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Miss Right now |

Young Star

Miss Right now

- Paula C. Nocon of the Philippine Star’s YS -
I have just made a promise to Mother Earth, a girl friend, my ex-boyfriend, and myself. I shall spend the remainder of my twenties single.

To which Mother Earth replied: May the universe conspire with you in your quest for that new age tranquility as you embark on your journey towards spiritual transcendence.

And my girlfriend said: I don’t think so. You can never tell when you’ll fall in love again. Yesterday you were just raving about that guy B. The other day it was C. I bet tomorrow it’s A.

As for my ex: Good luck. And then maybe we can get back together when you come to your senses.

Myself: It’s about time, girl.

My life as a heterosexual began when I was 12 or 13. It was around this time that I, along with my other girl friends, had my first crush on a real boy (Rob Lowe and other Brat Packers don’t count), received my first bouquet of flowers, first love letter, first Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Chocolates, conducted my first five-hour telebabad session. I no longer remember the names of those boys, what they were like, or even what I was like then.

Oh, how things have changed. How boys have changed. How I have changed. And most importantly, how my taste in men has so drastically transformed!

In high school, all you want is a cute guy. In college, all you want is a guy you could hang out and make out with. After college, all you want is a guy who would share your dreams and spend a lot of time after work with. When you live on your own abroad, all you want is to be fascinated by an endless parade of foreign men who are so different from what you’re used to—you know, the kind that doesn’t want to marry a virgin. In your mid-twenties you start to ask when you’ll ever meet Mr. Right, or whether the one you’re with is Mr. Right. All you want is to be left alone, but, like in that Cameron Diaz flick, left alone with a Mr. Right Now.

The truth is, I’ve spent the last six years — or the first six years of my twenties—in a serious relationship —"serious" meaning "exclusive," "attached," "long-term," and "Oh my God, could he be The One I’ll end up with?" These relationships were practically engagements-you know, trial marriages without the "living in sin" part. Sort of.

But one day not too long ago I just woke up and blurted out to my ceiling, "Enough is enough. I just want to live my life."

There I was, in my pajamas, head in pillow, figuring out why relationships have to be so damn serious anyway, when I’m not even a serious person most of the time. And thus began my whole soliloquy of Hamlet-like proportions.

"To be or not to be?" was how I was supposed to start my monologue, but I forgot the rest of the words. So here’s how the real thing went:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was 1998. You had just graduated from college, and the Asian financial crisis just hit the country. You swore to never sit in a classroom again, you promised to start earning your own keep. You felt the luxury of freedom, and the poverty of a dwindling savings account. You were suddenly adrift, while President Ramos just floated the peso. You thought you knew everything there was to know, and yet you knew nothing.

"You were staring at the ceiling just like you are this morning, but you were with your best friend then, because your then-boyfriend was figuring himself out somewhere else.

"And you told your friend: ‘I have seen my twin destinies.’

"You recalled that time when you were eight years old, and you had just received a children’s book on the history of art. There you saw the Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s Pieta, and Degas’s ballerinas. Though you did not see yourself in any of these women, you decided that among all of them, you liked Degas the most.

"Because art and words, you said, made you so happy, even as a little girl.

"So you went to your all-girls Catholic school, but instead of art, you talked about boys and clothes and Beverly Hills 90210. You also listened to your teachers, most of whom were women. You don’t remember much now of your lessons then, except for that terrifying Health class where a terror teacher demonstrated how an IUD can kill a woman, and how, despite the fact that sex is the beginning of all life, it could also mean, well, death. Literally.

"You didn’t take it that seriously, of course, because even as a young girl you had a mind of your own, but it was at the back of your head all time. Besides, you thought, boys were just too cute to kill you. So you went on to college, a co-ed one at that, and there you discovered that boys weren’t just cute little things, they also made terrific friends, and at heart they were Neanderthals, but that was OK, you loved them for what they were. And some of them, thank goodness, loved you back.

"In college you learned your lessons outside the classroom as well as in, and saw that both were valuable. You renewed your love for art and words in the books you read and the films you saw, and from that love emerged a realer you.

