November 1999 – July 2003
Coaching took a while today at the Centre for the Performing Arts and I was running late for the reservation I have for the Film Institute’s screening of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I thought that things were doing fine on the last set of my repertoire for next week’s performance but Cindy had to sit me down for a few more pointers on how things should be done in order for the recital to be better than we were expecting. She could have just emailed me about the last minute pointers but she thought it was important that we talked about it personally. So I had to rush now to the Film Institute and catch my reservation.
There was no way that traffic could be any worse on my way. I was cursing inside my head because I could not miss the screening I so have been waiting for. You could imagine my frustration at the sight of bumper-to-bumper traffic along this road. I only had half an hour or everything would be put to waste.
I immediately rushed to the lobby to confirm the reservation I made at the box-office section so I could get my seat. I couldn’t be more thankful that I made it with fifteen minutes to spare. That would give me time to at least grab something to nibble on while watching. I rushed to the nearest snack bar by the lobby, grabbed a large cup of ice cold lemon tea and a hotdog sandwich, with my records in tow and a few stuff I have brought with me.
I was walking my way back to the cinema entrance when by pager went off. I had to reach into my pocket and read the message with everything in both my hands and arms. While doing that and having been in a rush to drop my stuff on my seat inside the theatre, the most unfortunate thing happened. I bumped into some guy I didn’t notice because of my stupidity and spilled my iced tea on his shirt and trousers. The hotdog sandwich fell and out of panic all my stuff slipped down to the floor.
It was utterly humiliating that I could not even look up to see who I bumped into. I just went on ahead picking up the clutter when I heard him mutter something in amusement. I was surprised and a bit annoyed to have found him amused with what happened. I had to ask him in defiance what he found funny and he only told me that the whole sight of me was just amusing that he couldn’t help it. I apologised but told him how repulsive his reaction was to what happened. He said he could have been pissed off had it been somebody else. The accident was a stupid mistake I didn’t deliberately do but there was something odd about that last remark of his.
He asked me where I was headed when I finally picked up the last piece of stuff I dropped and hurriedly told him that I was about to watch A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I was not going to miss it because of my being a klutz. Coincidentally, he was going to see the same film and told me that he could accompany me if I was to go with him to his car so he could at least change his trousers and shirt. I was hesitant about his proposal but there is no way that I could pay him back for the damage I did but to agree to it. He assured me that the film would not start in five minutes and it would not take him any more than that to slip into a new set of clothes so I agreed and walked with him to his car.
While he was changing and on our way back he happened to have asked me a lot of things that I was in no way to have avoided answering them. I told him I was training at the Centre for the Performing Arts and I was on the last day of my rehearsals before the recital in four days time. He asked if he could get an invite and I had somehow agreed that I would give him a pass to make up for the stupid accident.
He was silent all throughout the movie. From the opening credits until the lights went on he didn’t say anything. It was as if he was respecting my space or he just wanted to savour the movie just as how much I have wanted to appreciate it. He never said a word but there were times that he would either deliberately or accidentally place his hands over mine and I would lean my head on his shoulder. No one said a word nor had we exchanged knowing glances. We just sat right there for over two hours watching every scene until it was over.
I thanked him for accompanying me in the theatre and started walking out of the cinema but he tried to catch up. He asked about the invitation to my recital and I said yes. But he needed a confirmation. How stupid of me to have not thought about a way we could get in touch with each other when the recital was only four days ahead. He immediately handed me his card and told me to give him a holler. I nodded in agreement. Just as I was about to leave I heard an invitation from him to have coffee somewhere. I was about to say no but remembered I at least owed him something besides an apology.
I told him other stuff while he was driving. He decided that we should have coffee at Starbucks at the South Toll Way and he would drop me off at the exit nearest my town before he heads back to the city. I feel hesitant and embarrassed about the gesture but I was somehow unable to refuse the offer. There was something in his demeanour that made me unable to refuse this stranger named Jude.
We had coffee and sat down for a while. He asked about a lot of things aside from those we had already talked about. I didn’t get any chance to ask him about himself as I was really not the inquisitive type. He didn’t tell my anything either, perhaps because he was waiting for me to ask him about it until he ran out of things to ask me.
We paused for a few minutes and enjoyed the coffee and cigarettes we were having until he voiced out his curiosity about why I never asked him anything at all while he practically learned a lot of things about me. I just told him that it was never my habit to ask people about their lives when they could have just told me bits that I at least should know. I had to tell him that I was being careful about getting a bit too personal in my questions so I just based my judgment of character on what I have been told and prolonged observation. He just smiled and I started to tell me that he was an ex-medical student from the US who flew to Manila to take on another endeavour.
I learned that he works as a Senior Manager in an international commercial airline company. His family was in the medical field, having doctors for a father and two siblings. His mom was a nurse turned chef in the US, too. He veered away from medicine because he knew that he didn’t really have an inclination for it. He wanted to pursue business administration and music but he told himself that he at least owed his dad that. When he was about to graduate from med school, he dropped out and told his dad about his plans. Although the family was disappointed they did not take it against him because he already proved his worth. He aced med school from his freshman year and would have graduated with honours but they all knew that it would be put to waste as he had no intentions of practicing.
His family gave him their blessing when he said he will be pursuing business administration in Manila and would take on a job and start from scratch. True enough he was able to make it and he could consider himself as one the world’s most eligible bachelor, in his own uncelebrated right.
Jude was a charming man. He was ten years my age and was just the kindest and most considerate man I have been introduced to or met. All throughout our conversation I learned how goodhearted this man is when he told me about how he has been helping an orphanage in the city and how he has been friends with the nuns there. He told me that he had a penchant for social work and had he become a doctor by profession he would have devoted his practice helping the needy.
In the middle of our conversation, he told me about a place 45 minutes south of my town. It was a partly secluded resort that served as his hideaway for the past three years. I was not quite familiar with the place but I knew the town where it was located. I had not the foggiest in the world that right that minute he would invite to go there for a late night swim. I could have said no and told him that we could do it some other time but I did not have the strength to refuse him.
We drove for over thirty minutes to get there. Much to my surprise, he was prepared. He handed me a towel and swimming trunks from the trunk of his car. It was as if he had plans of going on his own
The place was homey. We got a twin sharing room for us so I had an inkling we might be spending the night over. I didn’t say anything that might embarrass or disappoint him. We went for a swim for more or less an hour and spent the rest of the night eating and talking about everything we could think of.
When it was time for me to go home he volunteered to drive me safely rather than have me take public transport. He told me that we would do it again if we got in touch soon. I remembered I had his card but I didn’t tell him how he could get in touch with me so I asked for a pen and did.
Four days later, he became my biggest fan at the recital. He brought me flowers and a wristwatch as my graduation gift. I introduced him to my performance coach. We had dinner and he drove me home.
Things changed after the recital. I took on a part time job and got busy. In between Jude’s out of the country business trips and my job we would find time to meet anywhere and have dinner, watch a movie, have coffee. We would stay in a hotel in a province, or go somewhere where we could just sit and be with each other.
Dating Jude had to be the best thing that ever happened to me. For a few months we have been going out and have been savouring each moment until the bigger picture came in. We both decided to move in together, perhaps because it was the best arrangement that we could have had that time. He had a condominium unit in the city where I could move in. He didn’t tell me to give up the things I have because they were mine before we met. He asked me to put up my apartment for rent so I could have an extra income. He told me that I could have all my stuff moved to his unit in the soonest possible time. He was full of pleasant surprises.
On the day that I moved in with him, I learned that he bought an extra unit beside the one he already had so we could have extra space for mine and his stuff. He had the bathroom rebuilt according to my lifestyle, walk-in closet and all that.
Jude and I lived together as a couple. There were a few rare times that we had arguments like couples do but everything would end up with a pleasant surprise from him. He spoiled me like a child that I was and lavished me with gifts and gestures of love. Nothing could ever replace those moments in my life.
He introduced me to his loving grandmother who lived in the family manor east of the city. He made me meet his boss, brought me to the orphanage, he helped me through things that I had to go through. Jude loved me for all that I am and he was just the most perfect man anyone could have.
Our relationship though was never perfect. We would fight over petty things and big stuff. However, there had been no argument that could have been detrimental to the love that we shared. Each of the arguments and fights that we have had were settled with a normal amount of perspective.
Jude had been the best experience and relationship that I have had in my entire life. Considering the fact that I really never had any relationship more serious than what I had with him, I did not think I would ever be able to put up with another one.
We spent the following couple of years effortlessly making things work in our relationship. I was the one who needed to learn more but he had been patient enough to let me realise things on my own pace. He loved me for who I was and loved me for the person I have turned into for the duration of our relationship.
There were times that he would be sent out of the country and I would be left on my own but each time he came back I missed him more that I thought I ever would. Our relationship became stronger each day that I did not know I would find it so hard to let everything go in time.
— There is no end to Jude’s story. Like there is no end to LOVE. Romantic stories may end in sadness and separation but LOVE should not end there. And even though we may constantly tell ourselves that we have moved on and are happy with the current relationships that we have, we can never deny the fact that somehow, there was one “Jude story” that helped us become the person we are today. That is not called clinging on to the past. I would rather call it, remembering how the past contributed to our worth as a person.