(In which I confess as an asocial drama princess with an insouciant façade.)
Two weeks before Judah left, we talked about exciting things he should look forward to when he comes home – his best friend who’s coming from his military service, his reunion with his family, drinking sessions with his buddies and more time with his pets. We spent more time laughing at crazy photos and F.R.I.E.N.D.S. episodes than actually studying grammar and discussing where his indentions are.
I’m not good at goodbyes so I become speechless. When I managed to speak, I do so stupidly.
I am an English teacher. And what I actually taught him was conversation and writing. Yet when another teacher focused a video camera on me for a message for Judah, I ran out of sensible things to say. Instead, what came out of my mouth were clichés – the kind of stuff you write on a school grader’s slum book.
I’m not good at goodbyes so my tear glands work extra.
I wasn’t saying dramatic things during the video recording but something lumpy got stuck in my throat and my vision blurred. It couldn’t be a chunk of pork and the spicy food since I’m sure I gulped lots of water. The next thing I knew was that a male student was running his fingers down both his cheeks which told me I already looked foolish.
I’m not good at goodbyes so I refer less eye contact.
This is related to my sensitive tear glands. I tried not to look at his face but I listen to what he’s saying. I knew he talked about himself most of the time. I knew he preferred beer over soju. I knew he and his girlfriend plan to have their honeymoon in the Philippines. I knew he appreciates Teacher Chin’s singing talent and Teacher Rachel’s good heart. You see, I pay attention.
I’m not good at goodbyes so I become distant.
He cried. Prior to that he gave verbal warnings about how alcohol might contribute to his display of emotional vulnerability. But since it is time to go home, I chose not to tolerate my own emotional weakness. We’re all exhausted after an hour each of singing, dining, drinking and talking and good walks in between. We all have our curfews to keep. The least relaxing activity would be a tear-jerking moment in a celebration that was held for happiness’ sake. So when the inevitable came, I chose to be strong and relaxed.
He apologized for crying and for failing to withhold his tears. We talked while waiting for a Binangonan or Antipolo-bound vehicle that never came. In the end, I accepted his offer to walk us to the terminal.
I’m not good at goodbyes so I hate it.
He questioned the existence of parting and thought that if there is a God then He’s a mean god. I reasoned out that the making of goodbyes isn’t good news but God created hellos anyway.
I remembered how two seeds were planted distantly from the other so they could maximize the space and grow into sturdy trees. Then one day, their strong branches will reach out to the other tree, making the distance closer.
I’m not good at goodbyes so I don’t say it.
If I do, it’s for conversation’s sake – the same way you say goodbye to a person who you know will come back the next day. I chose to talk about things off topic just to avoid talking about farewell. We talked of silly things from the samgyeopsal meat which tasted marinated though it doesn’t look like it was to people walking by.
I’m not good at goodbyes so I sulk on my own, in quiet moments when no one’s looking. I thought of the funny and the awkward moments as well as for the things I didn’t and couldn’t express. But regret wasn’t there. I need not talk. I knew he understood. And we will meet again. He promised to attend my wedding as well as Teacher Rachel’s and Chin’s.
I’m not good at goodbyes so I wrote the draft of this post using all the different-colored pens he gave me as a gift, amazed that he knew the colors I like. Then I laughed as I looked at how colorful my notebook has become.