She’s always late
Growing up in a family who values time more than all the money in the world, I have always looked at time as a luxury we cannot afford. My dad would always remind that respecting the time of other people is not only a sign of courtesy, it is also a sign of respect and honor. He’d always remind me to be at an appointment 15 minutes early.
There was also this time when my dad threatened that all doors would be closed (and would not be opened) if I came home after 9 p.m. He said he wouldn’t accept any excuses, whether it be the second coming of the Messiah or a magnitude 8 earthquake. I came home at 8:30 that night.
I continue to carry this principle. Whether it be a meeting with high political officials or a simple gathering with friends, I always find time to be as early as possible. I don’t want to disappoint them, truth be told. And accordingly, I don’t want them to disappoint me as well whenever I’m the one to set a schedule.
There have been instances when my patience was tested. Members of student publications I belonged to sometimes failed to meet deadlines. My friends didn’t respect any of the appointments we had agreed on — arriving at the meeting place an hour or so late. All of them, bar none, would reason out that I was just too early and too eager to follow a specific time frame. Loosen up, they told me.
I think I have seen every kind of late in my lifetime. There’s the typical “Filipino time,” which is an hour (or two) later than the agreed time. There’s the favorite lie of already being on the way when they have just woken up. There’s the never-ending “hintayan” for friends.
Never have I imagined another level of “lateness” in my life — never, until I met Joyce.
She’s always late.
Ask her to be at a certain place at a certain time, and she’d drop by half an hour later. Time for her is nothing but an order of numbers we use to make things work earlier than expected.
Once, we were cowriters in our university’s campus paper. I was then the features editor and she was a senior writer. She’d always arrive late for meetings — knocking three times at our office’s door before entering, all smiles and joy, while uttering the words “Start na ba?” Then she’d laugh.
She submitted articles a day late, and took long naps in between discussions of what needed to be improved in her write-up. She’d wake up after 10 minutes, not to continue working, but to fix the pillow she was resting her head on.
She’d take a bath for 30 minutes, and filter her closet for what to wear for another 20 or so. A night before any agreed date, she’d ask around for opinions on what to wear. She’d send photos, matching colors and designs, only to disregard her own choices and decide the morning after.
It would take her a couple of more minutes to decide which pair of shoes to wear, and what socks would match them. Should that be printed or plain?
And after all that, she’d flaunt her outfit with a smile on her face, even if she was already half an hour late for her appointment.
At times I’d lie about what time the movie was screening to ensure that we’d have ample time to buy snacks and tickets, or even stroll around the mall. However, being the investigative journalist that she is, she’d screen-cap the schedule of the movie we planned to watch and choose the latest possible time. She’d tell me to meet her at a local boutique — but she’d arrive late as always.
She’d have her lunch and dinner, either chicken or pasta (sometimes even both), for a length of time enough for one to reach the moon and back. She’d ask for a spoon for the pasta, together with a pitcher of water, and give me her soda. We’d talk about how her day was, and she’d get irritated whenever I brought up the question “Bakit ngayon ka lang?” even if it was just a joke.
She’s always late. She always is.
Time for her is a jewelry that can be bought — nothing more, nothing less.
She counts the time not by hours but by years. She believes that the years are what matter most. She believes that history will not judge us by the times we come late for an appointment, but by the years we spend enjoying life.
Years, she believes, will be the only time relevant after all is said and done.
She’s always late. She always is.
She came a little later after I had managed to understand what heartbreak feels like. She came a little later after I was able to manage my time and reflect on my choices in women. She came a little later after I finally understood that there are truly some things that cannot be rushed—like loving someone with all your heart.
I’m grateful that even though she may have come a little late in my life, she has managed to turn me around. The moment I realized how much of a blessing that is, I never complained again about her being late. Why? Because even if she always is, it’s always the perfect time.
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Archiebald F. Capila, 25, is a law student. He’s been in a relationship with Joyce for more than four years now.
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