Change. The word barely existed for me. I know that my obstinacy makes me one of the most difficult persons to deal with. My strong sense of individuality tend to intimidate others. In every relationship I’ve been in I was the law and I do not intend to change anything about that. But everything changed when I met a girl who made my world flip over. I never thought that day would ever come.
Her name is Camille Brooklyn Nacatab. She was once just a face in a sea of faces that I can barely keep up with. We were studying in the same university and taking the same degree but our paths rarely converged. Our initial interaction was when I asked her how she is related to a priest I knew of. She answered offhandedly with a tone that made me cringe. This failed attempt at conversation showed me that she didn’t want anything to do with me. Oh well, it’s not my loss.
But fate threw a curveball towards me that I can’t avoid.
I have never felt this helpless before. Nursing research subject is no joke. I thought I was up to the challenge when I accepted the role of being the leader of our group. But I only found myself in an abyss which I can barely lift myself up from because I was already buried halfway to the ground. I have become a damsel in distress. Everything is a source of stress. I was in dire need of company, just someone who is willing to listen to my soliloquy. Then there he is, not exactly the Prince Charming I envisioned but he is the one who is there. I can’t afford to be choosy.
His name is Merv Alawas. I disliked him because of his arrogant behavior which puts me off. But he is here now. Unbridled, I let the words pour out. Surprisingly, I saw a look in his eyes that showed genuine compassion and understanding. He patiently listened as I let the floodgates pour. Lest I forget, this is a guy I find contemptible but as I lean on his shoulders for comfort, I felt like I have found a shoulder to lean on.
Then one thing led to another. Our brief interlude led to his increased presence in my life. We began doing things together and our friendship blossomed. Our newfound closeness, however, wasn’t left unnoticed by our friends. They kept teasing us, which made me conscious.
I tried to resist it but I know I am falling for him. His small acts of kindness drew me closer and closer to him. But I am afraid that I am cruising on a one-way street, hence, I kept it all inside me. I was afraid of ending up hurt. Moreover, we both just came from respective breakups and I wasn’t prepared to plunge out right.
However, he is showing no interest. Whenever we meet, he remains candid, stoic as a granite. I was determined to get to know him better but then I had to go back to the USA. I thought we’d drift apart but it seems that the distance made us grow closer. In spite of the time difference, we took the time to chat each other. I kept posting group pictures too. I said I missed my friends but the only one I really missed was him.
When I got back he wasn’t the first person that I greeted. I acted candidly which caught him off guarded. I know he is perplexed but I had to play my hard-to-get trump card. I hope it had affected him. I once sent him a text about love which he obviously disregarded. But he ended up accompanying me home, the first time he did so.
Neither the things I’ve done nor our friends’ raucous calls would break his icy façade. But I persisted in spite of the uncertainties. It is better to try and fail than not try at all and be filled with the what ifs.
I knew she was having a hard time the same way that I am. It is palpable that she is falling at the seams and she needs a helping hand. I was just surprised that I would end up being his knight in shining armor. All I did was listen and then our friendship began to grow. Although we got teased a lot, I just shrugged it all off.
I remember one time when my friends planned to watch a movie. I declined due to a prior commitment. But Camille was very persistent I ultimately agreed to watch with them. I sat next to her and I can see the faint trace of a grin painted on her face. I can hardly fathom why so I just acted oblivious. I think the movie’s romantic mood is getting to her. Then I felt a warm hand hold mine. I turned sideways and noticed how focused she was on the movie. She is beautiful when she is unguarded. This Camille is different from the Camille I knew. With a smile in my heart, I held her hand tight for the rest of the movie.
To celebrate my 19th birthday, I went home to Bontoc. I expected it to be an uneventful day but I was wrong. The clock barely hit midnight when I received a private message from Camille. It was a music video of Baby I Love You, accompanied by a lengthy birthday message. It was very thoughtful of her to compose such a message. To personally extend my gratitude, I called her. And then she uttered the words I least expected from her. “I love you.” It rendered me speechless. How am I supposed to react?
Her revelation left me in a quandary. I asked my friends whether it is a wise idea to court her. There was a resounding opposition to me pursuing her. They fear that being in a relationship with Camille will alter the dynamics of our group. I was still torn when I went back to Baguio 10 days after my birthday. Without a moment’s rest, I immediately went to meet her. I could no longer contain the suspense building within me.
Ever since the night of her confession, I was unsettled but it made me evaluated my feelings. Am I falling for her? Or have I really fallen for her? Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her coming, still as lovely as the last time we met. There is a natural grace in her stride and there is a serenity in her face. I suddenly became very conscious of every thing she does. In her serenity and grace, my racing heart has finally settled the question that has been running nonstop on my mind for the past couple of days.
I LOVE HER.
We’ve been official for a couple of years now. Our friends were skeptic at first but they warmed up eventually. Merv is a gentleman and a reliable companion. Whenever we are together, he makes my heart skip a beat. He makes grandiose effort to make me smile. Just like the time I got sick and he took care of me. There was also this one time when he arranged a surprise during our anniversary. He isn’t the romantic type that is why I really appreciated this rare act on his part. And he even cooked even though he doesn’t know how!
