I can’t believe this is all happening. I can’t believe the changes happening right in front of me.
Just a day ago I was in Davao, surrounded by former colleagues, roommates and friends. Today, I’m here – alone in my old, tiny box of a room in Makati. Well, not really alone. I’m with this guy I randomly met almost a year ago and weirdly enough, kept in touch with.
Dave, yes his name is Dave.
Now he’s here. Now, I’m here. Now, what?
“Earth to Maddie,” Dave said while waving his hands in front of me. “Shouldn’t we go out for dinner or what? We’ve been unpacking your stuff for hours already. We definitely deserve a reward from all that unboxing.”
“I just want to sit here. I terribly missed this couch, this pillow,” I said – forgetting to reply to his question. “I can’t believe I’m here again – it feels like I’m dreaming. Just like that, I’m back here – and there’s a stranger in my room.”
Dave smiled. It was comforting to be in the company of someone whose presence seemed so familiar and yet so unfamiliar.
“After all that I did today – picked you up at the airport, bought you lunch and unboxed all your stuff despite that durian smell – this is what I get from you? How very Maddie,” Dave teased. He never forgot that night we first met. He kept saying I bullied him the entire time.
“Come on, relax. Can’t we just sit here for a while? I’m enjoying the old smell of my room. I never imagined I’d be back here – well, not this soon anyway,” I explained. “Here, sit.”
“See? You’re doing it again. What a bully.”
“I. Am. Not.” I replied while throwing the dusty, old pillow in his direction.
Dave threw the pillow back at me but nevertheless followed suit. He sat right beside me – for lack of a choice. He might as well could have sat on the floor, if only there was enough space for him to sit on. All of my stuff from Davao were still scattered all over the floor.
Tired from an entire afternoon of unpacking, I found solace as I slouched on the couch and rested my head on his shoulder.
“Oh god, have you seen the ceiling? What an awful lot of cobwebs,” I said, surprised that I was surprised to see such mess. I was gone for three years after all.
“I’ll take care of that,” Dave reassured. “Later.”
I laughed. I love that word. Our lives were a series of “laters” – or so it seemed.
We first met at a bar in Davao, then later on kept in touch by whichever way we can – phone, Facebook, IMs, DMs. Not daily, not regularly but every time, it was “a little bit later” than I’ve expected, at random, whenever there was an opportunity to touch base again. Fast-forward to three years later: now we’re here – in the same room, together.
As the thought hit me, I couldn’t help but feel a rush of blood to my head – that indescribable, woozy kind of feeling. Right at the same time, Dave glanced at me and gave a soft nudge with his shoulder.
“Are you alright?” he asked, leaning towards me.
No words came out of my lips but at a glance, I already knew what was going to happen next. I felt that customary sinking feeling – that stomach-churning, skin-numbing sensation which caught me by surprise. Frozen like a deer caught in the headlights, I didn’t have a choice but to close my eyes.
For the first time in years, I felt how it was like to fall in love again.
What was one supposed to do in a moment like this? I attempted to stop all the questions running through my head and instead, basked in Dave’s happy scent. In that moment, I surrendered my lips for the taking, my heart for the breaking.
“All yours,” I wanted to say but that wouldn’t make sense to Dave, would it? He was everything and we were nothing at the same time. No questions, I reminded myself.
“Stop staring!” I told Dave the moment I opened my eyes and saw him gazing right back at me. There was just too much tension I couldn’t take. The thought that he might see right through me that very moment left me feeling so helpless and yet so loved – and I didn’t want him to witness me in such vulnerable state.
A pregnant pause ensued but Dave was quick to attempt not to make things even more awkward than it already was. He miserably failed.
“You are at once both the quiet and confusion of my heart,” Dave said.
“What?” I asked, all the more befuddled.
“Kafka, that was a Franz Kafka quote. You know – the writer.”
“Of course I know him, silly. Don’t ruin the moment,” I kidded him. “Is that one of those random posts you read in Instagram? Are you even sure that Kafka said that?” I laughed, trying to stay cool, although I felt quite sure my eyes betrayed me.
“Come here,” Dave said, pulling me in with a tight hug and a kiss on the forehead. “Don’t ruin the moment,” he hushed.
I stopped myself from rolling my eyes in another attempt to look calm and collected. Instead, I let go of my defenses and surrendered to whatever it was I was feeling deep inside. I’ve always been wont to hiding my emotions and maintaining a strong facade. This time around, I cozied up to Dave’s embrace and let go of a sigh. I deserve this, I thought to myself.
I returned his hug but I didn’t have the right words to say – well, not yet. The next few seconds were wrapped in golden silence. I just looked at Dave and smiled. Little by little, I felt myself loosen up from that numbing feeling.
“Dinner?” Dave asked again.
“Dinner, it is,” I replied.
Dave swung the door open and held my hand on our way out. I can’t believe what has just happened – and I’m thankful it turned out good – great, even. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.