One Day, One Year

one_dayAnd just like clockwork, Cristern stayed true to his promise: He texted me on the eve of the 1 year anniversary of when we broke up. He was texting to ask if we could meet. Some context: Around this time last year, I had become obsessed with the book and film, One Day. The novel tells the story of two main characters who fall in and out of love throughout the years; through marriage, divorce, children, the two remain friends and stay in touch. And no matter where they were in their respective lives, married, single, on the other side of the world, or right across town, they made a pact that once a year on July 15th, they would somehow get together and meet. September 27th was me and Cristern’s One Day.

The night of my breakup, Cristern made me the very first promise he ever made in our 3.5+ year relationship. He promised that in one year, he would contact me. I believe my reaction to this proposition was, “You’ve gotta be fuckin’ kiddin me. You get romantic on me NOW?’ I asked him what was supposed to happen on this supposed One Day and he said we’d meet and ya know… see how things would go. Bullshit. I wasn’t going to plan my life around a desperation move. This was a ploy so that he could always keep me as an option. Well I certainly refuse to be anyone’s option.

When I received the text, I looked at it for a moment to let it soak in. I was baffled but also not surprised. Baffled, because he still had the audacity to contact me after all the shit he pulled, but also not surprised because he’s been playing the part of a bleeding martyr. To his credit, the text was very nonchalant (or at least trying to be):

“I don’t know if you remember but we wanted to meet up after a year. Well that day is tomorrow. Still wanna meet?”

I have to laugh when I read it. It kinda gives off that hey ya, I’m a cool guy and I totally got this. When in reality, it actually reads more like a coward coming back with his tail between his legs. I felt sorry for him. Clearly, nothing had changed. But I have to give him kudos – how was a text like that supposed to read without sounding too desperate? I don’t even know how I would begin to write something like that. Oh wait, I would NEVER do that because I don’t believe in tethering someone to such a stupid and selfish promise.

When we initially broke up, and then when I got together with David, there was always a part of me that said I would meet up with him. Mostly, just to be kind and get my books back. But then I took a step back and thought long and hard about the real function of that day. That day was for him- not me.  It was a status check to evaluate whether or not I was dateable in his eyes. It was to see if I had changed and had gotten better.

Sorry buddy, I’m still the same- and I kinda like it that way.

I am of course human and do feel bad about not replying. But really, who would I be helping if I did that? He needs to move on and no one can help him on that journey. He has to own it and want it.

I believe in prayer and believe that any good thought is like energy and it can travel anywhere and reach the person you’re praying for. That night before I went to bed, I prayed to him and for him: “I hope you forgive me, like I forgive you.”

There is nothing left to say after that. Maybe one day he’ll understand.

A Life Celebrated: Michelline Salgado-Prieto

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My name is Virginette Acacio and I’m here on behalf of a group of very old friends to the Salgado family called the Dirty Dozen. The Dirty Dozen originally started as a group of parents who loved to dance and play mahjong, while us their kids would run around, play and try to keep from getting in trouble. Apart from hanging out nearly every single weekend, we also did everything together: from camping trips, road trips to Canada and Mexico and grand vacations to the Caribbean. And though none of us are blood-related, I think we can all say with resounding pride that yes – we ARE family. And Ate Chin was the heart of that family.

Ate Chin was older than us kids of the group, so we didn’t consider her as one of us. She was our collective older sister. And like a good older sister, she watched over us and took care of us. When none of us could drive, she would pack us all in her car and take us on outings to San Francisco or to the mall and movies. And whenever we were in public with her, we’d do our best to embarrass her by acting immature by screaming and calling her “Mommy,” at the top of our lungs.

And as older sisters are, she was the classic snitch. She was the one who would report to the parents if one of the girls was dating someone new, or if one of the boys was hurting one of the other boys. When we were in high school, we got in trouble for drinking at a house party and not surprisingly, it got back to her. She ran to our parents in tears, crying and we all got in a lot of trouble for it. I remember being angry at her for doing that and thought, why would she cry about getting us in trouble? Thinking on it now, I realize she was heartbroken, she didn’t want to see her little brothers and sisters doing things like that at such a young age.

I used to think she was just always out to get us- but what she was really trying to do was to keep us in check. She wanted to do right by us. Like a mother hen, she wanted to always protect us and make sure we grew up right. I look around to the DD kids who are in this room now and they are still my very best friends – and some of the most kindhearted, compassionate and good people I know. I know that we were shaped by her and we are so much better for it. Chin, you did good. And all of us are eternally grateful.

