1999: A Love Story

This is a true to life story of everyone.

Around eighteen years ago, a boy and a girl met in college. They were in their teens.

She thinks he talks like Hua  Zi Lei. He thinks she looks like an anime.

Early part of 1999, they became fond of each other. Sharing their mushiest favorite tunes, one on one beer challenge, or simply staying late in the gutters of Maganda Street.

One rainy night, boy and girl was walking in an overpass in Altura. Before they could reach the bottom of the stairs, girl slipped a couple of steps down. Boy caught her hand. Too late. Dirt and mud was all over her back. To her horror, she saw people on the street staring at her. Boy covered her face with a notebook and they continued walking. He said it’s the last thing they can save.

It was the end of school year. Boy walked girl to the bus station. She’s going back to the province for summer vacation. In front of the bus stairs, boy was thinking of kissing her, expecting a slap in return. But before he could make a move, girl gave him a quick kiss… in the neck! Girl was thinking of the same thing, but hesitated last minute thus landing her kiss somewhere below his jaw.

Girl and boy spent their summer break waiting for the postman. Both aren’t well-off to have beepers. Good ol’ snail mail was their only communication. Primitive yet sweet. But this was ages ago.

On their second year, the inevitable happened. They didn’t become a couple, sorry. Boy reunited with his then girlfriend. Girl eventually went out with someone else. Whatever it was, it stopped.

They couldn’t trust their youth and they could not afford to lose each other. They stayed as friends, because friends don’t break up. They can bump into each other and chat the same way. But friendship seemed a difficult word for two people who couldn’t look each other in the eye for years. Still, they got by.

Their circle of friends were mum about it.  Not a word from any of them. No one dared to probe. Silently, they watched things unfold, and fold.

As they grow older, boy would still think of the girl. Never his ex, but someone who has always been dear to him. While the girl, she has considered him his favorite friend. Separately, they still look up to the twin stars they were gazing at in 1999. Although the star necklace he gave her was swollen by a black hole, they never really forgot each other.

She never forgot his birthday.

He never forgot her favorite songs.

She never forgot the way he walks.

He never forgot how much her bus fare was in 1999.

He used to be her Pacey (Dawson’s Creek, old stuff) and she was his biggest “what if”…

 

2008… or 2009?

Boy and girl remained good friends. For more than a decade, they watched each other fall in and out of love to different people. They became housemates. He’d spend Christmas with her when she’s alone. She’d make him coffee. He’d invite her for some beer. She’d have serious conversation with him about the games they play. She was, after all, coined as their cyber housemate.

Boy would criticize girl for being single. Girl would hate him for that. He’d invite girl’s ex to come over. Girl almost killed boy. Girl became a friend to boy’s girlfriends. One even asked her to be a bridesmaid when they get married. Girl was boy’s favorite third wheel and he is someone she can never say No to.

Then Boy moved out. Girl stayed.

2011… the coast was clear

In July 2011, boy invited girl to get an NSO ID. While waiting for their lunch, they heard a familiar song. It’s not exactly their song, but it’s the girl’s favorite which boy mockingly sang when they were in college. As the song played, boy had a sudden interest in his shoes, and girl stared at the ceiling. Awkward? Yes.

They’d meet every week after that. Coffee, beer, movies and food.

Boy txted girl “date tayo ulit”. Girl couldn’t breathe. She replied “putol yung txt” pretending she didn’t get it. Boy thought she wasn’t ready. Maybe he’s wrong.

In one of their txt exchange, girl rants to boy. Her folks wanted her to go abroad. Boy suggests “mag-asawa ka na kasi”. It was like a movie, boy’s face flashed in her mind, but instead responded with “wala eh”. Boy was hoping she’d say “ikaw na lang”.

Late August that year, boy invited girl for a South Luzon trip. Of course, they ended up in their favorite place, Baguio.

Before returning to Manila, boy asked girl to visit her folks. It was a vehement NO. Girl could not tell boy that the next guy she brings to her parents’ house should be the last. Waiving her self-promise, girl gave in and they dropped by. Girl introduced boy as a friend, because he is.

It was odd but it happened. Girl’s mother was cleaning some stuff. She handed girl an old rusty biscuit box. In it were few old photos and class cards. Wrapped in something else, girl found a small portrait of hers and a bunch of letters from 1999. May snail mail pa! These are stuff girl didn’t know she kept for more than a decade. Letters and stuff boy gave him in college.

On their last day, boy told girl, “Pagbalik natin ng Manila, kapag nagreply ka sakin, o txt , or any form of contact, tayo na”. 

When girl reached her apartment, guy txted “Bahay ka na ba?”. It took her a few minutes to respond. This is a trap, she thought. But she willingly dived into it and said “Oo”. Boy replied “Congrats, hindi ka na single”.

 

Now here are things they didn’t know about each other. Let’s go back to 2008… or 2009?

When girl and boy were housemates, girl would stock on biscuits and chips for the weekends. For a girl without a visible love life, who works in the gaming industry, weekends are sacred for MMORPGs. It was customary for her to lock herself in the room, no lunch, just her usual stash of sweets. Boy, who’s in the next room, would pretend to borrow a lighter to see her. But that only works for a few minutes. Next thing he did, he ate up all of girl’s stash whenever she’s away so he can invite her out for lunch on Saturdays.

One Saturday night, boy asked girl if she wanted to drink. Girl said yes. Boy was planning to let her know how he feels. When the beer came, girl got a couple of bottles, locked herself in her room and went back to gaming.

One time, boy came home in blue polo shirt. Girl stared. He looked good. Girl turned her back and slapped herself. Not again, not ever, she told herself.

When boy was about to move out, girl wanted to stop him. But she couldn’t find the right reasons to make him stay. That’s due for another self-inflicted slap. Instead, she helped him bring his stuff to the place she didn’t want him to be at. What girl didn’t know, boy felt he was given away.

 

Back to 2011…

Three days after being official, boy kind of proposed. It was over Gtalk. Yes, over chat. No kneeling, no effing ring. Just plain “Pakasal na tayo” and girl replied with a short “Ok”. This may not be the marriage proposal girls usually dream of, and probably the least romantic of all. But for them, it was just a gun start to begin a life-long journey.

The moment they took their NSO ID together, they knew they’ll be inseparable.

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