12 3 / 2013
“Guys, it’s a wrap!”
Nang marinig ko si Direk Rico….calling it a night…nanatili kong pinagmasdan ang entabladong naging saksi sa kabataan ko. Lumipas ang mga taon…at ang daming nagbago…I continued studying HRIM…I had several onscreen partners….I became more focused at work. But when things in my life seemed to be falling into their right places…there is one thing that change took away from me…Julie…
“Moe, aren’t you going home yet?” I turned around and saw Direk Rico again. I simply smiled,
“Maya maya po Direk…”
He paid me a soft smile and as he was about to leave,
“Moe…it’s been awhile….I missed working with you guys…you and…alam mo na yun, una na ko.”
I just gave him a nod and I just watched Direk Rico leave.
For a few more minutes, I stayed….to watch…to observe…this stage, which has been the very stage that welcomed me when I was still starting….the very stage that accepted a 16-year old lad and helped him become who he is today- determined, passionate, and more prepared.
I still do PP but not regularly…ganun din si Julie…we became so busy, so preoccupied with our personal and professional lives that it became too impossible for us to even meet up or bump into each other. This coming Sunday, I will be again performing…as a solo artist…and apparently, attending tonight’s rehearsal made me relive those days; those days when my name is synonymous with hers.
As I left studio 7…it dawned on me how I miss PP, the people, the performance…everything. My thinking has led me to this very corridor, which is normally filled with people and tonight, I find myself retracing those steps back to the green room….interiors did change….the aura too but if there is one thing that never changed, it is the memories that these walls have kept for years….being 21 has its advantages, you know….not only am I way past my legal age but…the years that gone by helped me become more real…more mature.
I pulled a chair and sat comfortably. I then looked up and as I watch the lights become dimmer, the more I want to stay. A few minutes passed and I heard footsteps… those were treading towards the room where I currently stay,
“Direk? Sorry I’m…” and to my surprise, there she was…standing by the door….looking straight at me.
“Hi.” I responded and that familiar curve crept up her simple, lightly made-up face.
“I think Direk already left.” I continued.
She remained standing. I admit, seeing her for the first time after a very long time felt surreal. Dressed in simple tank top and jeans, she asked,
“Doing PP again?”
I stood up and walked towards her. “Yeah…you?”
She shook her head, “No…not this week. Direk Rico wants to talk about this musical that he’s been planning for the show next month…and someone told me that pumasok siya dito, obviously, I’m late.”
Silence took over….
“I guess, una na ko…ahm…nice seeing you, Moe.” She turned her back but my instinct proved quicker, I suddenly grabbed her hand, which both surprised us.
“Care for some coffee?”
“Hahaha, tanda mo pa pala yun, hahaha!”
“Yeah, when we did that song, and we became too close, I know napagalitan ka ni Tito di ba?Haha!”
“Oo, ikaw daw kasi pabigla-bigla sa paghalik sa ilong, landi mo kasi Magalona,haha!”
“Ouch! Landi talaga, Julie? I’m just doing what needs to be done. Besides, di ka naman nagreklamo ah,haha!”
As we spoke and remembered…di ko maiwasan siyang titigan…at di rin naman iyon nakaligtas sa kanya,
“Yeah, those days, we were so close back then….” She remarked,
“Yeah…we are…” and upon saying that, I bowed my head….chuckled…buhay nga naman.
We exchanged stories. We recalled the past. Her laugh is still infectious, and so are her smiles. Friends, sometimes, have to grow separately…but with us…time seemed to have caused us to grow apart. Sa kabila ng tawanan…sa pag-alala ng nakaraan, ngayon ko lang naisip…laki na din ng pinagbago niya…ni Julie.
I took another sip and this time, it is she who was looking down…I took the moment to observe her…the way she holds the cup…the way her fingers glide onto its brim…how soft and supple her skin looked…di ko tuloy naiwasang itanong,
“When was the last time we had coffee nga Julie?” and upon hearing the question, she looked up,
“What? Ah….hmmm….two, three years ago? Tagal na…”
Her voiced was tinged with sadness…I can sense it too. I continued asking,
“And why is that?”
This time, she smiled and responded, “Your girlfriend often gets jealous.”
“Hahahaha! You know that she is not my girlfriend…seriously.”
“Hahaha! I know, binibiro lang kita…my turn, bakit nga ba?”
I heaved a sigh…took another sip and answered, “’Coz you’re not allowed to date.”
“C’mon Moe…you never really asked me out.” She chuckled.
Stupid me….yeah, I never asked her out….
I then looked at her again and this time, she met my gaze, and that old feeling seemed to be coming back again…that feeling when I was with her…it never left…it got forgotten, somehow, in line with the years that made me forget. Change.
