this story originally appeared in the philippine daily inquirer on April 2, 2002.

When I read a Young Blood article last year about this 23-year-old woman and her constant battle with the world over her 17-year-old lover, I just had to laugh. In relief. You’re not alone, woman, I said to myself. Though my problem has nothing to do with age, it definitely is considered against Nature’s plan and has sent me into sad, not even terribly imaginative cartwheels of pain and emotional disembowelment. My boyfriend is gay.

And I’m a neurotic loon. I knew from the start, but it was his being exactly that which made me fall in love with him, plus the fact that he closely resembled my immediate ex. So when we met, I was immediately drawn to his wit, charm and smile.

At first it was a girl-gay-best-friend thing, but as the months progressed, it was an impossibility for me to be away from him even for a single second. It was trouble, I knew. I sensed it, I watched it spiraling close, but I never ran for cover. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. I just let it run me over. And if the chance to do it all over again comes, I would run to it headlong for the second time. Gladly.

You see, I’m a woman who is passionately attracted to crazy, demented ideas, pain and all sorts of emotional struggles. I hate the norms and traditions of society and love to test the limits of my spirit.

This time, though, I got burned and got more than what I bargained for. I fell in love deeply. Just like what the poster on my bedroom wall says: “Anything less than mad, passionate love is a waste of my time.” And what else would you call this, this bizarre love story between Michael and me?

Michael and I started as best friends. We talked and laughed a lot, compared notes on boy stuff, shared intimate secrets and cried on each other’s shoulders when the world got tougher. We would have one-on-one drinking sessions that lasted into the wee hours of the morning, and at the end of these sessions, we would be so drunk that we couldn’t find our own nose and would end up crying over the silliest of things. He would listen to every single detail of my last eight broken affairs and make asinine suggestions on how to kill my immediate ex.

He would call me at the office almost every day, sing me songs over the phone and wait for me every night after work. Sometimes he would even do my hair and make-up.

When I quit my job, I started hanging out at his house almost every day. There I watched TV, helped him wash the dishes and his clothes, ate noodles and climbed every tree in their backyard. Once I helped him put sequins on the gowns of his beauty pageant alagas. I slept on his bed and plotted and schemed against imagined enemies.

The thing is, Michael was, and is not, a saint himself. He was into drugs. He has had several affairs with men. He is an incorrigible drinker and a compulsive liar. He graduated from high school at age 22 because he thought it was more important to go to Manila, where he worked for three years in a parlor. And he must have one of the shortest tempers on earth.

Despite all that, I kissed him on New Year’s Day at two in the morning, under the moon and the stars, with only the waves serving as witnesses to an electric, shocking moment.

That one kiss changed everything in our lives. Of course, I exaggerate, but hey, it’s close to that. Because after the eight relationships I had with men, only this one shook me to the core of my bones. I swear that I heard fireworks that night when we kissed, and it was not because it was New Year, but because, well…the inevitable happened.

He cried that night. He told me to get the hell out of his life because he was scared to death by the depth of his feelings for me. He was gay, and then I came along and changed everything. He had stopped looking at other men and even tore down the pictures of nude men in his room. He dreamed of me every night, and I often invaded his consciousness. He hated the feeling of being lost, confused, scared. He hated me.

But the next day, he changed his mind and said we could try being more than friends.

But for the whole of 2001, ours was a relationship punctuated by terrible fights every two days. Then it got worse. I guess love got in the way. We became oversensitive to each other’s jokes and always, without fail, managed to get into each other’s nerves. Our personalities clashed. (Why is it that you only find out about this when you’re already way in too deep?) And our deep-seated insecurities, doubts, fears came to the fore and always somehow interrupted our happy moments.

It was as if the inner child in me had taken over my body. Michael, on the other hand, seemed to have rediscovered acting and became a master of operatic theater.

We were constantly fighting over the dumbest things. After each fight, I would sulk in a corner and question my importance in the scheme of things called the universe. Michael would drink himself to death while waxing poetic and act out scenes from “Les MisSables” (“…on my own pretending she’s beside me,” etc.).

We broke up four times in a period of three months. And in every episode, the night was loaded with I-hate-myself-and-I-want-to-die crying spiels, complete with movie dialogues (“I love you, which is why I am letting you go,” and so on). But three days later, we would be holding each other’s hands again.

We broke up last August because I deemed it necessary. I need not go into the gory details-it was just so sad. The fights just got more and more terrible and ridiculous until I felt that I had to give him up.

We cried for three days straight, and we still cry every time we talk about it. We just couldn’t be together, even if we died trying, and believe me, we really tried. The funny thing is, until now we still love each other to pieces, as evidenced by the fights and the tampuhans and the petty jealousies that mar our relationship until this very day. We still hold hands and tell each other “I love you.” And we were together for the New Year, exactly one year after our first kiss, that fatal kiss that sealed our fate to be together-for a time.

I still haven’t found a replacement (although there are two rich yuppies waiting in line) because to my mind, there is only one Michael. There can only be one person who makes me want to be a better person. Only one who can make me smile at the end of the day and at the beginning of it.

To my mind, there can only be one mad, passionate love in my lifetime.

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