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To the first man who broke my heart

After more than a decade, John Ryan Mendoza re-discovers his first heartbreak – courtesy of his latest heartbreak, which he says hurts like the first time. And so he pens an – err – ultra-late break-up letter, as he looks forward to being able to already laugh about what was.


It was the fifth of the month again. I wore that red shirt I bought on saved lunch money. You didn’t seem to even notice.  I was walking behind you as you led me through that street of computer game cafes where we skipped classes to battle our prides over unending bragging rights. I thought we were going to that grilled chicken place where we usually go to. We ended up on that spot behind the cathedral that views the afternoon sun and that lazy river. And then, while there, you finally said: “It’s over.”

After more than a decade, why am I writing to you now? Because another man broke my heart; and yeah it sure hurts like the first time.

I just woke up from another vivid dream of him, and now I’m alternating pushing keys and drying my eyes.

A friend told to me that you asked her how I was because I am not on Facebook anymore. Remember way back then, I wasn’t even on Friendster? There were days when I didn’t want to see you smiling in a photo, else I started to waste away for not touching my food. I didn’t want to see myself captured in a photo and placed in an online profile with a grin that took so much effort to do. Then add the prying eyes and inventive tongues of the unwanted. It was just too tiring. Now it is the same thing all over again.

I was with my mother at the grocery today and saw a good old friend who asked me why I didn’t show up on our drinking sessions anymore. Seeing I haven’t really had my hair cut in a while, he just said he understood what this look means and enforced a session. I looked at my mother choosing fish, and I just felt how near yet so far I felt with her again. Two days after that afternoon at the cathedral, she asked me about you and why I was not eating much. There was so much that I wanted to say, but I knew how she would have cringed if I did. (She saw us in embrace in my room one morning when I forgot to lock the door, you know.) Now, I sometimes feel again that my chest is about to burst, but I just don’t know how to even start with a word.

For days I couldn’t count, I used to skip the jeepney ride home to walk around this small city and sometimes passed by that gutter where you promised me those three stars. I walked and walked just to make sure that I would be too tired to have to endure another sleepless night. I can’t walk through all of Metro Manila now – that would just kill me! Well, that’s just too slow and excruciating as an option if I do choose that. There are days I still pass the street where I walked him to work and hoped it was a hundred kilometers longer so that my mind would become as weary as my feet and just shut down.

I numb myself with work again. Well, I guess I have to partly thank you for getting elected as student government president. Maybe this time, he will also get me some position somewhere.

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It took me a couple of years to make peace with how we ended up. I was happy to see you again earlier this year and was ecstatic to realize that we can already laugh about what was. I have no idea how and when this grief will end. I keep on hoping that there is a pill I can take to make me stop imagining myself as a character in the Before Sunrise series. I just hope that maybe one day, I can see him again, smile, and just be grateful.

I continue to hope the best for you and your partner. I not only wish you happiness, but also meaning in what you do, as I have somehow found mine. Just think of the sketchbook I left in your locker. Never give up on that.




You will never ever beat me in StarCraft.

Written By

A registered nurse, John Ryan (or call him "Rye") Mendoza hails from Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao (where, no, it isn't always as "bloody", as the mainstream media claims it to be, he noted). He first moved to Metro Manila in 2010 (supposedly just to finish a health social science degree), but fell in love not necessarily with the (err, smoggy) place, but it's hustle and bustle. He now divides his time in Mindanao (where he still serves under-represented Indigenous Peoples), and elsewhere (Metro Manila included) to help push for equal rights for LGBT Filipinos. And, yes, he parties, too (see, activists need not be boring! - Ed).


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