4/13/2017
Muscle memory

I looked straight at her face and noticed, for the first time, that she smiles a particular way.

Granted, I have not really met Mika a lot of times. This must be the third. The first was when I waited for Dia Frampton. We forced ourselves to spend some time together because there really wasn't much to do, and the conversation, at least on my end, was awkward. We're not complete strangers, but we only really talked through tweets before, buoyed by common friends and, arguably, common interests. And then, this.

The second time, I was treating her to lunch. A few months prior we had a bet. Something about American Idol. I had long stopped watching the program by then, as I had moved to a new job, but it was all still recent, so I predicted that a guy would win again. She thought a girl would. She won, so lunch was on me. The resulting conversation, at least on my end, was awkward, or perhaps it was because I was dwelling more on the fact that I am treating her to lunch because I lost a bet. She paid for dessert anyway - that frozen yogurt place has long closed - so I guess that's fine.

The third time - this time - I was treating her to lunch. Again. We had a bet. Again. But it happened so long ago that neither of us remember what it was about. It definitely was something about Hannibal. Something about its second season; I'm certain of this because Mika had not seen the third, for some reason. Was it about Will killing someone?

It has been years since the bet, years since I realized I would be treating her to lunch again. Our schedules wouldn't meet, and then, our lives wouldn't. I certainly have had to deal with way more than I planned for. Somehow, all that meant we had the ability to free up time for that lunch, so, on a Thursday afternoon, I looked straight at her face, and noticed, for the first time, that she smiles a particular way.

"This feels a bit weird," I said. "I brought Shalla her a few months ago." I had this thought where the staff remembered me, where the staff think I have a new girlfriend. I probably was distracting myself from the idea that I saw a bit of her upper gum when she grinned, which is not what I expected. But then, this is the third time, not to mention all the conversations that came and went in between. This is when you do away with the awkwardness and just talk.

I brought Mika to this Japanese restaurant because I liked the food there. Also, she didn't mind wherever I brought her. If it's a cheaper meal than I expected, so be it. We're at that point now.

We had four, maybe five hours for conversation. This time there was no awkwardness, perhaps. It was just like we were long lost friends, catching up, when, arguably, this was the first time we were talking about particular things. Boyfriends, girlfriends, special education, common commute routes. We failed to remember what that bet was about. She still paid for dessert, although this time it was coffee, or technically ice blended drinks. I ordered my usual chocolate, and she ordered vanilla, because she does not like chocolate-flavored things.

"Mahirap siguro sa boyfriend mo," I said.

"Hindi naman," she answered.

I didn't press it. It wasn't ridiculous. She doesn't like chocolate-flavored things, but she likes chocolate. I don't like melon-flavored things, but I like melons.

Okay, there was a bit of awkwardness. As always, it was on me. I have not met with a lot of friends for the past few years. It just never happens. Before our schedules could meet, our lives would refuse to. I began feeling that I was not worthy of the friends I have supposedly met. That, or I began feeling that I cannot trust them with whatever's happening to me. I open up easily, but now I only want to open up to the right people, and Shalla is the only person filling that role these days. So, every weekend, I'm with her, doing nothing, getting bored. That is enough.

Mika and I left the coffee shop at around half past four. As we walked out, I stretched out my arm and almost, almost, touched her shoulder, but I stopped myself. It's something I always do with Shalla, and vice versa; arm wrapped around shoulder, or back, in her case.

"Muntikan na kitang akbayan!" I said, still shocked.

"Sanay sa girlfriend?" Mika said back. "Muscle memory?"

"Oo. Oo."

She offered me another hug before we boarded our respective jeepneys, which for the most part took the same routes. I saw her jeep overtake mine - which she noted with a text message - and I saw my jeep overtake hers.

And your responses...

Can you buy me lunch one day niko? if you come to brooklyn i promise ill buy ya lunch :D

Blogger Jeany jeany4/22/2017     

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