I remember the first time we met. September of 2005. Was it 28 or 29? Doesn’t matter, really. I was a high school senior, and you were a high sophomore. There was a regional competition, and our school was chosen as the venue. You were in a jeepney with your friends. You just arrived from hours long of travel from your hometown to mine. You were wearing your white and orange shirt (which years later you gave to me for me to wear when I had a fever) and a grey cap. I was on the grounds, impatiently waiting for you and your fellow delegates to get off the jeepney so I could go home. I did not pay any attention to you until my friends pointed you out, and I singled you out of the crowd stuck inside the vehicle. I examined your face, and I ignored you after. I was not interested. Really, I wasn’t. I was occupied with the thought of going home and watching anime.
Hours later, my friends took interest in you. They wanted to know your name, and I was the perfect candidate to ask for it—the douche who seemed to pay no attention. You were running down the steps, and I chased you down and asked for your name, promptly giving away that it was my friends who asked for it, and not me. You gave your name absentmindedly (you were hungry as you told me years later). I shrugged and went back to my friends. I told them your name.
Days later, I found myself spending so much time in your quarter, talking to your friends. You were the quiet one. You seldom speak. Somehow, I took interest in you. Somehow. I found myself occasionally staring at you. Occasionally. You caught me many times, but I just kept staring. It was creepy; I know. The night before your departure, I gave you a letter. A letter saying how happy would I be to become your “brother,” yes, I brotherzoned myself to you. You were okay with it and gave me a letter as well, where you stated that you’d love to meet me again soon. I gave you my cap, and you gave me your Bible. We exchanged numbers. The following day, I went to school early—four in the morning, just to say good-bye. I stood by the window of your quarter till you noticed me. It was a bit pathetic, but I can laugh about it now.
I found myself texting you days after that. For months. Every night. We text. I sometimes call. But I keep telling myself I am not in love with you. We were only together for five days, and we barely even talked. December of 2005, we lost communication. You never replied to my text messages. You lost your phone; I changed my number. I gave up the hope of ever finding you again or even being able to communicate with you. For me, I needed a miracle to that to happen.
Years later, 2007, I was already in college. A miracle happened. I was walking down the streets within our university, and a high school classmate came up running excitedly toward me. She was frantically screaming. She grabbed me by the shoulders, and out of breath, told me that she has your number. Without me asking for it, she gave me your number. That night, I texted you. I reminded you of who I am and mentioned that maybe you do not remember me anymore. You replied, described me as the white guy who stood by your window at four in the morning and whom you mistook as a ghost. I smiled to myself coz you remembered me. We texted; I sometimes called. But then again, we got busy with college. You lost your phone again, and I had no idea how to find you again. I needed another miracle.
After another two years, August 2009, I joined Facebook. The first person I searched online was you. There was only one result for you name, and I knew at that very moment that it was you. I sent you a friend request, checked my notifications daily hoping you had accepted it. Then, I realized, I was using a different name. I sent you a message, reminded you of who I am and mentioned you probably do not remember me anymore. The same thing. After a week, you did accept my friend request. You replied to my message, and we exchanged numbers. We texted, almost most of the time. I even changed my network provider so we can text better.
But I was in a relationship by then. I was with this girl, and we had been together for more than three years, though not really officially. Or something like that. You know the story. February 2010, I got dumped. I was miserable. Despite the distance, you were there for me. You were one of my support systems. We texted all night. We called each other most of the time. You were always there when I needed someone to talk to. You were always there to make me smile and laugh after I get home from both school and work. Then, I found myself admitting that I am actually in love with you. Perhaps, I have always been.
One night, June 10, 2010, through a phone call, I opened up my feelings for you. I told you that I love you. That I am in love with you. You were silent. Then, you said “thank you” and that you like me too. But to prove to you that I am not fooling around, I booked a trip to where you were. July 22–25, 2010, the first time I travelled alone. July 24, 2010, I confessed to you again, and you accepted me as your boyfriend. Gods know how I happy I was.
From then on, we made a lot of plans and arrangements. We made changes in our lives. We made adjustments. We adapted. The first year was difficult: you were here, and I was there. After I finished my studies, we decided that it’s best for me to move. And I did. And look where we are now. Honesty, I did not even expect that we’d last a year, much less how and where we are right now (but I had hoped for that).
But hey, I know that we are no longer the same people who fell in love with each other four years ago. We are totally different people now. Things have changed and a lot more have happened over the past four years. But most of those changes are for the better. We had bumps along the road, but we made it through this far. One day, we might go on our separate ways—perhaps, one of us might fall out of love—and if ever that happens, I want you to remember one thing: I will always be the friend and brother that I was to you. I may no longer be your boyfriend, but that wouldn’t mean I do not love you, because when love runs out, love remains.