"And that was when you said you saw your twin destinies.

"You said to your friend: I’m at a crossroads right now, and though it’s scary and it’s uncertain, I’ve never felt more sure. I can go two ways in my life, and either one would lead to happiness and fulfillment.

"‘I could go the way of the corporate world, work hard and rise up to be this great broadcasting executive who will manipulate image and sound for millions to see, telling the truth and changing minds while earning lots of moolah. And I would be happy.

"‘And yet, I could go the other way and be a bohemian, an artist, a writer and a teacher, making pictures like Degas and crafting words like Wharton and preaching what I think is true, living a simple life in a cottage. And I would be happy.’

"Your friend scratched his head and said: That’s all very nice, but if you chose one path wouldn’t you spend the rest of your life wondering what if you had chosen the other?"

"You said nothing, so you went home and talked with your boyfriend about your dinner plans that evening as if it were your engagement party. Yes, you were so serious about life then.

"Your first job finally came to you, you were so excited. You worked hard, for your entry-level wages, trying to please your boss, spending less time with your friends and your boyfriend. This was the start, you kept telling yourself, of your destiny, and it seemed like you had chosen the first path.

"But all that changed suddenly, after a year. Before you knew it, your relationship was over, you were bidding your friends and family good-bye, and you were heading for Europe to sit in a classroom again.

"This was your turning point, and all that you had dreamed of before had taken a new form. You saw art and words in a completely different light. You saw yourself and love and life in a different light as well.

"You changed your mind about Degas. Van Gogh was now your favorite painter, after you embarrassingly burst into tears at a museum when you saw Vincent’s work.

"You changed your mind about love, after falling in love again, this time with a man who was so different from anyone you had ever met. And you said that nothing else mattered, as long as you were with him, for isn’t love the point of life after all?

"You changed your mind about life. There was no use in dreaming, as you had already lived your dream—living in Europe, meeting your man—and you would just go wherever life would take you from then on.

"So you returned home to your country and drifted along, a bit sad and very nostalgic, trying to figure out where you would end up eventually. And your only consolation was being with the man you loved. Someday he would take you away from all this.

"You became a writer and a teacher, and it seemed like you were on the other path this time. In your head were memories of past dreams, fuzzy like the pictures of Van Gogh. Those dreams may never come true, you said, and you wouldn’t mind. Life’s just like that.

"Before you knew it, you were at the crossroads again one night, on a brief trip abroad. And Van Gogh was there.

"In a cozy French restaurant, with other writers, you chanced upon a reproduction of a favorite painting of yours, Van Gogh’s "Café de Nuit." You stared at it the whole night throughout dinner. When everyone had left, you sheepishly asked the waiter to take your picture with it.

"You wondered what got into you, that was so cheesy."

"Later that evening you found yourself at a party at a stranger’s flat. As you sipped a grapefruit vodka you had the strange feeling that you had been there before, but of course you hadn’t.

"And you had the feeling that you had met the stranger before, but of course you hadn’t.

"When you found yourself in a conversation with him you realized who he was, what he was. And you said:

"‘I like your life.’

"He was a man who was your twin destinies personified. A man who took both paths at the same time. A man 10 years ahead of what you would have liked to become. It was possible, after all.

"And on his wall, you saw it again. Van Gogh’s "Cafe de Nuit," your favorite picture, your most treasured memory of the dream you once had and the Europe you lived in and loved. You of course did not have your photograph taken with it, because that would have been even cheesier than what you did in the restaurant. Flushed, you went home.

"Your life was changed again.

"Here you are, this morning, talking to your ceiling, wondering when that moment was when you let go of your dreams for a man you loved. And you remembered your Health teacher’s lecture of how love could probably kill you, and perhaps she was right. It could be the end of your dream, the end of your life.

"Now you say, ‘I just want to live my life.’ You have to chase a dream, fulfill a destiny, until it all makes sense. You can lose a love, but you cannot lose your life. Because once you start living your life again you truly start loving again."

There the soliloquy ended, and here I am, single once more. And it’s only the continuation of a dream come true.

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