id and i were rummaging through storage boxes last night for my copy of the watchmen which she wanted to borrow when i stumbled into this piece i have written decades ago – back when i was still (gasp!) straight. it’s the story of what happened between me, mon and lisa (not their real names) who after all the history, evolved to become two of my closest friends. anyway, this is nostalgia...
i always thought that maintaining a relationship between two people was tough. when i found myself in a three-way set-up, i knew that i was in deep shit.
it all started harmless enough. three friends whose bond was built by common interests. in the beginning all encounters were determined by the fact that we belonged to the same student organisation. back then, lisa and mon never struck me as relationship material. i particularly detested mon. he called me his nemesis.
yet between the three of us, the best idea, plan or endeavour always resulted. with a lot of fuss maybe. but we always felt it was worth it.
for years thee intimacy was deepened by shared experiences – joy, sorrow, and yes, even heartbreaks. for some reason we broke up with our most serious relationships (till then) almost at the same time. we were thankful we were on the same boat. loveless creatures whose consolation was the comforting shoulder of friends.
then the plot thickened. mon started flirting with the idea of courting lisa who, in turn, was too preoccupied with this huge crush on me to notice. i was dating a lot of people and was too busy to care. not an unusual situation and definitely tenable had we kept it to ourselves.
we did not.
it was a night we were marking our formal departure from the organisation where we met and became friends. in drunken camaraderie, we played truth or dare. before we knew it, the cat was out of the bag.
mon proposed to lisa. lisa proposed to me. i was ill-prepared, i was eyeing another girl outside of our small circle. i rejected lisa’s proposal. she cried hard. she cried on mon’s shoulders.
they started dating exclusively and eventually went steady. i went steady with another girl. anyone would have thought this was where the end credits roll for a totally Hollywood-esque ending. and they lived happily ever after.
in less than a year they broke up. it was not long before i also broke up with my girl.
suddenly, we found the joy of each other’s company again. we had wholesome, social dates that were never meant to be complicated. like lost friends, we found we had a lot of catching up to do. we were basking at the maturity the time and distance have lent us. the affection increased with the regularity of these dates. we were never happier.
the closeness started canceling out people outside our unlikely trio. no one else got it. it was just the three of us that really understood.
at one point we watched the movie threesome. it dawned on us that we were starting to act like the confused characters of the movie. while the movie was enlightening, it also scared the living daylights out of us. we were getting too close. the situation was getting more complicated than we wanted it to be.
we tried to define what was between us in a vain effort to clear the air and found ourselves facing a blank wall. call it recklessness of youth, curiosity or just plain stupidity, we carried on. throwing caution to the wind, we continued seeing each other, always pushing the limit of what was acceptable in each rendezvous.
it would be hard to imagine for anyone who hasn’t been refused by a motel how embarrassing a three-way semi-relationship can be. it is trifle superfluous to enumerate similar situations that constantly reminded us our being together can never be. suffice to say, mon’s mother catching us in our underwear, sleeping in his bed, arms around each other – took the cake.
as lara flynn boyle said in the movie, this is not normal.
there was never a conscious decision to quit but we drifted apart a few months after. we were all busy with our work and i was assigned to work in camiguin for a few months. we tried to maintain a facade of normal abnormalcy and tried to see each other when we can. each one was considered the closest friend of the other, after all.
life went on.
one night i was in manila, they came and picked me up from my office to have dinner. i was struck how the same time and distance that once drew us closer at that point set us apart. tactlessly, i remarked on how pathetic the once meaningful ‘friendship’ has been reduced to a series of uncomfortable silences. they looked at me with equal parts of anger and hurt but they knew what i was talking about.
we recognised that we had a relationship. and we decided it was time for it to end.
this is one break up i will always remember. up to that point we were grappling on an appropriate manner to regard what was between us. it was apparent that none of us knew the rules in this game. we all winged in the best of our ability what was acceptable and what was foul. in the end we all lost by default.
looking back, i wonder what would have happened had we been living in a society where mores are not as defined. i flinch at the idea of how good it was, how it felt so right and how hopelessly doomed. it’s a society where things that don’t fall under standard definition are wrong. we were wrong.
but i refuse to stop at that. i don’t want to vindicate ourselves by passing the buck to the ills of society. with the benefit of hindsight, society’s standards weren’t the biggest stumbling blocks. i realise it was our own fear of the unknown that made us give up. the stakes were too high and gambling on emotions at a high risk of losing did not seem a serious and sane option.
in the end, there was nothing but bitter resignation. in the tradition of our generation, we raged against the dying of the light but we found our anger wanting. all i can hope for is that we can melt the chilling drifts, emerge from the darkness and find our way to the warmth of our friendship, that surely must still be there.