Goodbye. Hello.

Right at the beginning I knew that you’re already taken, and I didn’t think much about it then since I only befriended you because you were new in the city. I know how it feels to be in a place where you have no immediate family, and it can be tough. We clicked together right at the very moment we talked (which you initiated) and even when we decided to meet up. I can clearly remember that that afternoon was one for the books because of the bus trip we took.

We continued to see each other regularly to walk or drive around. Every moment was hilarious. You were such a talkative guy; you never ran out of things to share, and I like you for that. My life is pretty simple and boring, and so I didn’t have lots to share, making me grateful that you always started and carried the conversation. And even when we’re just quietly strolling or cruising, I never got bored when I was with you. It felt like I found a friend here just like my close friends back in my home country.

But things changed.

As months passed, we continued to text each other all day–from the moment we woke up in the morning until later at night before we slept. We continued to meet up even after our regular Sunday evening show had concluded. Our three- to five-hour drives became more frequent. We talked a lot about our (separate) futures–what careers we would want to pursue, where we would settle down to build a family, what we would name our future children and how many we would want to have, what kind of houses we wanted to buy, where we would want to retire, etc. It must be strange for others to hear two people who are not in a romantic relationship talking about these things, but somehow we just always ended up talking about them. Consequently (and irresponsibly), these conversations made me ponder what it would be like if I did all these things with you.

That’s when I thought I was falling for you.

When I first realised it, I started contemplating whether or not I should stop seeing you. But you’re my only close friend here, and I was yours. I felt like I would let a good friend down if I just suddenly told you I didn’t want to see you again. My decision to continue being your friend was solidified when you said you felt relieved that you just misunderstood my ambiguous text and thought I wasn’t going to meet up with you anymore.

And so I stayed.

I stayed being your friend. After all, I didn’t have any plans on stealing you from your girlfriend. I didn’t want God to punish me for that. Another reason was that I had never fallen in love before. I told myself, ‘I want to experience how to fall in love as I might never fall in love again’.

And I did.

When I came to think of it, you really had most of the things that I wanted in a guy–which I won’t mention anymore. You made it easy for me to fall in love with you.

But you also made it painful.

Every time you mentioned your girlfriend, I felt my heart wrench. Every time you canceled our “meet-up,” I felt neglected and taken for granted. But I couldn’t blame you at all…

Because you weren’t mine.

You weren’t mine to begin with. You didn’t owe me your time and effort. I was just a friend. It was I who decided to fall even when I knew from the start you wouldn’t be there to catch me.

Eventually, you told me you’re leaving soon.

I was downhearted when I received your message. I’d already known you would leave this country because of the circumstances, but getting that confirmation still took me aback. What about our regular walks around the campus and downtown after my classes? What about our daily conversations?

You repeated what you said before that we should go to Lake Louise and Banff. You said that that was for you to leave me good memories.

And so we went on that trip together.

It was a fine November day, and we had a wonderful time. The hike at Lake Louise was full of laughter because of all the falls we had. It was mostly you who fell because you always went first to assist me as we went up and catch me as we went down the mountain. I was really thankful to you because I didn’t break any bones that day.

After the hike we headed to Banff and had a late lunch at a restaurant there. But since our food arrived soooo late, we missed the Gondola ride. That made me really dejected because the two reasons why I went with you there did not happen: getting a hot chocolate at the top of the mountain at Lake Louise and the Gondola ride at Banff. I wasn’t talking much after then, and you knew I was disappointed, and so you just bought me hot chocolate. The disappointment I felt for not fulfilling my goals that day and the world map I saw in that cafe showing me the great distance between Canada and the Philippines made me tear up. I felt embarrassed for being a crybaby, but you said it was fine.

We then headed home after finishing our drinks. I requested we pass by Calgary first, and you obliged. About an hour or so into our drive home, I told you I like you. You had questions which I gladly answered. You told me you admired me for confessing so that I wouldn’t have regrets. We continued our conversation and even had a discussion about religion. We had laughs all the way home. It didn’t feel weird nor awkward at all, and it was all because of you. Because you’re such an easy-going guy.

Because I knew you didn’t want to lose me as a friend.

You asked me if I wanted to stay in touch after you left, and I said yes. You’re still my friend after all. My response made you smile.

The night before you flew back home, we drove around downtown for about two or three hours. But throughout the drive I wasn’t talking much, and you pointed that out several times. I told you I was just sad. You understood.

Before you drove me home, we went first to our favourite spot in the city where we could see the entire downtown. It was a beautiful sight. And I would miss us going there. I would miss appreciating that picturesque view with you. It was our special, secret haven.

When we arrived in front of our house, you went out of the car to give me a hug. You said it was nice knowing me. After the hug, I gave you a flying kiss–well, sort of. I kissed my hand and used that hand to wave at you as you went back inside the car.

The next day, we got to text again. And about thirty minutes before you boarded the plane, we talked on the phone. You said I was very talkative then compared to the night before. I then admitted I was too sad that you were leaving that I couldn’t talk or I would cry. I was glad that we still got to text through WhatsApp even during your flight. It was when you arrived in Birmingham that we stopped texting. And I knew the real reason why.

Ever since then, we seldom texted each other. We would catch up for a few days then no communication again for three days or five days or a week or so. Then repeat till fade. I already knew it would happen, but it still made me sad sometimes.

And so, about two months after you left, I finally decided that I would stop these feelings I had for you.

I realised we could never really be together, so why should I keep on loving you? I would just inflict unnecessary pain on myself. But I promised myself I would still remain as your friend. You told me twice before that it was I who kept you from losing your mind while you were looking again for a job here. You told me several times that there are things you couldn’t talk about to your friends but you could to me. And so I would remain as that person to you.

I would remain as the friend you can count on.

But I won’t wait for you anymore.

Because I love myself, too.

But even if we didn’t end up together, I still thank you. I thank you for making me experience the joy and pain of falling in love. Even if it was an unrequited one.

So thank you, honey. I hope you finally become happy. I know you’re still having a quandary about whether or not you’re happy there, but I’m sure when you’re all settled, you won’t have doubts anymore. No matter what, I will always be here for you, you know that.

And so for now . . . goodbye, honey. Hello, friend.

P.S. I still miss your hand massages sometimes, but I no longer feel that usual heart flutter whenever you call me ‘love’ or ‘flower’. I’m doing well, eh?



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