because I'm too afraid to post it anywhere else.
Feel free to laugh at me, or whatever. Ideally just ignore and move on. This is now the Ryeowook birthday post and I'll start spamming it with pictures and videos when I'm feeling less angsty.
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I guess it’s what it means to be biased. There, on the stage directly in front of me is Donghae. Everyone around me is cheering. This is Donghae, who I adore, who will always be one of my favourite members, who just a few hours before I was having fangirl explosions at the prospect of seeing. I’m not cheering along with them, really. It’s not my intention, but I think I’m probably glaring. I’m sighing. I’m getting agitated. I’m craning my neck to the side. I really do love you, Donghae. But you’re in the way.
I’m at Le Zenith. I’m watching Super Junior. Apart from I’m not really. I’m watching Ryeowook. As for the others, they can be classed minute-by-minute as: interacting with Ryeowook – good, doing their own thing – fine, getting in the way of me seeing Ryeowook – very, very annoying.
You talk about your relative lack of popularity, and whilst it might have some statistical basis, all I want is for you to know that there are a whole lot of people out there who think the world of you, who care about you so deeply, who couldn’t care any less about who sells the most covers, and who want two things more than anything else: to hear you sing, and to see you smile.
But what is that to you really? Sometimes I wonder if you could be stuck with a worse fan than me. What good is the me who lies in bed at night listening to your radio solos, those sad, lonely songs that make me feel hurt and proud and above all comforted. The me who is terrified to watch your first Immortal Song performance not because I’m worried that you won’t sing well and not because I’m worried that you won’t win, but because I know that once I press ‘play’ it is a moment that I will never get back. The me who is sat on my bed in my dorm room in Seoul as you’re only minutes away performing in a musical that I want to see more than anything, but a musical that anxiety dictates I will only see as I imagine it in my mind. The me who couldn’t bring a banner or a sign to Paris because however many times I tried to draw giraffes and cut out letters it never went right. The me who has three bags of things I’ve bought for you over the past couple of years kept under my bed, but which I know I’ll never give to you. This is who you have as a fan. I guess it’s not such a great deal.
I can’t remember the first time I noticed you. I can’t remember what I first thought of you, or if I thought anything at all. I do remember thinking at some point that you shouldn’t smile so much. That smile is not cute, I thought. Now there isn’t a more absurd, more depressing thought in the world to me than that one. To say the clichéd things: “it’s oxygen to me”, “it means more to me than anything ”. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so afraid of writing in clichés. I think at first I wanted to feel like the way I felt was unique, that my love was entirely different to everyone else’s. Now I feel consoled by the fact that there are so many others who think the same way. I guess in a way, clichés keep us all connected.
There was a long period in Paris in which you didn’t smile at all, not even a brief half smile. I tried so hard to enjoy myself through that time, but instead it just had me forcing smiles, I guess in order to compensate. Are you hurt? Are you upset? Are you tired? I stopped noticing what songs were up, the audience was laughing at something and I had no idea why. I could only think “how is it possible to laugh right now?”. And then it came, almost too brief to notice, a split-second smile that meant more to me than perhaps the entire couple of hours prior to that. You’re no good at faking smiles, you know. But I like that. It means that I can separate the you who smiles because it’s part of your role as Super Junior Ryeowook from the you who smiles because, at that moment at least, you’re genuinely happy.
Your smile is solely a source of joy to me. It has the power to change my mood and my mind-set in an instant. But what about your voice that means every bit as much to me? Sometimes I wonder whether it’s an instrument or a weapon. Or instead some kind of force that exists only within you, that has no tangibility, no other outlet of expression. I wonder how something so beautiful can be so painful. It’s normal to talk about ‘immersion’ in music, but when you began to sing White Magnolia, it felt in all honesty like some kind of physical immersion. I was suffocating. No song has ever had the effect on me that just the opening lines alone achieved. It surely doesn’t make sense to feel both numb and awash in emotions at the same time. Perhaps because at that time it didn’t seem like there was anything else in the world but the song. My emotions were existing in an altogether different place. I didn’t want to relate to the song, or feel the song. I wanted only to become the song.
For all your insecurities, I’m sure that you do know that you’re an amazing singer. I guess it would be disingenuous to suggest that everyone adores your voice. I used to get pretty upset when I saw comments about your tone and your ability. I don’t anymore. Talent is talent. It’s talent whether or not everyone in the world appreciates it. For every person who doesn’t like your voice, there are so many who worship it. Your voice – no, more precisely, you – have a quality that few others do, the ability to harmoniously marry feelings that seem far apart: beauty and sorrow, gentleness and pain, loneliness and comfort, distance and familiarity. But perhaps this is a personal take on things, and qualities that I project towards the songs, rather than the qualities the songs project towards me?
And if these qualities do exist, is that only within the songs, or within you? I suppose there’s no real way of me knowing that. Nor do I think it’s right that I should know. But it’s easy to understand that as a fan, I can’t not think about these things, isn’t it? I know that I’m guilty of over-analysing every expression, every pose, every word. I know that I worry about things that I have no reason to worry about, nor any right to worry about. But I will worry, so please forgive me for that. I’ll be concerned for your health and your happiness. I’ll get worked up by things you say that I feel sure betray you, even if you might not want to say them. In some ways, I’m sure it’s a good thing that you have to be, to some extent, a different person - that you can keep things private where you wish to, and present yourself in a way that you feel comfortable with. I suppose this is what some people see this as ‘fake’. They’re wrong. But I hope that you never have trouble separating the Super Junior Ryeowook that you choose to be from the Super Junior Ryeowook that the industry and fans demand you to be. And that you can keep both of those things a part of yourself, without ever letting them become yourself.
And with all this, I still don’t think I can even come close to expressing what you actually mean to me.
So I’ll just say that I’ll continue to watch you with a pride I don’t deserve to experience. I’ll watch as you keep singing and smiling. And as I do so, I don’t think there’s anything more I can say to you than: