29 November 2004 was a rainy day.
I know because there were no classes then in UST. But I was in school.
Too quiet when there are no classes, but always a busy part of the school when there are
For the second year in a row, I was selected to be among the pool of candidates for our political party. However, as an active member of the Faculty of Arts and Letters, I tend to dabble on other interests.
That day also happened to either be a tryout for the debate team or a University-wide debate competition. Either way, I was also there, either to try out or to support of my friends who were competing.
This had me splitting time between our party's home base and our faculty's building just so I'd be present for both.
Through my runs, I was told constantly that Che was looking for me. I felt that it was a bit out of character because it was me who was always chasing after her at that point. When we saw each other, she would ask if I was ok and would remind me to take an umbrella because it was drizzling every now and then.
As the day ended, everyone left as she waited for me. I was on my way to my uncle's birthday celebration in San Juan, and Che was on her way back home to Pasig. We needed to ride an FX going to Pasig because it would pass by Kalentong, which was my stop to go to San Juan, and it would take her to the terminal to her house. On the way, Che borrowed my phone to send a message to someone. This seemed weird because she has her own phone.
While riding on the back of that FX, she asked me to open my outbox.
For the benefit of the kids who don't know how the legendary Nokia cellphones work, you can "save" what you have written and put it in a folder called "outbox" so that you can send the message to a number later on. This was handy for reminders and interesting quotes you come across, as well as a good place where you can draft those animal graphics and see how it turns out as a message.
emojis and gifs, this kind of art circulated a lot on 4-line phones, which are almost always a numbered Nokia model.
I opened a draft that said "Sigurado na ako (",)" (I'm sure now)
Flashback to at least a month back. Che, Issa, and I were walking to Espana from Dapitan on the way home. That day, I decided to stop walking on eggshells and tell Che that if she thinks I care for her more than others because I like her, then she's not wrong. I wasn't putting my best foot forward or anything, I just wanted her to know that I'm not just being overly friendly with her. I didn't want to be stuck in the friendzone forever. It was quite a long talk, but the gist of it was that she acknowledges that she has feelings for me, but wasn't sure if it was the same romantic feelings I felt for her.
It was a perfectly romantic event in the famed "Lovers' Lane" of UST complete with tears and honest confessions which could be the most moving scene of the story if it were a movie. However, this was real life, so of course it was awkward because as it all unfolded, Issa was sitting as the third person on that bench, playing snake as if nothing monumental was happening. Spotify would have helped her tune us out.
Back to 29 November 2004.
I was confused at first, but then I slowly realized that this was her answer from that awkward confession day. I checked with her, and she said I was right. I was elated. But 18-year-old me had just enough money to Kalentong, and I wouldn't dare ask Che for money to go home. It would be the best Sta. Mesa to Kalentong ride I would ever have.
I went down from that ride with a stupid smile on my face that I couldn't wipe off. I think it was still drizzling a bit but I think I left my umbrella with Che since I was going to my cousin's house anyway.
Kalentong was flooded knee-deep at the time, and there weren't a lot of jeeps to ride. I decided to walk all the way to my cousins house, with that same stupid smile. When I reached their place, I went around hugging everyone and telling them I have a girlfriend. They asked why I didn't take her, to which I said, it was our first day, and I learned about it on the way, but there will be plenty more times for me to introduce her to everyone.
There were indeed plenty more times, as today marks the 17th year of us getting together as a couple. I have literally been part of Che's life for more than half of it.
That day 17 years ago wasn't too eventful because we were kids, and this day unfolds the same way because of responsibilities and other worries we may have.
We did celebrate when we had time last week, and while this day may turn out to be just like any other day, I know we'll get plenty more times to celebrate this same day for the next 17 years and more to come.