F Chapter 7: Flicker



The most underrated expression of love is inaction. We think people walk away because love wasn't enough to make them stay. We never stop to think how heavy is the weight the person walking away has to carry.



The worst thing about unexpected visitors is that you’re forced to wear a bra because unless you’re Jennifer Aniston, letting your babies free to jiggle is probably not the most considerate thing to do America. It is already going through so much shit, it doesn’t need my breasts.

It was past midnight and I already washed my face with my newly purchased Korean brand facial wash because I’m in my 30s and Virgin Coconut Oil as a moisturizer just won’t cut it anymore. My skin needs reinforcement now. So, once a week, I put black charcoal mask on my face and feel as it literally tightens my skin for 20 minutes. When I peel it off, I rejoice upon seeing all the strange black and white streaks on the mask and the feeling of being clean and fresh.

My beauty (not really) routine was on point. I was more than ready to hit the sack… and then my phone rings. Someone’s buzzing me from the gate, it wasn’t welcome but I didn’t have a choice. I answered.

“Wesh Shedy?”

It’sVince, a drunk Vince. Great. Now, I have to wear a bra because if there is anything I hate more than wearing a bra is someone I barely know make a scene where I live.
So, I grab a bra and almost forgot to wear it before deciding to go down the lobby rather than let Vince in.

“Hey,” I said, squinting. You look, sound and smell drunk. “Are you okay?”

“I need to talk to Shedry,” Vince said, pushing the iron gate. I shut it close and immediately wonder if my keys are in my pockets because my phone isn’t.

“She’s not here,” I said.

“She is there. I need to talk to her. She’s my wife,” Vince said.

“I know. She’s not here though,” I said.

“She’s posting on Instagram,” he said.

The wonderful thing about technology is that you can use from anywhere. Even astronauts on space use it. “That was not taken in my apartment or anywhere in this building,” I said.

“Where is she?”

“I don’t know.”

“She lives with you.”

“Doesn’t require her to tell me where she goes everyday.”

“I’m her husband!”

“Yes. You’re also drunk. You should go.”

“Not until I talk to her.”

“Call her.”

“She doesn’t pick up.”

“Write her.”

“What the fuck is your problem? You think you’re some big time law firm employee? I’m not fuckin’ scared of you.”

He takes a step… towards me, chest out, like a Gorilla about to attack.

“Vince, you have to go,” I said. I wanted to take one step back, not because I was afraid but because I didn’t want to smell his breath, but my back was against the wall, literally.

“Tell me where Shedry is if you want me to leave,” he said.

“4518 South Acacia Boulevard, Apartment 183B, Glendale,” I said.

He freezes… and struggles to get his phone. He wobbles a bit before managing to find his phone and typing, presumably the address I just gave. He finishes, after what feels like 10 minutes.

“See, if you just gave the address earlier, we wouldn’t have this problem,” he said before turning to leave.

I sigh. The address, of course, does not exist.


====================================


Kris wedding is bound to be epic.

All wedding should be but this one specifically.

This union is founded on love demonstrated through unexpected sacrifices and willing compromises.
It’s also a breather for all of us running the race. It’s that stop, that rest, that short moment when we get to slow down and peak at a possible beautiful ending we could all achieve.

But I guess, more importantly, this wedding is a well needed reminder, or perhaps, proof, that even at the age well worthy of mummification by Asian standard, love can still find its way towards us.

Unfortunately, the wedding is still several days away and several days is a long time for a group of women who attract fuck ups.

Vince’s appearance in an ungodly hour in my apartment building is, apparently, the first of a series of spectacular events.

Shedry didn’t come home the next day. I didn’t bother texting her to tell her husband was looking for her. I also didn’t bother checking on Vince and where he ended up going after chasing the fictional address I gave him. I do know he is alive. That’s what Facebook does.

Besides, my day is full. Lady Gaga asked me to accompany her to buy her dress for the wedding, bottles of wine she was assigned to buy for Kris’ wedding. I wanted to point out that each of us has an assigned task for the wedding. Getting me to do hers with her defeats the purpose especially because I accomplished mine without anyone’s help.

However, I wanted to be a good friend. She asked nicely. So, there I was, waking up at 8am on a weekend. I know, it’s preposterous.

