The man who built a bridge

Warning: This piece of writing is going to suck. I just had to immediately write everything down while the feeling lasts. It always wears off.

I’ve always been convicted that our insecurities exist because we think our worth is determined by other people’s opinions, and that you’re nobody until somebody loves you. The truth is nobody can love us better than ourselves. That’s ideal. But in reality, we’re sentient, social creatures who find it difficult to ignore how other people perceive us. This is probably one of the reasons why I have been feeling dejected lately: it’s been a long time since someone really took notice. Of me. It’s not entirely because my happiness solely relies on other people’s attention. It’s just that sometimes, the very small “social” aspect of my being gets to me and I crave for human connection whether physical, emotional or intellectual. For someone to take notice of my value. And I got the exact verification I needed last night while I was jogging my heart out at the heart of my city.

I haven’t even completed a full circle of the park when the rain started to fall. I was wearing my fifty peso tank top and super Adidas shorts which I swear I don’t wear because my legs needed that much attention but because I used to don average long shorts and they always rip during my exercises. So because of the rain, I had to stop and find shelter somewhere. I’ve just recovered from flu and we all know how annoying it is–the mucus and stuff. I decided to wait for the rain to stop (or to even just weaken) in a covered walk inside the park with a Chinese couple who seemed horny because they couldn’t stop giggling and touching each other. While staring at the rain, I thought to myself how romantic it would be if I were with someone special that moment. I think it’s obvious by now that I’m one of those people Joni Mitchell’s friend, Richard, predicted to suffer a tragic fate: cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark cafe.

Anyway, I didn’t really want to waste my time beneath that plastic roof. I had to do what I came there to do. So when the rain still didn’t show any sign of letting up after more than thirty minutes of waiting with the Chinese, I decided to resume my jogging. I told myself to complete at least two full circles and then I’m done. I’ll proceed to get my ritual tea from the Teaberi shop behind the PBCom Tower. In my head, that night was going to be just one of the nights I went jogging. But sometimes, the universe has beautiful ways of surprising you.

So after two full laps around the park, I started walking along the covered walkway leading to the Paseo de Roxas underpass when this fairly attractive guy who was talking on the phone caught up with me. We exchanged shy glances as we walk parallel to each other. I wouldn’t deny that right then and there, I knew he was up to something. I’m not an intuitive for nothing. I tried to appear like I didn’t care though, mainly because I could be wrong about his motive and I didn’t want to embarass myself. Then he went past me, but not without taking occasional pauses, probably hoping I’d stop and eventually approach him. That’s never going to happen though. Because I’m a fucking wuss.

The guy was still talking on the phone when we ascended from the underpass. The rain was still coming down at a steady pace. He took a shade in front of the Insular Life Building–again, probably hoping I’d stop a while and talk–but I didn’t. I ran my way to Rufino Street and turned to Valero where the Teaberi store is located. At the back of my mind, I thought that was going to be the last time I’ll see him. I mentally shrugged and proceeded to get my usual fruit tea–Green Apple, 25% sweetness, Nata de coco, less ice–and planned to wait for a bus in one of bays in Ayala. But as I walk along Rufino, I stumbled upon the man again, this time sheltering himself in front of the Cityland Herrera Tower. Was he following me? Admittedly curious yet thoroughly startled, I ignored him again and walked past him. A split second after our eyes locked, I could hear a voice from behind me. I couldn’t really understand what he was saying because I have my earphones plugged to my ears and a Fiona Apple song was playing.

To be honest, I am not sure what hit me or what exactly happened. But after years and years of incessant running and relentless self-deprecation, I finally decided to halt my restless feet, brought down the volume of my iPhone and turned around. I was finally face-to-face with him. The man talking on the phone. The man who “followed” me from Ayala Triangle to Valero Street in spite of the rain. The man who’s brave enough to build a bridge. Across the land no one has dared to go in a very long time.

“Hi. Nag-aalala lang ako. Hindi ba delikado na nagja-jogging ka habang umuulan?”

And the rest is history.




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