Hedda's Story: First Bouquet
What do you want to do today?
I have been fantasizing of this dream date since I was 12—a candlelight dinner with piano or saxophone instrumental background music… a man in a suit holding a bouquet of carnations and sunflowers. His lips are romantically stretched sideways as he stares at me, with eyes that sparkle excitedly as I walk towards him. He then meets me and kisses me on my cheek, hands me the bouquet and says lines like “will you be my girlfriend” or says “you are so beautiful” or maybe even “will you marry me”?
I fell in love and had my first boyfriend with no conditions at the age of 21. As I recall, we never had a candlelight dinner date. He never got me a bouquet of flowers, not even a stalk of santan blooms. And the worst? He cheated on me, and that was when I decided I should break up with him two years into the relationship.
I had a hard time moving on from my first love. In fact, it took me years before my scarred heart totally healed. In the process, I asked myself many questions like “Why do men cheat?” and “Why do men entertain others when they’re already in a relationship?” In the process of healing, I stereotyped that all men are cheaters. In the process of healing, I developed this belief system that in the 21st century, gentlemen no longer exist.
I eventually learned to hate men, and then myself. The heartbreak made me insecure—I kept telling myself that I will always get cheated because I’m not beautiful, I’m not sexy and I’m not interesting!
In order to get away from the negative thoughts I had, I learned to love working for 13 hours each day in full-time and part-time jobs. Home-work-home-work became my routine with the intent to tire myself out so that when I get home after work, I get so tired the only thing I want to do is to go to bed. Being a workaholic helped me overcome the storm.
A few years later, I thought of giving dating another shot. I got myself into two more relationships 5 years after that first heartbreak, none of which worked. Fortunately for me, I did not give so much of my heart to them, unlike the first. So, moving on from them was just easy. However, I ended up constantly telling myself that I’d rather be single the rest of my life unless the dream date or the dream bouquet will happen. And for another 3 years, I spent much of my time with work, with friends and with family.
In August 2017, I met Rey. We met through a dating app, and then in person at a poetry reading event. He did not like me on our first meeting and it was clear to me that I was not his cup of tea. And who would like me? I became so haggard looking at that time because I exhausted myself trying to get a master’s degree.
We became friends anyway. We met in person sometimes, even inviting me to attend poetry reading sessions. The thing is, it was clear that he still did not like me. I found him mysterious and interesting for some reason.
One day Rey told me that he doesn’t want to meet me anymore without any explanation. We were just friends, but that did break my heart. And after that, I promised to myself to forget about the dream date, the dream man and the dream bouquet. I kept telling myself that I will be forever single.
I decided to be unsearchable on social media so I deactivated my accounts, uninstalled applications and even changed my name on Facebook. I found out later that he blocked me on FB.
I thought that was the end. But after six gloomy months, I installed Instagram again and found a message from him saying “I’m sorry”. I did not understand why and it took me hours before I replied to his message. And then I made the decision to meet him.
It was April 9, 2018 when we finally met again and I was surprised that he has changed. He no longer looks down on me and instead, was all smiles. It was the first time I saw him happy to see me. I pointed this out to him and asked why and where did the change come from, and then he talked about his self-improvement journey courtesy of a leadership program/workshop series.
On September 2, my LEAP (Leadership Excellence Achievement Program) graduation. Rey, who was by this time my boyfriend, appeared with blazer paired with maong pants. He was holding a bouquet, the exact bouquet that I have always dreamed of getting: carnations and sunflowers. It was a mix of surprise and so much joy that I was not only teary-eyed as he was giving his message for me, I wanted to hug him in the middle of his speech. How did he know the things I’ve always wanted to have and experience since I was 12?
And that was when I realized that although it is great to formulate goals for your future, it’s best to wait and trust the timing and process of things instead of rushing through everything just to achieve the goal. As they say, good things come to those who wait. In my case, September 2, 2018 turned me into a much better person overall. All the heartbreaks in the past molded me to become a woman capable of wholehearted love.
ABOUT THE STORYTELLER
Hedda Gimena is a manager of an ESL school, and member of The Stray Poets Collective. She will be telling the story of her first--and most recent--bouquet, and the events that led to it.
Her story was first shared on Story Nights: Cebu event themed ‘Firsts’ last January 12, 8:30-10:30PM at Grafik 9.