I don’t expect you to understand. You probably do not even know what you did to me. Heck, you probably don’t know anything at all, what with my overactive imagination and penchant for melodrama the most probable cause of my adolescent-esque drama, and my unique ability to hide any private sorrow or disgrace with a laugh the reason why everything appears perfectly normal. Chain smoking does that to you. And so does working too hard. And an overly-psychologized childhood. You don’t become a master overthinker overnight, mind you. You don’t just feign the pain on the spot (although I can do that too). But just in case you do want to know, well, you led me on.
I don’t know if you’re surprised by this revelation, if in fact, it is one. Whether or not you intentionally or unintentionally led me on is still subject to debate (and wine night with friends). Maybe you were conscious about it. Maybe you weren’t. Maybe it’s just in your personality. But yeah, you led me on so bad and so hard I actually changed.
You came at a most inopportune moment in my life – a time when I was making a decision to completely abandon the gay life (yes, I’m telling this as it is), and really convert (sorry old gay friends and friends in general, but I don’t adhere to the homosexual life anymore).
Imagine trying to change my life – repressing my homosexual inclinations, living a life of prayer and penance, trying to grow spiritually, abandoning reckless ambitions, trying to be more responsible at work – and then meeting you, a handsome chap who I had to see everyday, talk to occasionally, and then suffer because of the attention you gave (and give). You were the past I wanted to let go of, and the future I wanted to have (I admire your holiness). But you were in the present, the now, an obstacle, a blockage on the doorway (which, I will explain more in a while, eventually turned into a catalyst for conversion).
My mind went into overdrive. It didn’t help your actions were (mis)leading: those jokes, those touches, those awkwardly charming (infrequent) conversations; and also the way you, later on, tried avoiding me (yes, I noticed that too!). There was just so much awkwardness I could have sliced through it. As if the situation couldn’t get any more confusing, even the universe started playing its game. We had endless running-into’s. And the more I avoided you, the more I ran into you (and I would often run into you while listening to a romantic song as if even fate wanted its own soundtrack to this madness!).
I changed my lunch schedule to escape your gaze only to end up alone with you in the dining area. I moved from one room to the next hoping the busyness will keep me from your presence only to see you passing by. You would sit beside me at mass or during lunch when I least expected it, or when I wanted to avoid you. You would arrive at the MRT station the same time I would arrive, considering you came from the south, and I from the north. I would run to the washroom to clear the worries off my face. Lo and behold, you would also be there. I would proudly share to my friends I had succeeded avoiding you for an entire morning – only to share the elevator with you—twice in a span of an hour. In your own words after that strange, fated meeting inside the lift: “Oh, it’s you again.” Seriously, those coincidences really wore me out that one time I ran into you I muttered ‘God, you have to be kidding me this is crazy!” – simply because it was.
You also have a habit of staring. Modesty aside, I always felt like you stared at me in a peculiar, unsettling way that I often had to check if there was dirt on my face or stains on my shirt. Perhaps because you did but my vision, though 20-20, can be quite prejudiced. And that one stare you gave me! Do you remember it?
Waiting for a lift going up, you alight from one that had just gone down. Seeing you, I looked elsewhere hoping to dodge small talk. My head was bowed. You were headed home. I hurriedly entered the elevator. Inside, I consoled myself the doors will close soon. But it didn’t close soon enough. You passed by the still open elevator, turned your head, and looked my way. It was a long and penetrating gaze, as if your eyes had scoured the small compartment determined to catch a glimpse of me before the elevator doors closed. The look lingered. It was an unpleasant feeling, as if the irises from a distance undressed me, and probed my being, body and soul; as if you caught me in disguise. It was a look which followed me until finally, the doors closed and I was headed up. Inside, I was heading down.
Remember the part I said I have an overactive imagination. Well, that is the truth. Reading all of what I have written above, it’s obvious I must have overreacted. Laughs! Must have? I surely did! A man like me who is in desperate need of approval is prone to mistaking the slightest attention and affection as romantic interest. It just didn’t help that the coincidences, the body language, and the serendipitous (yuck, I despise this word) moments paved the way for some massive falling on my part, right at a time I wanted to stop falling for men. Demmit.
