“But you’re ugly!” were the words that came out of his mouth when my classmate told him that I have a crush on him. We were both in 5th grade. I stood there, dumbfounded. I didn’t know how to react. The guy I’ve been crushing on for more than a year just declared two things: 1) he doesn’t like me and 2) I’m ugly. I wanted to punch him in the nose but I didn’t. I wanted to say “well you’re ugly too!” but I couldn’t. I just stood there wishing that the ground would open and swallow me.
I had to endure seeing him in school everyday after that incident. It helped that we didn’t belong to the same section; it gave me enough breathing space and preparation for the next encounter with him.
High school passed and so did college with no sign of him. We transferred to different schools after elementary. It amazes me how this city [Cotabato] can be so big and so small at the same time. It is geographically small in the sense that you can easily move from one place to another within 15 minutes (traffic included). It’s big in the sense that… we’re practically neighbors but I never saw him after elementary.
Until two years ago.
A guy sent me a message in Facebook while I was busy editing. “Hi”
Before replying, I clicked on the name and browsed the albums. It took some time for me to realize who he was. This guy looked scrawny, his hair was long, he didn’t shave, he had a lot of photos of him smoking and drinking… it was far from the boy who broke my heart back in elementary. That boy was clean- his hair was clean cut, he always had a smile on his face, he was charming. I replied after a few minutes with “do I know you?”
“Uhm, I think so. We went to the same school, right?”
“Maybe. I don’t know. ”
I think at this point he wanted me to remember him because he kept dropping names and events that should be familiar to anyone who went to our school. I hate to admit it but it was nice to see him struggle for a while. After a couple of minutes, I finally said:
“Of course I know you. We were part of the same dance group in fourth grade. I had the biggest crush on you and you broke my heart in 5th grade. You yelled at me and said I’m ugly when my classmate told you about my feelings.”
“I’m so sorry I did that… I didn’t mean to… I wasn’t thinking” were the next words that appeared on the screen.
“It’s okay. I mean back then it wasn’t but it’s been a decade, you know? I accept your apology but really man, you’re my first heartbreak!”
This time he was quick to reply: “if it helps, you’re not ugly now, you’re really pretty”
We went on to talk about a few more things but I had to sleep so I was the first to say goodnight. It was nice that he apologized and acknowledged what he did. It takes a real man to do something like that.
I saw him again today.
My mom and I went to a coffee shop to hang out. When I entered, I noticed a tall guy who had his back turned since his senior was giving him an orientation on how to operate the machines. “Ah, trainee” I said to myself. After giving the cashier our orders, my mom and I sat down to wait for our food.
“Here’s your food Ma’am”
When I looked up, it was him. I don’t know if he recognized me since I’ve changed physically since elementary. I was no longer the fat girl with short hair and no neck. I was no longer the girl he yelled at in front of all our batch mates.
We all say we should give ourselves closure if we can’t get it from the other person but I can’t deny the fact that sometimes it’s also nice to hear an apology from the person who hurt you immensely. His apology may have been a decade too late but an apology is still an apology and I’ve learned to forgive him.