Chapter 7: Justin – Space and Exploration

Charlie and I broke up yet again. 

My idea. One of those “let’s-give-each-other-some-space” moments.

The timing couldn’t have been any better, he was off to Cebu City for some work related things and I could use the free time to go out and catch up with my friends.

First weekend of the “cool-off”: We weren’t calling or even texting each other, it would have been really ironic if we did and of course there’s the silent game of “who misses who first” going on and I being the one who initiated the cool-off, would not be the first to raise a white flag and so is Charlie who wants to prove a point since he really doesn’t want the idea of us taking some time-off. Charlie is older than me by 7 years. He sees me as someone he could spend the rest of his life with. His forever. I being in my first relationship, always kids him about me still feeling that I have not explored much yet. 

Charlie always says that there isn’t much to explore. You will find the same thing or worse even less, something that I believe he say just to stop me from exploring.

I decided to explore and go out on a date. Well, Charlie and I are not together officially, I don’t consider it cheating and it’s just going to be a wholesome date. Movie, dinner and conversations. That’s all.

Who to date?! That is the question.

 Bennet suggested I go online and find someone, which I did. Unbelievable, the world wide web is, in a span of one hour I got myself a date. He was really cute… well, in the pictures that he sent me, which were mostly face shots, close ups. The date was set.

We met in a mall, wholesome right?

We decided to meet at a bookstore; I told him that I’ll be the one holding a David Levithan book.

I waited for about ten minutes, I hate waiting.

Then he appeared right at the end of the aisle for Fiction. I smiled, he didn’t. He introduced himself rather quite seriously, like in a job interview. I thought maybe he’s nervous or something. I try to introduce myself in a more amusing way possible, a bit of self-deprecating humour. He didn’t smile. He nodded instead. Weird. 

And the date still went on. I’m not even sure if he’s interested at all. 

We had an early dinner, I was really trying to make a connection with him, trying to make a decent conversation, I don’t know if he was shy or arrogant but he keeps on nudging all the topics I have been opening up, I actually caught myself deliberately asking open ended question so that we could just have a conversation. I felt exhausted making a connection.

A movie date is perfect, if your date doesn’t talk. Perfect Stranger, starring Halle Berry and Bruce Willis. If this date is a movie it could have borrowed that title.

After the movie, we sort of strolled inside the mall; he was inviting me home, persistently. We all know what “Let’s-go-to-my-place” means and I started wondering if he still feels that this is not a lousy date because this is, and for a lousy date to last a dinner and a whole movie is record breaking.

He was really persistent, I don’t have any excuse up my sleeves that I could throw right off the bat, he is not ugly, it’s just that there are people that you aren’t attracted sexually.

I could not make myself to say a big effin’ NO; I’m a Capricorn for god’s sake! I’m a people pleaser!

We are on our way to the parking lot, I remembered a scene from Sex and the City where Charlotte asked Carrie to call her up so she could ditch her lousy date, I scrambled to get my phone, I texted all my friends asking them to call me up immediately. 

No one called. I was already sliding down the front seat of his car, silently asking help from the small Buddha in his dashboard. Still no one called.

I just had to do the inevitable.

I texted him. 

Hun, Can you call me please. Right now.

In no more than a minute my phone rang.

Hey!” greets Charlie with a mocking tone, dangling the fact that i message first after asking for space in the first place.

“Hi Mom!“, I replied. Drama queen mode on.

“Mom?” Charlie asks,

“What? Which hospital?“, I tried to sound worried. Hopeful that a few of the acting workshops I took before are really effective.

“Are you alright babe? Are you out?” asks Charlie, a bit worried now.

“You don’t have anyone with right now?” I answered back, trying to keep Charlie’s voice out and sticking to the narrative I have in mind.

“Are you on a date? Oh my god! Are you doing a Charlotte York?“, Charlie is laughing and screaming on the other side of the phone.

“Okay, I’ll go straight to the hospital now, What did the doctor say?“, ignoring Charlie’s judging laughter.  

Yes! Go home now! That is what you get for trying to explore! Hahaha! I’ll call you up once you’re home“, Charlie says.

Mom, I’ll be there in fifteen minutes, just wait for me.”, making sure that my voice still sounds worried.

I hang up the phone and turned to my date, he was already driving. I had to break it down to him. He seem like he already knows whats happening based on the conversation he heard.

Sorry, it’s really an emergency, My mother is in the hospital. I have to go now.“, I tell him.

“What happened? Which hospital? I can take you there…

Her blood pressure went up, really high. No, I can take a cab. It’s out of your way, anyway.“, I answered back.

I thanked him for the date and I immediately got off his car. 

Charlie did call that night, proving his point. Laughing of course at how my plan for exploration went. 

My first ever attempt to date another guy turned into a pathetic sitcom. I laughed at myself, who wouldn’t? 

