My classes ended early on Wednesdays.
We sat opposite each other, across a table. I found myself sitting on a small plastic chair, worried about falling over because I’ve had too many mixed drinks that mostly consist of Tang fruit juice, and there were no backrests. You sat across me, drink in hand, alternating between taking a sip and swirling the contents in it. We had a cramped time when two of my girlfriends and I decided to engage in a round of toilet gossip. This was obviously not the place for it, but what else can you expect from a now defunct college bar named Funky Buddha? I just needed to get something out of my chest. “Zel, ang cute nung Carlo.”
We sat opposite each other, across a table that recently acquired an ashtray and a plate of tacos. I wasn’t even sure then what it was I found cute about you. It was twilight when we all ended up at that bar for the first time and decided to go al fresco drinking. Admittedly not the best idea to execute when the bar is near a university and situated by the highway. Cars honked in the background. Stilted conversations. I take in the air you release and cough out some of my dry humor. I have never done well in awkward situations. So I drink. I would even have played with my hair if it wasn’t tied up in a ponytail. Your face was shrouded by smoke and dust. Eventually, by my own beer goggles. Only it’s not made of beer. I don’t drink beer. I imagine it tastes like piss. I just don’t do well in awkward situations. The heat has not yet fully crawled its way down my throat as I downed another drink. 17 year old me is yet to learn how to handle social situations with grace.
We sat opposite each other, across a table that was wet with spilled drinks, littered with pieces of sisig, and a filled up ash tray. Jeepney drivers calling out for passengers are becoming scarce. Laughter flowed easily as our conversations drown out the latest pop song blasting in the background. I have started to refuse drinks that come my way and held onto a nearly empty glass like a lifeline. You held on to an empty pack of Marlboro lights and play with the flip top box. It must have been the excessive drinking. Or some midnight magic. My skin tingled at every witty comeback you had. There was an undercurrent of static between us as I catch you stealing glances when I take some myself. I didn’t even mind that you were a human chimney. That was uncharacteristic.
We sat opposite each other, across a table, your phone in my hand, with my number typed in. Your smile matched mine as I hand it back. Nine years later, and the rest is history.
TEESH || PHILIPPINES