I went to Baguio for the first time in a year – a year after the nth heartbreak, a year after all the lies, a year after the betrayal. For the first time since the last time, nobody picked me up at the station with a candy in hand.
I didn’t really know what to expect. For the record, I didn’t go there to get my heart broken all over again. I went there for my UP org’s 28th anniversary. I was pretty excited for a full week last week. I was itching to ride on that bus. I didn’t have any plans; I just texted old friends to come meet me whenever available. I figured I could leave my bag at SM baggage counter. I didn’t have a place to stay, I didn’t have toiletries – which is so not me. I trusted that a lot of friends would take care of me there. But he was not on the list.
It felt weird going there without him on my itinerary. After all, he was / he used to be my itinerary. It felt weird that I had an entirely different reason to go there. It felt weird worrying about where I’m gonna stay, where I’m gonna put my things. It felt surreal – a year ago, I wouldn’t have been worrying about these things at all. I always stay there, at a house in Bakakeng, where I already have my room. I had an organized schedule, a fetcher, a means of transportation, a candy, towel, slippers, toiletries, food, plans, dates. On a positive note, it felt empowering, not having to depend on someone to take care of me while I was there. It felt good, having all the time for all the things that I wanted to do, to meet with all my friends and to talk to them without the pressure that someone is waiting for me.
On that bus, I went from excited, to impatient to nostalgic, to (surprisingly) scared. It was the first time. And the questions kept popping on my head: What if I wasn’t ready for this? What would I say or do if I see him again? What if old memories would just come back and haunt me? What if, after stepping out on Baguio ground, I find out that I hadn’t moved on yet, because I hadn’t faced it yet? I dreamt about him 2 days ago, saying I still love him and I wanted him back. Does this mean I was just suppressing my feelings, that I was not close to moving on, that these are the words that my subconscious wanted to say? I wanted to get on the next bus to Manila. But a friend said that I was so close to finding out the answers, too late to back out, and that I would have to do this eventually, alone. That was what I was afraid of – being alone in the place where I experienced the greatest irony – true love, and tremendous heartbreak.
I was overwhelmed with the number of friends who came to meet me at once, those who have been wanting to talk to me. My schedule was full for the whole weekend. I jokingly told my friend, “Grabe, puno pa din ang schedule ko, wala na ang love life ng lagay na ‘yan ha. Paano kaya ‘pag may lovelife pa?” I talked to his sister, to his brother, to our common friends. I heard a lot of things about him – post break-up stories. How he went from goodie-two-shoes to rebellious. How he broke the hearts of – not only girls – but even people closest to him who cared about him. How he broke not only our relationship, but also his relationship with a lot of people. Of how it was easy for him to throw everything out the window; of how he ignores people who are associated with me. And I wasn’t happy to hear of stories of heartbreak / see tears that he caused to different people.
I exerted an effort to avoid him by all means. But fate had a different plan. Again we met, on the church where we first held hands, and where he broke my heart. I also met there the girl he was seeing (no, not his girlfriend). And having seen him, I had the answer to all of my questions. No more heart beating fast. No more panic, or sweaty palms, or butterflies in my stomach, or a smile plastered on my face/worry lines on my forehead (whichever comes first). Just the need to stay away from him, to avoid telling to his face that he is disgusting. I saw him again, and I wasn’t angry with what he did to me, but with what he did/is doing to my friends. I saw him, and I wasn’t hurt anymore; I did not cry. I saw him and I had no more unsolicited love to give. I saw him, and he was a stranger, and I didn’t want to be friends with him.
The sad part: I wanted everyone to forget. I don’t want my name to be associated with a lot of issues, of a break-up that caused/is still causing a lot of heartbreaks. I don’t want to be introduced as “si Kai, yung ex ni PJ”. I don’t want to discourage my friends to fall in love in Baguio. I don’t want this fairy tale-turned-ugly story. I don’t want this identity.
Hello, I am planning another Baguio trip this December. I am not afraid anymore, I am not hurt anymore. I am ready to enjoy Baguio without hesitations anymore. Hello, I have found my map back to Baguio.