And yes, Charlie and I got back together.



Chapter 6: Nick – Hanging Up

Harry’s silence reeks of judgment.

I believe that in the five years that Harry and I have been together, I somehow have gained the right to demand time, Harry with his silence seems to be questioning my right, mocking my sudden emotional outburst.

We have already set our schedules six months ago, you could have said that you are not available or you could have asked to have that meeting rescheduled on another date!” I could not help but raise my voice; he was driving, completely in silence as if I wasn’t there. Raising my voice seems to be the only way to get through him.

“It’s the client that is asking for that specific date, Nick. I have been waiting for them to confirm a date so I can meet them, this is an important client, you know my job depends on this deal.”  Harry finally broke his silence. 

I wanted to tell him how selfish he is, but I decided to shut up. It wouldn’t change a thing anyway; he’s already made up his mind.

“Okay. I’ll cancel or rebook your ticket then, I hope Christina’s  too busy being a Bridezilla to notice you’re not there.”  

It was awkward silence after that, until we stopped in front of my house. 

“I’m sorry, Nick. It’s just that I really want this close this deal, and you know me, I’m the type of guy who’ll stop at nothing to get what I want.”

“I know Harry, I understand, I’m just mad at your sudden cancellation, we’ve booked the flight and the hotel months ago, that’s all.”

“Don’t worry Nick, I’ll pay for all of it.”

I just smiled and got out of the car, he knows it wasn’t about the booked flights and the hotel. He knows we are not okay. He waved goodbye, I waved goodbye and then his car sped off.

Yes, Harry is correct. I know him and he’s always been the type of guy who’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants.

It took Harry a month to get my phone number from my best friend, Christina. Christina wanted to make sure Harry is serious about asking me out. 

It also took Harry two weeks of phone calls and a dozen of coffees sent to the Arts Centre, where I work, before I agreed to go out with him. Then he’d have to wait for hours until I finish my rehearsals before we can have dinner or watch a movie. Harry even had to endure my mood swings even before we were officially a couple.

Five years into the relationship, I basically know what type of guy Harry is.

Harry is the type of guy who wakes up early in the morning and takes his coffee black and his egg sunny side, while reading the news. He makes sure we have our breakfast together and he makes sure I’m updated with what’s on the newspaper that day by reading it to me while i take my cappuccino.

Harry is type of guy who sends sweet text messages while we’re both at work. He knows the things that makes me smile and he always make sure I’m smiling because he says it makes his heart smile at the thought of me smiling. 

Harry is the type of guy who will never sleep until we settle an argument. He always want to talk things out and through. He make sure we end our day at peace.

But on my best friend’s wedding day, I felt something shift.

Right after the ceremony, I decided to call Harry, just to give him an update on what’s going on, after all, he worked with Christina for a couple of years, we met because of my best friend. 

“She’s beautiful, the gown we picked is just perfect, and she looks like a princess!” I squealed with excitement. 

Really, tell her I’m sorry for missing her wedding day” Harry replied, rather lamely.

You sound tired, are you okay?” I ask.

Yep, I’m okay; just a bit tired from my meeting with the investors, I had to do three of the four presentations. I’ll just rest for a bit” 

You should have seen Michael’s reaction as Christina walks down the aisle, he looks…”

Harry cut me off, Harry is not the type of guy who cuts people off mid sentence.

“I will just call you when I’m a bit rested, Bye Nick.”  

Max hung up on me. No goodbye. Not even an obligatory I-love-you.

That’s when I knew that we were falling apart.

Because even when we are arguing, even when we are fighting over something, even when he’s mad, Max has never been the type of guy who hangs up first.


Chapter 5: Bennet – The Morning After

I wake up with a nagging headache in someone else’s bed, yet again. 

I scramble for my phone on the nightstand to check the time, it is nine o’clock already. I put my phone back on the nightstand then I dress up as fast as I can while struggling to remember everything that happened last night. 

“Good morning…  Coffee?”  A cute guy wearing a light blue boxer appeared on the door as I tie my shoe laces. 

Hi there, I’m sorry but I really have to go now… I’m late for work.”

“But it’s a Saturday…”

What’s your name again? I’m sorry last night’s a blur…”  I ask as I try to change the topic. Mr. Light Blue Boxer is cute as fuck, he’s got this sweet smile on his lips and eyes. But no, this is just a hook-up and hook-ups are just hook-ups. 

I made you a cup of coffee; I’m just not sure how you want your coffee.” He replied not acknowledging what I just said. And yet again that smile. 

Thanks for the coffee but I’m really late for something, it was nice meeting you though” I say. 

I plant a kiss on his forehead, and make the usual routine of leaving my number, asking for his and promising to give a call as soon as I can and then saying goodbye. 