Huge problems, however, always manifest on little things first, things that seem too juvenile so we
brush it aside because we don’t want to seem… well, juvenile. The problems is that when you let small things slide, it creates big enough holes to let the big ones pop up.

It isn’t the first time for Lady Gaga to ask me to ‘accompany’ her to her errands. I know it’s because I have a car. I don’t mind because we were supposed to be friends, anyway. It seems a small favor.

Being a decent human being, however, warrants some amount of decency… and shame. When you ask someone to accompany you to errands with the obvious intention of using the other person’s car, it goes without saying you should at least offer to pay for gas and parking (if paid). I know I would because I respect other people’s money, the effort and time they spent to acquire them, and purpose of trying to earn them.

So, when Lady Gaga insisted on going all the way Gardena to buy the wine from the biggest CostCo there is in SoCal and then drive all the way to Glendale to look for a dress and then to Beverly Hills because she didn’t find any in Glendale, she should have at least pretended to offer to pay for, at least half of what I spent for gas and parking.

She didn’t.

However, it seemed juvenile at the time. It’s all but $30. It certainly won’t sink my bank account but also a considerable amount of money by US standard. That’s my week’s worth of lunch or a month’s worth of my internet service. But in the context of friendship, $30 is nothing. So, I let it slide.
Then there was the constant phone conversation about the “latest” in their lives.

Is this a millennial thing or a just merely nick in one’s character? I see it all the time. A group of friends together in one table and everyone is glued to their phones. I am sure you’d head this before but… what the fuck? What the hell is the point of spending time with someone if you’re on the phone talking with someone else all the time?

It’s a different matter if an important call comes in or if it’s a sporadic text message or short calls you have to answer. Lady Gaga actually called someone while in the car with me and proceeded to talk about the memories of their college life. I don’t even expect the person with me to not be on the phone while they are with me but for someone to talk about their college memories, obviously not an important matter, for more than an hour, what the fuck, right?

I don’t care if she wants to talk on the phone with her friends. If she wanted to talk to someone, then don’t drag me into it especially if I am driving you on your errands. I don’t get paid to be a driver. She’s not even splitting the gas. She sat shotgun, the least she could have done is fulfill the divine appointed tasks of a shotgun. 

Lady Gaga is not very confrontational so I told her I didn’t like what she did, sans the money part, in so many words. She denied doing it and it’s obvious she knows what she did but didn’t expect me to make a big deal out of it. I am not… making a big deal out of it. That’s why I just told her straight up.
She didn’t apologize and I let it slide. After all, in the context of the wedding about to happen, this thing is nothing.

I should have known, though, that big problems manifests through small things first. 


===================================


That same day, Kris’ parents from the Philippines arrive in Los Angeles for her wedding. She packed their schedule with activities because she needed the time to do last minute preparation for her wedding and work. She called us to rant, a way to relieve her stress about having to pay for her parents’ stay here in the Philippines. Not that she’s unwilling to do it because she is but it doesn’t mean it’s easy.

She’s also doing some last minute preparation on her own because her groom-to-be is busy with whatever the hell he is dong.

What she didn’t tell us is that she summoned the help of someone else to drive her around, Danny, an old “friend”, a tall, thin, and big-eyed man that first came into Kris’ life when they were in high school. Danny is the kind of guy high school girls find cute with his hair spiked up and thin limbs that are always heavily decorated with leather bracelets. His eyebrows are thick and so are his lips and hair always long enough to touch the lower part of his nape.

He is also the kind of guy that seems have never outgrown his youth. Take it as you may. 

“Thanks. I need this. I’m so so so stressed,” Kris said as they finish their super late lunch in Casa Mokcha, a restaurant in Palos Verdes.

“I know,” Danny said, not tearing his eyes away from Kris who looks and feels stressed. “Where are you going after this?”

“Downtown. I need to pick up the souvenirs,” Kris said.

“Where’s your groom?”

“He needed to work.”

“I can drive you.”

“Will you? Really?”

“Yeah, of course.”

And he does. He even picks up the tab, opens the restaurant and car door for Kris. She doesn’t miss the little details. She also doesn’t miss the way her mind flickers to how Robbie doesn’t do that anymore.

Back when Kris was just some innocent kid bolstered by majestic dreams and unfathomable courage of youth, she had fallen in love. She'd done so quickly, recklessly, the moment she knew Danny well enough to feel anything about him at all.

