Author’s note: This story is loosely inspired by a true story although scenes are fictional.
March 14, 2010
Piazza, McKinley Hill
“Hey, are you going to the meet-up?”
“I’m not really sure. I have an exam till 3pm and I don’t know if my energy can still manage to drag me to Piazza.”
“Well, just text me if you decide to come. But register anyway.”
Destiny either just tests us or we’re just too afraid to accept at this point that we’re not meant to be. Nevertheless, we still love, not because we want to, but because we just do.
“Hey Reynald, do you have that copy of the sample exam Gelo gave us?”
I browsed through my pile of readings and notes to look for that reviewer. Seeing it crumpled under all these lectures and formulas that I should study one day before the exam, I gave Cy the reviewer.
“Just have it photocopied. I haven’t read that yet,” I told her.
Many of my friends consider my chosen course as one of the hardest courses. Personally, I find it more challenging than hard. It gives me a certain satisfaction that a problem ought to go somewhere and there is at least one way to arrive at that point.
My only escape to this seemingly endless list of formulas and variables to master and memorize is browsing the internet and updating my blog on Tumblr.
There will be a big meet-up of Tumblr users tomorrow, the same day of my exam. I am not keen on attending the event because I don’t think I still have enough energy after the exam but I really want to see the people I got to talk with and eventually became friends with on Tumblr.
The exam was supposed to start 1pm but our professor arrived 30 minutes late. I used the extra time relaxing.
My friends regard me as the math genius and the walking calculator. I’d like to think that I was only gifted with the intelligence and diligence to study.
All the nights I spent sleepless paid off as I confidently finished the exam only a little after three. I left the room and checked my phone. I already had 17 unread messages all from my friends on Tumblr asking if I would come.
My body really just wanted to go straight to bed and doze off but I really wanted to see them all so I replied to the organizer and said that I was already on my way.
I just rode a cab to the venue. As much as I did not want to fall asleep, my eyes just worked its way through. When I woke up, I already saw a lot of people. I knew that I was already there.
I paid my fare and alighted the taxi.
I already noticed quite a few faces. To be honest, I was quite overwhelmed with the attendance that day. Mark, the event organizer approached me and asked, “Hey, you’re Reynald right? Can you please sign here so I can give you your nameplate?”
As I was filling up the registration sheet, someone suddenly tapped me on the back.
“Hey Reynald. Why didn’t you tell me that you’re coming?” He was Lander, one of the first people I met on Tumblr. He’s five years younger than me yet we immediately clicked when we first talked online.
“I really wasn’t able to tell anyone except the organizer. I’m sorry.” Mark handed me my nameplate. Lander then asked me to go with him and join the rest.
I was able to meet several of the Tumblr users I follow. The event went by with people talking, taking pictures with each other, making jokes, and having pure fun. While I got to meet other people, I noticed that I was with Lander the whole time. It was either he introduced me to some people I did not know, or me doing the same to him.
“So how was your exam?” he asked.
“It was quite hard,” I answered in my usual soft voice.
“You’re joking me. Admit it, it was a piece of pie. You’re practically a calculator shaped like a human,” Lander said jokingly.
“Hey that’s not true. I just study hard.”
“Whatever you say Reynald.”
“What does that mean? Don’t you believe what I’m saying?”
“Well, I just believe that you’re really a genius when it comes to math, judging by all those Tumblr asks,” Lander answered.
“You’re wrong. I’m a genius not only in Math. There are far more several things that I’m great at,” I told laughing.
Then he spent almost half an hour asking me random questions, testing my so-called ingenuity. When he finally ran out of questions, I started asking more about him.
“So what about you, what keeps you busy, except toy cars and video games?’ I asked grinning.
“Hey, I maybe young but I’m not childish. Well, maybe a little. But I also love doing other stuff aside from playing. I love football, and I dig photography,” he answered.
“Whatever you say Lander.”
“Are you trying to get back at me? You know you won’t win.” He then punched me on the arm and ran. Seeing him run like a child and smiling at me made me smile — a real smile. That was then that I knew I like him.