Saturday morning, me on the street, making my way home right after yet another one night stand. I’ve just broken Rule No. 1 in my hook-up rule book, which is to “Never ever spend the night. I was hammered extremely last night; I actually cannot remember most of what happened. I may have broken rule number 1 when it comes to hooking up but I won’t let myself down by breaking Rule No. 2 which is “If ever you break Rule No. 1, leave as soon as you wake up, don’t linger, make sure to leave as you came, as a stranger”  That’s the way it goes. No strings attached, purely physical and just for fun. 

That’s how I have survived being single for five years now and I’m enjoying every moment of it. Relationships are messy. It messes with your plan, it messes with your time, it messes your head, and it messes with your heart. I have been there and I have no plans of going back. 

Saturday morning also means brunch date with my two best friends, Harry and Simon. I decided to go straight to our favorite café instead of going home and taking a quick shower. Based on experience, my bed always wins in luring me back to sleep instead of me taking a shower. 

Simon is already having his first cup of coffee when I get to our usual table.

Messy hair. Same clothes as last night. Good morning, you slut.”  Simon greets me in his usual bitchy monotone voice. 

“Good morning, queen bitch, coffee hasn’t kicked in yet?”  I sassed back.

Give it three more sips… So, details of the conquest?” Simon inquires.

It’s the usual thing… he’s cute… nice apartment…” I say.

I was still trying my best to remember everything that had happened last night so I can give the full details to Simon when Harry arrived and sat beside him and took a sip of coffee from Simon’s mug. Harry looked harassed and tired, seems like he didn’t get sleep last night.

Are you okay, dear? Simon asks.

“Nick and I got into another argument last night.” Harry explains

“Wait… the last time we talked you were also fighting about that wedding you missed, are you guys okay? I ask. 

We are. It might just be a phase…”

“Can’t deal with that emotional chow-chow, you people in relationships had to endure. I’d rather be single.” I quipped.

“Yeah, so you would rather go on hookups every Friday and Saturday night.” said Simon.

“That’s a better option for me than try to figure someone out, make him like me, try to like him but then still end up hating each other. I get what I need from hook-ups, no drama. no strings attached. I like my life that way.” I fired back at Simon.

You were just hurt before and have not never recovered from the heartbreak… Do you want me to refresh your memory?” says Simon.

Relationship just doesn’t work for me. that’s all.” 

One day you’ll meet someone and you’ll understand why your LAST relationship didn’t work out… emphasis on the LAST, stop generalising. It was your LAST relationship that didn’t work out…” Simon, my bitch of a friend snaps back.

Final words. Relationship. Not. For. Me.” I reply with finality.

“Just try, one last time… Life might surprise you” Simon says.

Not. For. Me.”, my final say. 

“You know guys, I went here to have breakfast and a light happy conversation. Can we change the topic? Harry snaps.

“So, how was your Friday conquest, Bennet? details please. I want to live vicariously through you…” Harry continued.

I essayed everything that I remembered from last night, while Simon accompanied it with his usual sassy commentaries. 

After brunch we all went with our usual Saturday activities. Simon picked up his laundry, Harry met up with Nick to watch a movie and I went to the grocery.  

As I do my round at the grocery store I can’t help but go back to what I said at the coffee shop, do I really believe that relationships doesn’t suit or work for me, or did I just say that to justify why I’m still single. 

Starting up a relationship is hard as hell. There’s the “getting to know you” part wherein you try to impress your potential partner with all the positive qualities you have, and he does the same thing, so you kinda just get to know all the parts that he think you would like. Then comes, the part of who falls in love first, let’s face it, it’s a game… and we try to play it long and well, so that whoever wins gets the upper hand in the relationship. Then there’s the mid part, the part where all the not-so-positive qualities of your partner manifest one by one, maybe he’s always late, maybe he’s bad at grammar, maybe he’s temperamental… it will all show up eventually… and the next thing you know is that you’re deciding whether these traits are deal breakers… and when it really gets out of hand you break up with him. That’s how tiring a relationship is. Trust me. Been there.

 “You again, what a surprise…” a voice from behind me says.

Hello…  yeah, you again” I turn to face the owner of the voice.

It was Mr. Light Blue Boxer Guy, my hook-up last night. Still as cute as fuck as he was earlier this morning but fully clothed this time.

Rule No. 3 in the hook up rule book is to never say hi to a former hook-up if you see them in public, it diminishes the mystery, you become acquaintances rather than just strangers. 

But Mr Light Blue Boxer and I are already done with our Hi’s and Hello’s, and just like that the expected awkwardness follows.

“Seems like grocery shopping is ritual you do alone, I’ll let you be. It was nice seeing you though…” Mr. White Boxer Guy sensed the awkwardness and was polite enough to crush it before we both freezes. He smiled and walked away from the cold Dairy Section. 