It was during an outing for dinner after a long day of practice for a group presentation in one of their arts classes. Kris had to go to the bathroom and by the time she was done, Danny was the only one still waiting outside. Everyone left and she couldn’t concentrate on how rude and utterly disgusting it was for her classmates to leave her because all she could see was Danny.

Danny, who was easily one of the most popular guys in school , who was good-looking and dressed well, who was mature and smart and cool, looked up from his phone as Kris approached.

"Danny, you waited for me!" Kris exclaimed, starry eyed.

Danny shrugged and tried to keep a straight face but couldn't, his dark, sharp gaze flicking away down the yellow-lit city Manila street as he smiled.

Dangerous words climbed up Kris’ throat and lingers there, threatening to break free with exciting energy.

Danny quirked his eyebrows and said, "Well, the moon is too beautiful to be enjoyed alone."
He reached out to hold her hand as they walk back to their classmate’s house for one more round of practice before calling it a night. She didn’t pull away, the same way she never did in the succeeding times he holds her hand while they walk, while they sit, while they do anything else they could do to use as an excuse to hold hands.

She didn’t pull away either when he kissed her that night by her door after he walked her to her house.

Later… much much much later in her life, she looks back and knows that they were falling in love and eventually, were in love, that all those times they did all-night phone conversations, teased each other mercilessly about their fashion choices and weight, lay their head on the other’s thigh to nap, all the stolen kisses they shared between periods and between vacations and between the various stages of their life, they were in love.

The only problem was that they never declared it.

“Why did we never say it?” Kris asked, the box of souvenir is big but light in her arms.

Danny drops the box he is carrying on the trunk of his car before getting the box Kris carrying and doing the same to it. They both make it to his car and put their seatbelt on before he even asked what Kris is talking about.

“That we loved each other,” Kris clarified.

Kris didn’t really think it through. She also didn’t expect any response from Danny or any response that she will like, at least. After all, she has waited over 15 years for Danny to say it. He never did. What difference will one day make? She decided not to expect anything. She decided that whatever response he gives, will never make a difference. 

“I did,” Danny said.

And perhaps, Kris is wrong.

“Before I left the Philippines to come here. I went to your house and brought you your favorite pastry. It was 1 am. You were crying because you think I will forget you. I said I won’t because i love you,” Danny said.

“No,” Kris said.

“Yes.”

“I do not remember,” Kris said.

Danny shrugged.

“And you didn’t ask for a response?”

“I was leaving. You were having the time of your life. You just got a new car, a boss you were in love with, and party friends always available for a night out.”

Kris honestly doesn’t remember that moment but hearing it from Danny does something to her heart that feels a little uncomfortable, like it wants to bounce inside her and then burst out of her chest so it can beat freely.

She does remember, though, that time when she was in love with someone else, her boss, in particular.

“It was just the wrong time,” Danny said after minutes of silence.

“To say ‘I love you’?” Kris asked.

“Yes and to ask you to respond to what I said,” Danny said.

“It was the worst time,” Kris said.

“No, it wasn’t,” Danny said. “It wasn’t the worst  time to tell you I love and and it wasn’t the worst time to ask you to respond.”

“When was the worst time then?” Kris asked.

“Now.”


=====================================


Everyone thought that the suffocating pain of heartbreak and humiliation drives Shedry to her partying ways. Everyone thinks that the relentless night outs and crispy laughter earned from silly banters and pointless stories is a process of catharsis. Everyone believes that Shedry is trying hard to turn off a part of herself and everyone is sure that she should stop because leaving a 12-year-old marriage is not like shutting the front door, locking it away, and throwing away the key to Mordor. A 12-year marriage lingers, clings… terrorizes and it gets you in the worst possible time. Everyone is convinced that Shedry will burn herself away. 

Eventually, everyone believes, Shedry will break and it will be painful and even more humiliating than leaving her husband and not be chased.

But no one has the heart to tell her.

Everyone watches her spend night after night after night in the company of fun loving friends, gording and consuming the night like it won’t come again. It was always the same company, Uma’s long-time friends that have adopted Shedry into their group. I have never met them but stories seem to imply that, outside of Carlo, they are mostly gay. There are three couples and four other single ones including Uma and Shedry. They were on a 25-day binge but Uma and Shedry promised to be up and early on the day of Kris’ wedding to help dress up the place which is a day away.

