Saying yes to a 7-day Alaskan Cruise back in 2007 was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It was the start of 4 friendships that opened my eyes to the world in very different ways.
This is Part 1 of 4-parts, telling the story of my friendship with Sonic. Parts 2, 3, and 4 will be about my friendship with Mulan (Sonic’s cousin), Elsa (Sonic’s wife), and Swift (Mulan’s husband and Sonic’s best friend).
Have you ever met someone and instinctively knew that you were going to be great friends?
That’s how I felt about my dear friend Sonic, whom I met for the first time when I joined my ex-boyfriend, Everquest, and his friends on a cruise to Alaska.
Back then I couldn’t pinpoint why I instantly got along super well with Sonic. I used to think it was because:
- His smile was warm and welcoming.
- His laughter was filled with joie de vivre.
- His courage in that he wasn’t the slightest bit intimidated to go head to head and compete with Everquest (who most people shied away from direct confrontation due to his volatile temper and muscular build).
Now I know it’s because I really like Sonic’s speaking voice in both English and Mandarin. Every word clearly enunciated but not booming. He sounds intelligent without being overbearing. Full of positivity without being saccharine.
Sonic was the first male I talked to in-depth in Mandarin. I think that’s how we bonded. Speaking Mandarin brings out a side of me that I can’t express in English. I could reference jokes and quotes in Mandarin, and Sonic would get me because he also read the same Chinese books and watched similar shows.
You’d think with such a great speaking voice, Sonic would also be an amazing singer…and he may very well be if he didn’t have a penchant for singing melancholy songs with such joy and complete disregard of the rhythm. Every song becomes a happy, sappy, drinking song when he sings it.
I used to poke fun at Sonic’s singing but now I realize I was doing so out of jealousy. I was quite envious of his, “I sing for myself and not for anyone else.” Before my father passed, I’d used to sing songs to please him, to impress his friends. I felt that my singing was one of the very few things my father was proud of me for, so I sang songs that I didn’t really like for him and his friends.
Being true to himself is one of the many qualities I admire about Sonic. But what I most admire about Sonic is that he doesn’t give up, even when the odds are stacked against him. He was the first person I witnessed that happening in real time.
During the Alaskan cruise, where we first met, we played a game of dodgeball with a bunch of strangers. I remember Sonic being the only remaining player left on our team against maybe eight other people. Yet Sonic did not give up. He patiently waited until all the balls were on his side of the court and then started hurling it back.
This took a while, but I was beyond excited to see Sonic fighting his way back. I firmly believed that Sonic was going to win, until Sonic’s BIL (brother-in-law), who was also on Sonic’s team, walked over to Sonic’s side and threw the balls to the other team!
I was gobsmacked at BIL’s actions. When I later asked BIL why, he said, “the game was taking too long, and I want to play.” The previous Kelly wasn’t brave or quick-witted enough to say anything back. I’d like to think that today’s Kelly would’ve. Because today’s Kelly knows how amazing of a friend Sonic is.
Sonic is that friend with who I feel comfortable enough to speak and ask anything and everything that comes to mind. When I ask him questions that he doesn’t want to answer, he’d laugh and say, “Oh, Kelly, you’re so funny,” and then switch the subject or he’d give me a wink and say, “Don’t worry about it, I got this.” I’d respect his wishes and we’d talk about something else.
With Sonic, I’d know that our friendship won’t be affected by differing opinions. We’ve never raised our voices at each other even when discussing the most contentious of subjects. For me, it’s likely because when I speak Mandarin, my personality becomes different. It’s a softer, kinder, and sweeter version than the Kelly that speaks English and Shanghainese.
I get the feeling that Sonic has always accepted me without reservation. He’s very much an extrovert who is extremely welcoming and always trying to cheer everyone around him up. Over the years, I’ve spent many of the major holidays and gone on vacations with Sonic, his family, and friends. It’s always been lots of fun and adventures galore, even when things don’t go as expected.
Sonic was present for many of the fun moments of my life and also there for the not-so-great-moments. When Everquest and I broke up, Everquest demanded Sonic to stop being friends with me. Sonic refused, and that’s how their friendship ended. I was super touched that Sonic valued our friendship enough to stand by me.
Another moment that I’d always remember is that I’d once reached out to Sonic for help not knowing that he’d just stepped off a plane. He then drove directly to pick me and another friend up, proceed to wait with us for hours in the middle of the night, during one of the darkest and coldest days of the winter. That’s the kind of person Sonic is to his friends.
Over our 14+ years of friendship, I know that if the world becomes too overwhelming, I’d go and hide out in Sonic and Elsa’s guest bedroom for a bit. To heal, as I did back in 2017, at one of the lowest points in my life.
I once asked Sonic, why he’s been so amazing to me. His reply was, “Kelly, we are old now. We won’t make many new friends. We’ve got to hold on to the ones we have.” I guess then I’ll hold on tight to Sonic. 😃 Still, I look forward to the day when I’ll become strong and capable enough to stand up and by Sonic whenever he needs me.
P.S. Sonic is an alias I’m using to protect my friend’s privacy. The name Sonic really suits him. Wikipedia gives the description, “Sonic is mostly quick-witted and easy-going, he has a short temper and is often impatient with slower things. Sonic is a habitual daredevil hedgehog who is honest, loyal to friends, keeps his promises, and dislikes tears.”