 I stand there at the Dairy Section, contemplating about the conversation I had with Simon earlier today. Am I really done with romantic relationships? 

I don’t know what clicked inside me but I find myself looking around the Grocery Store for him. I have to meet him again.

And there he is. In the middle of the Condiment Section, holding a jar of mayonnaise. I approached him, a smile slowly lighting up my face.

Hello again… Sorry for not doing this earlier this morning and a few minutes ago… My name is Bennet, and you are?

Ludovic, you can call me Ludo. Nice to meet you.” 


Chapter 4: Dave – Chances

I expect Robbie to glance back and at least throw one final smile at me, but he did not. Maybe that’s asking too much, he already gave a few smiles when we talked a few minutes ago, and it isn’t just a civil conversation, I felt his cordiality in each of the words he said. After what I did to him, the heartbreak I made him go through, I don’t think I deserve that cordial regard, even a smile.

But that last glance, that last smile. It may seem nothing, but for someone who has been living with the guilt of breaking someone’s heart, it was the closest thing to a closure I’d ever get.

I cheated on Robbie, broke his heart, and then even tore it to tiny pieces by breaking up with him even if he still wanted to make things work for the both of us. I’m the villain in our story.

Don’t get me wrong, I did loved Rob; we wouldn’t have been together for over a year if I hadn’t seriously loved him, but things happened, I let it things happen. I guess I was interested in other options.

When Robbie found out that I was cheating on him, he dealt with it with so much grace and tact, maybe that’s why I felt really guilty, he never played the victim card, he never got angry at me, or at least he never showed it to me. He just wanted us to fix things, to make the relationship work. But I couldn’t anymore.

I told Robbie that it would be best for the both of us if we break up. I knew in my heart that our relationship is bound to end eventually, even if we try to work things out, even if I stayed. I know what I’m capable of and it would be so unfair for Robbie. I’m no longer good for him. I know that in the long run, Robbie will thank me for making him quit me.

So, there I was standing while I wait for him for to glance back, but it never happened. Robbie walked away carrying his coffee and donut, along with my peace of mind. I felt lonely; it’s like a deep void has been carved inside my heart. I have never allowed myself to be depressed about our break-up, how could I? It was my choice after all, but this chance encounter with Robbie stirred a lot of feelings I didn’t knew I still had. I had to give in to the sadness, it’s screamed to be acknowledged. I finally understood it, even if the break-up was entirely my fault; I should have mourned it.

After my meeting I went straight for lunch, there’s this deli shop right in front of the building, just beside the now historic Starbucks Coffee this morning. I still have an appointment to catch right after lunch time, a quick bite would do. I ordered a roasted chicken sandwich and a fruit platter over at the counter and then started looking for a table. Since it was lunch time, most of the tables were taken. I stood in the middle of the store holding my tray, looking for a vacant table when one of the staff of the store took notice of me and then pointed me at a stair which is partially hidden, that leads to a second floor, he told me that there are more seats upstairs.

As I reach the second floor landing, I cannot help but notice that the tables here are much larger, most probably designed for groups of four or five people. I walk over to an empty table but then I see someone familiar right before I reach the table.

Robbie was having lunch with his best friend, Ludo. They see me, I smile at them nervously. Even if it is the second time I saw Robbie today, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed when he smiles back at me.

I approached their table, and just like a fool who never thinks about the repercussions of his actions I asked them, “Is it okay if I join you guys?”

Ludo looks at Robbie while Robbie looks at me. “Sure”, Robbie replies.

I sit myself in front of Robbie. Ludo greets me with fake-iest smile I’ve ever seen, which I clearly understand; Robbie’s friends hates me for what I did to their friend. Who wouldn’t hate me, right?

“Thank you for the coffee and donut this morning.” Robbie says.

“You let him buy you coffee and donut?!” Ludo mocks Robbie.

Robbie gave Ludo a “shut-up-please” look and turns to me and smile.

“Yep, No big deal…”, as I ignore Ludo’s side comment.

Then Ludo looks at me, “So, why are you here? This is Robbie’s side of town…”

“I’m just here for a project, it’s just for a few weeks and I won’t even be here everyday” I explained while glancing at Robbie. I understand that this side of the town is his place, his territory and I shouldn’t be just barging in unannounced.

“Well, then that’s good!” Ludo blurts out as he shot me and Robbie a glance.

“Be nice, Ludovic…” Robbie quips.

“I am nice.” Ludo replies, as he shift his attention to his meal.

Smelling hostility in the air, I decide not to respond anymore and just sit there until I finish my sandwich and fruits. I cannot blame Ludo for being mad at me; he might have been the receiver of all the drama I caused Robbie. Ludo have been nothing but nice to me all throughout the time Robbie and I dated.