When people decided to leave, Lander and our group decided to have dinner together. We ate at KFC. Lander and I were still talking to each other, joking around.
It was already 9pm when I told them that I had to go home because I really needed to rest.
While on the cab, Lander sent me a message. “Hey I was really glad you came. I had so much fun. Till next time.”
I slept during the ride that’s why I wasn’t able to reply to his message. When I reached home, I went straight to my room, on to the bed and that was when it hit me. It was a very tiring day. I’m tired, but happy.
I spent the next days doing my usual stuff – schoolwork, family, and friends. But unlike before when I would spend my free time either resting or reviewing, I make it a point that I’d be online whenever I can, just so I can talk to him. Not that I can’t talk to him through text, it’s just easier and more fun when we chat online.
We talk about the silliest things.
Lander: England lost.
Reynald: Ah ok.
Lander: You’re so disinterested. Don’t you find football cool?
Reynald: I’m not saying it isn’t cool. I’m just not into it.
Lander: Then what type of balls are you into?
Lander: Hey just kidding.
Lander: I’m sorry. Anyway, someone just hit on me earlier.
Lander: I’m serious. She’s my sister’s classmate. Five years older dude.
Reynald: Not your type?
Lander: She’s too old. Besides, I’m way too young for that thing.
Reynald: Right, you only love your toys and all those monsters in your video game.
Lander: They’re not monsters, they’re aliens.
Reynald: And that make them extra lovable.
Lander: Try playing it, and then you’ll understand why.
We would go on for hours talking online. And if that’s not enough, we would talk some more on the phone.
One Saturday, he wanted to meet up at TriNoma. I said I still had to teach and won’t be available till 6pm. He replied, “Well then, 6 it is.”
I teach mathematics to these kids in a foundation. I have been doing that for almost a year now.
While teaching to these kids, where some are of the same age as Lander, I couldn’t help but feel restless, why can’t time fly faster so that it’ll be 6 already and then pass by slower when I’m with him already? I know I wasn’t supposed to feel this way. Putting aside all those online chat and phone calls, we’ve only met once. And what, it’s only been two weeks.
While on my way to TriNoma, Lander already sent me a message. “Hey, andito na ko. Just text me pag nandito ka na.”
We decided to meet at the activity center. I was sitting there for about five minutes already when he approached me and handed me a bucket of fries. He looked so cute with this football shirt and a pair of cardigan shorts. And those glasses. He looked so young. Somehow, I felt bad for liking someone so young.
“What are you thinking about?” he asked.
“Uhm, nothing. Why did you give me this?”
“Well, I got hungry so I decided to buy one for myself then I received your text. I thought you haven’t eaten yet since you came from your class so I bought you as well,” He answered smiling then munched on his fries.
I tried not to blush. He’s so sweet.
We sat there for almost an hour, eating our fries and talking and talking.
“I never talked this much to a person before,” he regarded.
“That’s because you did not have any friends before,” I joked.
“That’s not true. I have several friends. I don’t know, I just feel so at ease with you.”
‘Well I feel the same way,” I answered, quite shy.
He then asked me if we can go play at Timezone. I’m not a big fan of arcade games, but it’s Lander asking, so who am I to say no? We headed to the fourth flour of the mall. He loaded credits to his play card.
“Let’s go play Tekken,” he urged.
“I’m not good at that.”
“Don’t worry, I’m merciful,” he said laughing.
“I don’t need your mercy. Just a few tries and mind you, I’ll beat the crap out of you.”
“Sounds like a challenge.”
“You bet it is.”
“What a great idea. Let’s make a bet. If I win, you treat me to dinner.”
“And if I win?”
“I’ll treat you to dinner tonight and a free movie some other time.”
“It’s a deal.”
We decided on a best-of-5 game. After half an hour of grueling battle, I won, 3 games to 2. I won on the last three games. I was so proud of myself, having beaten someone used to playing this game. Lander, on the other hand just smiled and asked me,” so where do you want to eat?”
