Art by Gian Nicdao
As a hopeless romantic, I’m pretty intense.
So when lovestruck tweets about To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before character Peter Kavinsky surfaced, I realized the grand gestures everyone fawned over equal to the bare minimum for me. Buying their favorite yogurt drink? Been there. Changing my phone wallpaper to their selfie? Done that.
I can hear some of you saying, okay so do you want a medal? I don’t. Maybe I’m bad at dating, you say? Your feedback is noted. Or maybe: why? In the spirit of self-deprecation, let me tell you about some grand gestures I’ve made in the name of love. Consider this roundup as a cheat sheet… or a cautionary tale.
Looking back, I didn’t realize I was capable of doing those things until I did them — it’s like love is this power-up that can amp up anything. In retrospect, these things aren’t even grand at all but let me tell you: it sure felt like it.
The one where I gave orchestra seats to the show of the season
My previous job had this serious perk that everyone loved: complimentary tickets. They usually come in last minute, so I just message the people on top of my friends list, which obviously would include people I wanted to date again. What I didn’t know is this one person I invited would come with a plus one. We all met in the lobby, we all got to catch up — turns out they planned a movie date but ditched it for this one. I figured since it’s been a while I’ll be okay sitting next to them, but I only lasted until the intermission. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for them, and I definitely felt the love that night, but nothing says you’re alone and single more than third-wheeling.
The one with the sticky notes
When I first met this med student, it felt like the universe conspired. We lived near each other, we both had the same sign, we were both jologs. We hit it off right away. Soon enough, we would spend almost every day together, studying and illustrating side by side. I was going through my IG Stories when I saw my person ran out of sticky notes. I figured I had a window in between meetings to go back to España to deliver said favorite sticky notes, and go back to Makati in time for my next appointment. Two learnings from this experience: the train is the fastest way to go around and when you draw smileys on post-its, it’ll still be on someone’s wall two years later.
The one where I painstakingly made a replica of the adventure book in Up
When you’re someone’s first for a lot of things, you tend to be a lot sweeter than you ought to be. I racked my brain for the perfect birthday gift: a care package that had, among other things, a mixtape, favorite candies, a weekly desk planner, and the pièce de résistance: an adventure book. I actually don’t know what the reaction was, but I do remember when the time came for me to let go, I gave a painting of Carl and Ellie’s Paradise Falls mural. I also made a digital version of the painting with the words ‘Thanks for the adventure’ because I really was grateful. This led me to creating a series of posters that served as a therapy of sorts — nothing like heartbreak to inspire art, am I right?
The one when I wrote a whole sequel to a short story she wrote
As our designated theme song goes, I’m lucky I’m in love with my best friend — cause I was, for a while. And not just in a cute, shy way. I was completely head over heels. I mean, we even had pet names (no hate) and “monthsaries” (again, no hate). So when the first monthsary came along, I knew I had to do something special. It hit me: she lent me one of her short stories before, one that talked about the red strings of fate, and I figured, hey I can write a sequel showing the guy’s perspective! So after writing over 3,500 words, it was signed, sealed, and delivered. I don’t have a copy of it but I’m pretty sure it was as bad as our setup.
The one where I wrote and illustrated a children’s storybook
I had made a lot of illustrations for this “friend” already so I knew I had to step it up. I started writing something my friend could read when he’s down: a kid who wants to be a dinosaur when he grows up. My friend loves dinosaurs. I knew I had to write it in rhyme so definitely it was not my best work, but it had some of my best illustrations. The relationship was over in three months, a lifespan that wasn’t a choice. I’m pretty sure that storybook, along with the times I went to Diliman for surprises and karaoke while stuck in traffic, met its end too.