Yesterday, I spent the evening with my childhood friends. These are guys whom I went through ‘frozen wave’ fringes, pink tights, ‘high-cut’ Reebok sneakers with silver trimmings, house parties and ‘slow dances’ with. 14 years later, here we were. sitting at Long Black, sipping coffee, giggling about old times.

There’s the cigarette-toting LL, a newly appointed Account Executive in the fast-moving, back-biting KL ad industry after a decade of writing. Animated, sharp and always up for a good laugh, LL is a girl after my own heart.

She used to be the quietest, most demure girl in our group. Having broken off with another childhood friend of ours, she is now dating my husband’s best friend.

And then there’s YK, another nicotine-addicted woman about to settle down with another product of strict Malaysian Chinese upbringing who prohibits her from smoking while he tars his own lungs, simply because she’s his ‘little woman’. YK sneaks in smokes when she’s out with us, her handphone constantly ringing from guess who. Some reprieve for YK is that the ‘big man’ is now in Penang, permanently. Still, she washes her mouth with a portable bottle of Listerine in her bag before she goes home because he’s coming home tomorrow – and he might just come home tonight. And this is a guy she broke off with twice.

“LDR is good. We quarrel less,” she says.

And then there’s WS, communications exec at an MNC, probably the most serious of the lot. Fresh out of a relationship just two months back, WS is subdued and reserved. It is not something to talk about although we aired our thoughts about how she was too good for the guy. I still think WS deserves more.

And then there’s YF, the blonde of the group and not afraid to show it. Flaky, pretty and hilarious, YF is the breath of fresh air everyone welcomes after a day of slogging and a decade of heart breaks. What’s amazing is she just separated with her secondary school sweet heart of 15 years (yes, that’s a lifetime!) and she’s feeling pretty good about it.

And then of course there’s me: the ex-‘big sister’, who’s managed against all odds to get her fat ass hitched, pregnant and contentedly installed in a nice condo in the big city of KL.

13 years later, here we are, at 31. Excepting me (and I feel quite left out), everyone went one full circle in their love lives. Has over a decade gone by with nothing to show for it? Should my friends feel sad that they seem to have lost everything together, and almost at once? Careers, freedom, a chance to settle down?

All I can I think is that my pals are the brave new Malaysian women, if not some of the ballsiest. Unafraid of change, even perpetuating this change, they may seem a little lost at what to do at first, but they are nevertheless grabbing another decade by the neck and going, “Bring it on!”

And why shouldn’t they? 31 is when it gets interesting!


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