Once upon a time, I was pretty good in Math. I studied in a Chinese school and my Math teacher taught us so many tricks. By the time I transitioned to a new school, I was way ahead of my classmates. I loved how you could solve any problem with a little bit of common sense and just a pinch of elbow grease. It felt good to know that all problems have a clear solution. For the first few years, I got pretty high marks in Math.
And then came the concept of factoring. Hate is such a strong word and I don’t really use it that often but I can honestly say with the utmost conviction that I hate factoring. I still remember that day we first discussed it. My teacher gave us rules and examples but at the end of the day, it all boiled down to a concept that I could not grasp- trial and error. Math is all about logic. If you willingly risk making a mistake to find an answer, that’s not being logical at all. There should be no room for errors, I remarked and this new concept was shaking my very ideals to the core.
I flunked many a test in factoring and that year spelled the end of my love story with Math. In high school, I cheated my way through Algebra and Calculus. In college, I had to retake Trigonometry in a different college just to pass. I no longer wanted to study Math knowing that there are some problems that could only be solved by trial and error. They say all the failures in your life happen for a purpose. Last night, I realized why I flunked factoring.
I was out with friends two hours after my new love* ended. I needed the distraction. I was quiet the whole time and they kept asking me about it but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t really feel like talking about it. Being the youngest, my friends are a little over-protective of me and I didn’t want to think about anything at that time except recuperating from my loss. When alcohol had lent us its strength a few hours later, they pushed me into talking and I managed to finish the story without a single tear. I was pretty proud of myself.
But then they started discussing it and one of my closest friends said that I “allowed the situation to happen.” She meant well. She always does but at that exact moment, all my fake strength evaporated. In a moment worthy of Maalala Mo Kaya cameras, I delivered my first emotional line of the night.
“So are you saying that it’s my fault I’m in this shit? Honestly, I just gave this whole thing a chance. You wouldn’t understand because you’ve never allowed yourself to fall in love,” I said (with matching tears). It was part defense, part offense. She pushed my buttons and I knew just which ones to push if I wanted to cross her. By then, our voices were raised and the people in the other tables were starting to stare. Our other friends, split by the conflicting points, could not do anything but try to calm us both down. I stood up and went to the restroom. People can be so irrational when they’re emotional.
She was quiet after that. When I came back from the restroom, I noticed she was stifling tears. Damn, I felt so guilty when I saw that. I cannot stand seeing women crying and knowing that I made a really good friend cry made me feel like such an asshole. I knew that words would not be enough so instead of going back to my seat, I went over to hers and gave her a really big hug.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered in between sobs. “I’m just very emotional right now.” She flinched. It was one of our most awkward hugs.
“I just don’t understand why you allow things like that to happen to you. You saw it coming. You told me all about it. I’m not the type of friend who would hold your hand and tell you everything’s gonna be alright. I’m sorry, I’m just not. You saw it coming but you didn’t do anything to stop it.”
“No, I didn’t but you can’t blame me for that. That’s what you do when you love someone. You exhaust all options because it’s worth it. But I have my limits too. Would it help if I told you I ended it?”
She looked at me and said nothing but in her eyes, I could hear what she wanted to say. You’re stronger now. I’m glad you used your head this time*.
“Everyone says I’m jaded. Everyone says I don’t allow myself to love but how can I knowing that it could really get hurt?” she explained. “You’re one of the smartest people I know and yet you’re so stupid when it comes to love. You keep allowing these things to happen to you. I just don’t understand.”
I told her my factoring story. At first, she looked at me like I was crazy to bring up such an inane topic in a moment of high emotional stress but when I got to my point, I felt like for the first time that night, we finally saw eye to eye.
“In math and life, the hardest problems can only be solved by trial and error. You think I was being stupid for allowing my heart to get stepped on again and again and again. What you’re not seeing is I learned so many things along the way. Yes, I’ve made a lot of stupid mistakes but they will all be worth it once I find that person- the one who loves me to death and never fails to let me know every single day. The one who can be proud of me and would never hide me behind walls of secrets*. Don’t you think that’s worth it?”
“I just don’t like seeing you get hurt,” she explained. “I know I have a weird way of showing it but you know I love you, right?”
“I know. I know. That’s why you should probably know this: I have a lot of mistakes to make before I find that person. There will be times when I will feel down and I need to know I can count on friends like you to be there for me.” We hugged and that was that. Good lovers are easy to find but I would trade a shitload of them for one really good friend.
Trial and error: an abomination to logic but if you think about it, when has love ever become logical?
Photo Credit: BCMath
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