Friday, March 07, 2008

Never Was. Never Will Be.

I called Lawrence twice to inform him I was already in Causeway Bay and that I was gonna ransack his fridge because I was hungry. Both times, he didn't pick up. So when, after about 2 minutes, my phone rang, I was certain it was he. I pressed the answer button without checking the number first. I was all giggly when I said, "Hi friennnnnnnnnnnd!" I was mistaken. It was another person calling. And that person, a mere acquaintance was taken aback after hearing me talk that way. I was laughing my ass off as I explained to him that I was expecting another call. While on the phone with the person, half of my brain was thinking, "God, I'm not yet ready for spring. Maybe I should walk around a bit to look for some really nice shorts. I have much time to kill anyway." So I did.

I went inside Guess first. But I had to leave immediately. They had a nice white bag that I couldn't stand looking at. It was too beautiful! And I couldn't afford it right now. Maybe not in the next two months even. I walked a little more until I found Gas --- one of those shops that I don't really frequent because their merchandise are just addictive and pricey. I don't even know until now why I chose to visit Gas instead of Diesel, which stood just about 3 meters away. Diesel, being the brand my wallet prefers.

So anyway, I was checking out a pair of fatigue shorts, still on the phone with the person when it dawned on me that I was speaking loudly. There was a Filipino-looking tisoy in the store who kept looking at me. He probably thought I was humiliating. After hanging up, I walked down to the other end of the rack to examine the grey striped shirt I saw as I was walking inside the store. I took off my dark shades to It was then that the Filipino-looking tisoy came up to me and said, "Ryan?"

Call it celebrity complex, but the first thought that popped in my mind was, "Wow! Another The Dan and Rye Show listener!" I smiled at him and with the confidence of a Hollywood star, I said "hi."

"Di mo ko nakikilala no?"

My smile turned from self-assured to apologetic.

"Ang daya mo! I recognized you as soon as I saw you, pero ako di mo na kilala. You look so different! You look like you're enjoying your life a lot. Di ka na mukhang starving artist."

"Pano mo ko nakilala if you're saying I look so different?"

"Your voice hasn't changed. And your smile."

I was staring at him, dumbfounded. A barrage of thoughts and emotions overpowered me. Flattered. Confused. Scared. Embarrassed. Hungry.

"Francis," he finally revealed.

My eyes grew big and I felt my heart thump.


It was the summer of 1999. I just got kicked out from the university and was suffering from a freshly-bruised heart. I didn't know what to do with my life. I wasn't even sure I wanted it to continue. I failed my parents and my first attempt at romance turned out to be a huge fiasco. I tried everything to entertain myself --- crazy night-outs, mountain climbing, alcohol, weed, shopping, mIRC. That's where I met him. On #gaymanila, Undernet. For a whole week, we chatted every night from 11-3. During daytime, we'd sms nonstop, telling each other everything we were going through throughout the day: from big realizations about life, love & relationships to Chico & Delamar. Everything. I would refuse to sms my other friends so I could save my load for him.

About 3 days after we started talking on the phone, we agreed to meet up. Gerry's (or was it Dencio's?), Tomas Morato, 10 pm (I think). It went well. It went better than I expected. A few rounds of beer later, we left and headed to a discreet motel in the residential part of Cubao. We drank some more and talked. Then we cuddled. Then he asked me about the guy who broke my heart, and I cried, telling him about the guy. He held me in his arms. He smelled nice and I was drunk and horny. We started to make out. I could feel he was hard and I was too. But we didn't have sex. We checked out of the motel, picked up a bottle of Emperador brandy and Coke, and headed to his place in Pasig. There, we talked some more. Until the sun rose, and it was time for me to go home.

I woke up late in the afternoon that day with a hang-over. I checked my 5110 as soon as I opened my eyes to see how many messages he has sent me while I was asleep. None. I asked my dad whether anyone called for me. None. I got the message. He didn't like me. Maybe that's why he didn't try to have sex with me. Maybe his kiss meant nothing more than "You must feel terrible. I hope this makes you feel better." I wanted to call to ask why he acted so different all so suddenly. But I didn't wanna look more pathetic and more vulnerable than I already was.

Around dinnertime, he sent me a message that went something like, "I just woke up. I hope your hangover is not as bad as mine. Call me when you wake up."

We went out for about two more weeks after that. One night, we were on a cab going home from a friend's party, I asked him whether he was willing to be in a relationship with me. He said no. The reason being, he was leaving for Japan soon. He had just graduated from college before we met and his parents had arranged for him to join them there where bigger career opportunities were waiting for him. I asked how soon. He said in less than a week. I was hurt I felt he was being unfair, leading me on like that when he knew we had no future together. I didn't speak to him for days. I refused to take his calls and reply to his messages. When I was ready to talk things over, he decided it was his turn to act stubborn. One morning, he sent me a message asking to see me. He said he was leaving the following day.

I went to his place that night and we had sex. The first time we did. After which, I asked him why we never considered a long-distance relationship as an option. I hadn't met Guillaume or Ricky then. I was young and idealistic and I didn't know how much time, effort, maturity and money were required to make an LTR work. I though love was enough. And I believed our love was enough. He said he didn't want it. It would be difficult for us both. He was all dressed and ready to go to the airport when he woke me up the following morning. I got up and hopped in the cab with him. I had prepared myself to bring him to the airport. But he instructed the driver to drop me off at my place first before heading to NAIA. Before the cab turned right to Santolan from EDSA, I asked him, "Pano tayo?"

He said, without any trace of sadness, "Ganun talaga. Some relationships are not meant to last a lifetime. Be thankful na lang that we had this moment, kahit na sandal lang." He squeezed my hand and I let out a tear.

That was our last encounter. I never found him on mIRC again after that and he never answered any of my emails. Eventually, I forgot about him. From that time on until today, I have met lots of Francises here and there. And I've heard of Japan a lot of times. But not once did any of these ever remind me of the Francis that I fell in love with who flew to Japan and left me heart-broken. Never.


"Bat nandito ka?", I asked him after I managed to regain my composure.

"Bakasyon lang."

"But you still live in Japan?"

"Yes, Dun na ko naka-base. Kelan ka dadalaw dun?"

"Wala pa kong plans. Hanggang kelan ka dito?"

"Sunday. Dito ka na ba nakatira?"

"Oo. I moved here in June of 2005."

"Ah talaga? E kunin ko number mo. Gimik tayo bukas or something. Ano work mo?"

"Dancer pa rin. Hehe! Sino kasama mo?"

His phone rang. He talked to the caller in Japanese.

"Ryan, balik na ko sa hotel. Ready na mag-Mong kok yung mga kasama ko."

"Ok. Sino ba yun?"

"Yung partner ko tsaka sister nya."

"Ahhh ok! O sige! Ingat!"

He hurried away then he looked back and signaled that he will call me. Then it dawned on me, we didn't get to exchange numbers. Maybe what he said to me years ago was right. That some relationships are not meant to last a lifetime. I'm still thankful that we had this moment, 9 years after we last saw each other, kahit na sandal lang.