ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/21 December) — It started when you asked for book recommendations. I found out that you don’t like Marie Lu because “she’s like a rip-off of Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth” and Paulo Coelho because “his books seem to be inspirational.” I wanted to argue, “you haven’t even read their books yet!” but I respect the principle of preference so I let it be. You do, however, like Rick Riordan and Dan Brown. Good!
It started when you asked me if I knew who Virginia Woolf was and when I told you I did, you were so amazed because you’ve already asked so many people and I was the only one who said yes. “SHIT, AMAZING” you typed in all capital letters and I was so amazed that you were so amazed because judging from her books, Virginia Woolf deserves to be known by a lot of people. You were working on your term paper about Virginia Woolf that time and you told me that apparently, she wasn’t a famewhore. I thought “Oh well, Virginia Woolf lived in the 20th century, she’s long dead.” And then I thought “But Shakespeare lived in the 16th century, he was best friends with Queen Elizabeth, he’s been dead longer than Virginia Woolf.” And yet Romeo and Juliet is a household name, considered by many to be “the greatest love story of all time” even though it truly was just two stupid teenagers driven by raging hormones who died because they didn’t think things through. They got married when they’ve just met. Did they even know each other’s favorite color?
It started when you asked me what my late night thoughts were about and I told you I had regular episodes of existential crisis. And you told me I got you at existential crisis “because only few people know how to use that word.”
It started when you told me you were going to do your laundry soon and, on a whim, I asked you what brand of laundry soap you’re using and you laughed because it was the first time someone asked you that kind of question. You said you use Tide and for the sake of continuing the conversation I told you I use Surf, either the pink or yellow one.
It started when I started sending you pictures of cats and dogs and bunnies and owls—but mostly cats. I told you how I have a separate folder in my laptop just for those animal photos and you told me the way I treasure the small things, even the small ones, is amazing. You told me I deserve to be treasured the way I treasure my animal photos.
It started with the word drift; how we both marveled at its beauty; how it means gradually floating away, piece by piece, until nothing remains. It started when I asked you what your favorite word was and you said it was maybe, because it has a lot of meaning and possibilities. I told you my favorite word is ethereal. Ethereal looks ethereal. Ethereal sounds ethereal. The definition of the word is the word itself. It started when I Googled cute words and we reached a concession that snuggles was the winner. It started when I Googled why Google is called Google and I sent you a paragraph of my synthesis from my quick “research”, and you said, “so you’re really committed.” I asked you if being committed was a good or bad thing and you said it depends.
“You are my politically incorrect salvation.” It started when you went to a poetry event by third year AB English majors and you told me that that line reminded you of me. I wasn’t sure if it was simply because I’m a Political Science major and that line had the word politically or because it really meant something deeper.
It started when you let me read one of your poems and I told you it was very nice and you seemed so overwhelmed. It was the first time someone complimented your piece, you said. It started when I sent you a normal selfie; no double chin, no derp face. And you told me I was so pretty you could die. And that I should smile more because it could save lives. I know that those two statements contradicted each other—me being both the cause of dying and living—but it still made me feel giddy. I guess that was what you meant with politically incorrect salvation.
It started when we talked about Duterte and Trillanes and Miriam Defensor-Santiago even though we couldn’t vote yet. It started when you let me listen to indie and folk songs and I let you listen to rock and alternative ones.
It started when I gave you a detailed explanation of what the Japanese word senpai means. It started when I sent you a photo of my hand because I just finished trimming my nails and you said you wanted to hold them. It started when I asked “What if the people who die in the ocean become mermaids?” And you laughed out loud. “See, this is why I like you. No, scratch that. Love you.”
It started when you told me two words. “You’re enough.”
I am lacking in so many ways and I’m even unsure of myself sometimes but you think I’m enough. You’re enough as well. Let’s keep on being enough for each other and for ourselves.
You are enough. Everyday we’re going to start. Everyday I will tell you you’re enough. Even on days when we feel like the world is too big and we’re too small and insignificant, you’re enough. On days when we feel like there’s no tomorrow, you’re enough. On days when the sun is too bright and our hearts too dark, you’re enough. On days when it feels more like ending than starting, you’re enough. On days when the waves are too strong and the sea seems too far from the shore, you’re enough. On days when you feel planted but not watered, you are enough. On days when the flowers are withering instead of blooming, you are enough. And—even though just thinking about it is painful—if the day comes that we’re not together anymore, you will still be enough. (Alexandria M. Mordeno, 17, is a 2nd year Political Science student of Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology.)