Under the Santol Tree
I will try to write about it as candidly and honestly as I can, knowing that I have complete moved on. This happened around 7-10 years ago, after all. I think it’s about time that I share this with the world- on my blog- with the hope that you won’t get bored reading it because you know, people are already sick of love songs. Or is that just Ne-Yo?
But this is NOT a love song. This is a story of my first love. And yes, given the incredibly tacky title, I already warn you that it will be looong cheesy and shit so if you can’t deal with that, you may stop reading now, kthnxbi.
If you continue to read, however, you’re awesome and you get a cookie. And the complimentary porn.
His name is Joseph.
I wouldn’t even try to conceal his identity as I am sure none of my readers know him personally anyway. We’ve been classmates since the 4th grade and he was a short, skinny, funny little kid. We didn’t become close until high school though and I believe I was about 13-14 when I started falling for him.
To this day, my friends would ask me what I saw in him as he had a weird laugh, he ran in a very gay kinda way and he didn’t particularly stand out, looks-wise. But I was never into hot guys anyway. I like ‘em funny, sweet, smart boys-next-door who love their mommas.
Joseph was my Dawson and I, in my mind, was his Joey. If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you’d notice that I make a lot of reference to Dawson’s Creek and he was the reason why. For the entire 2nd year HS, we were seatmates. We cheated in quizzes, made fun of our teachers and debated about who the prettier half of M2M was – Marit or Marion. I was happy with that set-up and wasn’t expecting anything more.
And then Junior HS came, along with his growth spurt and vain ways. All of a sudden, he was one of the top heartthrobs in school. Girls, especially those from the lower batches, swooned as he walked in the halls and I could tell that he loved his new-found popularity. He was made the editor-in-chief of our school paper and overnight, he morphed from being a goofball into a matinee idol.
I was left at the sides.
At about this time, too, Les Miserables’ On My Own had become my anthem, and Julia Roberts, my hero. As I was young and stupid, I felt like I had no other choice but to confess to him my repressed feelings, which was made more intense by my fear of losing him to other people, this pretty new kid on the block in particular.
So on a windy Wednesday afternoon, while the school was busy preparing for the Intramurals, I told him everything. I told him that I was in love. I told him how it all began and how much it hurt and felt wonderful at the same time. I told him that it took me almost two years to gather up my courage and let it all out. But I never told him who the person was.
“Does he know that you love him?”, he asked.
“Then why don’t you tell him? You never know, he probably feels the same way for you.”
I honestly thought he figured it out and was giving some sort of a hint. And so, I heeded his advice and that Saturday after, under a santol tree, I pulled out the beating heart off my chest and told him that he was the guy I was talking about.
I couldn’t look him in the eyes though and I wasn’t sure if his reaction was that of shock or utter confusion. But one thing I clearly remember…
“So, what do you want to happen? You know, Kring, thanks. I’m really flattered and all but only time can tell if I’d feel the same way for you.”
Joseph, I wanted nothing to happen. Deep within, I knew you didn’t like me. I guess I just wanted to be freed from my own drama and not have any regrets in my young life. I bet you didn’t know that as I walked back home from school, I had to look up at the sky to keep those warm tears from streaming down my face. I was only 15 years old.
We were never the same after. He had a girlfriend and I moved on, immersed my self in as much activities in school as I can, which helped me in dealing with my first heart break.
Months passed and we started to be civil again.
One scene I could never forget was at the junior prom. As we were dancing on the floor after the mutual compliments have been uttered, he said sorry.
“You know what I’m talking about…”, he replied.
I couldn’t help but just smile.
“Joseph, you may know that I loved you but you will never know how much.”
And before I knew it, I was melting in his embrace and our feet were moving to the melody of the song.
And I will take you in my arms
And hold you right where you belong
Till the day my life is through
This I promise you.
Hate to admit it but ’twas like an ending of a cheesy high school flick. Our words were calculated and the spotlight was on us. Although the old friendship was never brought back, I was contented as I thought that that chapter of my life was over. I was wrong.
Just before I graduated from high school, I decided to write a musical play, a sort of tribute to my first love. I directed it and played the lead, which was a really bad idea for as I internalized my role, all the emotions came rushing back and the wounds were re-opened (and yes, I could even feel someone squeezing calamansi on them). He watched the play from afar but never said a word about it, even after I admitted that each word and song was for him.
A few weeks before the end of classes, I gave him a short letter, in which I thanked him for being a huge big part of my growing up years. I put down all that I wanted to say because I wanted no excess baggage going to collage. And at the end I wrote..
“Do not think about who sent you this note. Just close your eyes and think of the only person whom you know loves you this much.”
It was yet another prom night, the both of us dancing again, when I mentioned about the letter. I honestly had no intentions of telling him and to this day I don’t know what caused that slip of the tongue.
His smile slowly vanished and his grip loosened. Indeed, I was not ready for his answer.
“That was… you? I’m sorry, Kring but… I thought it was from her.”, he apologetically replied, referring to his first girlfriend who had had a million relationships after him.
I didn’t know how to react or even how it ended but tears easily began to flow. We did not even finish the song as we both knew it was time to part ways – in every essence of the word. That was the last time we spoke to each other and last time I saw him was graduation day.
Many things have happened to me since and I am my own woman now but sometimes, I still dream about him and in my dream, I’d be crying- not out of sadness, but of nostalgia. Unrequited love has always been a recurring theme in almost everything that I make and it makes me wonder sometimes if a 15 year old girl was trapped inside of me and needs closure for her to be freed.
Some might say that it was not love that I felt back then. I mean, we were never really “together”. I say that’s bullshit. To insist that love can only be qualified as such when it is reciprocated is just plain wrong and ludacris. He was not a movie star or a perfect character I met online. He was a real person who patted my back when I cried and made me laugh when I was bored. It wasn’t fantasy.
Joseph never knew I’ve written him songs and poetry and stories. He never knew that my whole adolescent years pretty much revolved around him. Never knew that he was my first love and my first heart break. And he will never know about this blog entry.
As the cliche goes, “first love never dies”. I beg to disagree. It does. I mean, at this point in my life, I wouldn’t want to hook up with him or anything remotely close to that. As I said, I have long moved on. But I think first love never grows old. Every time you tap into that time of your life when you loved for the first time, you’d realize that it never left you. And you don’t really mind because your first love was happy, pure and innocent. And sometimes, unrequited.
ps: If you know someone named Joseph, chances are, it’s not him.
pps: This is a shortened version of the story. If I told everything in detail, I’d run out of bandwidth.
ppps: You found it unfunny and boring? Sue me.
pppps: Valentine’s Day is 2 weeks from now. Maybe that’s why I’m being all emo and shit.
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