I should have learned my lesson a long time ago. But I’m a sucker for drama because of the general lack thereof in my life. So I like to make my own. Simplicity isn’t a virtue of mine. And I’d like to believe I am a man of principle, so I might as well be complicated. And complicated means, even I don’t know what’s happening to myself. That is where friends come into the picture.
They’ve done nothing but really reprimand me for making a huge fuss over the “coincidences”. They have told me several times I’m looking for subtext where there is none. I’ve had a few exceptions: a good friend who bet her entire money you were consciously leading me on, and another friend, who without warning gave a tarot card reading of my situation. A thousand miles away and few hours ahead of Manila, she put on her pajamas to fight the chill in Sydney, laid the cards on the table, and a minute later, shared to me her reading.
“He’s very neutral. He’s very focused. He has deeply embedded in his mind that a love life is not for him.”
“He noticed you, yes. But his thoughts never strayed other than knowing you.”
What do you mean?
“You weren’t a fly on the wall.”
She makes a second reading. This time, she looks into my future.
“When you cross the threshold of being colleagues, there might be a chance. But just a warning. The man is a coward. Even when it reaches a point he feels something, he will suppress it. Allthe cards indicate an emotional up and down, suppression of feelings, and a finding of strength.”
In hindsight, I laugh at how much I believed in the tarot card reading.
Because the truth is mister-why-did-you-lead-me-on, I’m not as innocent as my words portray me to be. I have human weaknesses, and that includes liking people who are the opposite of the person I least like: myself. I projected my own ambitions in your persona and put you on a pedestal. And when that pedestal was confronted by a religious life blossoming, things got confusing, difficult, and uncertain.
But then, if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here writing about my stupidity so candidly. I wouldn’t even return to my faith (although I always think I never left it). I wouldn’t have pursued a life of conversion. Perhaps it’s easy to assume my conversion is a knee-jerk reaction to an inevitable rejection, to knowing reciprocity was not going to be present, to seeing how much filth there was in my life. But it still is a reaction, and change depends on it. It’s not like all of a sudden, I became a straight man overnight. I refuse to be defined according to my sexual attractions. But if you asked me a few months ago if I was going to be in this place in my life just because you “led me on”, I would have thought you madder than I.
Now to the ThoughtCatalog-esque part:
I wish you would tell me the truth. Why you? I don’t have the guts to ask. But let me tell you my predicament. I don’t know how you truly feel about me. I don’t know if you led me on unintentionally or deliberately. Regardless of your intentions, the fact is I don’t know. I am left hanging in the air full of uncertainty. Not knowing is painful. It is torture. It is hell. Let me ask you:
Which would you choose – certainty or uncertainty? Uncertainty speaks for itself. But will you choose it over a certainty which offers two certain “evil options”? Uncertainty, in this case, means never knowing about a particular truth. Certainty, on the other hand, either leads you to the truth you were led on, or the truth you were just stupid and it was all in your mind. Which will you choose? Certainty – knowing you were deliberately made to hope, or you have been deliberately fooling yourself – or uncertainty, never knowing anything at all? But then, what claim do I have? How can I force you to admit something you didn’t do, or you do not feel? How can I, when my brain tells me it’s impossible for you to do it, knowing you.
It is true anyway.
You did lead me on. You led me out of the chains of my life before. The cost was you, or at least, my suffering. The price I had to pay included the revelation after all these years, I’m not as immune to rejection, or failure, or dislike. I’m still that boy in elementary who got bullied because he was a little effeminate, and who ended up all his life up to this day, trying to get the approval from those “boys” – like, look at me, I’m also a man. It’s a tough thing to swallow but I’ve taken it in like a man more than any man I know. I’ve taken in the darkness in my life. I’ve accepted it. Thank you (or my imagination) for making me see. Thank you because, amidst all of this, you have always remained decent, kind, perhaps still a little awkward and distant, but still, a human being. Not like other guys (or even girls).
Certainty. I ask of that. Maybe you can’t give it. I know someone who does. I found about Him trying to fight you. And in all honesty, He is all the certainty and truth I need.