So, when Shedry told everyone she was bailing for the night, no one really questioned it. They were almost a month deep into their company, one night won’t hurt. She set out to go back to her temporary home which is my apartment only she didn’t because by 5am, our supposed departure time so we can start fixing the reception and make it look, at the very least, clean, Shedry isn’t there.
Filipinos are known for coming late to everything, that’s the one part of our culture I never really subscribed to. I texted her and she promptly replied that she’ll meet us in the venue.
She did.

Right as the DIY french rod that was supposed to hold the curtain we were putting to cover the dilapidated walls crashed 3 hours of work.


=====================================


“Oh my god,” Shedry exclaimed in horror as sees us all tangled under the curtain. “What happened?”

“We just got fucked, that’s what happened?” Patrick said, struggling to stand up. Patrick is Kris’ gay friend, a 6-foot-two-inch walking beauty. He was a model in Yugoslavia before moving to the US two years ago. Kris and he became friends fast and has never left each other’s side.

“Xath? Xath?” Shedry yelled my name.

“Somewhere here,” I answered from under the chiffon fabric, lying on the floor.

“Aren’t you guys supposed to fix all these last night?” Shedry asked.

“Yes, this is the perfect time to interrogate us about our itinerary,” I said, uselessly shimmying out of the fabric.

“Shut up and help us,” Anthonia yelled from my left.

Shedry is right, though. Lady Gaga and I were supposed to come here last night to make all these preparations. Well, it is actually Lady Gaga’s assigned task to fix the place up. I was just supposed to drive her. However, she called me last night to give me reasons on why we should just delay the preparations to the morning of the wedding.

I pointed out that I wasn’t supposed to be involved in that part but I knew that she was going to politely ask me to help out come crunch time and we both knew I am not that much of a bitch to say no to someone who asks for help politely for something that won’t harm me. She especially knows that I tend to let small things slide especially when it comes to friends. I have always believed that flaws in one characters shouldn’t be a reason to end friendships. She also knows that it’s not easy to piss me off. Her tendency for procrastination, surely, won’t push me to the edge. I have way too much pride to let anything like that piss me off

What she doesn’t know is that I have waaaayyy too much pride and once I know I am close to getting pissed, I detach.

“I’ll go buy thumbtacks,” Shedry said after well all wriggle free from the fabric and regroup to plan the next move.

It was obvious that the DIY curtain rod won’t hold it. We had better chances if we use a thumbtack or staple gun. The only problem is that Patrick is the only one tall enough to staple the fabric and the restaurant, for some reason, has no ladder.

“What would you do without me,” Patrick said, laughing, as we busy ourselves with other tasks while we wait for Shedry.

“Murder someone,” I whispered.

Patrick laughs. He has already been briefed about the whole Lady Gaga fiasco. I have only met Patrick a handful of times but he seems to get my flawed sense of humor.

“And here I am thinking you guys would have gotten 90 percent of the things done by last night,” said Victor, Patrick’s boyfriend. He is shorter and is bearded but is more finesse in his actions and gestures than Patrick. “He keeps on talking about Kris’ group of friends who are obsessives compulsive in organizing.”

“There’s always that one person,” Uma said. She doesn’t seem to be bothered by Lady Gaga hearing. Well, I can’t blame her. It’s three hours to reception and we’re still in shorts and t-shirts. “Remind us not to make her the event organizer of any event we’re having in our life.”

“I will if you promise to invite us to all these events,” Patrick said.

“Patrick and Victor,” Uma said, turning to fully face Patrick. “Please accept my invitation to all the future events of our lives. This invitation is irrevocable and perpetual.”

“Invitation accepted,” Patrick said.

“Oh, the next event is my birthday,” Lady Gaga said, no regard for the shade Uma just threw at her.
“My celebration lasts for a month.”

“One month?” Victor asked, face curling in confusion.

“I try to set up an event for everyday,” Lady Gaga said. “I’ll include you in the mailing list so you can keep up on the celebrations where you could come coz’ there are some celebrations that are for girls only. I mean, biologically girl.”

What the fuck did she just say?

