Forty days and forty nights
When I got to the second floor, that’s where he was. He was standing right outside the door to the apartment that was right above mine.
“Hi,” I said.
“Hi,” he said, giving me a quick peck on the cheek. He’s always uncomfortable about kissing me on the lips in public, even when there’s no one else around and it’s an ungodly hour of the morning. “Where did you come from?” he asked, putting an arm around my shoulders.
“I came from the third floor.”
“Oh, we have moved to the third floor?”
“No. We have always been on the third floor.”
“Really?” He looked genuinely perplexed.
This is, perhaps, what forty days and forty nights of not being with his girlfriend can do to a man. Also, I suppose, driving for most of the night from the long and winding roads of Baguio to the straight yet just as long roads of Metro Manila can mess with one’s perspective of buildings one has not been in for forty days and forty nights.
It wasn’t really our plan to invest our relationship with this rather biblical detail. It just so happened that life got in the way – he had to continue his training that was getting more demanding every week; I had to finish ten chapters for the commissioned book I am working on, sapping me of much of the energy that I would have needed to drive to Baguio to visit him. Our phone bills have been really high because of the distance, and some nights I had to sleep wearing his sweater. So when one clammy 2 a.m. finally found us together again, he after a long drive and me after a particularly difficult chapter, and after we realized it had been forty days and forty nights since we have been together, we were ready to create overwhelmingly literary and unforgivably corny metaphors for our reunion, since it had also been the rainy season and there had been a particularly vicious typhoon.
But the moment he stepped into my apartment -- on the third floor -- there was no more thought about possible metaphors. It was as if he had never been away, and his presence and proximity has somehow become more real than the biblical, more present than the weather, more pressing than the life that always gets in the way. When something is that real, words, strangely, are irrelevant.