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A story of growing up

I used to not care about anybody but myself. I had close friends and a fun/quirky family that I loved, but I didn't let anyone penetrate my personal life deep enough to make me care if they (God forbid) disappeared from my life. I never knew how I became like that. It was just the way I was.

I had a habit of just suddenly "hibernating" in my room. Not to sleep, but to get away from other people. It was my way of recharging myself. It usually lasts about 2 to 3 months. Just going outside my room to eat. I would watch TV and DVDs, write compositions, and beef up my portfolio designing sample print ads. When I want the feel of having company, I "trip" on chatters on the net. When I say "trip" on chatters, what I mean is play stupid when talking with them. I wasn't a real chatter, I did it for the stupid reason of amusing myself. Yes, I know, I was a jerk. Little did I know that being a jerk would win me a good friend online.

It started out like every tripping session. They say "hi", I say "hi". They type in "ASL", I play stupid and ask "What's ASL?". They tell me "Age, Sex, and Location.", and I say "Ohhh, ok." and so on. They didn't get a single serious answer from me. I didn't want to flirt, and I wasn't interested on having a real conversation with anyone. But there was this one girl who was firing back at my sarcasm and stupid comments, and she just won't quit. I don't know how it happened but i found myself smiling at her remarks and comebacks. Eventually we got to know each other more and we told our real names to one another, but still no flirting or real serious talks. Just bantering and sharing opinions, almost a fun debate. There were no moments of silence since I would just say "BOOM!" whenever there was dead air during our talk. It was a first time for me to enjoy talking with someone on the net. There was a moment that I wondered what that girl looked like but the thought just went away. We didn't exchange pictures like the typical chatter did. It just seemed inappropriate at the time. She found out that I write compositions, and asked if she could see one. I told her I'll show her one the following day because I didn't have my files on the computer that I was using. She didn't believe me, but I told her "May isang salita ako." (A phrase that would bite me on the butt later on) Our conversation ended very platonic. I told her it was surprisingly pleasant talking to her. She told me I was an OK person but still a jerk, then we said our goodbyes. Even though it was obvious that we enjoyed talking with each other, there were no exchange of email addresses, phone numbers, or any contact infos. It was just left like that. I didn't go back online to chat again after that time.

Two months went by and I ended my "hibernation ". I went out with friends again, almost every night. I had 2 not-so-serious girlfriends that knew about each other at the time (Naks feeling pogi) but with my way of thinking, I didn't care if both of them left me, and at times that I was out with friend, I still "met" other women. We were still students then, and when the school year ended, so did our nightly evening gatherings.

I spent more time at home during that summer. It was humid and boring. One summer day, just to do something, I decided to "trip" again on chatters. I never used my real name and I don't remember what nickname I used that time. Still being a jerk, nobody talked to me for more than 5 minutes. I was about to turn off the computer when someone said "Hi". I went about my A-hole ways and played stupid. The girl was playing along. 5 minutes went by and we were still talking, then 10 minutes. After about a hundred stupid comments and 20 minutes of sarcasm, the person I was talking with asked, "Do you know anyone named (my real name)?"... I was puzzled. How come she knows my name? Then she followed that with "Or are you him?) I was laughing in disbelief! How does she know my name??? Who is this? Is my name showing somewhere on a chat window type thing? More questions was still popping in my head while I was laughing and I was actually telling her that I was literally laughing my head off, but I still didn't say that I was the guy she was asking about. And I still could figure out who she was. Then she typed... "May isang salita pala ha!" It was her. After more than 5 months, it was again, the witty girl that chewed up my stupid comments and spat it back at me with sarcastic remarks of her own. All I could say was... "BOOM!" and she laughed. It was like meeting an old friend.

It was a very nice surprise to cross paths again with the witty girl on the net. We talked for a couple of hours maybe. She mentioned that her friends were participating in a bazaar event of some sort, and I told her we had some stuff at home that might be "sellable" at the bazaar. I told her she just needed to give me 100 pesos for each and the rest of the profit was theirs to keep. She told me to drop the items off at their house and gave me their address. I came to their house on a Monday afternoon. I didn't know why, but I had a bit of anxiety going on. Maybe it was the unfamiliar experience of seeing someone that I only met online. I didn't ring the doorbell. I just texted her that I was already outside their house. Maybe I was just being a guy, but I was hopping that a pretty girl wearing a tank top and short shorts would open the gate. When she opened the gate, I saw beauty in it's purest form. She wasn't wearing any makeup. No powder, no lip gloss, no nothing. The down side for me... she was wearing jogging pants and a long shirt. That time, all I could think about was how good she would have looked in a pair of tight jeans. I greeted her with "Boom." She smiled and invited me in. I showed her the stuff I had for her friend's bazaar, then we played pool (they had a pool table at home) I won, but early in the game, she thought I was letting her win. I was seriously playing my best, and she really was a decent billiards player. I left after about 2 hours and went strait to a friend's house.

