Sunday, October 15, 2006
It was inevitable: he and I were bound to appear on the same birthday party. The celebrant was a common friend of ours, and at that particular moment when I set my eyes on his direction, lit by the reception house’ shimmering lanterns, I wished the ground opened up and swallowed me. Marvelous: my former boyfriend, with a forgettable girl in tow. As if the spectacle wasn’t enough, they had the gall to place themselves in a strategic spot where I could see them sucking on each other’s lips in full French glory. My divine shame collecting into a facial redness, I had felt a sudden affinity with the sacrificial virgins at the Mayan pedestals, their throbbing heart and mine being bloodily ripped out of the ribcage for the crowd to see.
It was he, all right, but it was not he all the same. It was rather difficult to reconcile the immaculate guy that my ex-flame was to the considerably wasted savage that he is lately: somewhat unkempt, rarely shaven, given to disdainful remarks peppered with unprintables. This was the guy whom I traded I love yous for years until recently—the well-heeled, well-scrubbed guy from the Chinese school for boys near the Chinese school for girls I attended until both of us moved on to college. Now that we were of the same academic institution, we ironically grew apart, farther perhaps than the distance of disenfranchised Pluto from the rest of the solar system. Actually, he was Pluto: he could no longer take his planetary place in the universe of my being, not for anything else but his choice.
I really do not gather the reason for his cold-as-a-corpse treatment. What I remember, as always, was the fullness of life I felt when I still belonged in his arms. Sulking in my otherwise dainty room, I would excavate a boxful of mementoes he left at the course of our emotional understanding. This was the hotdog pillow he used to hug as a toddler, and he gave it to me because he claimed that the mandarin-colored sleeping cushion was my precursor. Since I were around, he added, of what use to him is the item when he could already hug the real thing? Meanwhile, this was the journal on which he reflected on our moments together, affording the dream that the only girl he mentioned in the dominantly pink sheets of stationery would be his wife and the mother of his children. I used to humor him for the choice of color, insinuating that maybe, just maybe, he would be the wife and mother instead of me. That was before: the very pallid shade of red turned paler all the more after being literally watermarked—the adorable writings he said to have flown straight out his heart were washed by my nightly tears. This one here was an album of our photographs together, with enough sweetness to cause tooth decay in an hour of browsing the pictures. This was the bulk of love letters when he was still courting me. In the epistles, he was short of offering me celestial bodies and asteroids and stardust and comets just so I would answer his romantic plea, but my former beloved was already adorable as he was—well, until lately. In the papers populated by his curly pen strokes, he declared his undying passion…and now… The rest of the door-to-door-type box, I see, was a motley of stuffed animals, sprays of flowers, perfumed shirts he would take off his shivering body, all given on various occasions that we were able to meet outside our hectic curricular schedules. When the knickknacks and the rendezvous began to rival the frequency of annual solar eclipses, wonder wove a web of woes in my heart. The text messages and the calls that used to render my mobile phone operations hanging eventually dwindled, like a rioting of sunlight giving way to the deathliness of the dark, sparing just a few sparkle of starlight.
I could only surmise that the mostly incongruent schedules we maintain broke the proverbial straw on the camel’s back. He would call one afternoon, vibrating in anticipation regarding having to rush from his home in Makati to mine in Quezon City just so we might eat out on a late luncheon, only to be told over the phone that I went to this place or that, my apologies let me make it up to you next weekend sorry I have an emergency meeting Mom has set me up an appointment with the dentist ad infinitum. I would place a return call, but his interest had gone down the drain, he would complain. On my many attempts for us to sit down and talk things over, all I would hear over the speaker was a raspy voice that seemed exhausted from the journey to the ends of the galaxy. The tired voice always transmitted the bad news: it’s over.
Yes, to him, it was over. No fanfare, no bravura performance of him while a tear-jerky Maalaala Mo Kaya background music floated in the air. Just that: frozen, unfeeling, non-negotiable. What about the completeness he brought into my life, let alone the years spent investing love for one another? His retort was as enigmatic as a black hole: he has moved on while I was still stuck in my illusion. For writing this piece about him, I proved him correct about my not having trudged along yet. The first instances his it’s overs rattled my eardrum, I would embarrassingly admit to having created scenes before my Mom. I keened and wailed like a banshee, milking for sympathy from my mother whose sleeping hours I molested for weeks on end. I still thought it was unfair, this: not being able to meet halfway with my fugitive lover to settle things once and for all. Technically speaking, he decided that we have broken up without me knowing it.
