by Kath C. Eustaquio-Derla
“O ano, Kit, mayroon ka na bang ipapa-date sa akin?”
My guy friend, Denver, asks me this question as soon as he answered my call one Friday night after my work shift. Then again, when you work as a public relations officer for a concert venue, work never really stops. So I'm not really sure if it's really the end of my shift or just a brief pause in my never-ending to-do list.
“Wow!” I reply. “Hindi puwedeng mayroon lang akong gustong i-kuwento sa iyo? Kailangan mayroon kaagad involved na girl?”
Denver, my Piolo Pascual dead ringer friend and model-turned-law-student-turned-chief-of-staff laughs.
“Hindi ba 'sir chief' ka na?” I tease. “Dapat hindi mo na problema ang mga babae diba?”
Despite the grueling work I left at the office, I take off to meet Denver that night at this expensive Filipino restaurant in Quezon City. He continues to laugh about his current and highly debated single status over dinner. Two years ago, he traded his shirt-maong-sneakers getup for the more polished Barong Tagalog-slacks-black-shoes ensemble. Representing his boss on national television does great for his looks. I can still remember him feeling so depressed at his aimless state.
Tonight, he's signaling the waiter for one more bottle of the local beer he loves so much, which is three times more expensive here. But Denver doesn't care. He is, after all, on someone else's payroll. The beer arrives almost the same time his driver (yes, the bastard has one!) enters the restaurant and hands him a sleek black phone. I hear the words 'labor', 'transport authorities', and 'EDSA' during the one-minute call. He turns serious just before he ends it. He looks so far from the then bum Denver who parties with vacationing models from Australia just two years ago.
“Wow,” I let out after his driver makes a quick and noiseless exit. “Kulang na lang shades parang totoong government official ka na."
“Sira ulo,” Denver laughs. “Legit na government official ako. So, what's up with you? You look…serious.”
Mukha ba talaga akong joke dati? I ask myself. It seems like every guy I know had decided it was time to grow up, be an adult, and make more money. Now that they're making a difference in their respective careers, I begin to realize that I spent a great number of years so focused on my love life that I forgot to plot out my career.
Even my present job isn't the result of a much thought-out career plan. This PR gig sort of landed on my lap being the first company to offer me a job when I really wanted to leave the previous one. So what if it is located right smack in the middle of an unsavory breathing ground? It offered me the exit I needed at the time I needed one the most. Two years into it, I start to question what possessed me to work in this dump.
Instead of strengthening the building blocks on my way to bigger bucks, at twenty-seven, I am still consumed with the on-and-off thrill of my love life. I complain when I'm single. I complain when I'm in a relationship. What is wrong with me?
“Johnny bought a house,” I blurt out.
Denver's thick brows rise for a quick second and goes back to Earth. Even without words, I can tell that he is impressed.
“E di okay,” he replies. “May bahay na kayo.”
“E hindi naman sa akin yun,” I say.
“E di kapag kinasal na kayo, sa iyo na din yun.”
“E di pa nga kami kasal.”
“So, gusto mo na ikasal?” he smiles, mocking me. This fucking bastard knows too well which lines to say to throw me off balance.
“Well, I like the wedding,” I start. “Siyempre mas maganda ako sa pictures hangga't mas bata pa ako diba? The marriage, puwede bang later na lang yun?”
Am I making sense? Sure, I want the gown, the flowers, the classy reception, and the cute flower girls. I want them now, as in now na, while I'm still young and fresh and nubile. But the responsibilities of being married? Puwede bang later nalang yun?
Denver looks at me with the compassion only a real friend can give you. He lets out the kind of sigh that only someone who really knows you can pull off without putting you off. “Mahirap yan,” he sips his beer. “Mahal mo pa ba?”
“Yes,” I answer truthfully.
“O, e anong problema?”
“Johnny…changed,” I admit for the first time out loud. “He's not the same guy who shook me out of my depression. Diba? Naalala mo yung kabaliwan ko sa unrequited love ko dati? Di na laid back si Johnny e. Ang serious na niya. Alam mo bang pati sex life namin ngayon dapat naka-schedule days in advance?”
“Super busy siya sa work,” I continue. “He even works on weekends. And he doesn't drink till he drops anymore. Scotch na nga ang tinitira niya ngayon e.”
“Lumevel up na.”
“Oo, I…” I sigh. After thinking it over a few more times in my head, I finally arrive at a logical conclusion. “I'm bored. It's like being in a relationship with a machine.”
“Gago, hindi ganoon,” I slap his arm. “Parang masyado nang predictable. Hindi na exciting.”
“So, back to your old habits ka?” he signals for another beer. “Magpapalit ka na naman ng ‘T-shirt’ after what, three years?”
I shrug and sip my red wine. I know that I sound selfish, conceited even. But I know myself better now. Before Johnny, I thought that maybe I am a little too much for most of the guys I date. I came close to accepting that maybe there are only a handful of Filipino men out there who can run side by side with a girl who would never back down. I thought that maybe I don't have an equal, which can be both good and bad. I thought maybe I was born with the wrong genitals.
Then I met Johnny. And with his thick, curly locks (on his head, the upper one) proved to me and my equally mean friends every possible theory why my past relationships didn't work. Johnny and I have been together for more than three years.
And a lot can happen in three years.
Did I become so focused on the moments that I forgot to take charge of my future? I ask myself. And when the romantic moments began to fade, I started to panic. I never really understood what a three-year itch meant because I never felt it before. Before Johnny, my relationships had a four-month expiration date.
I used to think that maybe I was a little too something. Maybe I dressed a little too weird. Maybe I talked a little too loud and conversed mostly in English. Maybe I was a little too opinionated, a little too strong, a little too intimidating, and a little too confident.
“So, ano na ang balak mo?” Denver asks, bursting my thought bubble.
“I don't know,” I answer. “It would be stupid and pathetic to break up with Johnny just because he's successful and I'm not. But I do know what we don't have now.”
“Passion,” I sigh, ignoring the honest question. “And I want it back Denver!” After a few silent moments, I add, “Kailangan ko ng project!”
Denver shakes his head in frustration, another sign that he knows I am ten cities away from a conclusion. Kulang talaga ako sa focus.
Read Chapter 4: Moody Girls With Mood Boards
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Kath C. Eustaquio-Derla is a journalism graduate from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines. She wrote Bedroom Blog by Veronica, a relationship blog for Cosmopolitan Philippines from 2009 to 2011, which covers most of her single dating life. In 2015, she published her first book Before I Do. She’s passionate about coffee, red wine, books and Mad Men. She stopped collecting hearts when she got married in 2013 and went back to collecting Archie Comics ever since. Send the author a tweet @kceustaquio.
Edits: Paula Bianca Abiog
Before I Do
Philippine Copyright © 2015 by Katherine C. Eustaquio-Derla
Disclaimer: This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, places or persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental. Image from Pexels.com.
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