Months went by. I didn't see her again, although we texted sometimes. She told me the stuff I brought for the bazaar were sold and that I can get the money anytime. I told her to just hang on to it. I liked her in a semi-platonic way. I was then single and not looking to commit, so I didn't think about courting her. Actually it was the thought that someone like her wouldn't be interested in someone like me that pushed me away from the idea of courting her. She was a nice girl. I was a trouble maker. She graduated magna cum laude, while I was retained in high school once, dropped my course in college twice, and was someone who thought a passing grade was heaven sent. She never had a boyfriend, while came from a 21 failed relationship streak. She was your all-around nice girl, and I was a guy who have done at least 8 illegal things in the past (Nothing that can or would harm others in any way.) I just didn't think of us being together in a romantic way.

One night, I received a text message from her, telling me that she would be going to the States in 2 days, and that I should get my money from her because she would be staying there for good. I told her we should hang out before she leaves. Not a date though, just hang out with my friends. We went out, she brought a friend with her, a girl, and they came with me and my friends to have a couple of drinks. She was leaving in the morning the next day. It was already 5AM when we dropped her and and her friend at their house, and there was only hours left before her flight. I wished her a safe trip, then I... shook her hand.

A friend went to live in the States. Life went on. She and I still texted sometimes. Her, using the free online texting service, and me, using a 5,000 pesos free text on a sim card that my friend, "Manong Guard" gave me (That's a different story)

One lazy afternoon, while having soda with friends. I overheard a couple arguing. The guy seemed to be running late on his evening plans for their date, and the girl was having a tantrum because she was hungry. The guy was trying his best to make the girl ease up a bit, but the girl was already snubbing him. All that time, what was running through my head was I didn't want a girl like that. I didn't want a "girly" girl that acts like a spoiled toddler. I wanted a girl that could run with the boys, a girl that would be happy just to sit and talk on the street gutter, someone who could be funny by telling corny jokes. Then it hit me. I know someone like that. I know someone EXACTLY like that. But she left.

It was a bitter-sweet feeling, knowing who can make you happy and while knowing she's halfway across the globe. At that moment, I took out my phone and texted her... "Pu*ang i*ang States yan." I acted on impulse. I didn't hate the U.S. and I only cursed the place where she went to live for good. If she left for the moon, I would have cursed the moon. She replied "Ano?" I then said, "Sorry, wrong send." knowing that nothing good would come if I told her how I felt. True to the fact that some things are appreciated when they're gone. When I got home, while lying on my bed, out of nowhere, I just texted her again, "Oist! Kung niligawan kita noon, pano moko babastedin?" she then answered, "Baket, sino bang nagsabing babastedin kita?" Time stopped, and I felt something that I very rarely feel. I was sad. Words were being dealt in unraveling ways. True feelings were flying back and forth. She asked me the reason why I waited for her to leave before telling her how I felt. I told her the truth... I wasn't aware before. I knew that I had to let her be, and not to confuse her with my stupidity. Weeks would pass and I eventually came to accept the fact that the "witty girl" was not for me to hold, that I wasn't the one who would make her happy, that it wasn't me who would take care of her. Then the time came when she texted, "BOOM." and the number she was using was her old phone number. She was back!

When she came back to the Philippines. Realizations came to me. I never had a relationship that lasted for more than 4 months. For the first time, I wanted to be a part of somebody else's life, and for someone to share mine. I told her we couldn't see each other yet. I badly wanted to see her but I knew that if I didn't start things with us the right way, I might end up losing her. I told her to wait. For almost 2 weeks, I tried to right the wrongs and end the hanging issues I had. I disposed my old sim card, the one that had the numbers of girls that I was with (past, present... And future?) I met with some of my ex-girlfriends to tell them that we can't see each other anymore. I told them I met someone and that I really wanted things to work out between me and the girl. When I went to meet my the witty girl, I knew I was ready. I had someone who was tailor made for me by God and I wouldn't do anything to risk losing her. She told me she came back for me. We have been together now for more than five years. Starting out as friends gave us the foundation of trust, and it helped me to open up and let her settle in my heart. When I opened up for her, something in me became more appreciative for my family, friends, and even the simplest things. I began thinking of the future, when before, it was too much of living for the moment. Some people in the past said they never saw decisiveness in me. When I think about it, I say there has always been decisiveness in everything I did. I just wasn't doing it passionately. I think growing up isn't just knowing about more things in life. Maybe it's knowing what you have to do, and doing it. God gave us all a purpose. A special woman helped me find mine.

A true story from one of the authors of