There is a saying that goes like, “If something is for you, the universe will conspire to make it happen.”.
I did not quite believe in that.
Back in June 2011, I had a devastating break-up. A break-up that is so bad, it caused me to not trust anyone anymore. During that time, I quit from the dating game and I didn’t want anything to do with relationships. Heck, I even thought that maybe, it was a good idea to be a bachelor for the rest of my life. After all, I’m sort of an independent guy anyways as you’ve probably seen here.
Then around July of 2011, a female officemate of mine (let’s call her Gwen) asked if I was seeing anyone. I said no and in return she replied: “I have a pretty friend who I’d like you to meet. Would you be interested? You are both tall and single and I think that you two would make a great match”.
Silly me, I ignored the invitation completely because I promised myself to rest my mind and heart for a while and quit the dating game. At least temporarily. And in fairness to me, it was just a month since my last breakup and so it would be totally unfair for the next girl that I’d meet if I wasn’t prepared mentally and emotionally to fall in love again.
But Gwen was a little persistent about matching me up. So I gave in. I decided to make the first move to ask for her friend’s Facebook account. I thought that maybe I’ll add her friend and see where that will lead us. After all, there is no harm in making a new online acquaintance, right?
Her friend’s name is Joan.
And so I searched for the name Joan on Facebook and as soon as I found her profile, my first impression was she is indeed pretty. I stalked some of her pictures and then I nervously clicked the Add Friend button and closed the window immediately afterwards.
A few hours later, I got a notification on my phone. It was Joan and she confirmed my friend request. I chatted her up briefly on messenger, you know, the usual friendly chats like “Hi, what’s up? You are Gwen’s friend right?” “What do you do for a living?” and all that pleasantry small talks.
After a few chats, the conversation just died. And because we were both busy at work, I forgot about her and she forgot about me too.
From 2011 to 2012, we rarely had any interaction on Facebook except the usual “Happy Birthday” greetings which we post on each other’s wall, once a year, during our birthdays. I found it lame because the only reason we both do that, I thought, is because Facebook has this birthday notification to make sure that we wouldn’t miss our friend’s special day.
Joan moves to New York City
Now towards the end of 2012, my officemate Gwen came up to me and said: “Did you hear that Joan is moving to New York City? Don’t you want to at least meet up before she goes? You’ve been friends on Facebook for a while and I think you two should meet. Also, it has been more than a year since your last relationship so you should have moved on by now, right?”
The truth is, Gwen has a point. I have moved on but I struggled how to respond to her about the meet-up. I wanted to say YES, but at the back of my head, I also wanted to say NO. Not because I didn’t like Joan – I said she was pretty and sexy too, right? But in my mind, I was a little hesitant because what is the point of meeting someone if you are not going to see them again, anyway? She’s moving to New York, right? I doubt if I’ll ever see her again.
The following day, I came up with another lousy excuse to tell Gwen that I wasn’t ready to meet Joan.
Gwen just replied saying… “Ikaw bahala. Up to you.”
So Joan and I went our separate ways without even seeing each other in person. I continued with my life here and she flew to the US and went on to begin her career at the Big Apple.
My flight to San Francisco
The following year, which was 2013, I was lucky enough to be selected by our company to fly to the US for a couple of weeks for work meetings. When I learned about this, I messaged Joan on Facebook and asked her if there was any chance that she will be flying to San Francisco so that we could hangout. The good news is YES, she was going to San Francisco. But the bad news is that I will miss her by a week. She will be there until the last week of February and I will be there on the first week of March. I couldn’t fly to New York that time because my trips are mostly focused in the state of California.
And so, just like that, another chance was missed. I thought that maybe, we were not meant to see each other after all.
Back to the Dating Game
When I got back to the Philippines, I decided to go on with my life. I thought that I was ready to date again so I prayed to God for girls and hot women to throw themselves to me. Haha!
Okay, I’m kidding.
I went to church to ask God to help me find the one.
