“There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
1. The Best Friend. By definition, this is the guy I was supposed to “grow up” with, the one I never imagined I would ever have to part with. I used to talk to him over late night phone conversations and lose sleep over an exchange of text or instant messages with, on topics that weren’t really important in life. I didn’t mind sharing one plate with him when we ate, literally. We knew each other’s secrets and frustrations with love. When he was heart-broken, I was there. When he couldn’t sleep, I stayed up on the phone all night trying to get his mind off of what bothered him. He’s the guy I couldn’t hang up on the phone until he’s peacefully snoring even though all I really wanted to do was hit him on the head. We forged each other’s signatures on attendance sheets so we could cut classes. He is that guy all my closest girl friends once wished I end up with. The one who asked me to be his Best Maid and whom I promised would be my Man of Honour. The one I never intended to fall in love with.
Until that morning I woke up, I looked at him and it all dawned on me. I realised what I’d always known deep in my heart, he’s the only person I could entrust myself to for a lifetime. The one person rightful to have my heart. I saw a fleeting picture in my mind—we’ve both grown up, we’re both older, all burned out with the waiting and trying and failing in love. I am with him…and for once, I am at peace. So in that peace, I held my ground. I was never bothered with him falling in and out of love with all the different girls who crossed his path. Not as long as I was there beside him, the constant one. I dated other guys too but I held him in my heart. I kept him there believing that, a time would come when we’ll be all grown up and we will be together. That the promise we made that we’ll marry each other when we’re forty and still single was always meant to be fulfilled.
But life happened. And we didn’t just grow up, we grew apart.
2. The Soulmate. Serendipitous as destiny itself, I met him by the train station, at a bus terminal. There, in the midst of my lonely life as I waited for the rush hour to subside, he passed by me and smiled. “I know you,” he said. “I know you, too,” I answered. It was not the first time I saw him, but it was the first time I actually met him. We talked, of things I barely remember now. We stood there pretending to wait for the next bus as we tried to discover as much as we could about each other. We were surprised by how much we had in common: high school, university, village, our daily commute. It was the first time we talked and it felt like we knew each other forever. The buses came and left that night in front of us. We stood there, talking, refusing to leave. We sat down somewhere we could talk some more, ignoring pollution, the noise, commuters and the chaotic city all around us. We talked about our parents and our broken homes, of compatibility and working things out, of destiny and choices. We rode the last bus home that night with one thought in mind—we found our soulmates.
He used to wash his clothes at 2am, I used to cry my stress out ’til early dawn. We didn’t have ideal homes like others do but through exchanges of text messages, we were there for each other every sleepless night. Then, we’d each face the next morning acting like we’re normal. Our common struggles and shared pains affirmed our hasty conclusion that we indeed shared one soul. We felt we kind of rescue each other. WE made US forget. I’d call him when no words would come out. Without words, he would get it. In that secret world of ours, I found solace.
“There’s this girl I left hanging in midair. But don’t you worry, I will come back for her, I will just fix something and I will be back,” his text message read one night. I would later realise that the girl he was referring to was me. Someone taught me early in life that holding on to words as vaguely said as that is like holding on tightly to a block of ice, you’ll never realize how much pain it’s causing until all of it melts and you end up with nothing.
That someone was HIM.
3. The Intellectual. I met this guy while pursuing a rightful, brainy endeavour. As is usual with this type, he is shy and unassuming. Precisely the reason why we only got to talk to each other by way of other people teasing us, actually more teasing him about me. We, women, subconsciously know early on whether a guy somehow likes us. The test is whether the guy works towards affirming or negating this natural instinct. That’s the basis how we decide whether we let the idea cross from the subconscious to the conscious. Some guys give us a hard time. They send mixed signals that confuse our senses. The Intellectual is not one of them. He is easy to read and had I been inclined to assume, I would have gotten right away that he liked me. But smart as he is, he fought his natural tendency to be too obvious. Perhaps because he always wants to be sure about everything before acting upon it. And because he’s the smart one, he is aware of his own weakness so he continued to work against his nature and tried hard enough to be non-transparent. He might have been, to my thinking, too insecure and unused to failing that he dared not risk rejection, neither direct nor implied. And he won’t dive into something he don’t know much about, and there’s only a few of those things. Unfortunately, romantic love is at the top of that list. So technically, our story never really came to be. He was that asymptotic curve I’ve kept encountering in my Math classes—approaching ever nearer, but never really reaching to cross the line, satisfied with his space for the longest time until the perpendicular reached the line and the asymptote’s chance was blown away…
to an infinity of unreached, almost surreal tangency.