If there’s someone I should blame for this awkward lunch, it is me. What was I thinking? “Is it okay if I join you guys?”-shit. Stupid me.

Robbie, the ever-sensitive guy tries to break the silence by asking me about the project I’m doing for their company.

“It’s just a test app for the employees, like a community board conveniently inside your smart phone”, I explain.

“Wow, they are really shelling out money for that?” Robbie replies.

“It makes communication easier for a large firm…” I continue to explain.

Our conversation was like a job interview, someone asks, and then someone answers. We can’t seem to transcend from the trivial even though I’m itching to ask him how he’s been. When you see your ex that you have not seen in a long while, you always want to know how he’s been.

I excuse myself and stand up as soon as I finished my lunch, and as I say my goodbye to the both of them, Ludo’s phone ring. He motions to Rob that he needs to take the call, and head out to the other side of the room where the balcony is, leaving me and Robbie at the table.

“Thanks for letting me share a table with you, I’m sorry if I kind of ruined your lunch and Ludo’s.” I say.

“No, it’s ok… I’m sorry if he’s a bit off…”

“I clearly understand where he’s coming from…  I’ll go ahead now.” I quickly reply.

“It’s nice seeing Dave, bye”.

“Bye, Rob”, One last smile and I turn my back.

I start walking towards the stairs while Ludo goes back to our table still talking on the phone.

As I step down the stairs, I realize that I still want to talk to Robbie. Why? I don’t know, but I felt the need to talk to him more. I turn around and call his name out as I walk back towards him. Robbie was standing beside Ludo, who is still on his phone. Robbie looks at me as he hears his name.

Yes? Robbie asked.

Then, with all the strength inside me, I asked him.

“Is it okay, if I get your number?”

He takes out a pen from his shirt’s pocket and grabs a paper napkin from the table.

He hands me the napkin.

Written on it is his phone number with the logo of the deli shop we’re in, Chances.


Chapter 3: Ludovic – Sticking Around

Robbie calls me up in the middle of the night, telling me that he could not sleep and that he needed someone to talk to. He starts talking about Dave, his ex-boyfriend. He saw him this morning. He tells me he might still have feelings for his ex-boyfriend.

I was actually beside Robbie minutes after Dave broke up with him, right after everything fell apart. It was like all his hopes and dreams crashed in the open sea. I was there all throughout his so-called “scientific-approach-to-moving-on “(which in a way, I think helped him forget Dave for a short time). I’ve heard Robbie’s post break-up speech for a million times already; have had all the different versions depending on his mood. There’s the “I’m-going to-cry-a-river-and-drown-in-it” version, the “I’m-a-survivor-so-fuck-him”, which is his favorite version. Tonight he decided to use the “I’m-going-to-be-the-loser-ex-because-he’s-still-so-damn-gorgeous” pity-party remix version. No matter which version Robbie uses, I always listen.

I take pride from the fact that he needs me, that I’m the one he calls up when he gets upset or lonely. That’s what a best friend do, right? Stick around when the going gets tough, make sure everything is fine, and I’ am a good best friend. The consummate best friend. The very definition of a best friend.

I’m finally sleepy, I think you can hang up now, I know you’re bored and sleepy too. Thank you Ludo…” Robbie whispers as he ends a very detailed narration of his morning encounter with Dave.

I don’t think that’s good enough, I need you to be sound asleep, snoring and all. You know, just in case something bothers you again and you decide to call me up again, at least I’m still here on the line.” I reply.

Hahaha! Well, Thanks for taking the call, thanks for listening… I tried to shrug off whatever I’m feeling, it’s just that I needed to talk it out, you know how it is….” He says.

No problem, kiddo… now, sleep. I won’t hang up until I know you’re sleeping.”

Okay, Ludo. Goodnight. “He sleepily whispers.

Good night, Robbie…”

I stay on the phone and listen to him breath; I stick around until I know that he’s already asleep, until I know that he’s safe and no longer needed me for the night.

I hung up and looked at phone’s screen to check the time; it’s already 1:15 am, way past my usual bedtime.

I try to sleep. But I can’t.

Just like how Robbie’s ex-boyfriend’s ghost haunts him, my feeling for Robbie lingers incessantly. It lingers while we have coffee, it lingers on movie nights, and it lingers in every friendly dinner we have. I guess this is the price I have to pay for sticking around too much, falling in love with my best friend.


Chapter 2- Paul: Halo

Andrew suggested we had coffee at Anticipation.

I specifically arranged our first meet up to be a coffee date on a late afternoon; if the date goes awry, I can always say I have a dinner meeting after, if the date goes well, we can go straight to a dinner date and have more time to get to know each other.

