Monday, February 9, 2015

Meeting of Hearts

He writes…
NAIA I | Meeting of Hearts
Departure Area at NAIA, 7.16.2013

Thanksgiving dinner in 2012 is the most memorable holiday dinner for me because it is when I learned of the existence of Kira. My sister-in-law mentioned her to me by name in a conversation that was quite random, a sort of, “hey, there’s someone we’d like you to meet” statement commingling with a lineup of the evening’s delectable entrees and attractions. 

She mentioned that Kira was a journalist. Immediately, I was intrigued because Kira’s profession was the first of its type of all whom friends and relatives have wanted to introduce me to. In the back of my mind, I was relieved that I could potentially meet someone who could finally understand me.

It never crossed my mind that I would someday have to cross the ocean to meet this person. It never dawned on me that Kira could have been someone who was newly divorced...maybe someone fresh out of a contentious decade-long relationship...maybe someone who recently discovered that life in a convent couldn’t truly meet the expectations of someone well-traveled or ambitious. None of these thoughts crossed my mind...neither her age, nor her appearance, nor the possibility of a questionable past had even one iota of substance of a thought in my mind. Her being a “journalist” seemed to be enough to grab my attention. 

I wanted to see what she’s written. 

Sure enough, my sister-in-law showed me a book to which Kira contributed a chapter on one of the most polarizing and relevant topics in the social landscape of the Philippines.“Wait a minute,” I thought to myself. Did she just say that one of Kira’s works was in a book? Well, in my mind, that made her more than just a journalist. To me, she was an author...and a significant one at that to be able to write about such a poignant topic: blood politics in the provinces and beyond.

I read her chapter, and I was instantly intrigued by what I had read and the person who wrote it. I expressed interest in meeting her, if for nothing more than to meet an intellectual equal.

Fast forward to a month later, when a mutual friend/relative “friend-suggested” Kira to me on Facebook. I did so, and Kira immediately added me.

When we met six months later, I was elated to finally meet the woman who I came to know over the waves, so to speak. I know I sound like a Savage Garden song, but I loved Kira before I met her. Of all the people in my life, she was by far the closest to me despite being the furthest from me geographically. In retrospect, I wish I had made our meeting more prompt and less perplexing (because of me overthinking things). But the love and splendor in our feelings for each other that followed were immediate, effortless, and clear as well as intellectual and...dare I say...intense.

My visit, however, was at that time, a trip that had a finite timeframe within which I could spend with her. When your life converges with another to the point where you emotionally fuse with that person, it’s nearly impossible to fathom the idea of any moment or minute away from him or her. That, however, was what we were facing...a brutal reality of living on two separate continents.

But we made it work because we were too headstrong to let a little factor like distance become an obstacle. Because we were too idealistic to slip into the trap of believing that the odds were against us. Because we loved each other.

I was never disillusioned to think that we’d be able to easily adjust to being apart. There were things, however, that were easy adjustments. The time difference was such that she would be waking up when I was finishing a work, or she would be getting ready for bed just as I was starting my day. 

But there is no substitute for the warmth of her hand when I held it, and the energy and electricity I felt when I was next to her.

And now, as I look back on the times that I couldn’t physically be with her, I remember never losing faith in the fact that we would be together like we are now. Yes, I had to endure feelings of impatience and the pangs of absence, but growing to love her more everyday, and talking or seeing her everyday, soothed the stinging feelings of her absence.

Nothing is impossible in a loving relationship that’s meant to be. Our love and feelings for each other evolved simply, but just like anything else, it takes a great deal of work and effort to sustain it in a meaningful relationship. Throw in other factors like distance, an immigration process, and vastly different upbringings, and things can get complicated.But in our case, one thing was always clear to me: that she was the love of my life, and whatever we wanted for and with each other would happen, no matter what.

She writes... 

We wrote, we met, we fell in love, but miles and miles between us was more than a 7,000-mile expanse. 

Spending three weeks together for the first time in June 2013 just reaffirmed that Ray was the one. While there is no formula to finding love, more than a decade of dealing with people in the practice of journalism has given me insight that everything, including love, should be simple and uncomplicated. 

I know of some people who find it romantic to defy all odds for love, who find it challenging to be in tangled love triangles and unrequited love affairs. Over the years, I have learned to love and respect myself enough to want an equal in every aspect.Ray was that equal I’ve always wanted except that he was geographically inaccessible. But no matter the distance, the decision to commit to him was easy.

Although committing was easy, being away from each other for months wasn’t. We found ways to keep in touch and creatively express our affection but we always told each other “it’s just not the same.”

Long distance relationship is a metaphysical commitment that requires a strong resolve and most of all, a faithful heart.

In my case, being away from Ray meant a long alone time and having to find time to talk even with the 15 or 16 hour time difference. Work was my temporary solitude when it wasn’t stressing me out.

Since I did not have a housemate most of the time, this meant cooking for one, eating alone and refraining from watching horror movies lest I have nightmares.

So if you’re the life of the party kind of person who constantly needs company and gets bored very easily then going long distance might be more challenging than it already is.Yet the distance is not the toughest, it’s the times we had to say goodbye.

Taking Ray to the airport to catch his flights back to LA was always the toughest. If I cried and started making a scene, I was 60 percent sure that he would have missed his flight and stayed longer for me.  However, we chose to do the right and responsible thing the three times he came to visit and returned home without me.

The fourth time he came to the Philippines was bittersweet. We were finally able to process my visa and book a trip December 2014 but it also meant that I had to leave my family and the life I’ve known since birth.

His world is now my oyster and I’m still discovering…#

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