by Faith Arlette Villasfer Bongco

Noun. the bitter-sweetness of having arrived in the future, seeing how things turn out, but not being able to tell your past self.

Had I known that that would be the last time, I would’ve laughed and told you “You’re an idiot”
I would’ve stayed a little longer, just sitting there in the silence, not wanting to go home yet.
I would’ve pulled up a chair and sat with you as you turn pages of your book, quietly humming,
Listening to the bustling sounds of a coffee shop with crowds murmuring and machines whirring.
I would’ve bought you a cup of coffee, and asked you about that book that you were reading
Asked if it talked about space, about math, or about how time breaks when your world starts changing.

When days no longer make sense, it’s hard to look forward to what tomorrow might bring
Especially, when the past seems to extend only as far back as to when the sun rose that morning
One moment, you were in a classroom cramming for your next class, memorizing, studying, praying,
Caffeine running through your veins making your hands jitter when class cards started shuffling.
You were never the religious type, but you clasp your hands together, palms sweaty and hands cold,
Promising your first-borne child to whatever deity could prevent your name from getting called.

Albeit it was a stressful life, you’ve grown accustomed to the grind, gotten quite fond of it in fact.
A circus of a life where the slightest miscalculation might topple this precarious balancing act.
But it was a life that you chose and it was a life that you so willingly went through like a machine.
It was an illusion of normalcy that we created through our repetitive mundane everyday routine.
You loved it, nonetheless, there was something about routines that you found quite comforting.
Maybe it was the fact that you always did find the word “change” as appalling rather than appealing.

So when time decided to break, you found yourself in a version of “reality” that seemed so strange.
Days feel like weeks and weeks pass like minutes. Suddenly, it’s been a year since that last exchange
And you’re sitting in front of the screen staring at familiar faces but never actually seeing these people.
You are hit with the realization that no matter how far technology has come, this new life is pretty dull.
“Humans are social beings”, they said. You are inclined to believe that this might actually be true
And perhaps life seems pretty dull because you’d rather be “In with the old and out with the new.”

But the thing about time is, time mends. Not because things magically go back to how they once were,
No, nothing like that. You learn to accept reality as what it is now as opposed to what it was before.
Time starts to move again as you find old habits in the guise of new routines that you start to uncover
As you hold on to keepsakes of a world so different from now, but open your arms to new wonders.
You start to think that maybe, Einstein might be on to something when he said that time is relative
And if time is based on frame of reference, you’d like to believe that time is based on your narrative.

A narration of facts that talk about how people connect not merely by touch but through heartbeats
Steady thumps that resonate and transcend physical bounds, reminding you to take it slow and breathe
The phrase “one call away” receives new meaning as you  hold on to your phone like it’s a lifeline
One that tethers you to the people that matter, even if just by that green dot that tells you they’re online.
The word “here” no longer means just to be physically by your side but here in your heart as well.
And when someone says  “I’m here for you”, it means you have someone whatever fate might befell.

You learn to not take things for granted and to value those rare moments of spending time together
Smiling from ear to ear behind your masks when you see a friend that you haven’t seen in forever.
You learn to memorize features that you never quite noticed before, like how blue the sky actually is
And how heavenly that first bite of cheesecake was, the one that you’ve been craving for weeks.
You learn to listen to the sounds of a city that used to be bustling but now has streets that merely hum
And you take in every detail, every crumb, every fragment of  what this new reality of life has become.

Had I known that that was the last time, I would’ve talked your ear off, I would have told you a lot.
I would’ve told you that we’re like grass that grows everywhere and doesn’t even need to be in a pot.
I would’ve told you to to get out of bed, go outside, get more sunlight, photosynthesize and grow.
Time always finds a way to repair itself . The world will keep turning and the wind will always blow.
I would’ve told you to keep your head up high. Go with the punches. I promise you’ll end up victorious
Have a little faith. Climb. Over that daunting mountain, I assure you, there is a future waiting for us.