A Time to Write and a Time to Tell

I thought all love stories are the same. I thought that love must be given only to one. I believed all those stories told to me by the books I read and the movies I watched. I wanted to think that living happily ever after is possible and that there exists a prince looking for me. Once upon a dream, I believed in fairy tales.

Whenever my friends were in pieces, whenever they were broken, whenever they needed help to pick them up, I cease believing in fairy tales. Whenever they love again, ready to risk once more, I start to believe. Later on I realized that fairy tales are only for books. Perfection is something that is only in dreams; we can only make the best of what we have. We can only try to reach for the stars that we will never have.

When I first walked into that biology classroom 5 semesters ago, I was one of the three freshmen students lost among the pool of upperclassmen. After the first two weeks of classes, I barely noticed him. He was the only one from fine arts in that class. For the first two weeks, I was never late for that class and enjoyed my place among other engineering majors. I started being late due to my Communication class at the College of Arts and Letters. Our professor made a point in asking those who are late for class to sit at the back separated from the rest of the class. I often ended up there with the guy from fine arts. That’s how I knew him then, the guy from fine arts.

Later on, he spoke to me. That’s when I learned that he’s a Visual Communication major and was always late due to a major class at the College of Fine Arts right before Biology. That time, our professor has already bored half of the class to sleep and we were no longer listening to his lecture. I remember him telling me that our professor had already sent someone to the guidance office some time ago. I couldn’t believe it as I thought that it was so high school and I told him so. I remember us laughing then. We must’ve laugh a little too loud as he was asked to answer a question posted earlier. He said he hated biology but awed everyone by his answer regarding the 1912 pandemic question. I think that even our professor was amazed by his knowledge on the subject to even remember to scold us for not listening.

That class was right before lunch time and it was transferred from Pavilion 4 to the Institute of Biology besides CASAA. One day, he invited me to lunch where I joined him for pasta and chicken. Soon enough we became really good friends and became regular at the place despite the fact that I have food waiting for me at the dormitory. We helped each other in making our scientific paper for that Biology class. We spent time together digging through books and scientific journals at the College of Science Library. He told me everything he knows about the 1912 pandemic strain and similar viruses. And I shared to him everything I know about handling, storing and laboratory preparations and protocols in handling these virus samples. During the final examination, we reviewed together at CASAA. Much later in the course, he helped me review through the finals.

We managed to stay in touch even after the course. We sometimes spent lunch time together where we would talk about anything from arts to politics to computing, to the state of education, what courses to take, which ones to avoid, which professors are good and who must be avoided. Since we have no common friends, we became each other’s escape.

He taught me a lot of things. Back then we only saw each other twice or thrice a month but even then we often exchanged SMS and were always chatting in the yahoo messenger almost every other night. I was the best friend he never had while he was the best friend I missed having. For more than a year we enjoyed lunches at CASAA, doughnuts at Cello’s, snacks at Choco Kiss and OZ and coffee at Starbucks. He would always insist on paying while I would argue to share the bill with me ending up paying for only a third of it.

Even though he was a few months older than me, I felt like he is my younger brother as he was emotionally younger than I am. We had a lot of similarities: our taste in art, the art we create, the songs we like, the ones we hate, the books we read the food we eat and even our mood swings. But most of all, we were both kids wanting to grow up. We became each other’s adviser from the subjects we took, to problems with our peers, problems at home and even on each other’s love life.

There was one time when I was so depressed and so tired with all my academic works that I told him so. He called me up and said, “You’re crying.” It wasn’t a question and there were indeed tears in my eyes. “I’m not,” I told him and I knew my voice sounded way steadier than I felt. He told me to say what I want. He also told me that it’s OK to cry. And that time, I cried my heart to him. As I did, he sang 6cyclemind’s Sandalan to me. He cut the song short to say, “This is the first time I heard you cry and I can’t even be there to wipe your tears. I don’t even see them.” It was already 2am and the dorm is already closed. There was no point in coming over. The next day, he invited me to go to Nayong Pilipino with him which meant that we both had to skip classes. I had fun that day and, for a while, I forgot about my problems.

At the end of that semester, he told me that he likes me. I’ve never learned how to respond to those words. Not because I’ve never heard them before. On the contrary, I’ve heard them a couple of times already. And once in my life, I even heard it from a girl and twice from an underclassman. It came in various forms. I respond either with silence or with a word of thanks. That time, I responded with both.

