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Love. Life.

Bike rides and the butterfly effect

/ 08:55 AM September 06, 2019
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I decided to unlove him in the summer of 2004, whatever love was through the eyes of a 13-year-old child. The day reminded me of iced Milo, bikes for rent, Skittles, Parokya Ni Edgar’s “One and Only”, and the yellow foliage of the narra trees.

At a school fair called Inferno, in Pisay, I was clad in what I thought was chic at the time – loose denims and a checkered cap. I don’t recall why a fresh calachuchi was tucked behind my ear. It must have fallen off the campus trees.

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He was all of 17 years old, 5 feet 11 inches tall, and almost ready for the bigger Ateneo. My friends called him Kuya Rupert, and how I hated that word, he had no clue. His sight was somewhat fixed on ladies old enough to attend the prom; those who didn’t have to wear baby bra like I did.

I got Kuya Rupert’s attention for the first time that day, but for all the wrong reasons, it crushed my infant heart – he splashed me with a bucket of cold water. I almost fell off my bike.

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He laughed sweetly and apologized, as if to imply that he didn’t mean what just happened. It’s actually my punishment from the jail booth, he explained, for breach of fair rules that baffled a freshman. But there was a wedding booth too, and Kuya Rupert’s name was plastered all over the stoned wall, paired with other candidate brides, and why can’t I get that instead?

Perhaps it didn’t help that I was young and insecure. Or maybe, just maybe, it hurt a bit that he saw me like a toy when all I wanted was to look beautiful in his eyes. Like a duck that belly-flopped into a pond, I left my bike, walked away, and never saw him again. He went off to college.

It wasn’t until six years later that a series of detours led me to Kuya Rupert again; in Katipunan of all places, where kolehiyalas were being sculpted into fierce scholars, always ahead of the game. Gone was the orange plaid high school skirt and the naivety attached to it. I could stride in heels steadily now and drink Tanqueray without twisting my face into a grimace. A self-assured full-grown woman, or that at least, was the pretend image I gave off.

I’ve been smitten with him since I was twelve and it took him seven years to notice me — sitting close to me now, in the flesh, teasing me how I’ve lost my chubby cheeks and grown my bob cut into long locks of hair. By the end of the night, he called me beautiful.

So I reveled in the thrill of a rip-roaring chase that lasted for months; in how I made him yearn for that first kiss I gloatingly denied him of; or the mischievous ways I ignored him on Yahoo Messenger, when I secretly just waited for his buzz all day as I sat like a deranged cat lady at home. I watched him run to me in the wee hours of the night, with fast food sundae on one hand and gourmet tuyo on the other.

I could hear my inner cruella de vil giggling, as I witnessed the revenge plot of a scorned 13-year-old kid unfold before my eyes. I would be the heartbreaker this time around, and he, the one begging for my love.

But fate had other plans. As I write this, fourteen years later, a princess cut diamond ring twinkles gently under the moonlight of Positano. It’s two o’clock in the morning and the sea wind feels like angels’ breath, blowing the curtains like feather. Rupert is sound asleep; his cheeks still flushed from the bottles of limoncello. We’re getting married.

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It was the butterfly effect, he once told me. One must not change a tiny detail in the past or it will trigger a momentous shift in the larger dimension — a ripple effect that may alter the course of one’s reality. He didn’t need to regret the bike ride and the pail of water, or the in-betweens, for behind the scene were star dusts that settled and led to an unexpected twist of fate.

“The years we spent apart prepared me well for you. You wouldn’t have loved me then,” Rupert said, as he confessed his history of reckless antics and juvenile irresponsibility, his fair share of mistakes and poor life decisions, the nights of partying and drinking in the dating scene, the way he didn’t treat his ex like a gentleman should, or his hapless ignorance of what love should feel like — kind and easy, all-consuming but calm.

He learned the ropes of life, without me, in the messiest way possible. And just when the time was right, he was delivered to my doorstep like a gift with a dainty ribbon on top.

The man of my dreams was purposely kept hidden away from me for a reason. The years in the interim were designed to polish him into the man I prayed for. The interlude, the hiccups, and the waiting game — they were all a concomitant part of a story untold. Call it God, or the Universe, or whatever spirit you choose to believe in, there’s a force much bigger than us that has mastered the timing of our lives.

The butterfly effect does not equate to destiny. Destiny can be a defeatist evil that reassures us of our laziness, knowing life will run its course without taking action. The butterfly effect, on the contrary, tells us that the particles are alterable and the choices that we make may tweak our kismet in the blink of an eye.

And if only vivid imagery could take me back to the summer of 2004, I wouldn’t dare change a thing. I would simply bask again in the sweltering heat of February, as I nibble my Skittles, while in my squelchy clothes, crowned by my dampened hair. I would smile at Kuya Rupert, walking towards me with his bucket of water, never doubting that he is already mine.

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Christmas Astronomo, 28, is a lawyer who loves to write after midnight. She will marry Rupert Sy Cabrera in December of 2019.

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INQUIRER.net 发布于 2019年2月13日周三

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