A high school love story

After having weathered several romantic relationships, trying to figure out what went wrong, what happened along the course of the journey, or what has prodded each of the parties to leave, my previous romantic affairs concluded in un-extraordinary fashion. I loved, lost, loved again, just like anyone of us. Their ends were never preempted by the happiness brought by their beginnings. There was nothing spectacular about their endings, no spark, or anything near magical.

I wrote love letters before. Some I sent and was read by the intended recipient; some were sent but were read by other people other than to whom it was supposed to be sent to. And a few were never sent at all either because of fear to be rejected or for the fear that the person who will receive them will laugh at the cheesy lines I carefully concocted or I simply was not confident that my letters were free of any grammatical blunders.

Youthful insecurities kept me from fully expressing love, too young to understand the complications and complexities of baring my emotion for people to trample it, crush it, or simply ignore it. But I knew I tried to love. That for me was enough no matter how the adult world tried to underrate my ability to feel and to express what I feel in a way I deemed appropriate.

I was so young then, barely 14, when I felt so sure that I was starting to fall in love with a very beautiful girl of my age. We were high school classmates. For reasons of privacy, I will not mention her name here. We both have already moved on. Now she is living a happy life with somebody she loves and loves her in return. She is also running after her dreams like what I am doing.

Then, life was simpler. We were too innocent to care about the future. What is to become of us after a year, a month, or even the following week was the least of our concern. For us then the present was the only thing that mattered.

She was from another elementary school in the poblacion; and being first year high school students then, we were too shy to approach anyone we think a stranger. She caught everyone’s attention, including mine, because she’s beautiful. In that public high school where I graduated from, it was rare to see a beautiful girl who dresses so well and modest all at the same time. You either see a pretty girl who looks drab, a well-dressed one but just too provincial, or both good-looking and nicely-dressed but an epitome of egotism and pride.

She was simply the most beautiful girl, the kindest, and the most intelligent in class (second to me, hahaha): everything a thirteen-year-old boy was looking for in the girl of his life. We were competitors in class; she graduated with the highest honor when she was in elementary; I, in the other hand, was the valedictorian of my class. But we were friends. I tried hard to make her laugh at my jokes or impress her with my scientific knowledge and love for literature. I won competitions outside the school because I wanted her to notice me.

I started formally courting her during our third year in high school. I sent her love letters through a close friend of us both. Sometimes I deliberately borrowed books from her, although I never read then, to insert my love letter inside. She never replied any of my letters, but I know she felt something for me because I noticed a difference in the way she smiled at me. I felt it.

I joined the CAT (Citizen Army Training) program to become an officer so that in our fourth year I could ask her to be my sponsor during the induction of officers and presentation of sponsors. I faced pain, fatigue, and hard work while in the program. She taught me to think of the future and make my self better so that my life in the future will be far better from what my current life.

I started walking with her from our school to the town plaza every afternoon during the last months of our third year in high school.  I took those walks as confirmations that she also felt something for me. Although that time they had a new red car, which was her family’s transportation during that time, she chose not to go with her mother who is a teacher in our school, and walk with her friends, and me to the plaza and wait for the tricycle to transport her to their house four kilometers away in the town. I reasoned that any intelligent girl would not choose to walk on dusty roads surrounded by pineapples with a guy if she’s not interested with him.

Even though I was not a practicing Catholic, I would always accompany her every Wednesday to attend mass after class. One time we were both asked to carry the bread and wine; we did that while we were wearing our high school uniforms. Days following that afternoon we were our classmates’ object of teasing; I secretly liked it, though. I just smile every time I remember that ordinary Wednesday afternoon in the Parish of the Good Shepherd.

This continued until our fourth year, and on September 1st 2002 she said to me that she also loved me, the day we were officially romantically attached. It was however odd. That time, cell phones were just starting to be introduced in our place and so we were sending SMS to each other. I was ironing my school uniform while texting her using my mother’s Nokia 5110i phone (in case you forget, it’s a very fat and heavy Nokia model with an equally big antenna; this model was already not fashionable during that time) when she became my girlfriend. It was anticlimactic.

Earlier that day, as the Corps Commander, I lead my high school’s CAT Battalion  in the town parade so she asked me if I was okay because she heard from her mother that I was sick. The conversation went on further until I asked her if she cared for me. She said “a lot”. I asked her if it was because she loved me. And then she replied a very short answer: “yes”.

That was one of my most memorable high school experience. Looking back now that I am 22 and definitely more mature and experienced with life and how it is to love, that day remained too difficult to surpass. My young heart during that time, for the first time, knew how it was to love and to find out that somebody was also loving me back.

We lasted for seven months. On the 8th of April 2003, I remember it was in a park, I broke up with her. I gave her many reasons why our relationship cannot go on. I told her that I would be studying in a far place; we would not be able to maintain communication; and that I don’t believe in long distance relationships. She said nothing at first just cried. That was the first time I saw her cry. It almost made me regret saying those things and take back what I said telling her I was just kidding. But my resolve was final. She tried to negotiate, telling me that she could wait and that she loved me so much. I said I loved her too, but I could not anymore go on. I gave her reasons why I was ending the relationship but it’s only now that I accepted the fact that it was because of my insecurities. Insecurities about the future, about our fragile relationship, and about myself and who I really am.