Andrew and I have been chatting online and exchanging phone calls for quite some time, and I find him really smart and witty, and of course cute, in a geeky kind of way. He’s the type of guy you would not be bored talking to; he can go from one topic to another and then back seamlessly. We can talk about films, literature, and anything mainstream, currents news, health, and even religion and politics. Most especially, I like that he listens to me talk about myself, the way I listen to him talk about himself, interestedly. Our first date will then be a test if the online chemistry we have, would translate to actual live conversation chemistry.

Andrew took the initiative to find the perfect place for our coffee first meeting. We agreed that it definitely won’t be at Starbucks; it’s way too crowded and would be such a cliche for a coffee date. Andrew suggested, Anticipation, a new coffee and pastry shop, a friend of his recommended. It’s just a few blocks away from his work place and Andrew said, that his friend, Robbie described it as “One of those hipster coffee shops, which is owned and being managed by a cool, filthy rich and fresh-out-of-college kid who loves food, coffee and arts way too much that he decided to open up an artsy cafe.” It was an interesting description, so we both decided to try it out.

True to the description given, Anticipation Cafe looks every bit like an artist’s haven with its cool and artsy interior that’s just perfect for anything laid back, like reading a book or writing a poem while having your latte. The walls of the cafe are painted with different hues of brown, on the left side of the room stands a large wooden book shelf, with books on display. On the right side of the room, the wall is lined up with frames with different quotes from different books, all of which are written in stylized calligraphy. The chairs and tables are all made from wood and on each table sat a small glass vase with wild colorful flowers, which cut through the monochromatic theme of the place.

Andrew waves at me as I squint a look around the room, He is sitting at a table near the book shelf full of real books (I initially thought they were fake); I spot some Bronte, Austen, Salinger and Twain as I make my way to our table. I’m quite impressed by Andrew’s choice of place, and choice of table, he loves books and he knows how I love books too, a plus point for his thoughtfulness.

Andrew looked exactly as the photos I see of him online, brown eyes, short curly hair and the cutest smile I’ve ever seen. He’s my type of handsome, unassuming and shy even.

We start the conversation with the usual catch-up on each other lives, he talks about how exhausting yet fulfilling the past weeks have been, then I talk about how toxic yet gratifying my shifts have been in the hospital. We shared a few work anecdotes, which bring about smiles and laughter on our table.

There’s just something about his smile, which makes his face glow more. As he is telling a story about how his colleague managed to discuss Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the most comical way to a bunch of high school students, I can’t help but fall for him, fall for the way he tells the story, fall for the way his eyes and lips smile, and fall for the way he looks at me while he tells his story.

Then I tell him my story…  and that’s when I fall helplessly deep, the way I can tell how he puts his own thoughts aside, long enough to focus on mine, his beautiful brown eyes looking into mine, and his nods and smiles assuring me that I have all his attention.

It is already six o’clock in the evening when Andrew and I decide to have a stroll at the park in front of Anticipation; we have already spent two hours talking and sharing snippets of our lives. The sun is in its final colorful glory for the day, a few more minutes before it takes its crimson bow.

Running out of stories and anecdotes that are first-date friendly, Andrew and I walk in silence, admiring the sceneries in the park.

Then it happens, I see a cute dog being walked by an old lady…

“First pet?” I blurt out.

Me? A dog, named Murdoch” he replies while looking at the lady and his cute dog pass by.

Then we passes by an ice cream truck…

“Favorite ice cream flavor?” He asks.

“Rocky Road… and Pistachio… and Cookie Dough!” I answer with glee, while I look at a group of kids running around the playground in the park.

“Favorite childhood game?”

“Hide and Seek.” Andrew says.

Conversation starts flowing again, taking cue from all the things we see while we stroll.

“Favorite movie as a kid?”

“Jurassic Park.”

“Favorite movie as a teenager?”

“Titanic, I guess… I think I saw that nine times.” Andrew replies, though still unsure about his answer.

Favorite girl band?

Spice Girls, is there any other?

The fast facts questions lasts for an hour, we have both enjoyed ourselves and the little facts that we discovered about each other, some facts are characteristically ordinary, while some facts are weird, like how Andrew’s first boyfriend is his second boyfriend’s ex, or how he finds it weird that my favorite X-men is Beast. He says it’s the first time he’s heard of a person who likes Beast more than the other X-men.

“I like Beast because he’s the resident medical doctor of the team; we have the same profession, that’s all.” I explained further. Still, even after my explanation, he finds it weird.

“Weird is good, right?” I ask Andrew.

“Weird is great, I like your weirdness!” He answers.

We come back to Anticipation to pick up my car. Starving after an hour of strolling and talking, I ask Andrew if he wants to grab something for dinner before going home, and he enthusiastically said yes. I hope that it was because he wants to spend more time with me too, not because he is starving.