Unfortunately, I looked for girls at what seemed to be the wrong places. I went to bars, on speed dating events and even downloaded an app where you swipe left and right for dates but I didn’t find any special girl out there.
And if you asked if I ever looked for potential dates in the office? I did, but it never worked out. And also, at the place where I worked, most girls are married. It sucks.
Months passed by and nothing happened. Yes, I went out with a few girls here and there, but nothing came out of it. Until one fateful day in 2014.
It was a regular Friday night in August 2014 and I was busy attending the opening of Teddy’s Bigger Burgers in Greenbelt, Makati. It was just another blogger’s event and I was a little bored because I didn’t know anyone at the party. I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and decided to post a selfie.
Then, suddenly, after a long time without any interaction, I see this in my notifications.
Joan likes your picture
I was surprised. I mean, I’m fairly active on Facebook and Joan is too, but why, after all these months without hellos did she decide to like my picture?
It was odd.
Was I overthinking it?
Did she really like my picture?
Perhaps she thinks I’m cute?
I thought that maybe, Joan’s liking of my picture is a subtle sign of her wanting me to chat her up. And I guess I was right.
So I pulled up Facebook Messenger to say hi and ask how she was doing. Here is how our chat went.
Chris: Hey, what’s up? Long time. How are you?
Joan: I’m good. I’m doing good. And you?
Chris: Doing great. I’ve heard from Gwen that you’re flying to Manila for a vacation soon. Is that true?
Joan: Yes. I’ll be there around September to October
Chris: Really? We should meet up. When are you free?
Joan: How about September 30?
Chris: Sounds good! I’ll see you in a few weeks. Ping me up when you’re here.
Joan: Sure. See you!
September 2014: The first date
True to her word, Joan texted me first thing when she arrived here in Manila for a vacation. I got thrilled and excited that we will now finally see each other in person after more than three years of just being Facebook friends.
I called her and asked her out on a date at Ayala Triangle. I gave her a few restaurant choices and we both decided that Amici would be a great place for dinner.
Fast forward to the evening of our first date, September 30, I found myself completely unprepared. My hair was a mess (I didn’t have a haircut in two months), I had a lot of work to do in the office, and after months of being on a hiatus in the dating game, I lost my ability to flirt with women as I haven’t practiced openers in a while.
In my head I was thinking…
“What are we going to talk about? We work in different fields and I doubt if Joan and I have anything in common.”
“How will I greet her when we first meet? Shake hands?”
“Is she going to like me? Am I going to like her?”
It has been said that if you have been dwelling for more than five minutes on what to say to a woman, it means that you are overthinking the whole thing and chances are, when the time of the actual meet-up comes, you will end up doing and saying the wrong things.
So when I realized I was overthinking a simple friendly date, I made a conscious attempt to stop it. I relaxed and kept my cool by telling myself that this date is just an acquaintance date and there is nothing to lose. No labels, no expectations. After all, the lesser you expect, the lesser the chances of getting disappointed.
The date was set at 7 o’clock and it was already half past six on my watch. I started to leave RCBC Plaza, where I worked, and rushed towards Ayala Triangle. I sprayed my all-time favorite Fierce men’s cologne from Abercrombie.
As I was walking towards Ayala Triangle I got a text message from Joan.
Joan: Dito na ako. Kasama ko si Gwen. (I’m here. I’m with Gwen.)
My initial reaction was: What? Why is she so early? Will there be three of us out on a date?
Every time I go out on a date, I make it a point to arrive there before the girl does. But what sucks in my situation is that Joan arrived 30 minutes early. And so even if I was on time, it would appear as if I was late because she got there first before me.
I replied to Joan saying:
“Count 1 to 10 and I’ll be there”.
She replied with:
“10. Haha, you’re still not here!”
I laughed and replied with a smiley.
When I arrived at Amici, I spotted Joan and Gwen seated on one of the benches. Gwen formally introduced me to Joan, finally, in person, after more than three years of trying to match the two of us up.
