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One by One
I woke up to the sound of his cabinet doors creaking noisily as he opened them to get his clothes. He’s never really sensitive to people who are sleeping, probably because he never had problems with sleeping. He’s the type of guy who can just rest his head against the wall and fall asleep. It’s a miracle he never dozes off while driving, especially in heavy traffic. I still wonder how he manages to stay awake in class.
Just before entering the shower, he brings out a small bag and leaves it on the floor next to the bed.
“You left all these behind again,”
Then he goes on and immediately shuts the door behind him, as if somehow escaping my defiance. I moved towards the edge of the bed and reached inside the bag. My toothbrush, my deodorant, my conditioner, and my hair dryer. Oh and a pack of sanitary napkins.
It’s been five months. It’s been five months; twenty weeks; one hundred and fifty days of usually the same things; watching sitcoms until late at night, experimenting with leftovers from his fridge, staying over his apartment when the catfights and drama in my dorm top that of America's Next Top Model. My roommates are crazy, and sometimes it's nice to find solace in a completely peaceful and quiet apartment such as his.
It's been five months of this familiar routine, so to tell you the truth, I purposely left all those things on his bathroom counter. Just to see if things have changed. I used to leave them behind all the time, thinking it meant nothing, until he got mad and told me to stop being so forgetful about them..
"You're always forgetting your things," he said the first time we fought about it. “Your hair brush, your charger, sometimes even your wallet! Your freakin’ wallet! Dee, for someone your age you should be more responsible with your stuff. I can't always be there to bring them back to you, you know."
When I told him I leave them behind on purpose, he got mad and said he didn’t see the point in doing so. They’re hardly ever a burden to carry around in my purse anyway, he said, and besides it’s not like I sleep over every night.
So I stopped doing it. I just carry around an extra large bag just so we didn’t have to fight anymore over something so seemingly insignificant. Until today. Turns out things haven’t changed much even after five months.
But the thing is, it’s been five months. It’s not like this is going to be the last time I sleep over. I need these stuff, my hairdryer most especially – hello, I don’t look the way I normally do right when I wake up in the morning. Does he really think there’s no trouble in lugging your toiletries inside your bag all day?
Other than that though, what really irks me is the fact that even after all this time, he still can’t let me inside his space. I feel as if his apartment still does not welcome me as a part of it. I will always be just a visitor. There is no sign of me in his room, in his stuff, in anything. I can’t be a fixture in this place because it’s all about him. I guess leaving behind my stuff was my way of marking my existence in his place, in his life. And it troubles me that despite the closeness and familiarity, I might still be a stranger to him.
The doorbell rings. I’m guessing it’s McDonald’s. If anything is permanent in this place, it’s the constant presence of the famous golden arches.
"Breakfast's here!" I call out to him after peeking through the door viewer.
"Just grab my wallet. It's in my back pocket," he shouted from inside the shower. "The right one!"
I pick his pants up from up the floor. Of course I know it's in the right one, what did he think I was? It's always in his right pocket. When I finally did get it, I wasn't really surprised at how thick and messy it was. Guys just probably stash it all there when they put things in. If I wasn't so annoyed at him, I'd probably fix it, but because he apparently still hates it when I cross the limits of his personal bubble, I won't.
I open the door to find the friendly delivery man in the usual red and yellow uniform. "Here you go, Ma'am," he happily chirps. I try hard not to roll my eyes at his fake cheerfulness, and grabbed a wrinkled five-hundred peso bill from inside the mess that is his wallet. But before I could get the whole bill, everything fell out. Receipts, cash, cards -- my goodness, this guy is a mess! And to think he doesn’t want me cluttering his bathroom counter. Who’s messy now?
"Oh shoot, I'm so sorry," I say as we both bend down to pick up the stuff. As I hurriedly tried to get the money and cards right away, right there, on top of his license, was the little plastic bag with my horrendous 1x1 pictures taken three months ago. Sweaty forehead, puffy eyes, horrible straight face – it was frightful. I detested that picture (and the photographer who wasn’t even looking at me directly as he clicked the shutter.) What’s worse was that there were five of them remaining in the plastic. Ugly me times five. Last time I checked, it was hidden on the secret pocket inside my wallet. What was it doing there? How did it get there?
I stand up and hurriedly stashed back all his clutter inside the brown, worn-out wallet. I give the delivery guy the five hundred peso bill, and he immediately gives back the change before handing over breakfast.
I hear Matt coming out of the shower just as I close the door.
"Mmm, breakfast! Hash browns!" He walks towards the kitchen with a smile. He looks so fresh and clean and cute, but with a hungry look that only a McDonald's breakfast could satisfy.
Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I didn't need to leave my things behind to prove that I am a part of his life. Because I already am. And just knowing that is enough.
"I dropped your wallet. I'm sorry," I managed to say while giving it back to him.
"Oh, never mind. As long as it's all still here."
And he's right. It is. I am here. Right here.