IT wasn’t too long ago when, once you’re heartsick and scathed from a previous relationship, you guilt-tripped me for a petty wrongdoing and (you said as my way to make up) talked me into drinking with you at a bar until the wee hours. There you got drunk a kiss shy of passing out, and felt the need to cop out from our table from time to time to ease at the female washroom.
With alcoholic sincerity you looked up to me with misty eyes, my nose picking up the scent of your bathed breath. “I’m throwing up,” you begged. Except to my lap, your hands crept every which way to knock glasses and mash everything close at hand, alternating between a plateful of leftover sisig and the chaos that was my face. I was embarrassed by the spectacle we were making. You flailed your arms here and there, and talked louder than the mellow music that issued from the stereo. Quite unsure of what to do, I was determined to save our faces and get our asses out of there.
I summoned the guy behind the bar for the bill, whereupon you finally let it all out onto the sisig plate. There I realized that, as a relatively inexperienced drinker, sisig and puke look exactly the same, and the rhythmic action of throat by which you got rid of it all was like watching a snake give birth on National Geographic.
That warranted a trip to the washroom, and once we’re in, you commandeered a cubicle and remained there. I, on the other hand, was left out and had to endure the accusing stares of girls who came in and out of the room, and, every time, I gestured by protruding my lips toward the cubicle, sign language for “My ‘girlfriend’ is inside.”
Inasmuch as I wanted to stay (I promise, I did), I was eventually ushered out by the boys and had to wait outside the room. I’m so sorry. I was scared about how you would react thereafter: you vowing to never see me again ever, you scoffing at my “apathy” as ungentlemanly. To this day I’m still reenacting to you how awful you looked (and laugh while at it). “I was calling out your name countless times,” you would explain, to which I would say with equal intensity, “I heard.” But let me tell you right now that that was how you won my heart. And no matter how ugly the circumstances were, however smidgens of sisig dangled from your hair so that you smelled like ulam, gentlemanly or not, for the first time in my life somebody made me feel I’m needed.
From that day forward, you and I met when both of us were still reeling from the trauma caused by our previous relationships. We would go out and walk at a park in Marikina in the dead of night, our affair being one that could pass for something illicit. We would talk about our exes, but we never wondered why we’re there talking in the first place. However cliché we seemed to have found ourselves at the right place, at the right time; we were touched by the tragedy called love and were both made special by it.
It is true that whatever team you’re in, a breakup sucks both to the dumped and the dumper. I was the latter, you, on the other hand, was the dumped, we heard right from our own mouths the sentiments we so longed to hear when our past lovers had been remiss in saying these words.
It would seem decidedly convenient, but no matter how fresh the kind of pain we both wanted to heal, no rule should stand in the way of two people who simply wish to forget and regardless of the circumstances. Once you asked me what’s my purpose in your life. Then I was taken aback because I don’t think of myself as a godsend to you. It would much rather be easier to believe that, when somehow I found it in my heart to love, it’s not about you; it’s about myself. I’m not doing anybody a favor. I stay in your life because you make me happy.
It’s surprising the kind of comfort that has developed among us as if we were chancing acquaintances and an item from another time. And yet I still learn about you every day. I still rehearse my sweet-nothings in front of the mirror and cringe at your rage. Because there will be bad days, but it never occurred to me to bring up going separate ways as an option to a fight.
In the end, there is never a perfect relationship, only beautiful hearts. And no matter how stark one’s reality is, I believe that all hearts are capable of loving. Whether it gives you happiness or it gives you pain, what matters is that you put your heart into it.
Image credits: Jimbo Albano