One more chance: Love the second time around
An earlier version of this essay was originally published in Positively Filipino in February 2013 as a surprise for the author's then-girlfriend on Valentine's Day. Since then, there have been developments in this story, which has since been updated:
Like most love stories, ours happened by chance. It wasn’t love at first sight, or second, or even third. But as fate had it, the girl that I ignored would be the one to teach me the meaning of love.
Like anyone, I had wondered what it was like to be in love – but not enough to convince me that it was that important.
It had been a long uphill battle with depression and anxiety and just trying to make something of myself. I thought I didn’t have time for love, until I met her.
Our story began on the campus of California State University. It was the final quarter of my extended stay at CSUEB, and I had just crossed into the Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity.
One requirement was to interview former members of the organization. One day I was in the student union and some girl with frizzy hair and dressed plainly in a green jacket and tennis shoes, who was pledging for the fraternity, asked to interview me. Nothing really struck me about her except her uncombed hair. I agreed to the interview, but in the follow-up texts that ensued, I regretfully brushed her off. Boy was I wrong to have done that.
The first time I paid attention to her was at the after-party of the end-of-the-year banquet. Who is this Latina beauty queen? I thought. I realized it was the girl with frizzy hair I had brushed off! She was having a conversation with her classmates in Spanish, and I sat down and joined in. They both seemed amused that I unabashedly joined in and spoke in Spanish.
She moved into a house with other girls in the Fall semester, where I would often go to visit. From there, our relationship began to develop, although it wasn't easy. But we worked on it.
Through the good times and the struggles, she was there for me.
And even as someone whose career depends on his skill with words, I could never seem to find the right ones to describe love. I just knew I was in love when I woke up one morning and it wasn’t an article, work, or any other accomplishment on my mind – just her.
She was one of the few who encouraged me to move to Manila to join Rappler. But adjusting to a new city, a new way of life, a new job – it was difficult, and was more difficult than we both realized. So after several months, we called it quits. Or we thought we did.
We didn't speak for a year and cut all ties and communication. Those months were probably the most difficult to handle. I’d often try my best to forget about her, consuming myself in work. But waking up in the morning, I’d still reach for her next to me to say good morning, and would sink again when I remembered I was thousands of miles away and she was not beside me.
We both dated other people and spent time apart to grow, learn, and live on our own. I thought that was the end of our story.
But when I visited the United States in December 2014, our paths crossed again. I initially wasn't planning on seeing her becuase I thought – and had heard – that she was in another relationship and forgotten about me.
I was having dinner with college friends back in San Francisco when I was told she was single again and that I should call her. I didn't want to, but when I realized how I couldn't stop thinking about her, I trusted my gut to text and call her to meet up.
So two days before I was supposed to leave for Manila, there I was, waiting outside her apartment. While I was waiting, I got butterflies in my stomach, like we were on our first date again.
We sat down and when she looked into my eyes, I could no longer hold back the tears. I knew then that no matter how hard I tried to convince myself I was over it, I really never stopped loving her. And on that day, we decided that it was time to start over.
You can call me foolish for doing this again, but it’s not very often we are given second chances. So I’m taking mine. – Rappler.com
Ryan Macasero is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and is currently Rappler's #BalikBayan Editor.