For me, he was like a younger brother. I told him my problem with commitments. I didn’t need to remind him about my promise to my father. I told him that it would be unfair to make him wait for something without certainty. He said it would be even more unfair if I don’t give him a chance to do so. That afternoon, I told him that the choice rests upon him. If he decides to take the risk, I will give him a chance but do not promise anything. We share the love of friendship and I cannot promise anything more than that. I told him to think it over. He said he would.

After three days, he asked to see me. He gave me a bracelet. He said he’s willing to take his chances. I reminded him that I cannot promise anything. I told him that he’s free. He can see other girls and go out with them and that I would respect his decision if he finds another girl. He told me that I have the same freedom and that if in the end, I tell him that I cannot possibly love him other than as my friend, he will respect my decision. And after that day, nothing was said anymore regarding that topic.

Over the summer, I decided to take summer courses. That time was also a busy time for me. I, together with my friends and some people from COMELEC were conceiving an organization in the University. It was also a busy time due to the fact that the 2007 National and Local Elections were scheduled that May. Despite that, we would always spend 2 hours or so together after class over cake and coffee. Sometimes we would have our little debates, sometimes I would ask him to read over something I wrote for my Creative Writing class, sometimes he’ll ask me for advice but most of the time we would sit in silence. Not the uncomfortable silence of having nothing to talk about. It was a comfortable silence assuring that the absence of words can best say it all. And it is during those times that I can concentrate on studying for my lessons, free from the day’s stress. I learned a lot of things during those silent moments.

After the elections, we had a falling out. His insecurities began to resurface. He thought that he was losing me. It was already late at night, I just came from the city canvassing at the Quezon City Hall, and I went to see him at Mc Donald’s. He didn’t speak. I asked him why he doesn’t want to speak to me, and talk it over. He told me it was me who doesn’t want to do so. He asked me to go home since it was already late. He didn’t even offer to bring me home. I was so mad at him at that time. He was so childish. That’s when I started referring to him as kinder (as in kindergarten) whenever I talk to my friends about him.

The day after, I didn’t go to Oz where we usually hang out together. Instead, I went to SM with my friends to unwind a bit. We watched a movie that time. We were already running late and we knew we will not be able to make it before the curfew due to heavy traffic. While stuck in heavy traffic in front of the then newly opened Trinoma, I received a message from him. It said, good night and wished me sweet dreams. I replied to him: so, you’re not mad at me anymore? He replied that he cannot stay mad at me. There were no apologies. It was just that and we made up.

Later that summer I knew I love him more than I did before. I thought everything was going well. After the classes ended and while I was at the province, he told me that he thinks it’s best for us to stop seeing each other for a while. He said that he feels like he’s being a distraction to me. That he feels like he’s just hurting me and that if he doesn’t stop now, he might end up hurting me even more. I told him that there was no need for excuses, that if there is another girl, he should just tell me. He said there isn’t and that I know him. That if there is, I would be the first person to whom he will introduce his new girl since I am the person he trusts the most and that he knew that of all people, I would understand. I was confused at that time. I told him I needed time to sort things out, to think and that he should do the same.

We knew that there was something much more than friendship. We were both afraid to risk, scared to make a mistake and afraid to hurt each other. We knew that if we continue, there was no coming back. I guess we were still both kids and we weren’t ready. It was something both of us don’t really understand and it made us feel vulnerable and insecure. We were both not ready to leave our comfort zones, to risk everything. To risk our friendship and what we shared during the past year. We were not ready for the change.

What we failed to realize was that everything has already changed. We cannot make things go back to how it was before. The sad thing is, no matter how we try, everything is different now. When we talked things over, he told me that I deserve a better man, that he may not be worthy of my love. I asked him what love is. He tried but couldn’t explain. I tried but couldn’t explain. I told him that he’s being unfair to himself more than to me. I told him to find himself. I told him that long ago I promised that I would respect his decision and that now that he’s running away, I can only watch him through the door. I told him I can’t fight for a man who can’t fight for his own happiness.

When I turned to leave, he held me back and hugged me. He asked me if we could stay like that for a while. He asked me if I remember what I told him about letting only people I trust to get close. He asked me if I trust him. I said I trusted the person I knew. But now, I no longer know. He didn’t ask me to trust his decision, but he did ask me not to run away. I did. For some time after that night, I did. And for a while, we stayed like that, me standing motionless and crying with him hugging me from behind. I felt his tears running, from my hair to my neck. I pretended not to notice. When he let go, I walked away without looking back.