“Okay… what?” Victor said, clearly mentally deciding how to take what Lady Gaga just said.

“You have a mailing list?” Uma asked.

“One month? The Queen of England doesn’t even celebrate her birthday that long,” Patrick said.

“So, it’s from June 1 to June 30 but the major ones fall on weekends,” Lady Gaga said, wiggling her upper body, clasping her hands in front of her and lightly jogging in place.

“Okay… but… it’s October,” Patrick said.

“Yeah, I know. That’s why I’ll include you in the mailing list so you won’t forget,” Lady Gaga said, smiling as wide as she can.

“You said the next event is your birthday,” Patrick said. “So… fuck Christmas? Fuck New Year? Fuck Valentine’s Day. The next event is your birthday?”

“I’ll include you in the mailing list,” Lady Gaga reiterated. “Don’t worry.”

“That’s not what I’m worried about,” Patrick whispered, astounded.


=======================================


We could have done better, that’s for sure. We managed to cover the wall of the stage with white cloth and dress up all of the 16 tables but the rest of venue looks like an old and neglected Chinese karaoke bar because it is actually an old and neglected Chinese Karaoke bar. But with 6 hours to prepare, it is as good as it is going to get. We have 30 minutes left to prepare and I haven’t even finalized my speech because for some odd reason, I’ll be making the maid of honor speech even if I am so clearly not the maid of honor.

By the time we got a text from Kris’ brother saying the ceremony is almost over, we were all dressed and made up.

“I have a plus one,” Anthonia said.

I looked up from the speech I am editing and blink. Bringing along an uninvited guest in a wedding is a common occurrence in the Philippines and expected but we’re not in the Philippines. There are 150 chairs for 150 guests.

“When were you planning on telling me?” I asked.

“I am telling you now, duh,” Anthonia said.

God give me patience please.

“Is it Bea?” I asked. Bea is Anthonia’s only other friend in LA. Bea is 10 years her junior but sticks to her like a glue.

“No,” she said.

Now would be a good time to tell me who it is. “Okay, your plus one can take my seat. I won’t be able to sit down till the end, anyway,” I said.

“Are you supposed to be beside me?” Anthonia asked.
This is the best time to ask me about little details…. Right after I just gave my seat and meal to your unidentified plus one and right when I am editing my speech. “You can ask Lady Gaga.”

“She’s still doing her make up,” Anthonia asked.

Then whoever sits beside you, push that bitch away. “You can always ask the person beside you to move one chair to give way to your plus one.”

She did leave as she starts dialing, presumably to call her plus one. She appeared 10 minutes before the bride and the groom arrive, with a white dude we have never seen before in tow.

“Who the hell is that?” Shedry asked.

“The one,” Uma said.

“More like the one hundred and fifty oneth,” Shedry said.

We watch Anthonia sit down while giggling at whatever the white dude is saying. He is wearing a black suit with a black shirt that’s unbuttoned on the topmost part. He has no hair but has glasses and has a crooked but confident smile. He is taller than Anthonia by an inch at best.

“That’s the plus one,” I said.

“Hey, you have to tell me when to heat the food,” Lady Gaga said, as she approaches.

“Heat the food,” I said.

“Why?” Lady Gaga asked.

“Oh my god,” Uma said. “Lady Gaga, you asked her to tell you when to heat the food.”

“Yeah, I know,” Lady Gaga said. The bloody red lipstick is doing wonders to her mouth because it’s contorting like a rubber band with every syllable. “When it’s like… time… like the right time.”
There’s silence, the kind that dominates the air whenever something unbelievably impressive is uncovered right before the consciousness of mere mortals like us.

“God! This is a wedding. Quit playing jokes,” Lady Gaga said before storming out in her body fitting sleeveless short black dress that hugs her skinny frame. Her butt sways and flicks harder than Beyonce in Single Ladies.

I sigh and look at Uma.

“I’ll tell her,” Uma volunteered. “Finish your speech.”

By the time I stand up and as close to satisfied with what I had, the first set of guests enter the venue and of all of them are Filipinos. In less than 10 minutes, the place is filled and familiar Filipino version of California American accent in different degrees fill the room.

