My fourth year in high school proved to be one of the most challenging moments of my life. It was not only a period where I'd experience new things but suffer the most painful times of my life.
When classes started, I was alone. If truth be told, most of my classmates had a group to hang out with. Except me that is. Whenever it was lunch time, my classmates would bunch up into groups and eat their lunch together. When there was a group project or report, the same people merged. If there was an outing after school, each one had their own plans and invitations. All but me.
Of course this was nothing new to me. I experienced this ever since I was in first year. There were factors that made this nearly unbearable though. For one thing, I had a gaming group to go to on lunch break during the previous years. I'd play RPGs and Magic: The Gathering with them. That wasn't much of an option this year though since these friends have moved on to college.
Second, I was stuck with one of the most despised people in the batch as my seatmate: Paolo Quazon. What made him an outcast is not any of his physical features. He didn't have a mole, talk differently, or any other grotesque feature. Instead, it was his personality. He annoyed people and was self-righteous. He was quick to point out other people's flaws while ignoring his own. Like me, he was looking for a friend but wasn't able to find one.
Don't get me wrong. I gave him a chance a long time ago. Back in grade seven, I was one of his friends. It didn't take long for me to break it off. What put me off was the fact that he was like my mother: refusing to see the truth and unwilling to change. Which was ironic, since he read many books that dealt with issues like that. I couldn't imagine how a person who read about stuff he did and not see it in themselves. The fact was, there are people like that. Like Paolo. And my mom.
My classmates needed me though. After all, I paid attention in class and I often brought the required materials such as pad paper and bond paper. I knew whenever there was a homework to be submitted or when the deadline of a project was. This made me an invaluable asset and a leader of sorts. When it came to group work, I always had a position.
I occupied my breaks by staying in the publishing room of our school paper or hanging out in the service office. By this time, I had already acquired the "stalker" reputation I still possess now. Don't get me wrong, I'm not the stalker that takes note of your every move and follows you around. I'm just a person who likes to surprise people so I creep up on you until you notice me. I'm usually only two or three feet behind you so that at appropriate times, I can be seen. If I wanted to really stalk someone, you wouldn't even know I was watching you.
Eventually, I became a liaison officer for the service office and all around wandering student. I'd move from one org room to another or walk around the campus. My first problem was bearable, if not solved.
It was also during this time that I fell in love with Nissie. It meant new experiences for me. For one thing, I finally got the courage to call up a girl. Or more specifically, I gathered the courage to call up a girl who was raised by a conservative Chinese family. I'd dial the number with only a stern father to answer the phone saying that his daughter was unavailable. Or as what would happen most of the time, a busy number.
I needed a reason to talk with Nissie. People you barely know don't just talk to you or call you up. One idea that popped into my head was my pet project during the summer. Aside from my job, I wanted to create an anime magazine. I had actually managed to get some writers who pledged that they'd contribute work but when I asked them for it, they didn't have anything to give. I thought of resurrecting this project and since Nissie loved to write, who better to be my feature writer?
Suffice to say, this was how P.Otaku Bytes, my fanzine, came to life. I gave assignments to the people who pledged to contribute, not bothering to ask if they could do it. I just assigned it to them. And they submitted.
I had experienced a lot of firsts for Nissie. One, I actually began to care about my appearance. I asked my parents for contact lenses and so we went to the optical shop to purchase one. My classmates immediately noticed this and knew I was interested in someone. Second, I actually visited ICA. I became one of the many Xaverians who stood outside ICA's gate, waiting for their friends to come out. I loaned Nissie some books and CDs so I went to her school after class. This was something I thought I'd never do.
During all this time, I'd yearn to talk and see Nissie. Her smile gave me a purpose in life. The fact that I'd talk to her completed not just my day but my entire week. I envied Marson and Bundi, two of my batchmates who were good friends with Nissie and often talked to her. Because of that, I started to hang around with them. I scrounged all the info about Nissie I could get from them. They could see that I obviously had a crush on her.
In several ways, my motives were not only apparent but quite headstrong. I'd even give a book to Nissie even if she didn't ask for it. Why did I do it? It wasn't like my previous intentions as to make them think I'm kind or become obligated to me but simply for the fact that I wanted to see her happy. I had to lie to make her accept the gift. I told her I was just loaning it to her when in fact I had no intention of getting it back.
By the time it was year 2000, we all thought of graduation. More importantly, the graduation ball that came along with it. I wanted to invite Nissie. Bundi didn't have a date since his love interest was "stolen" from him by a classmate of mine. He was confused and didn't know who to take. I didn't complain when he decided to ask Nissie. I was even present when he invited her.
Since my first choice was gone, I decided to go for the cutest girl I knew. Sheila agreed, although she told me I could freely choose another one. I said that I had no one else except her. I told her that my crush was going with someone else. Eventually she bought a dress so it was too late for me to back out even if I wanted too. And then Bundi asked me if I could take Nissie to the ball since he now knew who he wanted to take. I slapped my head. I told him it was too late; my date had already bought a gown. I wanted to strangle him then for putting me all through this only to concede to me at a time when I couldn't accept. Things were about to get worse.
The graduation ball had several tables, each table comprising of five couples. We were to submit our table arrangements to the organizers. I wanted to avoid Bundi and Nissie's table at all cost. I had an ominous feeling if I joined them something terrible would happen. Unfortunately, Bundi's friends had a list of people they wanted to avoid sharing a table with so they coerced me into joining their table. What a big mistake I made. During the ball, I saw filled with jealousy at seeing Nissie in her gown. She looked beautiful. I was engulfed in a wave of depression. Sheila knows; she was there.
It was the most horrible day of my life. I went home sad and unable to sleep. I was so immersed in my own problems that Sheila was out of my mind entirely. All I could think of was Nissie.
After my graduation, I had one last chance to greet Nissie congratulations on graduating. I memorized her cellular phone number from Marson and then asked my parents for a phone of my own. The reason I didn't get one before is because it was illegal to bring them to school. That didn't stop my classmates though.
And so, on Nissie's graduation day, I sent her a text message congratulating her. She didn't really reply back. I was devastated. The days following that, I continued to send her messages. No reply. It didn't take a genius to know what she felt about me. I wanted to die.
This was the worse thing that I had ever felt. I told some good friends like Kara that I had a traumatic experience during my freshman year in high school. That was nothing compared to this. I wanted to die. Living brought unbearable agony. I couldn't sleep and I couldn't eat. I couldn't enjoy what I used to do such as reading or watching anime. Every time I saw such things, I remembered Nissie and what I had lost. Death would have been a blessing.