It has always been my dream when I was still a kid to go to New York. It’s one of those lists children make that they want to do whenever we grow up. And now that I am finally in New York, nothing met my expectations, because there’s this space in my heart that remains blank.
My father, Roberto and my half-brother, Luke, went to this country with me, together with Tito Louie. We stayed inside the condo unit that Papa bought for me. I refused to buy a house since I will be living alone. I kept thinking that the silence in my house would just remind me that there’s no one who will be waiting for me whenever I go home.
We were a week early when we arrived. During the first few days, we went to Visionary Vanguard to do further inspection to the place and to do the interview for those architects that applied. It’s almost the same as the Vanguard in the Philippines only this place is full of American people, with only few Filipinos. The firm will be open next week, and a day after that, Papa and Luke will go home, leaving me and Tito Louie.
After visiting, Luke would insist to visit the known landmarks of the Big Apple. We went to the Time Square, the Statue of Liberty and the different museums in NYC. Among the places we visited, I liked the Central Park. Even if the place is surrounded by buildings of all sizes, I can still feel the calmness and peace whenever I take a stroll. And it’s all convenient because it’s near the firm.
“Hey man, how are you?” I asked as I placed my phone near my ear.
“Finally, Richard! Nagpang-abot din tayo!” James exclaimed. “So how is it there? Do you recommend that I should branch Aero in New York, too?”
I smirked. The days that passed since we left are still countable, but if feels like he haven’t seen James in a hundred years. I surely miss my best friend, but I need to live with it, since I’m going to spend years, miles away from my hometown before I could go home.
“The usual, it’s colder here than in Manila. And I don’t recommend building your 2nd branch here. Maybe build another one or two in the Philippines first before you try New York. We have different insights in architecture, after all.” I answered.
“Hm. Well, I think you’re right.” James replied. “Anyway, I might pay a visit a few weeks after Vanguard opens. I want to take Angela and Gelo there, too.”
“Alright, just give me a call or send me an e-mail. I’ll personally book your hotel for you. But if you want, you could stay at my condo.” I said to my best friend said.
“Tss. After these years, sa condo ka pa rin nakatira? Gee, Richard, you need a renovation, not the buildings. You should buy a house! It’s New York!” James exclaimed on the other line.
I sighed. “There’s no need, bro. I’m going to live alone. Tito Louie would probably go home after observing Vanguard for a month, then I’ll be alone here. There’s no need for a house. I’ll just feel .. empty.” I said, all the sadness I was feeling was stressed on the last word I said.
“Do you want to ask me, Richard?” James asked.
My brows furrowed. “Ask you what?”
“About Maya.” James answered, making me mum. “You want to know what happened to her, right? If she’s still with Simon, or what she’s doing, or where is she, how she is doing –“
“Please, stop James.”I heart breakingly muttered. My best friend obliged. “I told myself that once I step in this foreign country, I would try my best not to make myself miserable by thinking about her knowing that we’re miles apart. I don’t want to torture myself, James. I want to be free. Well, at least while I’m still new here in New York. I don’t want to feel regrets like if I didn’t leave, what will happen and so on.”
James went silent on the other line. “Are you sure?” He reassured.
“Yes.” I answered. “If she does love me, she’ll wait for me, like the way I waited for her.” I said then took a deep sigh. “How’s Aero, by the way?” I asked, changing to topic. The two spent a few more minutes before James ended the call. He has a meeting and promised that he will call me later that day because of the difference in the time zones.
“Kuya, me and Dad are going out for a walk. Do you want to come?” Luke asked as he popped my head on I’s room, never bothering to knock.
I shook my head. “Nah, I’ll pass. But bring the duplicate key. I’m also going out.” I said as he opened my cabinet and took a jacket out.
“Where are you going?” My little brother asked.
“Central Park.” I shortly answered. Luke just nodded and closed the door. I bet he knew that I’m still adjusting to this sudden shift in my life, especially leaving everything behind me.
I tucked my hands inside the pocket of my pants as I strolled at the Park. It’s around summer here in New York but its colder here than in the Philippines. I took a seat on one of the benches and leaned back, like the weight of all my problems is being lifted up.
On the bench in front of me, there’s a couple, with huge smiles on their faces. They were sitting so close at each other and the guy kept whispering something on the girl’s ear, making her laugh. When someone passed in front of me, that image became me and Maya. I’m holding her near and she’s lovingly staring at me with her eyes that I just love so much.
If things went differently, I wonder where I am now. Maybe I didn’t accept this job in New York, and just stayed at the Philippines. Maya and I might even be celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary. Life would be very different if that happened. I might not even be as strong as I am today.
I stood up and continued to walk. I reached for my phone to check if I have any messages or calls, and there is none. Oh right, I changed my number. I sighed. Ever since I heard James’ voice, I have this urge to ask him how Maya is doing. Even if I’ve already shut my mouth close, deep inside, I wanted to ask endless question to James. I want to know if she’s still with Simon, if Cris gave her the sketch, if she already watched the video, and there’s a lot more ifs. But the one on top is that I want to know if she can now remember me.
Then I guess, that doesn’t really matter anymore, right?
We’re miles away from each other.
I can’t always force her.
I have to let her go.
I was putting on my suit when Papa entered my room. He smiled at me through the mirror and I just gave him a small smile. “How are you feeling?” Papa asked as I was buttoning my suit.