4. The Passion. Passion was only meant to be strong, it never needed to be right. And that’s how he is from the start, that burning desire that almost always precedes chaos. He is the star of an action film who got transported to reality, but one who lost that Hollywood attractiveness in exchange for the enigmatic appeal of what is real. And as in the movies, I met him in the midst of a riot, a chaotic event that disrupted my normally boring life. He was the closest I had to seeing the dark parts of this world that normalcy refused to shed light on. He is the bad boy who I knew was never really going to do me any good from the start but got myself involved with, nonetheless. Why? ‘Cause refusing to give in to such ardent passion is like depriving yourself that can of Coke after eating pizza. Even if I initially fight it, I knew I’d still give in to it at a later time lest the craving persists. And as in any vice, the experience was extraordinary, every moment was new. He’s always got something I’ve never had before, never tasted before. Darkness has never been so addicting. So it didn’t really matter if it’s good or bad, once I tried it, I wanted it, and every bit of it. More than once I had the chance to get out, run away and forget he ever happened. But I kept coming back. There was something in him I couldn’t compose myself to turn my back from. Maybe it was the thrill, the excitement, the rarity of a chance that a life like mine would collide with such of his. Maybe it was the heat only a burning passion can make me experience and the apparent unlikelihood of getting another of such intensity ever again. So I stayed for as long as I can, I stood the heat until I burned. I drowned into the fire and lost my mind.
And then he left.
5. The Book. He has always been there. He’s the collection of bound sheets securely covered, the one that always sat on the shelf but I won’t pick up ’cause it didn’t look exciting. I was then too active, outgoing and adventurous, I won’t really stop to open a book. Besides, I can never really appreciate a book when I was embracing darkness. Had I reached and opened it at that time, I would not have seen what beauty lies on those pages anyway. It required light which I refused to accommodate. So I went on with my usual ways and left The Book untouched.
Then, some time in the middle of my long, uphill run: pain lead me into a halting stop. That’s when I felt the pounding of my blood raising to my head to the point I thought my heart’s going to burst. In that moment, I felt the exhaustion. I needed to sit down and find shelter. I was thirsty for comfort and security and warmth—the kind that doesn’t burn, that soothes the soul. Something I never knew for a long time. And when I took that rest, allowed myself to immerse in the quiet, the peace, that restful state; my wounds were healed. At such perfect time, I remembered The Book on the shelf. I stood up and found it still there. Finally I opened it and it didn’t withhold from me the wisdom it’s kept all these years which have long waited for me to take in, as if all of it was written solely for me. Every page told me what I always ought to have known from the beginning. Away from all the distractions, The Book finally spoke to me and I understood it. And as I read, it started building the story—one with ME in it.
You know how when we’re young we long for the day we get to retire? How much we dream we could retire at a young age? And when we picture that retirement, regardless which place we’re in, travelling the world or staying home, don’t we picture ourselves comfortably clad in a nook reading a book? Well to me, he is The Book. He’s the one I never imagined I’d one day open, but can’t put down when I started. And if I could read only one book my whole life, I’d still reach out for him. He’s the ONE good book for me. When you find something like that, you vow ’cause you know you’d never want him in you past. ‘Cause you’re sure…
The Book is nothing I thought I wanted but everything I always needed—the one I’ll keep reading for the rest of my life.