It’s not about winning – it’s about letting them think they’d won when they didn’t.
The rain pattered down heavily, soaking her wet completely. On normal circumstances, she would’ve run out for shelter but today was not her favorite.
She was hurting and under the downpour, she wanted to hide her tears.
It was agonizing. To see the man of her dreams in the arms of another woman, it was a pain she wasn’t ready to feel yet. Still, there was nothing she could do. They were in love and she’d already lost her chance even before she tried to grab it.
“What the fuck are you doing there?” a familiar voice cried out. “Come back inside. You’ll get sick!”
Like her, he had no umbrella to shield him from the rain. She slowly turned around, looking at the man she had unfortunately fallen in love with.
“I want to tell you something,” she said.
She knew it was too late. But she wanted to do it. End the misery once and for all.
The look that crossed his face screamed outright rejection but she said it anyway.
“I’m in love with you.”
He blinked, seemingly taken by surprise. She’d already played his possible different reactions a thousand times in her head but the one she received threw her off.
He laughed. “Sorry, but I can’t love you like that. You’re my friend. But really, you love me?”
Every part of her body tensed. Here came the rejection she so expected. Yet, it didn’t numb the pain.
Mustering a grin to save face, she said, “Dream on. I was joking.”
Then she walked past him, never sparing glance. Tears welled up and streamed down her cheeks.
Her entire body froze when his reply came, almost above a whisper.
“So was I.”
Soo. Um. I absolutely have no idea why I decided to write this down now when after all these years I’ve kept my silence about how I truly feel about the things that went down between us. But anyway, I wanted to give it a shot while my memories are still clear to me.
You know, you’re the first ever (and only) guy best friend that I had. I’d known you since my first year high school days even though we became classmates only later on in our fourth year. You were a transferee then and I was the renowned man-hater. It was very impossible for us to meet and be friends but we did. Surprise, surprise.
Do you remember it? Back when everyone else was asking us how we met each other. They were surprised, and to be honest, so was I.
It’s been eight years now. Through my hazy memories, somehow I could still remember how I got to know you. You were my best friend’s crush and being the doting friend that I was, I tried everything to get your number. Because that’s what friends do in our age and beks was too shy to do it herself. Thanks to some common friends (Hi, N and D!) and after weeks of trying to squeeze it out of them, we finally got it – from there started our unexpected friendship.
It’s still funny to me. I always laugh whenever the past will come and replay in my mind. You know back in 2011, group messages are sorta common, right? So in order to catch your attention, I sent out hundreds of quotes to you and my best friend, hoping that by doing so, you’d reply and I’d be able to set you up with beks. Turned out she was also sending you the very same quote messages I flooded you with. That meant you were receiving tsunamis of quotes, possibly a hundred text per day. Haha!
I still remember your reply then.
“Awat na please. Haha.”
I don’t recall now if that’s your first message to me but that actually is the first reply that soon led to countless late night text messages.
Actually, I didn’t intend to get close to you. I was trying to keep my distance to avoid issues with beks, e. But fate had other plans and we soon met each other formally in one of our church’s events.
Prayers of the faithful. Sounds familiar to you?
I think that day cemented it – our friendship. We just grew closer and closer then, and before I realized it, you were my best friend and I was yours. Even though we were not classmates, we talked everyday and told each other everything. You weren’t even bek’s crush anymore. She moved on to another guy and yet we’re still talking, growing stronger by the days. People were asking already how we started. They were curious and we just casually shrugged them off. Some of them even told us we might end up with each other someday. Normally, I’d feel awkward like shit but no. Since it was with you, I felt nothing. I just laughed them away, knowing that whatever the future might hold, our friendship would remain strong. And you were surprisingly okay with those allegations, too. When we discuss over them, there was no malisya or anything at all. We were totally comfortable with each other.
It’s funny to think that we started like that. Looking back at it, I kinda felt bad ’cause that was a jerk move from me. Imagine. I was trying to fix you with my friend. But you ended up as my best friend. Others would think I did that to steal you away. But we both know that’s not the case. Things just happened and being young, we just let it be.
Come our fourth year, we were finally classmates after two years of praying. The year before that, we were still trying to walk past the awkward stage of seeing each other in the lockers. Since we usually talk on friendster and over the phone, we weren’t comfortable with personal meetings yet. We did it step by step. Brief unexpected meetings in the lockers. Nodding at each other in the cafeteria, until finally, we just found ourselves hanging out together during intrams.
Thanks to those, we were closer than ever when we hit our fourth year. Everyone was made aware of our friendship because really, only the blind would not see our closeness. I’d never gotten mad at you, bes. You always went out of your way to reach out to me, too. We were so tied at the hip that our teachers couldn’t help but say, “Darating ang panahon pupuntahan nyo ako dito tapos kayo na.”
I didn’t pay attention to it but Papa G kept on saying it and it started to sink in.
He said, “Ano bang nararamdaman mo sa kanya?”
“Best friends po. Parang kapatid.”
“Pero hindi kayo magkapatid. A girl and a boy can never be just friends. May attraction dyan one way or another.”
“Parang imposible. Wala po akong gusto sa kanya, sir.”
“We’ll see. Baka after four years, bumalik kayo dito pero ‘di na lang kayo best friends.”
Why do I remember this conversation? Because for the remainder of the year, it was all we ever talked about: how impossible it was, how it would never come true. Alongside those, we even had our three promises. Do you remember? I don’t know. And it’s sad that I don’t remember them anymore, too. All I can recall now is our promise not to forget each other.
how ironic and sad that we became like this
Bes. All those times I was waving away the speculations about our relationship, I thought you were on the same page as me. I didn’t realize we weren’t even on the same book.