I readied myself for emceeing duties and greeted everyone in my most pleasant ‘i’m-totally-not-tired-voice’. By the time the bride and the groom walk in, I had announced several mandatories including the use of hashtag RobKri for photos they will take and post on their social media, the photobooth that everyone is welcome to use when they are ready, and the valiant and generous efforts of Kris’ relatives that flew all the way to America from the Philippines to attend Kris’ wedding. By the time the newlyweds walk in, all announcements have been made except for the most important announcement everyone is waiting for, that it’s time to eat.

Uma did tell Lady Gaga that the food should be heated but Lady Gaga thought we were pulling her leg. So, she didn’t tell the kitchen staff who were specifically instructed that their orders were going to come from Lady Gaga. Since Lady Gaga left the room when guests started pouring in, she didn’t know we were actually serious and it wasn’t until she heard me announcing the arrival of the bride and the groom did she ran to the kitchen staff to tell them to heat the food.

It would take them 20 minutes.

Filipinos hate waiting for food with the passion of an angry Zeus.

So, there I was, left with 150 hungry and tired Filipinos.

“Since food isn’t ready yet, we will be serving alcohol to get you drunk and sick enough to not complain and just go home,” I said.

Everyone laughs but it didn’t stop some from pouting and squirming. Jokes can only get your so far. I tried, though. Emceeing is something I am comfortable with. Teaching a class, delivering a speech, or even interviewing someone are second nature to me. I know it seems a direct conflict on my claim to be an introvert. It isn’t. Introverts actually make a good emcee, teacher or interviewer because we are more sensitive about the emotions and reactions of the audience which allows us to deliver what will make the audience react the way we want them too.

No amount of emceeing skills, however, can ever soothe the grumbling of a hungry stomach. It’s worse than a woman scorned. So, I resigned to my fate of looking like a stupid dork no one cares about for 20 minutes as I ineffectively try to get everyone’s mind away from their stomach.


====================================


“Why are you serving the wine?” Kris asked.

“What wine?” Shedry asked back as she puts more food on the plates of Kris and Robbie. Apparently, Lady Gaga forgot to tell the kitchen staff there should be food for the bride and groom. Shedry had to scramble for plates, spoon, fork and food so the newly weds can eat.

“That wine,” Kris pointed out to the wine bottles being poured to the wine glasses.

“Because… it’s what you’re supposed to do?” Shedry said. “Do you want rice?”

“Yes,” Robbie said.

