It is as if I am watching parts of my life unfold in front of me every night whenever I tune in to a local channel showing a series about lesbian love. I cannot remember the last time I have been so eager to go home after work just to watch a local TV series until they started showing The Rich Man’s Daughter. I would finish dinner in 10 minutes, take a quick shower, head to my room and dial a number until the person on the end of the line says “hello.”
We met online last year. After a few months she decided to visit Manila so we could finally see each other in person. After our very oriental dinner, we went out on another date before flying back to her hometown. That same night, we decided to be a couple.
I had a disclaimer. She knew from the very beginning how my other relationships started and ended (and this is something I am not very proud of). I made her understand what she is getting herself into, and all she said was very clear, “let me love you.” Simple as that.
Life would have been a lot easier if things were that simple. Nothing is. Both of us are closeted lesbians. She is from a Chinese family, and I am keeping my true sexual orientation because I know how dismayed my family would be. Although we are a very discreet couple, we have plenty of lesbian and gay friends who know about us. We feel the need to be with them on a regular basis because it is when we are with them when we can be a couple – when we could introduce ourselves as girlfriends and not us friends.
The distance between us engages us in a long distance relationship. We still feel fortunate that only islands and regions separate us, and not continents and time zones. Still, we face challenges such as compromising our wake up times to be able to talk to each other before going to work and before we sleep. Facetime dates are reserved for special occasions, e.g. birthdays, Christmas, New Year, while a beach trip, et cetera. Video calls provide the sense of togetherness whenever we want to watch the sunset.
Unlike other couples who spend their money on weekly dates, we spend ours on plane tickets and hotels for our trysts. These are activities we look forward to every month because the feeling of sleeping beside each other gives us the most serene and comforting sleep. For us, airports mean two things: arrivals and departures, hellos and see you laters.
We met extremely late. She is already married. This is a fact that we have to endure. It is an open secret. Something that our friends know, but never talk about. Maybe nobody is brave enough to ask about it. For three months we are free to fly into each other’s arms, and then her rightful husband returns and stays for one month. Our communications lessened, making it even harder to endure our already complicated status. She married not because of any romantic connection. She married because it was a request from her elders.
There are times when I would agree to have dinner with them, husband and wife, thinking if it goes on a regular basis, I would get used to the stabbing pain until I get numb. One day it will just be us. There will come a time when we will sit on a dining table and we do not have to hold hands under.
She told me to let her love me. I said: “I don’t know how to love like how others would love.” She said that it is enough to let her love me. To subject ourselves in uncertainty, to sacrifice, to be invisible, to be silent, to look at each other from both ends of the table – to show love without saying it is the only way we know how to.