Two weeks later, he went to one of my classes bringing a silver glass rose. I asked him why. He told me to think it over. I did. I never got his message. Was that his farewell gift? Was that goodbye? Was that the symbol of our now fragile friendship? Why? What did that rose mean? He never told me, and perhaps he never will. I wanted to hate him. I wanted to say that I’m angry but I wasn’t and I’m still not. I wanted to say that I don’t love him anymore but I can’t and I still do.

A week later, I gave him back everything he gave me. I didn’t cry, he didn’t cry. It was over. It was time to move on, to start anew. I needed to give those back. I did it neither out of pride nor hate, but because I felt like it must be done, to close the chapter, to end the story, to clean the mess. Whatever. He took everything back except the bracelet. He told me to keep it. It was for me, he said, and he will not have any use for it. He told me to give it back to him when I get married. He asked me if, in the end, when we end up single until our 40th birthday, I could be his wife. I told him that I cannot promise anything.

He told me, “I loved you. In fact, I still do. I really do.” That was the first time I heard him say those words. I felt like there was a lump on my throat and slowly moving to my chest. Why does he have to say that? Before I left, the only response I gave him was, “I know.”Once again, I walked out on him. The time will come when we can be friends again, not now, but someday it will. Someday, I told myself, someday this will all be a distant memory.

Days later, I saw him with another girl. I wouldn’t go far as to say I wasn’t jealous. But that was just it. I didn’t hate him nor blame him. It was, after all, none of my business and I honestly don’t care. The day after, he introduced her as his girl. Though I wanted to hate her, I liked her. She was a sweet girl. Like all those times when he introduced his girl to me, I told him to take care of her.

In North Mexico, there was something they called the acomodador or giving up point. It was said that there is always a point in our lives that is responsible for us failing to progress and that one must review one’s entire life to pinpoint it. I still don’t know where we gave up. I never understood what happened. Maybe be were still both kids unable to fathom the meaning of love. I thought all love stories were the same but things were more complicated than I thought. I never understood why he left. I never understood why I walked out on him.

In the love stories that we know, we are told that whenever these things happen, we are once again free. But what is freedom? What is fidelity? Why do we need to possess a body and a soul that isn’t ours? Why cage love when it should be free? Not all love stories are the same. We do not need to comply with the standards laid down by people we don’t even know without even knowing why. We need not be prisoners of the rule of order. We do not need to abide without question.

After a long while, we saw each other. He told me he still loves me.Love is not meant for one. Love is meant to be free. Love for one will not be erased with the love for another. It is true that I no longer love him like I did yesterday. But that never meant that I stopped loving and caring. There was a passage from the bible that said that love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful nor conceited nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offense.

I asked him if he’s willing to try again. He said, no, he’s not yet ready. Maybe someday, maybe not. I said, “Good”. I’m not ready either. Sometimes we just have to close the chapter to begin a new one. To start all over again, to empty the drawers of our memory, to forget who we were and to begin our journey to who we still can be.

When he broke up with his girl, like in the old days, I was there for him. He called me up asking for company. “For old time’s sake”, he said. I guess I still wanted to be his best friend because I came without hesitation.

I still have the bracelet he gave me. I keep it in a bottle. I never used it after the day I tried to give it back. If we become friends again, I might use it once more. But right now, I can only keep it. It reminded me of what used to be. That bracelet was there during our friendship right before we crossed the line. One day, when we uncross that line, I’m going to wear it again. Someday. Maybe.

When he told me he’s leaving for Paris, I should’ve known he was leaving for good. I should’ve seen the signs: the way he refused to talk about it, the way he asked me why I wasn’t against it, the way he made me feel like I should stop him. I guess I wanted to believe that he is coming back to finish his degree or that at least he is coming back. I don’t know, to finish his degree in this University, for his friends, for his step dad, for his mom – and I guess I was even hoping, for me.

He told me that I was the one who ran away. I got angry at him because of two things. First, because it was true and second, because I wasn’t the only one. He did, too. I guess we’re more similar than we thought: always running away, pushing people away, never quite giving up but believing that everything can be lived without. He hid so well, I did, too. I guess that’s one thing that we do best, always saying everything is OK, always trying to fix things and pretending that nothing is wrong.

