How long has it been? Three, maybe four years?
It’s surprising, and a bit funny actually, to run into you on Valentine’s Day. Remember last year? When we used to hang out by the park down the road because you think that restaurants were too fancy and almost always too crowded with people pretending that they are genuinely in love with each other. “They’re just in it for the bliss. But when things go south, they hit the abort button faster than you can say quesadilla” you said to me.
Honestly, I wouldn’t think you would remember. You’ve always been bad with dates. On your dad’s birthday, you thought that it was your parents’ 50th anniversary so you bought them a two large pillows with their faces on each one. Your dad laughed so hard that his dentures fell off. From then on, you made sure to set an alarm for their birthdays on your phone. It was a smart idea. You never forgot them ever since.
I wonder how have you been since then. I can see that you haven’t changed a lot; you still have your dark, brown hair brushed up, and I’m guessing you still use the same brand of pomade we bought when you were having tantrums about how messy your hair is. I didn’t really care back then—I liked how beautifully messy your hair was. It reminds me of the day we first met, when you tripped on the ground as you exited the bus. I offered you my hand and you were sobbing, saying that you failed your college entrance exam. “Will you drink with me?”, you asked. I was taken aback. “How can a total stranger ask me for a drink? He must be really desperate.” I thought to myself. But I agreed. And we hurriedly ran down to the nearest pub we can find. After a couple of shots and endless servings of quesadilla, you said to me “You have a funny face. You look too feminine for a man.” There was silence, but we both laughed. I wonder if you still remember.
“Hey! Picking flowers for your date?” you asked, while absentmindedly caressing the giant rose you picked. “Nah,” I replied, “This is for mom. She loves chrysanthemum”. You smiled, and went back to looking at a large collection of roses. “How is she? your mom?”
I think you forgot how she was. She’s been dead years even before we met. Don’t you remember? you used to accompany me to the cemetery on the morning of Valentine’s day to give her flowers. It’s been a tradition of mine after all, she’s the most special woman in my life. Of course you’d forget, you never cared for me. You’d always forget the little, but extremely significant details of my life. Like that time on my 31st birthday and we were supposed to celebrate it together. We’ve been dating for only a year during that time, but I was honestly hoping you’d live up to your promises. I waited for hours at your favorite restaurant. To be frank, I was expecting some sort of grand surprise from you, that you being late was just an act. but lo and behold, you never showed up. “Sorry! I was busy at work last night and I couldn’t leave the office.” you explained the day after. Of course I let it pass. I always let things pass. “It’s okay. We can do it next time.” I always say. I should’ve known better.
“She’s okay.” I replied. “Could be better but hey, I think she’s happy.” I can see your face turn serious. Did you suddenly remember that she passed away? good for you then. “Isn’t she abroad or something?” you asked with a puzzled look on your face. “Ah. Yes. She’s somewhere.” I answered. It doesn’t surprise me anymore, your insensitivity.
I can still recall how much you belittled my depression as if it’s a joke. “You’re just sad!” you used to say. “Let’s have sex! It will make you feel much better.” I wasn’t sure if you were kidding back then. I thought that was a pathetic attempt to make me laugh, but your face was dead serious at that time. I didn’t reply. You shrugged your shoulders and we continued walking down the bookstore. You hated books. You hated reading. You hated everything I love. It’s still a mystery to me how we managed to stay together for three years even without having anything in common. You liked ice cream, I hated sugary things. I loathe clubs, you were a party animal. These little differences that we had developed into larger issues. Arguments turned to infidelity. Incompatibility turned into physical violence. How I’ve managed to survive you, I do not know. Maybe it was love that kept me strong. Maybe it was love that kept me stupid. Maybe it was love that kept me hoping that someday, things will change. But they didn’t.
“Do you want to hang out?” you asked, with a weird glimmer in your eyes. “Uhm, where are we going?” I replied. I should know better by now that you’re trouble. That this is a bad conversation, and that it will lead to something even worse. “I don’t know, we could have a few drinks. Are you going out on a date later?” I just shrugged my shoulders, “No. I’m not really dating anyone.” I couldn’t look at you in the eyes while saying that, I don’t want to feel pity from you. I don’t want you to see that I am not doing well, that I became a mess when you left. I don’t want you to see the pain that I’m feeling right now—the pain that comes with seeing the person you once loved, and the person you hate, is now sharing the same body. “You know what, let’s go. I don’t have work tomorrow anyway.”
What was I thinking, saying yes to you? I couldn’t leave now, the bar is only across the street. Am I still hoping? Am I wishing that this is our rekindling moment, like the ones you see on the movies? I’ve always been the hopeless romantic type; that’s one of the few reasons why I thought we were meant to be together. From our fateful encounter to the applicability of the “opposites attract” theory, everything made me believe that we are destined for each other. I ignored the red flags, I ignored the warnings my friends said. Heck, I even turned a blind eye when you cheated on me. I’m so stupid for thinking that I I’m living in a fantasy world where all love stories have happy endings. Damn you, Nicholas Sparks.
We had a few shots, but I was getting a bit dizzy already. It was a tiring day and drinking on a busy was the last thing on my mind. But here we are, chugging down an entire bottle of wine. “Hey, I have to meet my boyfriend in a bit. But would you mind going back with me to my place? My gift for him is so heavy, I can’t bring it down on my own.” What. The. Fuck. Of course you’re dating someone! Of course you’re spending time with your ex on Valentine’s Day! I want to laugh at this situation right now but I couldn’t. I can only nod in agreement to your crazy request. “Sure.”
I can’t believe I fell for your sex trap. And to think, that you’ll meet your boyfriend a few hours from now. How stupid can I get? Wasn’t it enough that you left me as if I was nothing? Wasn’t it enough you threw away everything I gave you, everything I offered? Haven’t I learned from my mistake of loving you? Did I honestly think that hooking up with you on Valentine’s Day would be sufficient to make you love me again? What is this, a Gary Marshall sequel? Fuck this, I don’t need this. I don’t need to go through hell again. As I grab my clothes and book my Uber, I look at you as you mindlessly scroll on your phone. You’re still the same guy I knew four years ago. It makes me happy that you haven’t changed. You’re still the same trash I dated. But now, even though it was through a painful experience, I can finally say that I can move on. I can stop blaming myself and instead, blame all the decisions I’ve made.
“Thank you.” I say to you before I leave. “For what?” you ask, without even looking away from your phone. “For your Valentine’s gift.” I answer, as I close the door with a smile on my face.