About a week before she died, I finished reading a book called, “The Fault in Our Stars.” It’s a story about two young kids with cancer who fall in love. One of the things it talks about it is that when we think of someone who’s died, there’s a sense of finality – an end. And because that person is no longer here, we talk about him or her in the past tense. She WAS a good person or he WAS a good father. When I think of those phrases, I can’t think of a worse way to remember someone. For me, Chin doesn’t live in the past. She lives here now, in the present, in our collective memory and in our hearts, affecting every single moment, how we live and how we love.

She wasn’t Auntie Grace and Uncle Ed’s daughter. She IS Auntie Grace and Uncle Ed’s daughter. She IS Jay-R’s big sis. She IS Wesley’s love. And most importantly, she IS and always will be Yna and KaeKae’s beautiful and ageless mother.

She IS our friend, our cousin, our niece, our aunt, and for me my big sister. Ate Chin, goodbye for now. Thank you for watching over us as we grew up. I know that you will continue to watch over us from where you are. We love you – present tense.

The One That Got Away

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There’s nothing like the memory of a first love. And nothing makes it more memorable and heartbreaking when you have to watch that person walk away.

The other day I went to Starbucks to write and saw two prom couples taking photos. The girls were all decked out in long glittery formal wear. One wore pink and all the ruffles enveloped her – like a tiny bee lost in labyrinth of blossoms. The other wore blue, a mermaid out of water, shining radiantly with sparkles in her hair, like seawater glistening on her crown.

They looked so young and excited for the night ahead.  I couldn’t help but smile and think about that simple and innocent time in my life. When I think of high school, I think of Jay.

All love stories are the same. We were friends.

Jay and I met at a leadership camp the summer before our senior year. The camp was only a weeklong but we both made a lasting impression on one another. A month later after camp ended he had broken his arm in a horrific car accident and was unable to make the camp beach reunion. A week later, I drove out to the East Bay to visit him and bring him In-n-Out and show him pictures of the event and tell him everything he missed. We became fast friends.

In those early days, I would call him in tears at the thought of leaving home to go to college. He would confide in me about the development of his father’s illness. He’d accompany me to dances when I didn’t have a date. He’d ask me to come over to help him to look after his baby sister. We had to be friends because that’s all we could be. He was with someone else. When we were together, we laughed and experienced so much joy. But we both struggled with the definition of our relationship. We both felt it. After we’d see one another, he would go home and put on a face for his girl, while I got down on my knees and put my face in my hands. It was hard to be in love with your best friend.

Homecoming came around and I had no date for the dance and in his usual way, Jay came to the rescue. When he got me back to my house after the dance, he had the arduous task of helping me take down the countless pins in my hair. We sat on the floor of my room, stifling our giggles in the wee hours of the morning while he plucked my hair and counted each one. When he finished, I shook my head, closed my eyes and ran my fingers slowly through my hair. I opened my eyes and he leaned in deep and kissed me.

He broke my heart not too soon after that, professing undying love to his girlfriend and denying any involvement with me. What followed in the decade after was a stop-and-start fledgling relationship. At some point in all those years, I let go of my past disappointment and anger for what happened, and concentrated on one thing – being his friend; and that friendship has been the most fulfilling and bittersweet of all.

In my anxiety about moving forward in what could be my new relationship, I had to look back to my past, and look for advice from Jay, the one person who probably knew me the best. He confided in me about the complicated particulars of his relationship and how he would be going next level and asking his girlfriend to marry him.

I was happy for him but couldn’t help but think- had we missed our chance?

For a long time, I felt there was nothing to mourn. Though Jay and I never had the opportunity to be in a tried and true relationship, I treasured the fragile friendship that we did have. With my dad and grandma in the hospital and his father passing away, we have been each other’s sanity checks and shoulder to cry on.

After all we’d been through, would it soon be time to say goodbye?

I sit back and look at it as logically as I can. We would be horrific as a couple, so much so that it makes me chuckle just thinking about it. I think our relationship would be awful and amazing, vindictive and forgiving, volatile and serene, thoughtless and deeply loving, all at the same time. And at the end of it, we will have amnesia of every negative thing and only remember one thing- our friendship.

Perhaps we were lovers in a past life and that’s why our friendship has survived 13 years in this life. And just as he’s growing up and finding love and happiness, so am I. I think we’ve been here for one another to help each other on this never-ending journey. Soon, we’ll both have to walk away.  My heart will break a little and maybe his will too. I will look back on that time with fondness and I hope he will do the same.