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Happy birthday to me!
Happy birthday to me!
Happy birthday dear meeee!
Happy birthday to me!!!

Okay, a little sad, but so is reminiscing. The last memorable birthday I had before today (well, yesterday) was when I turned 21, when Wei and Alfred accompanied me on a trip to Safeway to buy a strawberry cake (I was actually very impressed by Safeway cakes). We brought it to Wei’s room in the Suites, and watched L.A. Confidential, which we borrowed from the library. It was memorable because even at that time, I felt like, wow, I really have very few friends. I treasured those few hours for its simplicity. I savored it, and impressed it on my mind. In a universe in which my existence was deemed so insignificant, it was perhaps my one proof that people cared.

Okay, I just wanted to see what it’s like being dramatic. But it’s not far from reality. Through the years, for some reason, I found it very hard to be really connected to anyone. I knew a lot of people, and there were some who knew me as well, but my acquaintances never ran very deep.

In the years following, whenever a friend would leave Stanford, we’d joke that 33% of my friends left, or 50% of my friends left, or 100% of my friends left. Even recently, “I walk a lonely road” was the theme of my life. When I was watching Naruto last quarter, his character really resonated with me. For the longest time, he was a lonely guy because nobody wanted to associate with him. But through his determination, those who cared about him gradually grew in number.

As for me, I always saw myself as the lonely Naruto. But today, as I looked back at the last year, my eyes were opened. I saw friends beginning to appear around Naruto.

So I want to say a big “Thank You” to those people who were really close to me this year: my parents who didn’t find fault even as I was being stubborn, my sister who secretly looks up to me, my faithful mentor Chinsan with whom I’ve shared in so much suffering this year and who is also so generous in keeping me well-fed, my brother and co-laborer Mickey who is as iron that sharpens iron, my former roommate Alfred who stuck faithfully by my side for over five years, and my classmate and co-laborer Jess at KCPC. You have all earned a place of honor in my heart.

There are many others that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and learning about this year. I hope that our relationship continues to deepen.

God is so gracious.