home           about           blog           archives           domain           exits           ask

this is how it doesn't start, in eleven parts

this is how it doesn't start.

you are sixteen, it was the first week of class, and his surname happened to start with the same letter as yours.

i want you to pair up with someone from the opposite sex, the professor said. and the three of you, convent school-bred and boy-deprived, giggled out of excitement, fear, both. the prospect of taking this class seemed like an inside joke waiting to happen, begging to be told, as an icebreaker for what would be unabashed boasting and exchanging of stories about college amongst high school friends. so what’s your PE? oh. ha, you’ll never guess what ours is. guess. nope. walking. i’m totally serious. cue laughter.

and suddenly there you all were already. no longer telling people about it; actually being there for it. the professor was explaining something about wearing white shirts and making new friends and the possibility of walking until six in the evening. god, you said to yourself, i just wanted to survive one hour.

he said hi. cue pleasantries.

this is how it doesn't start.

boy culture was the name of the movie, and it had gays having sex. there wasn’t even a question. three twenty-peso bills, three tickets, three convent school girls.

this is it, we really are in UP now.

we might be late for class.

what the hell!

the trailers were starting. they were mostly of women, living in the slums and wearing immaculately white dresses by day, and dancing in a bar naked at night. the titles of the movies were either garden-variety vegetables, or the first name of a seemingly-innocent woman. somewhere in paranaque, a nun is praying a mystery of the rosary for you and your two friends’ souls.

missing class didn’t seem like a bad idea.

we can catch up? you said.

an hour into the movie, you looked down on your phone and started typing.

andyan na ba si sir? :)

wala pa. :)

this is how it doesn't start.

lantern parade, and he said you went over and greeted him. you tried to remember if this happened, but all you recall now was that he was wearing orange. but wait, everyone was wearing orange.

a few weeks later you get a text. happy new year! it said. you didn’t believe it yet, at that time, but you didn’t take offense, especially when the greeting came as a surprise, and came with an invitation. come over, it said. when law school bores the hell out of you. haha.

it was around almost midnight, a little before the end of what was a very, very difficult year.

you now look at the old phone and realize you never replied.

but it could've started somewhere, it could've started here.

you don’t remember much about how that class ended, other than the part where the class went to a nature park, and that you had a practical test around the oval. everything was well and good, you suppose, because you know you had good memories of that class. not the best, not the fondest, but good. okay.

you’d see him in the corridors and sometimes you wouldn’t say hi. sometimes you would.

until one day you crossed paths on the stairs, in a building that wasn’t yours. you said hello, and it was cordial and comfortable and not at all contrived, and you remember thinking, why did we stop talking again? then you recalled, and asked him how they were. apparently, that was over. (meanwhile you were happy with where you were that time.)

you said see you, like people always do when they say goodbye to acquaintances they make future plans with but never follow through. let’s have ice cream one of these days. like an empty promise. cue pleasant goodbyes.

or it could've started here.

i don’t know what you told your girlfriend, but last time i checked, talking to a classmate was not equivalent to destroying a relationship.

you deleted it before you could send it.

you saw each other that week like nothing happened. even then you two were good at shrugging off the unpleasant.

or maybe here.

i don’t wanna wait for our lives to be over, you and your friends sang. he looked at you, at the three of you, and started laughing. one of the boys started commenting on how you just might summon the anger of the gods. you didn’t care. you kept singing. dawson and the gang would have been proud.

a few minutes later, the gray clouds started hovering above all of you.

the class was somewhere outside the campus when it started to rain. it was ten minutes after the period was supposed to end, yet you were still well outside the vicinity of the yellow-roofed jeepneys. you were in the middle of crossing the street, when he tugged your left arm and went over to you right, perhaps, out of habit. there were no vehicles approaching.

maybe this is where it did start.

happy birthday! took fifteen minutes to compose the text. sent it because what the hell.

two days later and you two were outside the shopping center, cracking jokes and exchanging stories with ice cream cones in hand. it was almost like the old times, except that it wasn’t, because for one you were no longer wearing white shirts and rubber shoes, and two, you had no plans of walking.

just staying put.

and you were fine with that.

this is how it did start.

the mother had been revealed.

there’s going to be a next season, right?

she looks like a mix of robin and lily.

it surprised you how effortless it was, how easy, how simple. like it always was. then again, it was never a problem picking up where you both left off, even though you never really remembered where you two left off. how did we leave it off? but it didn’t matter. because you weren’t running out of words, and you weren’t second-guessing your colons and parentheses.

he said he was in baguio. greater than, colon, capital D, less than.

that friday, he brought you ube jam. you sat around the oval and talked for hours you barely noticed passing. a little later, two korean girls approached you. they wanted to just talk, in english, and you obliged them, in english. are you guys together? they asked. cue laughter.

this is how it starts.

it was property class and you were getting bored. you couldn’t hear your professor – the block was in a room famed for bad acoustics, a room that reeked of bad criminal law memories. your head was facing the teacher’s table, but your mind was somewhere else.

then you got a text.

sure i’ll buy that book for you, it said.

this is how it starts.

do you want to have breakfast tomorrow?

this is how it starts, and this is how i'll tell it.

i was sixteen, it was the first week of class, and his surname happened to start with the same letter as mine.