I shrugged. “Same old, I guess.” I shortly replied. Today was the grand opening of Visionary Vanguard. Then on the day after tomorrow, Papa and Luke are going home.
“You told me that you’re doing this for yourself. Well, are you? Or you’re just doing this to forget the feeling of loving her?” Papa asked as he gave me the cufflinks lying on the bedside table.
I sighed. “Trust me, Pa. I’m doing this because I want to. But then again, I might just be doing it for Maya. I don’t know, Pa. I don’t even know if I can trust myself.” I uttered truthfully.
Papa patted my shoulder. “You should start trusting yourself again, because I have complete trust and faith in you, son. I know that no matter what your decisions will be, I will always be there to support you, kahit na anong katangahan pa ‘yan.”
I gave my father a hug. I’m really thankful that our relationship was fixed. Maya was really my miracle. If she didn’t barge into my life, all of this would not be happening. My life would continue having those downs without the ups that she brought. Everything would be imbalanced, but it didn’t happen.
“Thank you, Pa. Thank you so much.” I muttered.
The opening was a breeze. A lot of people came which actually surprised me. A lot of them were the new architects that we hired when we got here. Then some were clients, inquiring for designs and such. Vanguard’s first day was a success.
“Luke, what are you planning to take this year?” I asked as we were eating lunch inside my new office. Papa went out with Tito Louie, they went out shopping for their relatives and friends.
“I’m thinking of taking architecture too, Kuya.” Luke said. He’ll be graduating next week. “Then after I graduated, I’ll be taking over this Vanguard, and be the youngest CEO of my generation.” He proudly added.
I chuckled. He’s really ambitious. “Anyway, I’m sorry if I can’t attend your graduation –“
“Kuya, pwede ba? Akala ko napag-usapan na natin ‘to?” Luke interrupted. “I told you, it’s really okay. Just promise me you’ll be there during my graduation in college.”
I nodded. “Of course! I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” I said.
“Kuya, would you be okay after we leave the day after tomorrow?” My little brother asked.
“Bakit mo tinatanong ‘yan?” I asked back.
He shrugged. “Well, it’s just that you’ll be alone here. Hindi ba malungkot?”
I gave him a small smile. “Thank you for worrying about me, Luke. Yes, I’ll be lonely. Pero I really have no choice. Besides, I’ve been lonely all my life. Nothing bad will happen.” I answered.
“Kaya nga ako nag-aalala Kuya eh.” Luke argued. “Look, if you need any help, I’m just a call away. Wag kang mag-alala sa bill ng phone mo kasi kikitain mo pa rin naman ‘yun. Kahit hindi ako ang tawagan mo, kahit si Ate Maya, para lang kumustahin siya.”
“Kuya, it’s not over yet. Kay Ate Maya pa rin ako.” My little brother said. “You’ve made so much effort in making that video for her. And she would be a fool not to remember anything.” He said. “I just want you to be happy, Kuya, the same way you make me and Dad happy.”
I leaned back on my swivel chair. “Since when did you became a smartass?” I asked.
He shrugged proudly. “Lim eh.”
I laughed. “I’m not totally closing my door, Luke. It’s still opened a little bit, so that I wouldn’t get distracted. Don’t worry, I’ll be happy one day.” Well, ,I need to find a way to be happy.
A week passed and Luke and Papa already left. Vanguard was doing well except for some minor problems. It’s like running the old Vanguard. I already bought a car. I settled for a Honda Civic and hired a driver since I still don’t know my way around here in New York. Tito Louie is still staying at my condo. I’ve already made several site visits and so far, nothing is going wrong.
“Where to, Mr. Lim?” My driver asked as I settled myself on the backseat of my car.
“Central Park, Paul.” I answered and I leaned back as he drove. After a few minutes, the car halted. “Just wait for me here. I won’t be long.” I told him and I got out from my car.
This place has been my sanctuary whenever I was feeling lonely. Luke was right, I do feel lonely but it’s not like I could just turn back and go back home whenever I want to. I was doing my usual stroll when my phone rang.
“Richard! We’re already on our way to the hotel.” James quickly said. I smiled. I totally forgot that he’ll be coming here in New York with Angela.
“I’m sorry James. I should’ve gone to the airport to fetch you. I’ll just come by later this evening.” I said over the phone.
“It’s okay, bro. Weekend naman.” James replied. “Anyway, where are you? Nasa Central Park ka ba?” He asked.
“Yeah. Why?” I asked. I’ve been telling James that I’m always here and he knows that this is where I usually go after work.
He chuckled on the other line. “Wala lang. Sige na. I’ll call you later.” He said and disconnected the phone quickly.
“Weird.” I muttered. I tucked my phone back in my pocket to continue walking but actually stopped after I took my first step.
Her eyes are staring at me, gladly staring at me while standing just a few steps before me. Her hands are joined together as if to rub it in this not so cold weather. After a tick of a second, her lips curved, giving me a full smile. She started walking until she’s only a step before me. I heard her smile.
I don’t know if I’m dreaming.
But I swear ..
I don’t care if I am dreaming.
Because this moment is the only thing I’ve longed for.
I opened my mouth to say her name.
And saying it felt like home.
A/N : So sorry for the late post! Ang dami ko lang pong sideline sa buhay ko, chos.