before: you. me. us.
i remember those endless summer nights when our barkada used to hang out somewhere in the neighborhood. you would put you hand around my shoulder and i’d lean on you and we would be contented with that, saying nothing. we used to be old romantics. we find happiness in looking at the stars, ironically wishing we could see a shooting star so that it would grant our wishes. we walk in the fields hand in hand. we love to stare at each other, secretly playing a game about who would give in and kiss first. i miss those nights.
lately, i was reading the poems i made for you before. poems you didn’t know existed. i would write at the back of my old notebooks during boring class periods and i would keep them on my shoebox of mementos. that’s why my notebooks went thinner. i remember you asked me that one time. “why do you tear a lot of pages from your notebooks?” you said. and i just answered, “because i use them as toilet paper.”
we used to exchange notes during AP class. it was the only way to keep ourselves awake. it was the only way that we wouldn’t be called by our teacher because we’re noisy. you used to hold my hand when i put it on your armchair, when i’m tired of writing you silly notes. you used to play with my hair. and our teacher used to reprimand us because of PDA. i hated being in a catholic school.
we were just friends. i never had you as my boyfriend. i still don’t know why. and until now, i’m having regrets that we didn’t try. maybe you were also afraid of commitments, because no one in our classroom is having relationship with someone else. i was afraid that we couldn’t make it through, because you knew that a guy named Roger was having a crush on me. and i knew that a girl named Fatima was madly in love with you. we were good friends anyway. more that friends, perhaps…
because i remember the first time you kissed me in the park. it was magic. and you know high school love. i described our first kiss as a knee-weakening, head-dizzying, and heart-attack-threatening kind of experience. but i liked it. you were so unsure, so yourself. you looked like you might faint, and i thought it was the reason why your grasp on my shoulder went tighter. it was funny when i remember that.
it was prom night and you borrowed your dad’s car so you could fetch me at home. but when you’re already at the door, you begged my dad to drive for us because you’re nervous. i wouldn’t forget the look on my dad’s face. haha. but he agreed anyway. and you gained his trust for admitting a weakness. at school, we were crowned “Couple of the Night” mainly because we are the only obvious couple who are not afraid to show themselves on public. i was even wondering why we have that kind of award on that annoying catholic school. we were not allowed to embrace each other when we danced. it was as if i could get pregnant if we went that close. and oh, you were so protective of me that night. you almost didn’t allow Roger to dance with me. and i almost laughed my ass out when Fatima asked you to dance with her. “May I have the pleasure to dance with you?” she asked. OMG it was soooo cheesy. but it was nothing. we survived that night, fortunately.
i don’t know why i suddenly thought of all the things about you. about us. maybe i just miss you. and the funny thing is i wouldn’t do anything about this. i wouldn’t text you. i wouldn’t call you.
like how i used to be on the phone with you for hours!! forget about household chores, forget schoolwork. i missed you every time we part. as soon as i get home, i would cheer at the sound of the phone ringing because i knew it was you.
every dismissal time was very difficult for us. i awfully hate it when we part ways. i even dreamt that we could live at the same house. just like that anime that we used to watch. maybe that’s why i fell apart when we said goodbye, for good.
and now, i don’t know where you are. the last time i heard from you, you were spending you vacation with your girlfriend in an island far away. it wasn’t easy for me. but now, i’m glad that i could already think of you without shedding tears. i also realized that i haven’t thought of you for a long time now. i’ve moved on. it was just that high school love. i don’t know if it was real love. but i was happy that i had you before. maybe i’d make another poem for you. maybe i’d drown in those reminiscences from time to time. it was sad and happy at the same time. but things already changed. when you get to think of the past, and you know that you couldn’t be there anymore, you would accept everything. there’s no way but to move forward.
there’s no other thing i could do but remember. and not forget.