I seldom talk about my so-called luuuv life, and this is one of those fatal attempts at putting this figment of my existence in black and white. I have tried making write-ups in the past but occasionally I find myself hitting CTRL+A simultaneously and my index finger flying to the Delete key (or Backspace). I just find it gagging to share something about my grubby affairs with my, uh, ex girlfriend, and whenever close friends ask about her I usually heave a deep sigh, shrug my shoulders, and digress on offending topics that successfully make my chums forget that I was the center of attraction in the first place. This time I’m putting it up for the viewing public to see for no other reason than to displace my confusion I felt on a Sunday night at a Petron gas station at NLEX.
Over the weekend we were at our province in Nueva Ecija to attend my cousin’s wedding. I will not talk about the event itself but for information sakes I was one of the secondary sponsors, and it wasn’t so great because I was required to wear Barong Tagalog which felt so warm when I wore it. Anyway we went home round about 7 pm – it’s much better to travel during nighttime because the need for air conditioner is disregarded, but it was a warm night that we unanimously decided to have the aircon switched. I was sitting at the left captain seat, window side just right behind the driver.
Going fast-forward, my mom cheerfully announced that we’d be having a stop over at the Petron gas station at NLEX (southbound at the Bocaue area). We parked near the exit side tailgate facing KFC. On our right was a blue Honda CRV that seemed very familiar; the details, the mags, the hatch glass with a DLSU sticker near the tail light. Since I felt a bit drained – two hours of being glued on leather seats is not very pleasurable – I just ignored it and trailed with my parents and my sister. After having snacks, I excused myself and told my folks that I’d just be checking around the place. Oddly they nodded and asked me to take my time. I don’t know if they’re being generous or what. Heading towards Starbucks Coffee and Subway I suddenly felt this weird feeling that could have been a warning sign from the universe. It’s as if there was a force field hauling my butt back to our van refraining me from pursuing with my plan. I swear that I would never ignore that again.
At Starbucks there were four, five people sitting on their complacent butts contemplating refueling cars. I didn’t want to waste precious time so I whipped out a stick of YSL menthol lights. There were a couple of guys who were also smoking and probably having a small chitchat; I suppose they’re buddies or something. I was going halfway with my stick when a lean figure of the opposite gender materialized at my left. She was wearing a white fit shirt, grey jeans, and a pair of hmmm, a seemingly familiar-looking Havaianas. Of less interest I was wearing a blue polo shirt, denim shorts, and rubber shoes. I should’ve scampered away from my place except that I was strangely riveted to the concrete, and she was starting to chat me up.
“Your parents might see you.”
A year ago she tried convincing me to quit smoking. She ruled. It lasted for three months.
“As if you still care.”
I could still remember that horrendous event at a mall. Never in my life that I have done such primal acts as throwing glasses in a café.
(laughs) “Of course, I do. Anyway, what brought you here?”
Those giggle. It still resonates inside my head whenever I sit around the benches at Corte de Las Palmas. I love it when she does it because her eyes seem to disappear altogether.
“Just a stop over. Galing kami sa province, from a wedding yesterday. H’bout you?”
“Province din, sa Pampanga. Birthday kasi ng lola ko.”
She knows how to speak Kapampangan, and whenever she does it she resembles an alien.
At this point I have finished my cigarette. I noticed the gleaming silver bangle strapped around her left wrist.
“You’re still wearing that?”
“Oh, yeah, of course. I very much like it. You know what, I’ve never removed it from me, except when taking a bath, of course.”
For no apparent reason I felt horrible and bitter; at the same time I felt grateful to see her again after almost a year of nonexistence in my memory. I was basically speechless – it could be I was just repressing my impulses to scream, but it wasn’t like that at all. I’m baffled then ecstatic then atrocious then back to being baffled again. Aaargh.
Still the usual apple scent. Producing her phone, she told me that they’re about to leave. A new phone, I guess.
“Sige, I have to go. Sa inyo ‘yung green na E1, right? Magkatabi yata tayo ng sasakyan. Sabay na tayo.”
I let her walk ahead of me, lest I fall on a swoon.
“Bye Mike. Ingat kayo ha?”
“Salamat. Ingat din kayo.”
At which point I hurried back inside the van and fastened myself on my seat. The bright fluorescent lights were on and it sure made us obvious outside the vehicle. My sister gave me a sandwich that they ordered to go. I wolfed at it with pure self indulgence trying to forget whatever that transpired earlier. Then my phone beeped. An anonymous texter with a seemingly familiar number.
“Hndi mo ba ako aalukin nyng knkain mo? Hmp! Takaw m pa rn! Wahaha! Bye. Ingat.ü”
It was her. She still has my number. I turned at my left to check if she (and their vehicle) was still there. But the blue CRV was gone.
I’m so confused. Or maybe this isn’t confusion at all. Maybe if I had responded to her I could’ve been better. Idiot, idiot, idiot.