The girl at the party was not even the third wheel. My ex-boyfriend’s well-meaning friends would comfort me that the so-so date would pester him for a second meeting, to no avail. Even as she would travel all of Edsa on bended knees, she would not have my ex-boyfriend make a crazy idea ever anew, they would laugh. But all his shows were not a laughing matter to me at all; he was trying to hurt me for all the pains I indirectly caused him for not allowing enough time for the two of us. To be honest, he succeeded in his mission, for often, my dead-tired body would be at the mercy of his tormenting thoughts. Yes, Celine Dion, there were nights when the wind was so cold, and I was longing for the warmth of my former beloved’s embrace.
When the passionate outbursts tempered, I already resigned to the fact that his supposed eternal love was but a piece of rhetoric. Nevertheless, that particular acceptance barely assisted me in my emotional recuperation (or the lack thereof, dare I confess). I have not moved on yet, but it was pointless to beg for another chance at love from someone not unlike a graven idol without real divine capacity to make things happen. Somebody went to the absurd extent of advising me to write my relational petition to Wish Ko Lang, but even in my most desperate mode, I would try to keep my emotional anguish away from becoming a scandalously public knowledge of national proportions.
I felt sorry that my personal compromises had met an abortive fate: I would now have a slim chance of having my first boyfriend for a husband, of building a happy life with him as father of my own family, of not having any other love except him (not allowing myself to fall in love again would be the height of my sadomasochistic streak—I was really hoping my first love would also be my last, my one and only, so to speak). At times, when I think about it, I would like to poke myself in the head for having sworn my personal commitment, because words are such a binding force, at most, for me. At the opposite bank of the river, his declaration of deathless passion seemed to pale in comparison to, say, a promise of a lifetime housekeeping service or one of a leisurely swim across shark-infested waters. Such were the worthlessness of his words that near-impossibilities were being contrasted against his bombastic oath.
Following a friend’s advice that reading is a wonderful love therapy, I found myself inside a bookstore the weird way an atheist would find himself returning to the Church’s fold. I got to browse that friend’s favorite novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who made his character of a Catalonian bookseller articulate a line worth immortalizing in my former beau’s tattoo-meriting forehead: “Even the wildest, most tenacious love is an ephemeral truth in the end.” Bingo! That fitted his love description: he deluded himself into thinking he couldn’t live without me enough for him to swear everlasting love, yet currently, it’s as if I were the most detestable criminal in the whole world. I have repeatedly swallowed my pride in order to have back everything we were before, but all I get from him was a mindless answer so lousy it made telecom staples like “The number you have dialed is not yet in service” seemed more excitable.
At the end of the bend, I indeed have yet to leave my cave of oblivion to see the colorful world out there, and so has my former boyfriend, contrary to what he claimed. The mere fact that he would go his way to condescend me by picking up a cheap date to whom I would be miserably compared means he wants to avenge for the suffering I rendered him. Likewise, the devolution he has undergone is not a telling evidence of having recovered from the heartache. Finally, the robotic manner he deals with me at present manifests the emotional grudge he still carries against our frustrated relationship. As for me, moving on takes long because all things being equal, always and forever, I still love him. My masochist mantra: love, although it hurts. I don’t agree that stupid are those who love even the beloved’s folly, for who is perfect in the midst of this humanity? I have seen beyond his imperfection—he cannot be a Hugh Jackman or a Jude Law with impeccable personal characteristics. If continuing loving him entails the extreme sacrifice of self-preservation, so be it. I need someone to love apart from myself. Brand me a moron, but I will wait for the realized hope (or delusion) of being loved again by him even at the expense of my chance at other loves. In our present world of a very few miracles, loving even the unloving or those devoid of capacity to love is one miracle not entirely removed from the manner God loves the sinners among us.