It was a hot sunny Thursday, and I was late for school.
Being an 18 year old college student in Manila (Philippines), we normally take a jeepney going to the campus. A jeepney by the way, is a public transport pretty much like a small bus, but with passengers sitting in two long parallel seats facing each other. Me and my friend (a guy classmate) were rushing to make it to the passenger queue as the last jeepney was about to leave. Any other day and it would’ve been easy to get to school, but my day started out a little different that time. I just came from my friend’s, house where me and some other groupmates have stayed for the week, since we were finishing up on our thesis. We had barely slept to finish our project, missed our breakfast, sweating from the heat and from running to the Jeepney queue, and was now about 10 minutes late for first period… so yes, it didn’t seem like a very promising day to me. But you know, life does have a way of making it up to you. Just as we thought that we wouldn’t make it to our ride, it turns out that there were 2 more seats left. And boy am I glad to have made it to that jeepney that day.
After getting ‘comfortably’ seated inside the jeepney, I immediately noticed a girl sitting across us, and a bit to the right. She was wearing a black shirt, and jeans, had dark short hair, and a fair complexion. She was cute, and looked nice, but nothing that jumps out of the ordinary. I tried not to pay attention to her since I was already worried about being late for class (not to mention being hungry too). However… there was just something about her that day, and I couldn’t look away. Was it her eyes, her hair, her smile?… nothing seems different. I don’t know. Somehow, for some reason, I wanted to keep looking at her, to see her face, and her eyes. Then I noticed a certain radiance about her, a certain charm. I kept trying to steal a glimpse of her from time to time, and it made me feel nice, and warm, and happy. With each look, my heart started to beat harder and started to race. I was excited to meet her and get to know this pretty and charming lady. Unfortunately, I’m not the most straightforward of guys. I am confident being around friends and other people, but not around people that I like… people that I Like… yes, I think I was starting to like her already at that time. Like a little gradeschool boy, I was having a major crush on this girl in front of me.
Then, it didn’t take too long for her to notice that I was stealing glances of her, and she somehow was also looking back at me from time to time. We both quickly tried to look away whenever our eyes meet, and it was getting to be fun and exciting. My heart was overjoyed whenever I see her laugh a little as she catches my glance (and I cowardly look away pretending to look somewhere else). I was in this happy mood, as we continued to travel to school, when suddenly, my friend blurted out in a loud, monotone voice “JP (for Joan Paula), IS THAT YOU?”.
The girl smiled and nodded her head in agreement. My heart was filled with joy.
My classmate knows this girl. This is it, this is my chance. Feeling like an athlete who was given a chance to go and play in the Championship game, I had to try and make my move. I slowly, carefully, whispered to my classmate “You know her, bro? Can you please introduce me? I’d love to meet her please…”. So then he plainly said, in his same loud, monotone voice “MY FRIEND HERE SAID HE WANTS TO MEET YOU”.
The entire jeepney heard him, and they giggled, and tried to muffle their laughs. I suddenly felt like I wanted to put a paper bag on my head. But she just smiled, reached out her hand and said, “Hi, I’m Paula”… I was frozen and speechless.
After I got to gather some courage and introduce myself, I did try desperately to hold a conversation (in the best way that I could without stuttering). But soon, our Jeepney has eventually reached it’s destination. I found out that she also goes to the same university as me and my friend, but in a different course. Also, that my classmate was her classmate during primary school and that’s how they knew each other. By this time, I already forgot that I was late (and hungry). We then got down from the jeepney, said goodbye and parted ways. And sure enough, “mucho-suave” me forgot to ask her for her phone number or if we can be in touch.
After that one encounter I had no way to reach her so I just tried to move on. But whenever I think about it, I always smile…I was happy. I realized that I missed her and that I wanted to talk with her some more. So, I kept bugging my friend to check if there was a way to get in touch with her. If they have a common friend, or former classmate who know’s her number, or if there is a party of a common friend that we can go to. Sadly, I did not have that much luck.
After a month I had the chance to bump into her again. This time, it was at a walkway outside the campus as I was about to go with my groupmates to buy project supplies. She stopped to talk to me, and said Hi. She asked me how I was and where I was going. My heart was beating fast again, while frantically trying to tell her the details of what she asked. But more than details of what I was doing, I wanted to tell her how great it was to see her again, and how I was trying to find a way to contact her. I wanted to let her know that I missed her, and that just by meeting her there, she had brighten up my day again. But before too long, my groupmates reminded me that we should already get going, so I hurriedly said goodbye… and again, in the anxiety, forgot to ask her how we can keep in touch.
A few weeks have passed and my friend finally comes back to me with a phone number… just a phone number written in a piece of white paper. Without saying anything, without writing anything, I already said a whole lot of Thank you’s, as I know to whom that phone number belongs to.
Getting home after school, I hurriedly changed from my uniform, and was excitedly about to call that number which I got from my friend. I called the number on that white piece of paper, and I was not disappointed. It was finally her.
For me it was like a dream. Her voice sounded like music to my ears. (And it really is, until now).We found out that one of her close friends was a classmate of my best friend. Later on, we also found out that some of her guy friends, were also my group mates during our cadet training in school. And her uncle even knew me, meeting me with my mom when I was younger, as they both worked in the same hospital. We discovered that we shared a number of other common acquaintences and friends.
It was then that I realized, that it was really only a matter of time before we would meet. And maybe, even if we were not able to see each other on that day in the jeep, we would still end up in each other’s arms because we were made for each other.
This has all happened more than 13 years ago. We are now happily married and blessed with 3 wonderful and lovely kids. We have had our share of ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ but through all the times we’ve spent together, I’ve always considered her as the ‘highlight’ of my day. Looking back after all these years later, you still are.
To a caring mother and a great wife…
Happy Valentines day Paula.
I love you.
Below are the 13 great dads who braved the Daddy Matters Valentine’s Day Series. Their love for their wives are truly amazing and hope you find time to check the links out 🙂