far away as I once thought.  

Johnny

____

March 16th, 2010

          Fine. I concede. I agree with you. 

Jaehyun.

_____

March 30th, 2010

          Oh, you do, do you? I’m not sure what you’re referring to.  Let’s hear you say it. What is it exactly that you agree with me on?

Johnny.

____

April 12th, 2010

Dear Johnny, 

         Why am I picturing the idiotic grin of a sore winner on your face?

          I agree that you are insufferable. 

         I am standing firm on my belief that not ALL relationships can or should just exist unbound, floating about in space like a travelling asteroid, an entity never to be named or follow a set orbit, cast about by the gravitational pull of whichever star is closest at the moment.

          But perhaps, in this circumstance, the label friend is a little reductive.

Yours, 

Jaehyun

____

April 25th,  2010 

Dear Jaehyun, 

          Almost since the beginning of time, humans have been obsessed with labelling things in space. Your metaphor is somewhat inadequate. 

           However, I am glad you agree.

       Speaking of you agreeing with me: I am happy to report that I have tried the Australian Chardonnay I mentioned last Christmas, and that in my opinion as a Parisian, the Australian is just the better choice. Now I know that you are itching to argue with me on this, but hear me out, I have a theory...

Like this story? Give it an Upvote!
Thank you!
funkeymonkey
There's a book called the The Hour Past Midnight in this fic. This has nothing to do with the book that actually is published. Please don't misunderstand and associate my writing to the respectable work that the author has done. That would be a complete and utter disservice to the author. ;O;

Comments

You must be logged in to comment
OdetteSwan
1004 streak #1
I read the summary of The Lunch Box.
Did Jaehyun, by any chance, see Johnny in their supposedly meeting place? Did he feel cold feet and left without meeting Johnny?
I'm so curious as to what is in Jaehyun's letter now that brought a smile to Johnny!
Please don't take a year to update.
OdetteSwan
1004 streak #2
Chapter 8: I was really surprised to see your update. Oh dear! They didn't meet at all.
What's happening now?
Jaehyun got scared and stood him up?
Thank you so much for the update.
OdetteSwan
1004 streak #3
Chapter 7: I'm so happy you're back.
I'm glad that Jaehyun is ready to meet Johnny after so many years of correspondence. He probably has to thank Hendery for helping him reach that decision. Perhaps, he feels that that is the relevant action to take now.
Thank you so much for the update.
MeinAltire #4
Chapter 6: Their letters is nice to read...
It must be interesting to have a pen pal on these days.
Great update :)
Multifanstan
#5
Chapter 6: I feel this fic so well written, so smart and clever.
OdetteSwan
1004 streak #6
Chapter 6: I really love the exchange of letters. It seems to me that they are skirting the issue of their relationship. Or was it just Jaehyun who is trying to ignore the "issue".
Johnny has always been straight forward with his thoughts and actions even to explain why it is only now that he gave Jaehyun the book and the white rose.
I love their discussion on birthdays coinciding with holidays like Christmas and New Year.
Thank you so much for the update.
Xiamin
#7
Chapter 5: Definitely worth my time. Loved every bit of it. Waiting for more
OdetteSwan
1004 streak #8
Chapter 5: I'm so glad that you updated.
It seems that Jaehyun didn't get the confession. He is even wondering about Johnny mentioning about him being set up with a co-worker. Is he annoyed?
Johnny kept referring to friends to lovers in Friends. Is Johnny alluding to the kind of relationship he wants with Jaehyun? Is that why he addressed Jaehyun as friend toward the end of the letter? Or, did he think he was friendzoned by Jaehyun?
NoorKyra
#9
Chapter 4: I bet Johnny staring at Jeahyun's photos for a long time and suddenly he's writing another letter to Jaehyun... His confession.....!!!!!


Awwwwwww...... Kudo's to Yuta for taking the gorgeous pictures of Jaehyun....

(◍•ᴗ•◍)❤
OdetteSwan
1004 streak #10
Chapter 4: Oh dear!
Johnny has fallen for him. How would Jaehyun react?
Thank you so much for the update.