That special CAT day in Grandstand, we talked for a long time. You asked me, “What if magkagusto nga ako sa’yo?”
I thought about it long and hard. “Kunwari joke na lang. Para walang magbabago.”
I was so scared to destroy our relationship so I said that. It was better for us to be just friends. I didn’t know then that it hurt you. That you were trying to get your bearings and confess to me. Unbeknownst to me, I shunned you away.
You said you liked me since our third year. There came a time when I thought I liked you, too but I dismissed it as soon as I realized it. Why? Because I didn’t want to lose you. We did say no one should fall in love.
But you did. You said you did. And I think that’s the first step toward our destruction.
Had I known then, I would’ve accepted you. But I’m saying this only because I am feeling regretful. The circumstances then were so complicated and complex that there was just no way we could come out of it unscratched.
I was in an unofficial relationship with someone. Our other friend was totally enamored with you. So as not to hurt you, I pushed you in her direction. I think that’s the reason why you suddenly confessed to me. You said it hurt to see me with him. You said it was a dick move, telling her you will court her when you truly like me. Still, I told you to give it a shot.
You’ve been together for more than three years, surprisingly, breaking your curse record of three months. Alam mo, bes? Minsan nagsisisi ako. If I did not push you away, we would not drift apart like this.
She got increasingly jealous of me even though we were good friends. You, my best friend, began to stop communicating with me since she was blocking our means. I don’t know if you fought over me but in the end, you let me go. You dropped me so she’d stop her jealousy fits. You did it so slow, I didn’t notice it at first, and then all at once that it hurt. I cried a lot; cried so bad. I tried all ways to reach out again but it was hard for us. I got terribly mad at you for doing that, for not trying hard. For not fighting enough. For just giving up. Did the friendship mean nothing? Of course later on I’d find that you didn’t want to do that pala – that you had no choice in the matter. In fact, when after a few months you contacted me again, I was elevated. More than willing to take you back in. But it happened again. You poofed out and the same routine kept on happening. We were going in circles until finally, I got tired.
I gave up on our friendship. During those months, thoughts were circulating in my head. The stupid, ugly what-ifs.
What if I accepted you?
What if I didn’t push you away?
What if that was me?
Would we have drifted apart?
It hurt so much to think about all those things. Missing you, remembering our history, and wanting to reach out. But then the hurt became too much and got the best of me. In the end, like you, I let go.
You would poof in again from time to time but it was never the same. A part of me was hopeful and longing for you but a bigger part kept distant and cold, because I knew the same routine would happen again. I knew I’d get hurt again. It’s so damn hard to talk to you and get reminded of how much we used to be close. The fact that I was no longer jumping on your every message hurt a lot, too. It just told me how farther the gap had separated us. How you, my best friend, changed, and how I, toward you, changed, too. Things were completely different.
Remembering Papa G’s words makes me feel bitter about us. He said, “Baka hindi na lang kayo best friends…” Yes, ’cause as it turned out, we’re not even best friends anymore.
Flashforward to few years after. Now that you’ve broken up, you went back to me.
Bes, I wanted to take you back in. Go back to how it used to be. God, I really really really wanted to. But it’s just not the same anymore. I tried but it was too late and we were too damaged. You’ve changed into this man that I don’t recognize. I can’t understand you and your attitude anymore and I’ve also grown cold and aloof with you. I guess that’s because I’m no longer craving hard to restore our friendship. Maybe I got tired. Maybe I don’t want to get hurt again. Or maybe I got used to it, not being friends. I don’t actually know. What I do know, however, is now that you’re trying again to reconnect, I am once again keeping you at an arm’s length.
I keep on thinking, too, that the only reason you came back is because she’s not there anymore. It stung but it no longer hurt. That’s also another reminder of how I’ve become so distant from you.
Looking back now, those many things that happened between us could only lead to this path. Maybe we could’ve mended it. Maybe we could’ve tried harder. Point is, we had a real friendship and we let it slip through our fingers. Bullshit move, yes, but I learned a lot.
You still mean a lot to me. I still cherish our friendship but as much as I want to go back to the past, you and I have changed so much that I think going back is no longer possible. It was a touch move. We weren’t there for each other when these changes were occurring so it’s only natural that I see you now as just a stranger whom I share fond and bittersweet memories with.
I’m really sorry for how things went down. I wanted to change some decisions, really. And if only I didn’t make those shitty choices many years back, maybe this would not be the end game.
I know it’s pointless now to write all these things but I’m doing it anyway because I don’t want to forget. One day I want to read over this and realize that once in my life, I had a best friend I ruled the world with.
And though we have drifted apart and went our different ways, truly, I am happy for you. Let this serve as my closure, to say all those unspoken words I wanted to convey all those times, to relay all those unsent facebook messages that I deleted even before clicking send. I wanted to let you know all these, but somehow I couldn’t.
Now I am. I know you won’t be reading this. But the me in the future will and I want her to know how much I’ve grown in the years that passed.
Maybe we’ll still be friends in the future. Maybe someday, we’ll be best friends again. I’m not going to close doors but for this chapter in our lives, I’m done rereading it.
She was there when you first learned to talk.
She was there when you first learned to sit.
She was there when you grew up.
She was there when things went wrong.
She was there when you were not.
She is your first memory.
She is your first companion.
She is your first friend.
She is your first love.
forget her face.
But never her love.