He asked me why I don’t stop him. I told him that is because I have no right to because it is his life, his dream and his choice. After all, I don’t even know my place in his life. I’m not his girlfriend, I used to be his best friend but are even still friends? I told him that if he wants someone to stop him, he should ask his mother or better yet, get another girlfriend. I knew that what I said were childish and uncalled for. I don’t know why I said it, I guess because it hurts. It hurts to know that I lost my place as his best friend, that special place in his life.

He should’ve known that I will never stop him. Not then, not now, not ever. I do not want people sacrificing for my happiness; I do not want to hinder people from following their dreams, including him, especially him, because I would do the same thing too. I wouldn’t give a damn on what people say or think because I know that I owe it to myself to fight for my dreams and he does to. He asked me what if that is our only chance to fix this. I standby what I said that day, I’m not his chance of a lifetime, Paris is.

He knew about my desire to pursue graduate studies abroad and I understand his fears that I may not be in the country when he comes back with his degree or that while he is there we might fall out of touch. I fear the same. And I know that it will happen. I’ve seen it happen to people around me and worse of all, I experienced it firsthand. But I’ve been wondering, what is there to fix? Although I, too, am hoping that our friendship is not beyond repair I’m just not sure about where it is going anymore.

Yes, I pushed him away. It seems to me that this is all I do. I keep pushing people away, falling out of touch, fading out of view. Then after a while keeping in touch again, letting people into my life again. It feels like I’ve been running in circles. It gets tiring after a while, the absurdity of it all. I feel like a kite runner chasing a kite that’s never coming down.

Maybe what he said is true. I give up too quickly, always letting other people push me around, never wanting others to do the fighting for me but not fighting for myself nonetheless. I guess that’s why I’m giving up right here, right now. I guess that’s why I pushed him away. But maybe this is also because I chose the wars I fight. I chose to fight for our friendship but I guess right now, I’m giving up this fight so he can concentrate on fighting for his dreams rest assured that after this he will find a loyal friend waiting.

I know that I might lose him forever. That the day when we can go back to how it was before may never come. But I cannot let my life come to a halt because of that. The world will not stop moving and the clock will not stop ticking while we suffer. There is no time to waste.

In the words of a Brazilian author: When I had nothing to lose, I gained everything. When I cease being me, I found myself.

All I know is that there is no bank where we can deposit the here and now. What is lost is lost forever. Someday the questions will answer themselves. What is important is the here and now. What are important is where we are, who we have, who we are and who we can still be. If we are all artist of life, we must learn to work with today’s medium. Grab the brush when it is offered. Mold the clay while it is there. Write the story while you have a pen. Because you can never mold with oil or write with clay. A story that wasn’t told might never come back and the picture that wasn’t painted might be lost forever.

Right now, God gave me a pen and I have a story to tell. I tell the story not to share, not to understand and not to reminisce. I write the story because it needs to be written. A chapter must be closed to begin the new one. We must empty our burden to make way for new memories, to forget our personal history to be able to move forward, to cease being ourselves to know who we truly are.

I tell the story because it must be told. I write neither in love nor in hate but because I need to move forward, to cut loose and to let certain things go. I tell the story as a testament that some things no longer fit anymore. Stop living in the past and make the best out of the present.

One day, I might love again. One day, I might risk everything once more. That day is not today. Not yet. Today, I will begin what I told him that we should do a long time ago. Today, I’m going to start to find myself. I can only hope that he does the same.

One day the questions will answer themselves. One day, the winds of time will blow away all the memories. One day, the boy will become a man. And one day, the little girl, too, will grow up. We can hope, we can try. Everything will happen in time. One day, we will know. Maybe. Maybe not.

There is a time for everything, a time to grieve, a time to heal. There is a time to dream and a time to wake up. There is a time to move on and a time to stay. There is a time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to learn and a time to unlearn. There is a time to remember and a time to forget. A time to write and a time to tell.

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Responses

  1. I wrote my story for it to be written too.
    Though i am glad you responded.
    As for me, I hope you two meet again, have another chance at friendship or your in-limbo relationship, or to love again like you used to.
    whatever you two decide, i hope you agree it is for the best, though i sincerely hope you do meet again someday and decide what the time is for you two. if i may, a word of advice? try to grow outward from this in the way of reaching out. im not saying you have to chase him unless you want too, or let him chase you. but perhaps, you need not be as cautious, or analytical in your decision to receive each others hearts. to just love and be loved and not push each other away. i apologize if you do not agree with this.

    i hope i hear how your story turns out one day, with or without him, in any form.

    also, you are a skilled writer, with the taste of language and meaninful profoundness that i aspire too.


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