Dinner is short and sweet, we have both agreed to go to the Italian restaurant beside Anticipation, we continue with our conversation, that by the time the waiter asks if we want some desserts, I feel that I’ve known Andrew for a very long time.

I insist on driving Andrew home, to which he declines at first but eventually agrees to, when he realizes that both our home are in the same side of the city.

There’s just too much to discover from one person, because while we are on the road and listening to some of my music, we find out that we both have the same taste in music, sort of. He likes indie pop-rock but is also familiar with Broadway show tunes, and isn’t scared to admit liking some popular artists now, and my car playlist, thanks to the universe, contains those genres.

As PJ Olsson’s “Ready For A Fall” starts to play, and while my right hand is free from maneuvering the shift stick, I hold his hand, he looks at me and smiles.

“I remember this song; it’s from Dawson’s Creek, right?”

He asks, referring to the song currently playing.

“Yes, I love that show when I was in high school, and of course the soundtrack, my all time fave.” I reply.

“I love Dawson’s Creek! I rooted for Pacey and Joey, I like Jen too…” 

“I like Jack the most…” I say.

And out of nowhere, just like the possibility of love, the most amazing sight of the full moon, surrounded by a glowing halo appears.

It catches us both by surprise.

“I didn’t notice that awhile ago.” I said.

“It must have been blocked out of sight by the tall buildings” Andrew explains.

It might be true, because we are now at the part of the city populated by residential homes and low rise buildings.

It feels magical to see something really peculiar on a night that is becoming more and more special. There might really be some magic in the air because he suddenly lifts my hand that is holding his, and kisses it softly, while he looks at the moon.

I decide to pull over for awhile, I wanted to be in that moment, and I wanted to see the moon.

“Let’s stop for awhile, I want to check out the moon, I’m finding it hard to gaze at it while driving, is that okay?” I ask.

Sure.” He smiles.

And as the song from Dawson’s Creek faded…

I can’t believe, you’re the one for me, if it was this easy to find you… I should be ready for a fall…”

We both stared at the wonder and the halo surrounding it while we hold hands. Because it is some kind of magic to have something as wonderful as the moon and its crystal halo appear in the sky to coincide with finding a possibility of love.


Chapter 1- Robbie: An Inch and A Half

It took me quite a long time to get to where I am now.

And it took all my strength and willpower to decide to move on quickly after Dave decided that it’ll be best for the both of us if we broke up.

I still remember the first day after Dave left. Saturday morning, we could have been having breakfast together but instead I was drinking coffee while sorting through his things, putting all his stuff in a big box marked with a green Post-it, some items went to a box marked with an orange Post-it, things that we bought together, stuff that needed thorough discussion on who gets the ownership. When Dave selfishly decided for the both of us that it is best for us to end the relationship, I took it upon myself to decide how it’s going to end, and I want it to end as facilely as possible, like stripping off a Band-Aid, quick and painless as possible.

I knew how to move on. I’ve done it a couple of times before and just like any other life experiences, you’d get the drill eventually. It’s a process they say; I wanted to make it a science. I wanted to show Dave how it was so easy to forget him and all the things we had and did together.

I filled my iPod with my go-to-breakup-anthems; Hey Monday’s Candles, Cher’s Strong Enough and Wilson Phillips’ Hold On were on constant repeat. Moving on is a mind game, you have to trick the brain in believing that everything is fine, that everything will be fine.

I went all out to get myself busy. Took up a lot of extra work, went out on coffee dates with friends that I had not seen in a long while. Moving on requires filling up your brain with other stuff, making it busy with other things, making it forget what it shouldn’t be remembering.

I cut all my communications with Dave and anyone who’s directly connected to him. I deleted all his contact information, phone number, email address, blocked him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, an update on him and his current relationship, if ever he has one, will just devastate me. I know that for a fact.

I surrounded myself with friends. Well, I have three, Andrew, Jasper and Mandy who literally surrounded me during that time. Andrew is the listener, Jasper is the advice-giver and Mandy is the comic relief. Anyone who’s going through a heartbreak or similar situation should have these three types of friends; it’s a fool-proof support system.

Maybe, that’s how you move on. Convince yourself that everything will be better, be busy with making yourself better, stop thinking about him and have an amazing support system. A year has passed and maybe I have moved on. I no longer have those sleepless nights where the memories of all that has been and all that could have been haunt me like a resident ghost inside my bedroom. I no longer feel a twitch inside my heart whenever I see or hear something that reminds me of Dave or the times I was with him. I managed to pull myself away from him, away from all the memories, away from all the could-have-been of us. I have moved on, easy science.

But science requires evidence, something measurable, and something observable. Processes needs experimentation and testing before it is deemed effective and true. So, how do I really know I have moved on?

I needed not to wait that much. The test came a 2 years and 7 months after Dave and I last saw each other.

