It was already past 6:00 am when we started our stormy journey to Batangas. The original meeting time of 3:30 am in Buendia was, of course, not followed which did not come as a surprise. The bad weather didn't surprise us at all either, but on the contrary, we were already expecting it. It almost never happened that the Silversoul went out of town in a good weather. Whether it be summer or any other season, our scheduled outings often gets stormed. But this time was way too over, and with Shiela and Menchie face-to-face, it was a typhoon.
Almost everyone, except Anette and Marvin were already there at the 7-11 Buendia when I arrived, from Cable Car with my office colleauges without any sleep whatsoever, and feeling greatly relieved that I have been saved from the awkward obligation of introducing Shiela and Menchie to each other again, after 3 years.
Trying to overcome the tension inside the van during the trip, I tried to act normal. And everyone was relatively well behaved, they seemed very careful in choosing the things to be discussed in front of the two to not cause any unwanted damage to the delicate situation we were all in, which after all was their idea. Not that I don't want Mench to be there, but they were the ones who invited her to come even if they know Shiela will be there, too.
I did what I thought I was expected to do, being sweet to Menchie as usual and all but not too much for I don't want Shiela to think that I was just trying to make her jealous and I also didn't want her to retaliate by treating the guy they tagged along, George the same way I was treating Mench. I didn't know that what I was doing was actually causing more harm than good.
Clueless of the right direction, we took the Cavite route, and with only the text messages from RJ to rely on, it took us ages to get to his place in Balayan, Batangas.
Jules, Muriel, Ian, Donna and Shiela (still sober) before they left Jules house where they slept over.
Upon arriving there, RJ and I immediately took off with his motorcycle to check out the prospective resorts, leaving Mench alone with the Silversoul. I had to take her phone with me to update them about my assessments of the resorts.
Drenched in the rain, our first and last stop was the Roponggi resort. RJ claims it was already the best one around but I was honestly disappointed upon seeing the beach. The waves were too strong, unsafe for anyone to swim on and there were broken trees and coconuts everywhere, brought about by the storm. I messaged Shiela's number about it (only the the two of them, ironically, have loaded celphones) and she called me 'Daddy' (a term of endearment she used to call me when we're still together) in her reply.
Save for the weather, it was almost the perfect trip. It was the very first time ever that we didn't have to face financial crisis and there were lots of food and booze enough for everyone, there was a videoke and the pools were almost all to ourselves. Even RJ, who followed a few hours later (because he said he had to cook) with his cousin donated the sumptuous menudo (not caldereta).
My dilemma began when I chose to stay with Mench in the swimming pool while Donna and Muriel were calling me to sing "My Boo" in the videoke with Shiela. In the end, she sang it alone and it served as a music background for me and Menchie fooling around in the pool. It was hard not to feel affected, but I had to keep a straight face.
In our flooded cottage (imagine Villa Escudero), and in my very first attempt to crack a joke about me and the two of them, in a picture together (in the hope of breaking the freezing ice) the typhoon was triggered.
I didn't know she really mind about Mench being there, I thought I was just overreacting, I thought she wasn't affected but to Mench's satisfaction, we saw Shiela broke down into tears by the pool. She cried in Donna's arms, and though I still don't know what it was about, it pained me to see her like that and the things that happened after that made me feel more responsible and guilty.
Shiela got so inebriated and began behaving raucously wild, to the surprise of everyone in the resort and to the delight of the male onlookers. She didn't mind every man drooling over her beautiful body while she became totally uncontrollable as she almost willingly exposed her thing. She looked like a troubled youth and it really felt bad that there's nothing I can do, with Menchie around.
What made it harder is that everyone seemed to think that I am the only one who can make her stop and with Ian's help, I momentarily got rid of Mench. I tried to calm Shiela down but she kept cursing me while running away everytime I come near. I was beginning to feel hopeless until I cornered her by the pool and she broke down again... in my arms.
With every gasp of breath she took, while she cried as the rain never stopped pouring, I felt her pain. I felt the anguish she was unsuccessfully trying to conceal and there she was, letting it all out. I hated myself for allowing it to get to this. If I only knew, if only she said something. If only she told me she still loved me, things could have been different from what happened because I know I still feel that way for her, too. Didn't someone say first love never dies?
As we trail back home, in that cold misty night, I can't help but go back to the time that we use to do this kind of thing before. Shiela was normally the one sitting beside me in that middle part of the very same van and she was not, as she is now, behind me with another guy. I can't stop wondering if she was thinking the same way even if she was probably kissing George.
Our way home took faster than how I wanted it to. I went down with Mench in Espana while the same group that slept over in Jules' house the night before went back to his place again. For one fleeting moment, I was tempted to follow them after I took Mench home but I remembered that just a few days ago, I promised her that I will be more serious about us, now. I guess Shiela was right when she told me when we were at the Cable Car that I wasn't being true to myself but couldn't it be a reasonable excuse that I'm just too scared of doing the same mistakes I've been doing for the past three years all over again?
Alone on my way home, I can't stop thinking about the things that had happened. I needed something to catch my attention to forget about it but it was just too strong, the diversion I wanted never came. I waited for two hours, walking around the Guadalupe but I only found myself feeling more alone and undecided about the things that I should do and filled with more questions than needed answers. I know what I want to do, but I can't figure out if it was the right thing to do.
Before I went to sleep that night, beside my snoring sister, there was only one thing I felt certain about: Shiela has brought me back again to that game she calls Love and I can't deny the fact that she still has the magic to make me fall all over again but this time around, things has just gone a little more complicated.