One of the first things I did last year to cope with the break-up was to pack my ex's things in a huge box the size of a small refrigerator. (We Filipinos call this the balikbayan box, a box usually filled by Filipinos overseas with trinkets to send back home to their families.)
I carefully folded each shirt, each sock, each pair of pants that he left behind. I deposited his bags, his toys, any trinkets he might have forgotten when he was last here at home with me. I found shoes that we shared, and I carefully decided which ones he especially loved. (I was very careful not to send anything that he gave to me; I didn't think it was kind to return gifts.)
Lastly, I packed the only picture of us that I framed and so proudly displayed at my office. It was one of our very first pictures together back when we were dating in 2007. We looked tentative but happy in the picture.
I packed those items in the balikbayan box, and there they quietly stayed, waiting for when I was ready to see all of his things go. I told myself, I just need one more month, then I am sure I won't break down as his things finally go.
One month became two, and two became thirteen. Every single month, I would ask myself, "Am I ready to see his things leave, too? What if he comes back?"
There it was, the question a broken up person should never ask. "What if he comes back?"
I asked this question in embarrassed silence in all thirteen months that I kept the box. My friends would ask me, "So when is the box leaving?" I would kiddingly say, "Maybe tomorrow." Tragic as it may be, what I really wanted to say was, "Maybe it doesn't have to."
My father visited me last month to help me with some personal arrangements. He found a few unused appliances in my kitchen, and he asked if he could have them. "Of course," I said, not really remembering to whom those belong. "If we haven't used them for a while, we won't be using them ever."
My dad packed these appliances in the balikbayan box, and I finally sent them off to
Manila. I told my dad to coordinate with my ex when the box lands so he can just get those from him.
Tonight, I received a text from my ex, asking if he could keep some of the appliances. (I could only assume that the box had arrived.) He mentioned, "They're really important to me."
(Only then did I remember that he might have bought those appliances. We used them together for so long, the ownership over things things dissolved into a blur; one never prepares for the clarity that might be necessary in the event of a break-up.)
I couldn't help but feel sad and angry. I am sure he didn't mean it the way I am feeling it, but I somehow got the feeling that the appliances were worth more than our relationship. I was once important to him, but, now, I only got the words that the appliances are important to him.
No, it's not that I want to get back together with him. It's just terribly sad that I never would have imagined that what I had put in the box would seem to be more valuable than the life we had shared together.