So when will you get married?
My day now consists of seeing friends and former schoolmates get engaged, get married or have kids. I feel happy for them, but sometimes I ask myself: “What if I had chosen to settle down like them, too?”
Time flies faster now than when I was younger. I enjoy working as a lawyer, as I look forward to one hearing or client meeting to the next.
But soon I would be 25. My mother and all my siblings had started their family before they reached the age of 24. Another year is turning, and so I am reminded: “Why am I not dating a single soul among the 7.6 billion individuals in the universe?”
And then there is the elderly’s worn-out question to my generation: “When will you get married?” If that question was included in the bar exam, I would not have been able to pass it.
Had I chosen to, I could have been married like my contemporaries, not just once, but twice.
It was in college when I started dating Hiro. He was a Japanese engineer — decent, tall and with a charming face. He was kind and patient, and my family really liked him. We had a wholesome and stable relationship that lasted for many years.
He was the type who would travel for 30 hours to Baguio City just to spend my birthday with me. He used to surprise me with flowers and amusement park tickets. He even went on leave from work just to fetch me from school.
I met his family as well and his parents were very supportive of our relationship. We were a team. We broke stereotypes on mixed-race relationships.
Everyone around us thought we would end up together. He proposed marriage one quiet night at the Basco lighthouse when it was just the two of us. His calm voice resonated sincerity. It seemed like he captured all the stars above in his eyes.
But I said “No.”
He was ready in all aspects of his life, but there was something inside me that told me I was not. I was scared of not being the right one for him, as much as I was scared of losing my youth.
My mind started to picture being a wife and a mom overseas, versus the image of me thriving in the law profession in the Philippines.
As I uttered the words “I am sorry,” the stars in his eyes vanished. It was heartbreaking for me, but I know it must have hurt him more.
The most difficult part of breaking up from a long relationship was explaining to relatives and friends what happened. I kept quiet to avoid any conversation on the matter. Years after our breakup, many people thought we were still together.
Many dream about a Batanes marriage proposal, a partner who is patient and romantic, and a relationship where both families are supportive. I had them all, but I lost them.
Do I regret letting Hiro slip away? Part of me thinks so. I cannot do anything anymore, because I was the first one to let go. I have not seen him for the longest time. Nonetheless, I will always be proud of him.
Marriage again presented itself through a good friend. His name was Tom. He was confident and extremely amusing. We could laugh and talk about anything under the sun without the smallest fear of judgment.
One sunrise, Tom called me saying he was outside my apartment gate. I thought at first it was a prank, but, upon checking, he was really there.
He was sober. He knelt, cried, and asked me to spend a lifetime with him. He could not hold it in anymore, he said — and he expected me to say “Yes.” After all, we had this incredible synchronicity.
But I still said “No.”
Letting Tom go was a selfless decision. Seeing him around now, I cannot be less than happy with his growth. I know that, one day, he would thank me for deciding things that way.
I have been receiving a number of dinner and movie invites, but I prefer not to go out. It gives me more time to ponder about life and marriage.
While my parents and grandparents prove that true love exists, my profession constantly supplies me stories of unhappy marriages.
“Do not be too picky,” they’d say.
But I am not being picky. We will only walk this earth once, and each of us should carefully choose the hand we will hold in this journey. At least I do not want to end up as the wrong hand for another person.
Now that I am more mature and ready, I have nobody. I am more trusting and understanding, but I have nobody. Instead of doubting the future, I can now hold on tight to my feelings, but I have nobody.
Part of me is confident that better things are coming, though. Twenty-five is still young. If I had chosen to settle down earlier, I might not have grown into a strong, independent woman.
Kindly avoid asking us millennials when we intend to get married, because the only answer is “We don’t know.”
In the meantime, allow me to drink my tea and enjoy my me time.
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Jemmie Rose E. Vejerano, “25-ish,” is a lawyer in Baguio City.
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