it was his first time to be assigned out of manila. a newbie sales supervisor suddenly found himself in durian republic, with no friends, just reps to manage. he was thankful that this southern city was just beautiful - in between the mountains and the deep blue sea. from hot springs and forest hikes to beaches, everything was a short ride away.
but that didnt take away the loneliness. hiding his identity from his team, he would have to deal with weekends alone. besides, he didnt want to get too 'close' to them. often, that meant drinking alone saturday afternoon to evening at his fave restaurant by the beach. and sometimes, tearfully asking for a friend, anyone to ease the loneliness.
he met a young intern in one of his hospital visits. purely coincidental, two people in the same restroom. a lingering look became a smile. quickly that turned into a date for the weekend. suddenly it wasnt too lonely. he had found an answer, an antidote. and young intern was just as prescribed - bubbly tisoy local.
that affair however was not to last. for it was really just an affair. he had a lover back in manila who was coming over to visit. he had to break the news to the intern. he seemed to take it well. lover arrived. and he vowed not to even communicate with the intern while lover was there.
a call from manila changed his status immediately. and he was recalled. he packed his bags and went back to manila with his lover. he couldnt even say goodbye to the intern.
that was end-1995.
through the years, because they belonged to allied industries, intern would sometimes meet people who knew him. and he would send his regards.
in 2004, they bumped into each other in manila. intern was now a doctor, reviewing for the boards. he was now rising up the ranks of his company. it was a short exchange.
last year, his colleagues from the south were relaying greetings from the doctor once again. and his cellphone number. there were a few exchanges of SMS. nothing more because he was still in a relationship. and the doctor was simply far away.
they finally met again during the doctor's visit to manila recently. it was an arranged meeting. a date after 12 years. both of them single.
he felt good seeing him again, all grown up and 'professional' now. he has lost some hair but he still had that flawless skin, the sweet smile and the great sense of humor.
it was awkward at first but soon, barriers went down and talk became personal rather than professional. and the past was discussed again. questions were finally answered, after 12 years. "did you know i tried to look for you... to call you at your office? but you were always in a meeting. you were the only one i introduced to my family, ever. yet you just disappeared."
the doctor was leaving for the province the following day. but he managed to spend that last night with him. enough to savor the memories. enough to make new ones. the intensity was back again, as if it was 1995. but reality stepped in. there was a question of whether it could be real again. but that question was quickly answered with - no LDRs, not anymore.
they parted well. they promised to be in touch. but in their busy lives, it might take another 12 years. but both will probably look at this and smile. and realize that after 12 years, the affection could remain strong...