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New York I love you: Ethan Hawke and Maggie Q

It was Prof Julian who said that we should already have a partner for our final project in Socio 1. It was also he who convinced us weeks ago to come asking for a partner way ahead before all the good classmates are taken. And yes, when he was saying all these things, I was either not listening or I was deciding what to eat for lunch that particular day.

So I didn’t see my seatmate, whom I assumed to be my would-be partner, conspiring with her other seatmate and choosing her instead of me as her pair; in the process, leaving me with no partner two days before we have to make our first draft. After we’ve been dismissed, panic came over me and had me running down the stairs for the guy who sits in the corner of our classroom.
He was the guy who comes in just right, not early for a chat with the class, and not late that he should be noticed by the Prof. Most of the time I glance his way, he was looking out the window; the seat next to him, usually reserved for his bag or for a student who comes in the last, unfortunate to take the last available seat. And at that moment I was following him, I’m thinking that if only we could do it individually, really I will.

Classmate! I called. Half-wishing I said it not enough for him to hear so that he’d continue walking. But he turned to me and I found myself lost for a second line to say.

May partner ka na ba para dun sa final project?

Wala pa, he said. The I waited for him to ask me as his pair, but I waited so long I have to break the silence.

Ako rin wala pa eh. And I paused. He looked at me at one point and I thought I saw a scar just above his upper lip.

Pero di ba kailangan may partner. And another pause. Hoping maybe this time he’ll ask so I would be left with at least some decorum intact. But alas! I decided to just go for it.

Tayo na lang. Ah, it made me shy and embarrassed I knew I was blushing. But he stopped walking and looked at me and I saw his upper lip scar thinned and he smiled.

Okay, he said.

I smiled thanking God it was over. I asked him his name; Jem, he said. And he took my number before speeding off to his next class, he said he’s already late and that he’ll text me later na lang. I told him it’s alright if we can’t talk about our project that soon but he had gone far already I knew he didn’t hear me.

That was our first encounter. And I didn’t know that that afternoon would be followed by a long talk over the phone about him, about me, about what’s happening in the campus that time and the least about our project. I didn’t know that we would spend many afternoons with the goal of doing the project and ending these same afternoons unfulfilled, and buying another time for the project just so we could meet. I didn’t know that he would ask me out a day before the final and that I would come nevertheless. I didn’t know that the semester would be followed by a summer full of promises and another semester of hope that the meetings would become a habit and of deep frustration that it had ended even before it had begun. I didn’t know all these.

But then, if I had known, I think I would still have said tayo na lang.