I know you’ve traveled 15 years to find me again. It’s my fault that I have this magical ability to disappear completely when I want to. I’ve left a lot of things unanswered between us and in doing so I have caused you a great deal of pain. I know I can’t take that back but I hope you believe me when I say that the things you told me recently made me think twice about myself. You have always seen me in a different light. You have a version of me that you’ve kept pristine amidst everything. I’ve been a mess for a long time but in your eyes, I am and will always be the dorky girl you fell in love with when you were 12. I know I promised you that I would write about us and although this piece is long overdue, I want you to know that this is for you. So before we get to the end, let me tell them about our beginning.
We were in Grade 3 when we met. My dad had been in Saudi Arabia for 10 years or so when he finally decided it would be better if all of us stayed in one place. It wasn’t easy getting accustomed to the strict societal norms of this new country add to the fact that I would be known as the transfer student who came in after the school year already started. The library became my sanctuary. This led to my discovery of Jules Verne, C.S. Lewis, H.G. Wells and all those Choose Your Own Adventure books. After a few months, I overcame my shyness and built a club that believed in time travel. It’s funny that you don’t recall being a member but our first conversation was about quantum physics. I remember showing you my primitive drawing of a time machine as I excitedly explained how I could make it work via a nuclear explosion. While the other kids were busy with their game consoles, cartoons and crushes, we spent afternoons debating over Science.
By the time we’ve reached Grade 6, I became your class president and valedictorian. Honestly, my memory of this comes in fragments as I was extremely focused on academics and extra-curricular activities that year. I joined every imaginable contest in school and I would spearhead activities for our batch as it had a huge impact on the ranking system. Although I acted cool, I was secretly very competitive. I can’t blame you for not telling me you liked me when we were 12. If you did, I would have punched you in the face as that was my normal reaction to boys who attempted to declare their feelings back then. It’s amazing that even our brief interactions you could vividly remember. You told me about a Science quiz bee we’ve joined where I would give you high fives when we both got the right answer. You also never forgot that I was your first kiss. You pretended to be hesitant when our classmates dared me to kiss you on your cheek but later on you admitted that it made you giddy with excitement. During graduation, you wanted to finally let me know that I was special to you. You gave up as you thought our societal difference mattered. This is if my overprotective mom allowed you to live had you pushed through with your confession.
After a year, I moved to a different school and we lost contact. Fast forward to 2002 when the universe conspired for us to meet. This time around, you weren’t afraid to tell me how you felt. You told me how long you’ve waited for me and that at 17, you were sure that I was “the one.” Each day felt like we were back in Grade 3 where I would ridiculously tell you about my conspiracy theories. Our dates were spent debating over books and Science while we roamed UP Diliman campus. I had several boyfriends before you but none of them were ever at par with how our minds connected. I could talk about infinite realities, space travel, and the need to buy all of Frank Herbert’s books and you understood me. Things would have really worked out for us had I not been crazy.
You had our future planned out and that scared me. Instead of being happy that this relationship might actually last, I was full of disbelief and I started to dwell on the negative. You were ready to devote your whole life to me and all I could think of was that something must be wrong with you. After a month, you finally had the courage to kiss me. I should have found your inexperience sweet as I was the only girl you’ve wanted to be with since you were 12 but I used this against you. I was heartless and mean when I told you that we weren’t going to work out because of that. To add insult to injury, I decided to disappear from you completely.
As honest as I am, I had a hard time writing this. Our story made me realize that maybe the reason why I have been so unlucky in my mad search was because of what I did to you. I live my life without regrets but I can’t help but ask what would have happened if I gave “us” a chance. At 32, I have desperately tried to find love or my idea of it but it seems that fate won’t give me a break as I keep falling in love with the wrong ones. A few weeks ago, you told me that every girl you’ve been with was modeled after me. After all this time you never took me down from that imaginary pedestal you’ve created. Please do so as I have never been worthy of that reverence. I am seriously flawed and you know that my insanity can never be absolutely cured. Maybe in another lifetime, we could’ve lived happily ever after. I can imagine our kids raiding a bookstore or rushing home to tell us about how they aced their Science exam. But at the end of all things, this wasn’t the reality that was meant for us. I am proud of what you have become and I am sincerely happy that you have a family that loves you. Opening our time capsule had been wonderful, now let’s bury it in the name of friendship.
I have no doubt that we could’ve been great. But if our time machine were real, you wouldn’t be the one I’d go back for.