In a bustling city of concrete and glass, we converged as strangers. Different people, different stories.
One thing united us, as we eventually discovered: we were all broken in some way. Our past relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners haunted us. Those ghosts followed us all the way to Ayala Avenue, where an office building stood dark and formidable.
Within those four walls, I experienced a gamut of emotions. Joy. Stress. Motivation. Pride. Anger. Sadness. You saw it all, from me helplessly weeping on the sidewalk to me practically yelling in the streets in a fit of rage.
I don’t believe in fate, but I believe that we were lucky to have found one another. We were lucky to belong to a circle of friends that accepted each other’s brokenness, in a way that is rarely found. Spilling our guts over after-shift breakfast, coffee, and cigarettes, we poked fun at one another. Our loud voices drowned out, at least temporarily, the demons in our head.
As time passed, the office building changed.
It was still poorly lit, but as I walked the halls with you, it seemed brighter. As though somehow, our ringing laughter lit the way, bouncing off the tiled floors.
Even the outdoor smoking area, which was always cold and grimy, transformed. It became welcoming, a spot of warmth where we would often hang out before going our separate ways home. But with you there, it felt more like home than ever. And you felt like family.
Like the places we frequented along Ayala, I found myself being transformed as well.
I cultivated a sense of deep patience and understanding. You brought me to places I’ve never been (shout out to all the Cavite trips I’ve taken very reluctantly). I discovered that my capacity for love was greater than I thought. Every piece of chocolate I’ve given with a thoughtfully written letter was an expression of my affection.
However, as my depression worsened, I found myself feeling more isolated.
Yes, you gave me a box of Pepero when I was feeling particularly crummy. Yes, we made jokes to out-gross each other in Mcdo during lunch breaks. But despite all that, I had never felt lonelier in my life.
When I quit that job and had a lot more free time, I distanced myself from you. I left the group chat. I spent a lot of days alone in my condo, staring up at the blank ceiling, wishing for it to collapse and finally end my suffering.
My mistake was thinking I needed to go through that alone.
I missed out on so much. I could have shared with you my darkness, my brokenness, which I know now you’d accept wholly. So many times, I wanted to reach out because I needed someone to talk me down from the ledge.
I gave you too few opportunities to do so, which was stupid. I’ve taken care of you; I should have known that, at my worst, you’ll take care of me, too.
I want to ask for another chance: to be there for you when you need me. And another chance for you to be there for me, too. Because whichever way you look at it, we’ve been an important part of each other’s lives. I’d like it to be that way for a long time.