Back to his house and his mom was finally home. He made her dress up because Sam was taking her to the casino at Waterfront. Oh no. Be with his mom for the entire evening. I could die. The last time I saw his mom was when we took her to the casino and Sam was late at picking her up because he was with me. She probably hated me much less wanted to have anything to do with me tonight.
There was a tinge of recognition. Sam introduced me to her again. “Remember Mari, ma?”
Her mom nodded and acknowledged me with a small smile. I cannot tell the expression. I wished I studied people’s facial expressions. I wish there was a school about that. It would have helped me now.
In the car all the way to Waterfront, his mom began her small talk.
“Hijo, where have you been?”
Sam already briefed me on a story about some Christening and shit so that’s what he said. “We’ve been to a Christening and shit mom. Mari is one of the Godmothers.”
“Does that mean you arrive this morning just to get on that affair?”
Wow. That didn’t sound good? I closed my eyes and dreaded this conversation – this question.
But Sam was casual about it and plainly made it clear that it wasn’t a big deal or he was trying to make his mom understand not to make a big deal out of it. He told her that nonchalantly and that if she doesn’t dismiss that then she’d just be upset so rather dismiss the idea than get upset. Lying to his mom about a christening… lying is so easy to him.
“Well, anyway, Sam… I miss gambling.” His mother carried on the conversation lightly as if she completely forgot that her son came all the way from Cagayan just to go see his girlfriend. So I looked to my right and just watched the lights from all those pretty lamp posts and listened half-heartedly to her.
“I had your dad take me to the casino one time.. I asked him for money. He said he doesn’t have any.. I was disappointed and had to coax him to give me more. You know.. kisses on the neck.. capricio, capricio… He was smitten. He gave 1000 pesos more.” and his mom laughed gaily at that recollection.
I looked at her and smiled. She was very pretty and must have been prettier twenty years ago. The story of her kissing her husband just to coax him into something that she wants done is sweet. Peaceful. Very domestic as if kisses and sex are very natural topics for adults to talk about. Who am I kidding? Since when did I become an adult?
I watched Sam’s reaction and he was laughing along with his mom. Somehow, that scene tugged my heart strings. Giddy. I shuddered. Someone. Dock. Me.
“Ma, I should get you a gigolo, you know.. just to entertain you at times.” He said. My eyes grew wide and waited for a violent blow of reaction.
“Dios ko, Hijo! You must be crazy!” His mom exclaimed. “How much are they pala?”
We all burst out laughing. I didn’t expect that. We were still laughing when Waterfront came into view. Sam and I waited outside the lobby while his mom happily wasted thousands on the slot machines. There were free lattes and we had this pack of Malboros to while our time.
Until he got a phone call. From the girlfriend in Thailand. Sam was raising his voice. He laughed. Then he raised his voice again. He got serious. He got agitated. He walked a few meters away from me. His last words before hanging up were, “I have to go. Someone is waiting for me.”
I suddenly tensed up. He sat on the bench that we were sitting on and turned off his phone. I feel sorry for the girl. She doesn’t deserve any of this.
“God. It is so hard to tell somebody that you don’t want her anymore.” He said.
I didn’t say anything. He doesn’t have to say that. There are people outside and I know it must have been very tempting to watch a couple in their dramatic moment and I do not want to indulge them.
“Afraid that I’d use those words at you?”
I said yes. And I told him that it’s not just that. It’s how he spoke with her on the phone. Cold. Distant. Final. Hun, I cannot be selfish. I cannot just wallow in my ecstasy just because the man right now is with me while someone else is suffering. How could anyone be happy if she has that gnawing thought in her head all the time?
“She doesn’t make me happy. I am no longer happy, hun. My happiness is here.” Then he made me look at him by pulling my chin to his face. “but it does not mean also that my happiness is just with you alone.”
“I know that. I didn’t impose that.” Sam has a huge family in that compound where he lives and I’m pretty sure that they also bear the part of that happiness. Who am I kidding? We’ve not been together that long to ever claim any happiness. “I never said anything that your happiness is just with me.”
“So why are you upset?” Either he didn’t get it or he just wanted to ask questions.
“It’s complicated. She’s there. She’s hurt. I cannot live on that guilt. I told you before… I cannot be happy when someone else is miserable. I cannot be happy at the expense of others.”
“But you cried when you said that, hun. You were hurt. Now, what does that mean – you want out?”
“Then.. are you ready to take this relationship to the next level? Do you want to commit to this?”
Next level… commitment? Aren’t we committed? I looked away. I’m good at that now.
“What I just wanted to know is that… if I’m going to let go of her, am I going to be assured of this thing that I am going to replace it with… What is this that I am going to replace it with..?”
I was suddenly stressed. And uncooperative with how the conversation was going. He was talking and I was pretending to listen. He was babbling but my mind was elsewhere.
I do not want to spend the whole time – the entire year, the entire lifetime PROVING to him that he has made the right choice. That would be so much fun. Sounds wrong. Sounds not right. And if I happen to do something that will disappoint him, just one thing … he will then change his mind? I cannot live up to that expectation. It is going to kill me to be perfect for him but if that is going to be the case, then maybe I’d better start now. And what did I do? And he’d be upset. What a vicious cycle.
“Hun.. how did you know that I’m a sucker for letters?”
The question caught me off guard.
“You sound pained. Lonely. It took one boat trip to take that away.” He held my hand. “I’m sorry. For all that. How did you feel when I left Cebu the same time you were on your way here…? Hurt right. Did you for a second doubt that I left Cebu?”
I shook my head. I have faith. Lots of it.
“Wow. Amazing. That feels great.” He took out his wallet and pulled out two pieces of paper and gave it to me.
It was his boat tickets to Cebu and back. It was stamped and signed. Boarded. It meant that he was on these trips.
But it didn’t make me feel better.
[to be continued…]