He said… She said… (Part one)

I’m writing this as Angel lies snoring between Alan and myself, and we’re watching THE LAKE HOUSE.  It’s almost 11PM and I’m actually enjoying the movie.  It’s a little strange, but I’m a sucker for love stories.  Alan has been ribbing me that he only borrowed this DVD because he knew I would like it.  I actually had it in my queu on my own DVD account.  I guess I can take it off now.

On a totally unrelated note (yet sort of related..), I’ve been meaning to write a post in answer to a question from a very dear friend of mine who shall remain anonymous lest the other party/ies ‘involved’ stumble upon my corner of the web.  I’m doing a “He said.. she said..” post because I don’t think my friend’s question can be answered one way.  I have probably postponed writing this post because it means having to tell my own story to give the rationale behind the things I am about to say.

I remember starting a new topic weeks back entitled “The People in My Life,” to which Lani wrote a comment to the effect that perhaps the first person I should write about is Alan.  That is a tall order, I believe, because there is just so much to say.  But of course there’s a Cliffnotes version to it.

Many people swoon over our story when they hear it.  Alan and I were acquaintances in high school, moving in the same circles — he was from La Salle, I was from St. Paul.. we knew each other by name but were never really close.  He moved to New York with his Mom and sister right after high school, and it wasn’t until almost twenty years later that our paths would cross again.

I always have an e-mail address with my full name in the string — and he saw my maiden name in a string of those forwarded e-mails and thought about searching for me on ICQ, a chat software he had just started using.  I had been using ICQ for quite a while by then and was no longer responding to random chat invites, and his first invite came in at work — which I ignored.  The following Saturday, his invite came into my home PC and I thought why not? 

“Care to chat?  This is Alan from New York..”  (He probably thought the New York would impress me..)

“This is Dinna from San Juan..”

“Sa loob or sa labas..”  (Joke backfired because he was referring not to San Juan but Mandaluyong, particularly the National Mental Hospital.  An old joke about residents of the municipality was whether or not they were from inside Mental or if they lived outside..)

And that started a three hour chat.. which we continued the next day.. so we found the old connection, and which had him calling me at work at 12NN the following Monday, talking to me for two hours on a regular long distance call.  (No phonecard, no IDD.)  We first hooked up again on September 11.  Within weeks, I had received a dozen roses telling me “Thank you for coming into my life.”  It was the same month he told me he was coming home over the Thanksgiving weekend.  He flew to Manila on the spur of the moment — even if he had just accompanied a friend for a short vacation in February of the same year.

After we said our goodbyes on the carport of the departure area where we shed tears of sadness, we worked together on being “together together” (for real) and by February the following year, he and his family came home again, this time to meet my family and formally ask my hand in marraige.  By March our fiancee petition was approved, I was interviewed in May, and as per the Immigration rules, had to leave within 90 days.  I arrived here in New York on June 29, 2000, and we were married by August 19, 2000.  (I can’t believe it’s been six years!)

People are always surprised to hear how I gave up everything in Manila to move here.  It’s like a story from some romance novel, I know.  It was literally a leap of faith. 

We had our courtship long distance — we wrote, we spoke regularly to each other, but nothing seemed right without both of us being on the same side of the world.  So we took our chances and cast our lot with each other, and we are here, watching over this bundle of joy who is his father’s spitting image, but who has my spirit.

It was a love story that began when I was trying to discern where I stood with someone else I had just started seeing.  I had just come from a long relationship with someone that saw us drifting apart.  This new person in my life and I were terribly fond of each other, but no matter how close we became, our fondness never progressed to real love.  Part of me wanted to wait and work that out, until Alan walked into my life.

The most remarkable thing was that I actually found myself surprised to read words I would write when we exchanged our e-mails and cards.  I felt like I was “reading my writing.”  We shared the same vision of the future together, and I just saw myself wanting to grow old with him.  It wasn’t a “now” thing — to me, it was “forever and ever, Amen.”

Ours was not a perfect relationship and it isn’t even now.  It never will be.  But we have enough faith in each other to see ourselves through our challenges as a couple and as individuals.  I cannot think of anyone else I’d rather have as the father of my son. 

When we were newly married, once, he just blurted out from out of the blue that he couldn’t see how he would live his life without me.  Even now, he always tells me, panghabambuhay nga naming kasama yan, eh. “Namin” referring to him and his son, and “yan” being who else..  I tease him he and my son are so high maintenance they won’t be able to find any one else to take care of them — and he goes back to that line, kaya nga panghabambuhay ito.

It was not the first time I fell in love — but it has been the last time since we found each other 7 years ago.  It is not my longest relationship just yet, but I’m almost there.  For him, this has been his longest and most meaningful relationship — he keeps telling me that he has told his friends, this is how he thought being married should feel — something he didn’t feel in his previous relationships.

Time to lay next to my two boys.. I’ll save the rest of this entry for tomorrow.. the question is coming, and the answers will follow.