Thursday, January 17, 2013
Love, Once Again
Even being alone is better than sitting next to your lover and feeling lonely.
- Celine, Before Sunset
When I am happy, people automatically think I am in love. This makes me smile. What others don’t realize is that I’ve truly loved only one man since I was 14 -- my erstwhile next- door neighbor who also happened to be my first love. Back when I was a teenager, I adored him like a puppy would a bone. He was the older brother that I never had. Good-looking, intelligent and kind-hearted, my family loved him like he was part of us. He could ransack my parents’ library and they wouldn’t mind. His family accepted my quirks, and even loved me for them. When I went home three years ago, I literally jumped over the fence so I could eat lunch with his mom after Nanay started harping about my need to go on a sensible diet.
All my life, he has loved me unconditionally. I relish saying that he’s the only man who has loved me “from the top of my head to the tip of my toes” -- no questions asked, no strings attached. Those who know us can attest to the strong bond that we share. Perhaps no other person was privy to my insecurities. His capacity to understand me seemed boundless. I repeatedly hurt him but he never really lashed back at me. Even after we went our separate ways, he continued to be there for me. "I think ours was a case of the right love at the wrong time," he said. He was right. Whenever I look back, I still could not believe the intensity of the feelings we shared. Although he and I had argued over so many things while we were growing up, this one we can both vouch with honesty and certainty.
When he got married years later, I was ecstatic. Every time I fall in love, he gets excited. You see, the love we feel for each other has already transcended the ‘romantic’ kind. Almost three decades since we started building play houses from carton scraps in our backyard and treating candy wrappers as play money, we still rush to each other’s side when the need arises. He will always be my rock, the one person I can turn to when the going gets tough. I have the confidence to be what I want to be because I know that no matter what happens, he shall always stand by me.
Now here’s the thing. I remember asking long ago, “Who am I to ask God two of something others didn’t even have?” So I happily sailed through the years dating here and there, letting myself believe sometimes that there was fire where there was only spark, and marching on fearlessly when things didn’t work out as expected.
Then this other person came along. He offered me something so nurturing I started believing in second chances. Real second chances. I met him many years ago when I was trying to decipher what I really wanted in life. In the span of time that we have known each other, I have learned so much about living. That he revealed his whole self in front of me before I could even blink was something that unnerved me. However, in doing so, I realized that I was not alone even in my solitude. Defying distance and time, we reached out to each other at the most trying of times.
We will always be friends. Whenever we were forced to do things that run contrary to what we feel, he’d say, “I think you know me well enough to discern why this has to be so.” I could only nod, and smile. There is nothing he can do or say that I will not understand. This is the least I can do for him after he patiently made me whole again.
That he loves me is something that I no longer question. He taught me things I didn’t know before. He held me in his arms when it was so much easier to let me fall apart. Despite the distance separating us he made me feel that he was accessible by whatever means. I didn’t have to explain myself to him because he accepted me for who I am. He made me laugh, oh how he made me laugh. We were each other’s tower of strength when there was nothing to hold on to around. As a result, loving him back came naturally.
"My life is all the richer and happier [because of you],” he wrote. Though we know that some things are better left unsaid, every now and then we give in to the truth. It is the one thing that keeps us going amid the phoniness that often overshadows our world. Am I scared of loving again? On the contrary, this love gives me strength. The future may be uncertain but I am old enough to realize that some people come and go in our life. Why should I let this fact keep me from being ecstatically happy? At the end of the day, nobody can really take away from us what we’ve had.
Today, we have our respective roles to play, battles to win and life to live. We have learned to be happy with whatever we have, and no matter how far apart we are. After losing a lot in the past, we hope to continue forging on. If there is one thing that continuously strengthens me, it is the fact that he has given me so much love to last a lifetime. Indeed, with him I have already gone full circle.