Douglas MacArthur

Written by Stanley Semilla | Published at 20 September 2017

“I shall return”

That was a famous quote from MacArthur. And that was on my mind when we met before I left for my Indochina trip.

I will be on a trip with 3 ladies from my college organization. I didn’t expect the trip to push through. My heart wasn’t ready for the trip, because I know something is bothering me. 10 days out of the country. 10 days away from my family. 10 days away from my friends. 10 days away from the person I wish to be with everyday. But going on that trip will make me alone. Alone in a sense that I am away from the people valuable to me. And I expect myself to appreciate their presence. In the same way, I’ll be alone. Alone with God so I can think straight, and make a very important life decision. I’ll be away for 10 days, and I met with Ielle before my trip. I wanted to see her, and post a question on my mind and heart, “liligawan ko ba si Marielle?”

Finally! We’ll meet near her office. Ielle told me about a nearby The Wholesome Table restaurant. And I decided I’ll bring her there. I went ahead of time. I didn’t want to be late in any of our dates. There I found Starbucks. I went inside, ordered my favorite ‘hazelnut Americano grande hot with 3/4 water’. There were a few things that shocked me during my stay in this particular Starbucks. (1) GoWifi — it is my go-to wifi connection in Ayala malls. I wasn’t expecting GoWifi to be available in this particular branch. (2) Store Manager — I was shocked to see Kuya Dwight. He was a friend back in college. (3) Seat availability — Starbucks stores seem to be full all the time. Considering also that this branch is in Makati, I didn’t expect myself to find a place with wall sockets nearby. Three things that made me say things are in order.

It was time to meet with Ielle. Funny thing, she passed by Starbucks, and didn’t notice that. Nonetheless, we were able to communicate and meet. We arrived at the restaurant, and Ielle wasn’t in the mood to eat. She had a prior incident with a client/passenger that cursed her on the phone. That’s the first time I saw her sad face. But her sad face is as cute as her normal face. “Lord, nung nagpasabog ka ng kagandahan at ka-cute-an, naibuhos mo lahat kay Ielle.” We ordered food, and I did the honor of choosing the food for us. Ielle approved.

Before the food even arrived, we were busy talking. Ielle was telling me the story and consequences of some work-related issues. I was eager to listen to her. She deserves someone to vent out her frustrations and disappointments, and I was willing to be that person. Even with her venting out, I was able to smile at her. I just can’t stop smiling at her. She was just adorable, in good or bad times. I couldn’t help but think, “what should I do to not miss this person too much?” I realized I have to let her frustrations pass, and she should be able to smile without hesitation. So I dug up a video, a video I haven’t shown everyone. Without hesitation, I showed it to Ielle. Barbie Girl — the video she saw, and she had a big laugh on it. I was relieved.

After finishing up our dinner, I was looking for dessert. Ice cream probably. I didn’t want to go home yet, even though my flight is a few hours away. I wanted to be with her for a longer time. I guess that’s what you do before a 10-day trip. She guided me to a nearby McDonalds. We walked for about 15 minutes. I was sweating, and she handed me some tissue to wipe up. I appreciated her gesture, and that was ideal to me. Small acts of love, but they mean a lot to me. When we were in McDonalds, it was embarrassing because she didn’t want to order anything. But I was not ashamed to order large twister fries and sundae hot fudge. She was just smiling at me. Watching me eat and enjoy both the fries and ice cream. (They were delicious, by the way)

It was getting late again, and we have to go home. We decided to book an Uber away from McDonalds. While walking to our pick-up location, I want to hold her hand. I want to assure her that I’m going for a trip, but I shall return. I wanted her to know that. But I didn’t know how to tell her — not only with words but with my actions as well. I’ve had mixed emotions that time. Happy that I got to spend time with her before my trip. Lonely because I’ll be away for the next 10 days.

(P.S. I found the photo I took that night. It was stored in the “Recently Deleted” album. I had it recovered.)

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