Tuesday morning, I was at the Starbucks across my new workplace, getting my usual cup of Americano when I saw Dave enter the coffee shop, I was startled to see him, it’s like seeing a ghost, or someone you are forbidden to see or even look at, his eyes went straight at the line of people in the counter, checking how long it is, looking and searching to where the line ends.

His wandering eyes stopped to where I was standing, it all happened very fast that I no longer had the time to hide or even stray my eyes away from his, he looked at me surprised. He finally found what he’s been looking for, the end of the line, which was me.

He approached me with an awkward smile.

“Hello Rob, how are you?” He says, his voice trying to get a grip of the situation.

“I’m good… Good!” I nervously replied with a “faked-excitement” tone. In my effort to move on and forget, I forgot one of the most essential weaponry that you have to have ready at disposal at any given time, your witty comeback, if ever you bump into an ex and he had the guts to ask you, how you have been. So, I got stuck with “Good!”.

“That’s nice to hear.” He replied.

I smiled back.

There was a minute long awkward silence. Both of us were studying the menu above the counter, which was pointless for me because I already knew what I’ll be getting.

He suddenly broke the icy awkwardness, “You know what, this one’s on me… Americano, Venti, right? And one sugar glazed donut?” his eyes looking into mine. For a split second, I gaze at his face, he still looks handsomely fresh, and he still has those charming smiling eyes. Nothing much has changed two years after we broke up.

“What do you think?” he asked again, he might have noticed that I was in a trance for almost a couple of seconds.

“Are you sure?” I mumbled.

“Of course, for old time’s sake. You can get us a table, then.” He replied.

“Sorry, but I’m having mine to go, I actually have a meeting in ten minutes” I quipped, pointing at the building across the coffee shop.

“Ooh! Sure, that was awkward, I thought you’ll be staying for your coffee, that’s not a problem, but can you save me a table, while I order? I still have an hour to burn before my appointment.” He replied.

“Sure!” I said, as I went around the coffee shop looking for a vacant table.

I got a table near the entrance of the coffee shop; I waved at him to let him know where I was. He smiled and then proceeded to talk to the barista.

I finally found the time to digest everything that happened in the last five minutes, he still looked good and smelled just like how he does when we were still together, he still remembered my staple order when I need to get breakfast from Starbucks, and he still knows I hate waiting in line.

I started to feel a twitch from my heart, half a twitch actually.

He is still that guy I fell for before.

He came to the table bearing my coffee and doughnut and his breakfast fix, which I assume is also Americano if he hadn’t changed how he wants his morning coffee and a bagel with cream cheese.

“Here’s your coffee!” he smilingly says as he handed me my coffee and doughnut. “I guess, we don’t really have much time to chat since you have 3 more minutes before eight o’clock, right?” he says, smiling again.

“Yeah, I think so. Thanks for the coffee and doughnut anyways. I really have to rush now.” I replied, as I stood up and prepared to leave.

“There’s always a next time, I guess. It was nice seeing you Robbie.” he said, and I felt that he truly was happy to see me.

“It was also nice seeing you, Dave.” I replied.

I offered my hand for a goodbye handshake; he took it and pulled it closer to him to give me a quick hug. I was stunned. I felt all my blood rushed to my head, he let go of the hug and held both my arms tightly and said “I’m glad that you’re okay.” His smile reflected all the sincerity that accompanied his words.

“Thanks! Me too, I’m happy that you’re doing great.” I said, with one last smile, I went straight for the door.

As I was walking away from the coffee shop, I contemplated on looking back to check if he was still looking at me as I walk away, I decided not to, the twitch in my chest grew stronger, and I know that glancing back and not seeing him still looking at me will turn that twitch into an uncontrollable jerk.

So it all comes down to this, it’s like preparing yourself for a major examination for over a year then failing. The science, the process flew out of the open window. I knew what my heart was feeling, it’s all too familiar not to recognize. All it took was a few minutes of proximity from him and everything is back to zero.

I went straight to my office desk to get some of my stuff before going to my meeting, as I enter, Andrew, my friend and a colleague, was at his desk doing something on his laptop while playing some music .

“Good morning, Robbie!” He greeted me, with his usual smiley face.

“Morning, Drew.” I greeted back. “I just need to get some papers on my desk, I’m so late for my eight o’clock” I continued. I hurriedly went to my desk and picked up the folders I needed.

“See you later then!” Andrew replied.

I threw him a smile as I sprinted off.

Some line from the song playing on Andrew’s laptop echoed as I walk out from our office.

Remember those walls I build baby, they’re tumbling down, they didn’t even put up a fight, they didn’t even make a sound….”

And right there and then I knew.

It took me quite a long time to get to where I am now.

An inch and a half from where I used to be.

Two years and seven months, for a tiny budge.

That’s how far I’ve moved on.