“O, bakit mo ko tinitingnan ng ganyan?”
“Are you allowed to date now?”
Di siya agad sumagot…sa halip,yumuko lang siya….
“I get it….you don’t need to ans-“
“Kung aayain mo ko why not?”
I just kept my gaze….looked into her eyes…..seeing her now….it only means one thing, this is the time that I’ve been waiting for…this is the time that change prepared for me….to own, to have.
A heart that once felt love remains in love….
A heart that kept memories remembers despite change…
If two people can’t seem to find the right time….if they are chosen by fate…change, though radical, will still give them that one “perfect moment.”
This venue is groomed to be that “little coffee place”…quaint…homey…
Walls are painted in colour clay… while intricate flowery patterns adorn its trimmings…
An array of various sweets and pastries fill the shelf on the far right side of the shop…just a few meters from where Elmo and I are sitting, and while it is not my first time to go here…having coffee with Moe….is comparable to a first.
The table between us provided nothing but a short distance…as we rested our backs on these wingback chairs…the comfort of these upholstered couches….as opposed to the building awkwardness as I uttered those words….is like a sweet escape,
Kung aayain mo ko, why not?
I saw his face….flashed that smirk…maybe, it is a good thing,
“Sinabi mo yan ah.” Then again, he took another sip…carefully laid the cup on the table….straightened himself…I was surprised a bit coz he suddenly stood up and walked to my side, as if waiting for me to do the same.
“What now?” I asked while paying him a soft smile,
He then held his hand out….a basic gesture to some…though for me? It is a gesture that only he can ever pull off successfully…for I never easily hold hands….sa kanya lang…for a while….for numerous times…siya lang.
“Would you go out on a date with me, Julie?” his eyes affixed on mine….
“Huh, now? As in ngayon na? It’s what? Alas-dose na?” I responded while shaking my head. He never moved a limb nor squinted…his hand still waiting…
I looked at him…for a few more seconds and then gave in,
“Okay…would love to.”
“Feeling cold? Wait here.” I watched him got off, walked a few steps, opened the door and get something inside his car.
His Mustang parked in an almost empty parking lot. Skyscrapers towering over us….with ever reliable lamp posts providing necessary light. The cold breeze….the starlit skies…with me sitting on the hood of his car…this is his idea of a “date.” Fair enough.
“Here.” He hurriedly put his jacket on me.
For minutes, we both kept silent. He then laid himself comfortably, with his hands under his head; he seemed to have found his own sanctuary, without really minding that we currently take refuge in his Mustang for our supposed date…I followed suit and now…we are lying side by side…feeling…savouring the moment.
Looking up, you can see the clusters and clusters of stars giving life to this vast expanse of darkness…I can almost feel how he releases every breath, with the way he heaves them, how his chest moves…I can feel his hesitation as well…distance may have kept us apart but it seemed, my heart knows better. I know him…by heart…I still do.
“Spill it. Buntong-hininga mo, ramdam ko.”
“Hahahaha! Ramdam mo? Haha!”
“Sige na….you’re like that when something’s bothering you.”
“Nothing’s bothering me…it’s you.”
He said matter-of-factly. I was surprised hearing it. Caught off-guard….and left thinking,
“It’s you. Pinapakaba mo ko.”
I smiled…and who knows if he sees me smiling right now….and to ward off the awkwardness, I sang this old familiar tune…
Summer after high school, when we first met
We make out in your Mustang to Radio head
And then to my surprise, he sang along…
And on my 18th birthday, we got that chain tattoos…
Di rin,hahaha! I quipped, I continued singing,
Used to steal your parent’s liquor and climb to the roof
Talk about our future like we had a clue…
And just like that….it felt as if I can’t continue saying the next line…and suddenly, he did…
Never plan that one day…I’d be losing you…
I heard him chuckle…and I decided to stop…this song…we used to sing this together….the magic of melody…the wonder of words….it never really fades.
Suddenly, as we lay side by side…looking up…staring at the starlit skies…with skyscrapers towering over us…he moved…I felt his right hand touching my hand…that slow movement and the feel of his fingers as they intertwine with mine…this…it’s as if the skies stood witness to something that I never thought will happen after three years of distance.
“Can you keep a secret?”
“Maybe…” I gave out a soft laugh.
“I never really liked that song.”
As we both laughed…still holding hands…we found ourselves anew…what a “first date”…in this almost empty parking lot.
Sometimes, a heart needs distance…not to forget but to rest….
Sometimes, a heart needs space….not to breathe but to seek…
For “hearts in love” always forms a puzzle….neither lives alone nor finds happiness…not till it finds its missing piece.
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