I was scared. I must admit. It’s not that I was not hoping that I’d see you again after that break up. I was hoping to get to talk to you again to lid the unlidded, and talk perhaps while I am slowly sipping my coffee and you, happy with your favorite donut, the ones I was bringing you home when you were throwing tantrums over my late-night meetings and beer-filled evenings, the ones that never failed to mellow you and end your nagging.
Had I known that you too were heading to Isla Reta that Saturday, I would have taken a bath. I would have insisted that my lover join me and my friends, one of them was pretending to be okay but was actually fixing a broken heart and had the belief that his healing would be fast if he makes it out with some island boys.
But seeing you again, meeting you again, on a boat that chugged and stopped in the middle of the sea for almost 20 minutes, a very elementary mishap but a portent of something unpleasant nevertheless, was not supposed to be like that. I was imagining it to be a happy moment but never calculated.
Maybe, in that happy talk, you’d notice how I slimmed down, something that I have been working on the past months. I know, I still have the leftover of beer liberally consumed in the past still visible on my tummy and you would tell me “you should have listened to me” and still make me feel fat by calling me “Baktin”– that’s piglet for non-English speakers, okay?
And I’d be happy to show you my hairless chest. That is not for the absence of hair but I would say–”Look! I have lost my boobs…okay, at least they’re not as big as before.”
And we would talk about smoking. Well, I least I have stopped smoking, for your information, however too late for me to have lips as pink as yours. That one is impossible, I know. My lips were always dark. They were dark since birth.
You would ask me about my new work and I’d tell you how I love and hate it altogether. And you would tell me about yours and how you have declined some loans. I remember once after the breakup, during those times when we were acting normal and civil with each other, during those texting days despite the pain, you told me, sort of threatened me, that you will disapprove my loan, should I apply for one in your bank.
And we would talk and talk and I would get myself another coffee. And we would not stop laughing as we recall our silliness and petty quarrels. You would remind me how you walked in the rain from my previous office to my apartment after we fought over I could no longer remember what. You had to walk and get soaked because your wallet and keys were with me.
Remember the nights when you were crying beside me, like a baby, because I refused to do your essay? Remember why I refused was because the essay was to tell your trust in God and the miracles that he did for the world? Remember that I have lost trust in the shits of religion? I still did your essays, and your sister’s too, because it was my obligation to you as a lover. I did your paperworks out of love. I did them even if it meant betraying my own beliefs.
All your essays and paperworks were marked excellent, something that I never had when I was still in College.
And remember those nights when you had to wait outside my apartment until 3:00 a.m., and mosquitoes feasting on your blood, while I was out on a meeting?
And we would stop, for maybe 10 long minutes, because we will both be reminded about that text that you sent me–that breakup text where you said I ‘destroyed’ your future. That I ruined your education. Why because you were striken off from the Dean’s List when we were still starting off.
I will, of course, break the silence and backtrack the early days of our 1 year and seven months relationship. You would listen to me as I recall how you asked–required–me to iron your uniform and wash your underwear until I finally refused to do it anymore, a decision latched on the fact that I am not a fan of flat irons and ironed clothes. I had my bouts of selfishness, dear. I was sorry.
I was also sorry for not giving in to what you thought was ideal in our relationship. Still it rings clear to me, that what you said one night in my Poorbes Park apartment: “How I wish you’d be like my mom.”
By that you meant me giving up nightlife. Cooking dinner for you. Making you sandwiches, which I did. Washing your clothes, which I also did. Ironing your clothes–that one I hated but I still did. Forgetting that I am a journalist and that I have a career. Trashing my social obligation and my politics. Praying every morning and before going to bed. And most importantly, go to church every Sunday.
It also meant going to bed with you, sleeping at 9:00 p.m. beside you.
Yes, the relationship was from far from perfect. There was a time in my life, during those times when what I could only do was to revisit the past, that I blamed myself for refusing to be like your mother. What saved me was the happy, sweet memories, which, by the way, were more important that the sad, unfortunate moments in our relationship.
Did you not buy me an orange backpack? Did you not bring me food–anything–every time you arrive from home in Kapalong? I remember, days after one New Year, you brought me lechon, head included, and happy stories about how you and your family spent the holidays together.
One afternoon, while you were on your way home onboard a bus, you sent me a series of text messages that both showed how pissed you were because the bus was cramped up. In the series, you, too, showed how sweet and loving you were to me.
You said: “The bus stereo is playing Dahil Ikaw and I could not think of anyone else but you.”
And I would get another cup of coffee. And because we are staring to get sentimental already, I would jump to another topic. Perhaps I would express disbelief over you have maintained that skin that glowed under the sun. And you would not take your eyes from the natural yellow streaks in my hair and I’d tell you they’re natural and maybe you’d tell me “you still look young. You don’t look like you’re 34.” And that’s because I am happy, I am a happy gay, I would reply.
Then I would smile and look at your head, the hair shaved down to the roots and whisper in your ear: “You look like a penis. A beautiful, beautiful penis.”
I would have wanted it to be as spontaneous as possible as one says Hello to a Hi or a Sorry when one steps on the swelling toes of another. I would have wanted it to be just like the old times. Just like in the movies–where awkwardness is often there but is eaten by the world that stops to conspire for two formers lovers to meet again. They will not meet to make love but just to meet again. They’re former lovers alright. They’re over. They’re not supposed to make love again. Or go to bed again. Maybe to have sex, yes — just sex. That is simple sex. No emotions. No kissing—on the lips. Maybe they can kiss other parts of the body but the lips are supposed to be only for lovers and for those who are making love.
So in our case, we would meet, because the universe tells us to meet again, but we will not make love because we are no longer lovers. And we would not kiss on the lips. We will also stop ourselves from surrendering to the temptation of going to bed for sex because we both have our own lovers. We will both stop and stand against our own sexual will to have sex with each other. That is, of course, a violation of our right to have sex.
But over and above, we will stop because we are loyal lovers to our respective lovers. And you have a lover in tow, a lover who looked like a ghost under the sun. How can he be paler than you? You glow under the sun but he—he illuminates.
Anyway, yes, because we are both loyal lovers, we will stop ourselves from making love, err…having sex, with each other. As I was before when we were still together, I am divinely monogamous when I am in love. I can’t say the same to you–I mean, if you are a lover of singularity, whenever you are in a relationship because I am still bothered at the timing of your breakup with me. It happened when you were developing a super deep friendship with a friend, your friend’s boyfriend, who turned out to be your lover later I was told. But that’s of least importance to me now. Not that I am saying that it is not important anymore.
I am glad that you are happy with a new lover now. I, too, am with mine.
Still, these are the things that I would like to tell you. I thought I could not have a good start. Now I am scared I will not be able to finish this. See, I am scared of a lot of things. And I am not even sure whether writing this letter is the right thing to do but I am writing it anyway, if only that I will be able to pacify myself. This is my outlet. Please give it to me. There is no thinking here. No editing. Spontaneity is taking charge here.
And so it really can happen. That two people — good friends or lovers or former lovers — separated by time or hatred or unloving, find themselves together in one place, in our case, on a boat, heading to some island. It turned out to be one of the longest trips in my life, apparently because you were there.
The moment I saw you board that boat, I honestly did not know what to do but to pretend that I was okay. It was not the perfect day for us to meet again. You are my past. I am your past. And I don’t really think there is a perfect day for former lovers to meet once more. Not for those who chose to be strangers to each other.
Everything must have been very difficult for you. It was for me.