Since I’m not the abusive type, I just asked him to treat me some McChicken meal. There was no dull moment that night. Even during those times that we weren’t talking, I knew we were both having fun. I’ve never felt anything like this before.
Everything went great. We would text often, and chat every time we’re both online. We would also call each other at night and talk about how our day went.
Day by day and as we got to know each other better, my feelings for him grew deeper. I just didn’t know if I have to courage to tell him that.
“Hey Reynald, meet me at TriNoma tomorrow night, same spot. I won’t take no for an answer,” said Lander, calling me while he was playing his favorite online game.
“But I have an exam the day after. Can’t we just meet after my exam?”
“No. I have to go. I’m losing already.”
“There must be something important you have to tell me. I told you I have exams tomorrow,” I told Lander as we sat at our usual spot in the mall.
“We’re leaving,” he said.
“Oh ok, where to?”
“New York, with my family.”
“Oh great, a family vacation. Have fun there and don’t forget to buy me something.”
“We’re going back there. Mom decided that it’s better if I study there.” He was born in New York. They just went to the Philippines when he reached 1st grade.
I wasn’t able to answer. I was shocked. I did not know how to react.
“I believe I still owe you a movie,” said Lander, trying to break the surprisingly awkward silence between us.
“I’m not in the mood to watch.”
“Let’s just go somewhere then.”
“No, let’s just stay here.” I can’t keep it anymore. A tear finally trickled down my cheek.
“Why are you crying Reynald? It’s not like I’m dying or something.”
“I won’t be able to see you again,” I whispered.
“We can always talk through Tumblr.”
“It won’t be the same.”
He took a deep breath. “Yeah, I know.”
He stood up and said that he’ll just go get us something to eat. After a few minutes he returned with meals from McDonalds.
We just ate, silently. I was thinking how I am going to go about my feelings for him. Will I tell him or not? I think it would be useless if I tell him since he’s leaving already. But I also wanted to know what he feels for me. I might just be assuming but I feel there’s something special between us. That’s why after we finished our food, I told him I wanted to stroll so we went to the garden area of the mall.
“I want to tell you something,” I told him.
“I really don’t know what your reactions will be.”
“Well, I don’t think I’ll ever get mad at you.”
“Ok here it goes.”
I took two deep breaths. And just let it out. “I like you. I like you so much. No. I think I love you. And I don’t know how to forget or ignore this feeling especially now that you’re leaving.”
Awkward silence, again. 1, 2, 3 seconds. Why wassn’t he saying anything? 4, 5, 6 seconds. There must be something he could say.
7, 8, 9, 10 seconds. He still wasn’t talking. But he just held my hand. Took a step closer to me. Looked me straight in my eyes. And he kissed me. 1, 2, 3 seconds. His lips are still with mine. 4, 5, 6 seconds, he let go.
“I love you, too, Reynald.”
He also admitted that he purposely let me win in our Tekken game just so he could treat me.
And that was it. A few days later, their family was on the plane to New York. I promised him that after I graduate college, I’ll try my best to find work in New York so that we’ll be together.
We still communicate, mostly through Tumblr. But sometimes he calls me, ranting about how boring his day in New York is, since its vacation.
Age, distance, timing, and circumstances, I guess destiny doesn’t really will for us to be together at this time. He’s not making a promise that by the time we see each other again, he’ll still love me.
I still love the person I last kissed. i don’t know anymore if that person loves me too. Truth be told, I would do anything for that person. i want that person to be happy cause that’s what that person makes me. I guess fate is really on a game with us. Age, distance, the short time being together. I don’t know if these are happening because it doesn’t want us to be together or it’s just testing us.
I don’t know if we were meant for each other but I’m really, really, really in love.”
That’s what he said in one of his posts in Tumblr. God knows how much I love him and how much I’m willing to do for him. But he’s right, if it’s not meant to be for now, it really won’t happen. But I’ll always love him, and I’ll wait for the day destiny allows us to be together.
I still remember the last day we saw each other. He was wearing a yellow plaid polo, and his usual black-framed glasses, his smiling eyes and his childish grin. I still remember how everything was perfect, until New York happened.