“Okay, I’ll get some,” Shedry said before turning around to head to the kitchen but she gets held down.
“That’s for the godparents!” Kris said.
They have 12, by the way. Twelve sets, not twelve in total. It’s a Filipino tradition to try and recuperate your expenses by getting as many godparents as they can and hope they will give cash.
“Well, how did the waiters get a hold of it?” Shedry asked. “Did you give it to them?”
“No!” Kris said.
“Are you sure?” Shedry asked.
“Shedry!”
“Fine, so… who was supposed to take care of it?” Shedry asked.
“Navid,” Kris said. Navid is Kris’ younger brother.
“Then he might have given it to the waiters,” Shedry said.
“Why would he give that to the waiters?!” Kris yelled-screamed.
Shedry shrugged.
“Those are for our godparents!” Kris insisted.
“We can’t exactly ask the guests to spit it out,” Shedry said.
“What will I give our godparents?!” Kris is panicking, nostrils enlarged, hands gnarled to the sky.
“Your undying gratefulness and appreciation,” I said, mic covered.
“I’m serious!” Kris said, still panicking.
“So am I. Please keep quiet,” I said before removing my palm from covering the mic. I promptly announced the next part of the program which is the speech of the father of the bride. I sit on the side while Kris’ father delivers his speech. I haven’t had lunch. I haven’t had breakfast. I’ve been running on Coca Cola and it’s spiking my energy so high I find myself fidgeting two minutes into the speech and it lasted for all of 38 minutes. Yes, 38 minutes… like the State of the Union Address… only longer.
The only consolation I had was watching Anthonia not pay any mind to Matthew and his still fiancee. Instead, she’s fixed on feeding her plus one a piece of cake and shove her body into the guy’s arms.
By the time the speech is done, Anthonia is practically sitting on Plus One’s lap and just about half of the crowd is envious of her for snagging a white guy.
I call in the Best Man for his speech while I pray this one lasts only a tenth of the previous one. It did last a tenth of the previous one but it still managed to become more boring.
When it was my turn to deliver the maid of honor speech, I knew I had to make it short. Almost everyone is eying the left over food, itching to take them home.
No Filipino gathering is complete without to-gos.
I was done in two minutes, 30 seconds less than my target.
The bride and the groom stand up to cut the cake, feed each other, catch the dove and set it free, throw the bouquet, and finally open the floor to some dancing.
It was a relief to see the bride and groom dancing because it meant I get to finally sit down and grab whatever left over is there because all I have is sugar in my system.
I thank the guests for coming and remind everyone to eat some more and dance the night away before finally making my way to where my friends were sitting except they weren’t there anymore. Shedry and Uma are out smoking, Anthonia and her plus one are in the photobooth and Kris is dancing with her father.
I don’t mind because being alone in the midst of a crowd means I don’t need to socialize. I can be alone in my thoughts… recharge. Introvert needs to recharge… a whole fuckin’ lot. I’ve been going since this morning and I’m exhausted. Finally, I get to just sit and watch, observe, process. I get to watch people grooving to the beat, others scrambling to squeeze in to get their face seen on the tiny frame of the photo booth and a few hovering around the buffet table, planning their to-go strategy.
It’s been a blur.
The chaos continues around me but if this is all I can get to spend some time alone, I can deal. Slowly, the clanking of 3-inch heels against the off white old-fashion marble floor fades in my brain. The clicking of the photo booth’s camera firing like raindrops crashing against a tin roof slowly melds into the nothingness in my mind.
I see the chaos, lips moving, eyes wandering, bodies shifting but it seems like everything is suspended into a dimension I see but doesn’t belong to.
I search for Kris. She’s still dancing with her father. He’s twirling her and as her gown billows, flapping against the legs of other guests sharing the space, it suddenly hits me. We were a part of this, of getting her to walk down the aisle and enter the next chapter of her life but it seems… somehow, we weren’t. We were there every step of the way but it feels… foreign.
It feels like everyone involved was in a singular quest to get it done… and we did get it done… and it’s all we did… get it done. We hopped from one milestone to another. It felt like it was a race and the only concern was to finish it.
I could perfectly picture every event that lead us to this but I do not know if there was a transformation that happened among us just as how you would expect of a life changing event.
There’s some emptiness there, a hollow space that should be filled with joy or realization or hope as I see a friend secure in her father’s arms. There was never an expectation, I realized, when we began the preparation. At least for me, there was never a moment to pause and breathe in just how this wedding might be an actual fulfillment of a friends’ lifetime of dream. There was never a moment to just pause and be joyful. We shifted to fourth gear the moment Kris told us we are going to be her help in the wedding.
So the disappointment is unfounded but still present.
Why?
Why can’t I find the solemnity in all these?
Her family and friends flew 3,000 miles to be a part of it and her father is proudly smiling at her daughter but I don’t feel the reverberating effect of love. There is no aura of a lifetime.
It must be the fatigue or it must be truth.
I stand to make my way outside, intentionally avoiding the backdoor because I know that’s where my friends are smoking. I went through the front door and crosses the parking lot, to the lawn of the next restaurant. There’s no one around except the distant humming of cars passing. I want to call Mari but it’s still early on that side of the world. She needs her sleep.
“Stop going all philosophical.”
“I am not. I just need some air,” I said, not bothering to look back at Shedry. After one second, she bumps my shoulder with hers.
“They are looking for you inside. Let’s take a picture.”
“Not really feeling it,” I said.
“What? Why? Come on, you’re wearing make-up. We need to commemorate this,” she joked.
“They recorded the entire thing. We’re fine,” I said.
“Okay,” Shedry said. “Do you… need to be alone right now?”
“Yeah. I’ll be right behind you,” I said.
“Why?” Shedry asked. “I mean, why do you want to be alone? Something bothering you?”
I shake my head, “No. Just… I’ve been up since 4am and I’ve been talking for the last two hours. Not used to it.”
Shedry nods, “Okay, I’ll leave you with your 147 other personalities.”
I laugh as she turns on heels to go back inside. And then it hit me.
“She,” I called out. “Are you okay?”
She nods before turning around to face me, “Yes. Vince wants a divorce… couldn’t be better.”

Fairlane Raymundo

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