chapter one

(note: this was written, but unpublished, way back 2006. my opinions and thoughts about relationships and alcohol and men have changed a little bit since then.)

the prelude of the friendship Dani and i shared can be attributed to him holding out a fork and uttering “tinidor” as we lined up to get a mouthful servings of the catered food during a company party in May. i remembered showing a complete expression of surprise because not only did he seem to want to try Filipino food (which is obviously not very popular with the expatriates), he knows the country’s official language quite well.

before him, there was no salsa, no world cup, no metallica, no campari, no crazy parties in boracay, and no unconventional friendship ties. before him, i was oblivious to the discrimination and issues surrounding a cross-culture, opposite-sex friendship. before him, traveling alone was taboo.

there were a lot of things i learned from him, some of which up to this point i continuously refused to embrace. we had opposing views on prostitution and drugs and the whole intricate art of subtle flirting. we argued over and over again on the validity of love being all-sufficient for contentment and satisfaction. he digress that it is possible to love a person very much and still pursue own interest that requires one’s presence on the other side of the continent. for him it was never “either” or “or”. for me, happiness is where love is. and if your happiness lies somewhere like 2,500 nautical miles from where you currently are, then love in the present is not enough.

if there was something that bound Dani and me, it would be the stories we shared. it was neither the things we did together (because they were not ample in nature) nor the places we went to together (because counting the frequent trips to the bars, we never really went to other places much). it was the conversation that happened in between and afterwards. we shared stories with each other too much that at some point we have become each other’s breathing diary. we both shared guilt with our stories and hoped nobody would ever found out what it was we talked about.

it was only after Dani left the country that i realized how much he has influenced my life and the way i look at things. i started becoming a sucker for lone travels. at first, it took a lot of effort to enjoy it and because it required such tedious effort, i never quite enjoyed it as i hoped to. it was only after much later when i stopped looking at travels as an escape (but rather as a way of life) that i fully understood why Dani loved it so much. and why it made him somehow less bothered with change.

the travels changed me dramatically. surface intervals are the time spent in the metropolis, in between jobs and crazy schedules. on weekends until Monday, i was rarely there. the metropolis was all work and bad habits. my weekends were something else.

II.

I once had a crazy notion that i wanted Dani to stay single as long as he could because there is absolutely no girl that deserves him yet. that or either they are too good for him. and i had that fear that another girl’s presence in his life would make him boring, his stories less interesting, and his passion for new adventures less glittering.

it must have worked because i have seen him in and out of the relationships (if one can call it that) more often than i saw myself even taking a first step at it. he knew about this crazy thought because i always tell him that after another bad breakup is added in his bibliography.

but of course, there were other girls in Dani’s life. travels and romance went hand in hand for him. it was like automatic, dating strangers almost self-explanatory. I always had fun pointing out what was wrong with them (bad manners, too old, too young, too sluttish, too dumb, too plain, too fancy, too boring) and he had somehow endured the moments that i did.

he did love a few of them quite well though. and i remembered a couple of stories of the one he did. there was of course Violeta. he met her in one of them foreign university gatherings in Spain. i liked her because she was something. she got him to cross countries to see her out of misery due to her absence. and boy, did he love her. she broke up with him, though. apparently, the butterflies in his stomach did no benefit for him this time (he has this crazy notion there must be butterflies in his stomach in three weeks time to convince him he loves a particular girl. he actually uses this as a reason for breaking up women’s hearts). the job offer to work in the Philippines saved his heart from going through a sullen, painful process of healing though.

and he took it. that is how it works with Dani. walk away when there is time. i remembered accusing him once of being such a sissy. it was out of the question, though. people handle change differently. he handles it with travels.

there was Nikko, too. she is a Filipina and he met her couple of months when he was about to leave. i didn’t quite like her at first because she sounded too good to be true for me. she was the sort of girl who was too young to amaze an equally amazing man. Dani was very fond of her, loved her even. i realized later on though that it was the jealous streak in me that got me into that line of thinking. i saw her as a threat to the way Dani currently lives his life and i did not want him to share his stories to other people (which he eventually did with her anyway). his stories were mine, and although he never quite has wanted me to tagged authority on them, he had subconsciously allowed me to in the process.

looking back at it, it would have been a blast meeting Nikko. i have heard so much of her and she of me introductions would have been unnecessary. both our reputations and our bond to the same man preceded us. however, when i got to meet her, it was Dani’s last day in the country. i was to drop him to the airport and we had dinner briefly and she dropped by to our table to bid him a goodbye. that was the first and the last time i saw her, or heard of her.

and whether or not Dani’s heart leaps out to her as she walked away from our table, i had not had the chance to ask him. his flight was in two hours and we were already late.

Sometimes, Dani is such an asshole.

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