U.S.T.

I wrote this last year, but never got around to telling the story behind it. I figured a year is long enough a time to procrastinate.

That may have resolved several years of sexual tension. Or it may have not.

I had a crush on this guy from the first time I met him.

That first time was more than ten years ago: A girl friend from work tagged me along to his house for some drinks. It was a crazy night, from the things I half-remember. Said girl friend, having had too much to drink, threw up in his living room. To this day, this guy and I still laugh at that memory.

He was living with his boyfriend at that time, and I had a boyfriend of my own. I never even tried to flirt with him, in any conscious manner. We added each other in social media, but kept minimal contact for several years.

It was a surprise then when, after seven or so years, I saw him in a bar in Malate. I can’t even remember why I went there; it might be that I was with friends. I think he was alone, drinking. Or maybe I misremember that part.

The amazing thing was he recognized me at the same time I recognized him. It’s been years and I rarely post my photos online, or use my face in my user pictures. It was as if we last saw each other about a week ago. It was one of the things I liked about him: we can talk easily to each other, even during the first time we were introduced to each other.

We were both single and I was living on my own. He was drunk and wanted to sleep but didn’t want to go home. I invite him to my place. He agreed. At some point while we slept, we were spooned to each other.

But that was it. We slept next to each other and that was all. And yet it never felt frustrating, back then or remembering it now. At the back of my mind, I wanted to have sex with him and yet I was never disappointed that we never tried.

Years later, he admitted to me that he was thinking of similar things.

“We were, what, hugging?” he told me. “Maybe I was too happy with the Chairless Apartment. Or maybe I was too brokenhearted that time that I didn’t want to spoil you.”

But it was a nice moment, I told him. I can appreciate nice moments. Would it have changed things if we did? We did not pursue each other again after that night.

Eventually, I entered another long-term relationship. This guy also was in a few relationships for the next few years. Occasionally, we would come across each other; I even introduced him to my then-boyfriend. It seems that despite that one time of palpable sexual tension, we remained good friends.

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It’s been more than a year now since I broke up with that boyfriend.

Early February last year, I went to Ilocos for a few days to put a bit of distance from my recently-ended relationship. And all of a sudden, this guy texted me while I was on my way back to Manila. He was drunk and still sorting himself after his last relationship. At length, we talked about our history and the unresolved sexual tension we’ve had for years.

We agreed to each other a few days later, on Valentines, for a few drinks. We wanted to catch up with each other, and it looked like we will be spending the night bitching about our recent exes. Except we didn’t. Because of his ex.

His first boyfriend, actually, the one he was still with when I first met him. It was a curious bit of serendipity, for his ex to appear while we were talking of that time I was in their house. And it was a good thing, too. I liked his ex; he was a strange yet lovable guy, always spreading love for the universe. We forgot about the exes we were supposed to bitch about and talked of other things. And it turned out to be a good night because of it.

Inside a tricycle, while we were heading to another bar for more beer, this guy held my hand and placed his head on my shoulder. And we kissed. It was the first time we kissed each other.

Would it have been different if I decided to jump into this new chance for another relationship? It was only a month since my last boyfriend and I parted ways. While this guy still has not moved on from his last relationship. It felt like it was too soon.

We started seeing each other, not really dating, with whatever was happening to us a nebulous idea that lingered around our interactions but was rarely explicitly acknowledged.

It started going downhill weeks later. I, not aware of what he thought, was wondering about taking things more seriously with him while he, not knowing what I was thinking, began losing interest.

He met another guy and eventually they begun a new relationship. Ah well. I was heartbroken.

But this guy is, ultimately, my friend. One of the friends I’ve cherished for several years and that affection trumped over any kind of sexual attraction we might have for each other.

I knew I was over my heartbreak and no longer held any ill will when I saw him again several weeks later. He joined me and my friend while we were hanging out in a museum cafe (the same museum where this guy worked, and it was intentional); he and my friend took off really well. We were still there when his boyfriend arrived and I finally saw the person he kept mentioning in his tweets. He was a really sweet guy, yet gave off a impression of peaceful strength; I can tell why he chose him.

So we’ve defaulted to what we were before: friends. I’m searching in my mind for that sexual attraction I’ve kept for him for several years. It’s still there, boxed and kept away.

After all, the affection I have for my friend trumps over any kind of sexual attraction I might have on him.