As they both stood up from where they were seated, I wasn’t sure if I was to shake Joan’s hand or not. But due to my nervousness, I ended up kissing her on the cheek (because I’m used to doing that with girls when I attend blogging events). It was a little awkward but we both pretended that it was normal.
I then uttered: “Finally, nice meeting you, Joan. Welcome back to the Philippines”.
As we both entered the restaurant, Gwen waved us goodbye and told us to have fun. Apparently, Gwen wasn’t there to third wheel. She was there just to formally introduce us to one another which I thought was gracious of her.
Joan is tall and is just a couple of inches short of my height. She is slim and she’s surprisingly gorgeous. I found her attractive.
At the restaurant, we each ordered an Italian pasta and we shared a slice of cake for dessert.
I found that Joan was different from all the other girls I’ve dated. There was no dead air and never a dull moment. Our conversation went back and forth and it was non-stop. We talked about what we do at work, how her experience was living in New York, our hobbies, our common friends (yes, we have so many and wondered why our paths never crossed until now), and our passions. Of course, I shared my story about how I started the blog, Pinoy Guy Guide and what goes on in the life of a blogger. I found out that she liked my stories and I liked hers as well. It was a good sign.
I treated her dinner and as we billed out, I kind of felt that the hour and a half that we spent at the restaurant was too short. Way too short. I wanted to know her more.
In my attempt to stretch out the short date as long as I could, I invited her for a walk at the Ayala Triangle Park.
Me: “Hey, do you wanna go for a walk at the gardens before going home?”
Joan: “Sure, why not?” she said with a smile on her face.
In my mind, her agreeing to go for a walk was also a good sign. I sort of assumed that she liked my company because if not, she would have made an excuse that she needed to go home.
We walked the perimeter of the park and the conversation went on like there was no tomorrow. Ever watched the movie, “Before Sunrise”? It felt exactly the same.
I realized that she was something and that she was special. I secretly hoped that she felt the same way about me too but I did not want to set my expectations way too high because she was heading back to New York in two weeks and it was too early to get attached. I just shook off what I was feeling by telling myself that this is just a friendly date.
It was getting late and so I walked her to the nearest bus stop where she would take a ride home. We kissed each other on the cheek and waved goodbye.
She texted me a few minutes later thanking me for dinner and telling me that she had fun. I replied saying I had fun too.
The following day after our first date, Joan was meeting with two of her friends at Starbucks RCBC Plaza. Gwen was there too as well as one of their foreigner friends. It was just another balikbayan catch-up meeting.
Joan and I texted each other quite often during her stay here in Manila so I was made aware that she was in RCBC at that time. So I joined her as well as her friends for coffee and to my surprise, she treated me a cup of latte!
We didn’t have enough time to talk more intimately because other people were present and I also needed to go back to work.
I also didn’t know if we will meet each other again because her stay in Manila was short and she was about to fly in a few days. So to make sure that she will remember me, I gave her a small souvenir: A PGG Shirt.
October 2014: What now?
In the days leading to her flight back to the US, we would text each other whole day talking about how our day was, what I did at work, who she met that day and so on.
We tried to arrange to meet again and squeeze in one final date before she left. Unfortunately, it did not work out as we both had busy schedules. She was booked with a bunch of reunions with family and friends. While I was either at work, or at a blog event that I had committed too.
On the day of her flight back to New York, she texted me with a message that goes something like this…
“Chris, it was really great meeting you and I had fun during our 1 and a half dates. My time in Manila was too short to get to know you better but the truth is I felt like I have known you for years. I hope we see each other again either in the US or back here in the Philippines. Keep in touch!”
I replied saying that I had a great time with her too and I told her I kind of wished that she would have stayed here longer so that we could have gone out together a few more times before she left. I said goodbye and I told her that we will both keep in touch.
Then, as I put my phone down, I had a thought:
Why do you have to meet someone special and someone who had a huge potential to be your girlfriend if you will never see them again?
Isn’t this a bummer?
Now what do we do?
Story to be continued here: How I Met The One (Part 2): Surviving a Long Distance Relationship