We seldom communicated after that, and in the second year of my college she told me that she already has a boyfriend. I was devastated, but I had no choice but to accept it. She had moved on. I hadn’t. I tried my best to divert my attention to my academics just to forget about her. A lot of things happened to our individual lives after that. When we both finished college, we met again, and finally put and end to our love story. She told me her story which made me to fully I understand her.

“You hurt me so much,” she said.

“I’m sorry. It’s not only you who was hurt,” I said.

“I’m with somebody now. I know he loves me so much. He makes me happy.”

“Really? That’s good. I also wanted you to be happy.”

“By leaving me? I suffered a lot because of what you did. Two years after we separated, I still couldn’t move on. I compared every man who tried to love me with you. ‘Ah this man is not as good a conversationalist as Fev.’ ‘This man is too stupid, not like Fev.'”

“I’m sorry.”

“Is that all you can say? Yeah, but I’m so happy this man came. He loves me more than anyone did.”

“It was not only you who was hurt. I was only thinking of what was to become of us in the future.”

“I hope it made you happy.”

Silence.

Our story ended in silence.

Her story, however, will remain to be her story. I will not include it here because for me it is sacred and only she can tell it. I know I will never give full justice to the pains she went through because of a love story that began one Monday morning of June 1999.

How to write history

At first thought, writing history is a routine job done by anyone who has command of the language, any language, that is, depending on the prevailing regime; good observational skills that include extra keen five senses and some ESP (extra-sensory perception), if the event requires it; and a little patience.

Let’s take as an example from a current event, say, Iran doing test fires of its missiles. Any man who is endowed with a little understanding of world history will categorize this event as something historical. But to allow us to go in with the exposition, let’s first define what is history and later its adjectival form “historical”

The Ancient Greek word ἱστορία,historía, means “inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation”. It was in that sense that Aristotle used the word in his Περί Τά Ζωα Ιστορία, Peri Ta Zoa Istória or, in Latinized form, Historia Animalium. The term is derived from ἵστωρ, hístōr meaning wise man, witness, or judge. The form historeîn, “to inquire”, is an Ionic derivation, which spread first in Classical Greece and ultimately over all of Hellenistic civilization.

The word debuted in the English language in 1390 with the meaning of “relation of incidents, story”. In Middle English, the meaning was “story” in general. The restriction to the meaning “record of past events” arose in the late 15th century. In German, French, and most Germanic and Romance languages, the same word is still used to mean both “history” and “story”. The adjective historical is attested from 1561, and historic from 1669 (American Historical Association).

Historical in this sense means something that is worthy of being part of the history as in the statement “The death of JFK is historical.” May I point out, however, that unlike other adjectives such as beautiful and loud, the word historical, like the adjectives unique, perfect, and divine, does not lend itself to comparison. That means saying “Man’s ascent to space is more historical than the Battle of Salamis” is grammatically questionable as is the value judgment of the entire statement.

Now, since the difficulty of judging whether an event is historical or otherwise is already highlighted, it is time for anyone who dreams to do a narrative of man’s progress and fall to reflect on the the task laid out before him.

How to write history?

First, the historian must identify his market, the reader base. World history is, by definition, the easiest to write about since people from Bulgaria to Belize have their interpretations of an event, going back to our example Brazilians will see the test fires as a threat to their billion-dollar coffee industry while people from the Vatican will see it as an assault to Catholicism–interpretations are limitless–so the choice of what to include and to discard is already in the hand of the historian. Furthermore, wire services such as AFP, Reuters, etc. can also be a source of write ups that can be narrativized making the task easier. Contrastingly, the opposite is happening in the micro level. There, people are more keen to details like what kind of wine did Gen. Franco drink before he was able to deter the US attacks in the War of Pigs, or the sentence that a certain African villager chief said before the Belgian army totally conquered them: was it “Darn, I’m out” or “Damn, we’re out” or simply “What a f__k!.” making the task of the historian doubly difficult.

After identifying the reader-base, which usually favors the more general reader, the historian will also have to be more pragmatic. Since it is not all about history but also tenure in the university, payment of the remaining balance (if sponsored by a foundation), or an immanent paper reading in an international conference of historians on The History of People South of the Equator, North of the Circle of Capricorn, the historian must also make the language of the narrative as ambivalent if not ambiguous as possible with jargons that even experts would have a hard time deciphering. In that way, the tone will appear scientific, academic, and therefore less subject to scrutiny making the historian’s job a breeze.

Any good university student who intends to be a historian must also remember that the event is more important than the person. To paraphrase, it is not a job that will make him famous. All historians, by rule, are obscure people. They are not followed by paparazzi nor are they featured in the newspaper’s lifestyle page. The only place their children and grandchildren can see their historian father or grandfather’s names is in some obscure journal collecting dust in the serials section. That means, any historian can commit blunders, even great blunders, without being harshly reprimanded. Repercussions because of inadvertent mistakes are hardly heard of because another generations of historians will come to correct the mistake, or they themselves aggravating the mistakes until another generation comes to the rescue. But all in all, no historian has been subject to capital punishment just because they reported that the date of the U.S. independence is July 14, 1976 instead of July 4, 1776 or that Napoleon Bonaparte has a boy lover instead of Alexander the Great.

And, by the way, writing history also doesn’t pay well, unless of course it is about the history of Nokia, Exxon Valdez, or Donald Trump.