30 May 2008

Left My Mark

Perhaps it is something in the warm wind, or the month of the year, or perhaps it was Wanderer's post about long-distance relationships, but somehow I came to be reminded about my first true long-distance relationship.

I met AC ten years ago, in May, 1998. I had traveled to Manchester, England to compete in a martial arts tournament, and AC was a guest judge there from Germany. Although he and I had seen each other in previous international tournaments, this was the first time we were formally introduced. The events of the tournament would keep us both extremely busy during the days of the tournaments, but as activities winded-down in the evenings, the tournament participants would socialize in the bar of the hotel where the tournament was held. After our initial meeting on the first day of the tournament, I found myself looking forward to meeting with him in the evenings.

He and I would have long talks in the evening, primarily about our mutual love for martial arts, that would extend into the early morning hours, well after the bar had already closed for the night. He would then accompany me to to my hotel room, but decorum and etiquette would keep him outside of my room, and he would sit in the hallway as I sat just inside my room, with the door propped open, and we would continue our discussions that way. It was crazily romantic.

At the end of the tournament, he and I had exchanged phone and fax numbers (these were the days prior to email). Although I felt a connection, I was not expecting to hear from him again. To my elation, however, I had a fax letter from him waiting for me when I returned home from England.

For two months after, I slept in my dad's study so that I could wait for his fax letter every night. I saw him again two months later that July when he traveled here to the U.S. to attend another tournament, and then again that November when I traveled to Germany to attend a tournament that he was hosting.

Our "relationship" lasted until February, 1999. I called him one night to wish him a happy birthday. I thought I had dialed the wrong number when a woman answered, but when I tried a second time, I knew then that he and I were over. I later found out that during the two weeks that I had been in Germany, he had moved out of the apartment that he was sharing with his girlfriend of seven years, and had rented a new apartment for the time that I was there. After I returned to the U.S., he promptly "made up" with his girlfriend and he moved back in with her.

For a long time, I hated him. I hated that he had been so dishonest when I had been so trusting. It would be the last time that I would ever love without suspicion.

These days, I no longer hate him, but instead, I smile when I remember my time with him. If it had not been for him, I probably would never have seen Germany as I did, would never have seen the Neuschwanstein Castle, or seen the beauty of the Swiss Alps.

He is married now, with two daughters. His first daughter is named Nova. I guess I left my mark with him as well.

23 May 2008

Feast Week

It’s Fleet Week here in New York, and as I am lover of men in uniform, it has been a banquet feast for the eyes.

I only look, though.

The other day I ran into a group of military men at the corner café near my office. I saw a group of them at the breakfast bar as I paid for my coffee at the cashier station. They were all decked out in uniform. I sighed to myself as I left the deli.

One of the military men stopped me outside the door.

“Hi!” he said.

“Hello,” I replied.

“Are you Filipino?”

“Yes, I am.”

He smiled. “I knew it! I saw you inside the café and I wondered if you were Filipino. I love Filipino people! I was in Manila for awhile. I was stationed there, you see, and they were the nicest people I have ever encountered.”

“Some are, yes. They’re all especially nice to soldiers.” I joked with him.

We talked for a few minutes outside of the café. Essentially, he asked me out on a date. As much as I was flattered by his attention, I politely refused.

The thing is, he looked so damn young. I mean, when the hell did they start recruiting them so young? Or am I just getting old?

Before I left, I asked him his age. Just to make sure. As I suspected, he was way young.

Unseemly young.

I told him I was old enough to be his mother. He seemed genuinely shocked.

“But I thought you were my age.”

Thanks, Kid. You don’t even know how you just made my week.

“I still got it.” I thought to myself. I mentally patted myself on the back and went to work that day with a smile on my face.

Man, do I love Fleet Week.