That Summer of 2001
Updated: Sep 7, 2020
I met him in the summer of 2001. My friend told me, “Flo, I want to introduce you to someone.” He’s her husband’s cousin from the USA and was just visiting the Philippines to help build houses somewhere in Luzon organized by Gawad Kalinga. I remember I met him at a diner near our office. I was still donning my office uniform and the plan was that we would have dinner in the evening. So, I told him I would go home first and change into something casual and if he would like to follow me home. And he did.
I introduced him to my aunt, my uncle and our dogs as well. :) I could see him quite scared with all the dogs hovering around him. But it went well and off we went to our first date.
We had dinner at a restaurant in one of the malls in the city. I knew then that Americans are not fond of sharing their food. They order one meal just for themselves. We, Filipinos, on the other hand will order 2 or more dishes and we share. But he offered his food, actually. He’s Filipino, by the way, but an American citizen. We dined and talked and I felt relaxed and comfortable talking to him. He’s one guy who is deep, intelligent and smart. I found myself enjoying and laughing loudly at his wit and then I remembered. My friend warned me that he doesn’t like girls who laugh so loud. Crap! But who cares? I didn’t want to pretend. I just wanted to be me as I always did when going on dates. I thought he would already end the evening after dinner but he asked me if we could still go somewhere. So, we ended up in a bar. He drank Heineken, I had juice and we danced a little. I was quite surprised that I was enjoying myself and wishing that he felt the same. I even thought, “Will he ask me out again?” Then he took me home and I let him get into a taxi when we got to my place. I even told him to text me once he arrived at his hotel. Surprisingly, he did.
I never expected to see him again let alone receive a text message from him since he would also visit other cities. I was hoping I would. But the morning after that, I received a text message. And that was the start of a series of text messages everyday. The sound of the Nokia SMS tone at that time was heaven to my ears every time my phone beeped. We would text each other, talk about anything. Most of the time, we would fall asleep on it but if we woke up in the middle of the night, we would reply to where we had left off. It was something that I looked forward to everyday that time. It gave me excitement. It gave me a reason to be happier.
For weeks, I was quite contented just texting him when I learned that he was going back to Cebu. He was already in Manila waiting for the day of his flight. I couldn’t explain the happiness I felt then. I felt really thrilled. I was not sure if I was the reason why he would come back. But at least it gave me hope to see him again before he went back to the USA.
Then he asked me out again. It was a good sign. At least, for me. We had dinner and I took him to Tops after. If you’re staying in Cebu, you will know this place. I think Tops is a romantic place in the evening. You will see the view of Cebu City all lit up. We rented a taxi going there and asked the driver to wait for 2 hours. Over 2 cans of Coke, we talked about everything and talked about nothing. I even remember his phone rang and he just kept it ringing. I asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer that?” He said, “No. It’s just a friend I met in Baguio and it’s rude for me to answer it while you’re with me.” I felt so thrilled and too important at that very moment. I learned later that that friend’s name was Donna. Damn Donna! I felt I already had a rival. Hahaha!
When I told him that our 2 hours was up, he asked me if I could ask the driver to extend it to another hour. I was in seventh heaven, mind you. I really felt so important. :)
His flight back home was the day after tomorrow. He asked me if I could spend the day with him before flying to Manila. It was quite difficult to get a day’s off so I told him I would meet him after lunch. Since we both didn’t want him to miss his flight in the evening, we opted to hang out in his hotel room. Oh, before you react, nothing happened. It was my first time to do that and besides, I knew his cousins. I had backup. :)
We just talked, told jokes and ordered some food. He gave me a book about Rome since I told him it’s one of the cities I would love to go to someday (though until now I haven’t gone there yet). Then he was lying in bed while I was sitting, looking at him. With his eyes closed, he told me, “You know, last night at Tops, I really wanted to kiss you.” I was so speechless. I didn’t know what to say. I just kept quiet although my mind was screaming, “What about now, do you still want to kiss me?” It was the best afternoon of my life. It was quite an emotional adventure.
But some good things come to an end. I left the hotel before his cousin came to take him to the airport. I couldn’t explain what I felt then. I felt very sad, as if a part of me had been taken away. As we hugged each other goodbye, I was trying to suppress the tears from falling. I was starting to miss him. As the taxi drove off, I turned to see him for the last time and when I saw him standing there with a very sad face, my dam of control broke. I was sobbing the whole journey home. I didn’t know if I would be sad or happy. Sad, that he was going away. Happy, that him looking so sad meant that he was going to miss me, too. All I knew was my heart was really breaking at that very moment.
I learned later that he never told his cousin that I was in his hotel room. He even put the tray of food that we ordered outside the room across his. I was super touched by that gesture. I felt so respected and valued.
There will always be one moment in your life that no matter how short the time you have spent with someone, it will be totally etched in your heart forever. I still remember what he wrote in his email once, “Hey stranger, you still owe me a kiss.”