But as they say, it is not all smooth sailing. As I got to know him better, I began noticing things that I didn’t notice before, like his mood swings. It often begins with the smallest arguments, simple misunderstandings. He made mountains out of molehills as he takes everything seriously. Small jokes became reasons for arguments. I thought he was just being silly. But it became too frequent. Moreover, he refused to apologize for his mistakes. I have lost count the number of times he walked out on me during our fights.
Our fights last for days, during which he would neither talk to me nor return my text messages. His irascible behavior nearly got to me but I kept myself calm and collected until the storm would blow over. One would ask why I kept on hanging on. Well, I love him. Isn’t that what love is all about? Clinging on to love no matter how hopeless it gets because you believe that the love you have for one person will be enough to change him for the better.
So there, I was always the first one to apologize because I can’t sleep until everything is fine between the two of us. His prolonged silence is torturous to me. At times, I kept asking myself if I am really that desperate. The hopeless romantic in me refuses to give up. I will cling on to that tiny sliver of hope that one day he will change. I just hope that day will come before the pain and the hurt will let me let go of everything. For now, I will fight for him.
It wasn’t easy though trying to keep him while fighting on several other fronts. My parent’s proximity has become a liability as I constantly long for their company. It was difficult supporting my siblings but Merv is making it all doubly hard to cope with everything. The first person I though I could rely on is one of those who’ll weigh down on me. My different responsibilities are dragging me down to the verge of my sanity.
I wanted to be strong but this is all too much. Tears began falling profusely from my tired eyes. For once, I just want to run away, to let everything go. But no matter how far I run, I always look back and see how the things I’ve left behind depend on my strength. I have to be strong, not for me, but for them. I may be in distress but I have to chase these negative thoughts away. Then finally came what both of us feared the most.
I have to go back to the USA to stay and work.
I was speechless when she delivered the news to me. I didn’t know how to react. I wanted to be shunned and be reassured that everything will be fine. I am not sure if I can bear long distance relationships. There are just too many uncertainties that I can not deal with. I know I have been difficult towards her but I don’t think I deserve this. But maybe we could just make it all work out?
Her absence left me feeling empty. It was difficult. To get in touch with her, I had to stay late. I had to keep the communications constantly open because it is the only thing that is binding us together. It breaks my heart that she isn’t beside me. I wanted her to be there for me on the days that I am most triumphant. I wanted her to be there on times that I am losing. Her absence left a gaping hole in me.
We still fight. But the scale began tipping to my end. I used to be able to bear her silence but ever since she went away, I couldn’t seem to keep my self together. At the back of my mind is the fear that she will leave me. I am afraid. During our fiercest battles, she was always the one to bring down her sword. She was always the first one to say that she is sorry. I know, I haven’t been the best boyfriend.
But maybe it is time for me to fight for her and not the other way around? Maybe this is what Father Time is teaching me. Ever since the day she left, I kept counting on the days till she will come back. In the past months she was away from me, I began to realize the errs of my way. I also began to appreciate her silent strength, her obstinacy in keeping us together. Why didn’t I see all of these things earlier? Why am I realizing these things just when she is away?
It is my time to give back to her. The strength she showed me has aroused an adamantine resolve. The dust that has once obscured my view has settled and I am seeing things clearer. This woman and her indomitable resolve is what I need, not just for the present, but forever. Indeed, distance does make the heart grow fonder.
I am actually quite surprised at how fast I coped. I thought I’d miss him very much but I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, being away from him is painful but the distance made me reevaluate our relationship. We would fight and I wouldn’t be bothered by his silence. It is time to make him realize my worth. In our succeeding arguments, he was always the first one to give in. I didn’t know what changed but he is making more effort that he previously did.
I thought things would also change once I return. Fortunately, it didn’t. I can still see the light of love on his face and he still makes my heart skip a beat. We are picking up where we left of but it seems that things are finally getting better. I can feel it in my heart that he is a changed man.
Because I am not going to stay for quite long, we tried to spend as much moment we could together. He is busy with his work but I admire that he is making an effort to meet me halfway. Then he invited me to a hike. I just thought it was an ordinary activity he planned so that we could spend time together. I was breathless when we reached the top but I was mesmerized the view. To drink in my environment, I looked around but when I turned around, I got the biggest surprise of my life. He is kneeling before me.
I was out of words. This is surreal. This cannot be happening! But no matter how many times I shake my head, the man I love is kneeling on the ground, asking for my hand in marriage. I was a bit apprehensive to be honest but looking back, I realized how much he has changed. I can conclude that love does have that power. Without further ado, I said yes.
I know the road before us is not going to be easy but I know that with each other, we will make things possible. Through good times and bad times, I know that we will stand for each other, support each other. The damsel in distress a couple of years ago has finally found his Prince Charming. Not really Charming, but he is more than enough for me.