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An Open Letter to Him

Palanca-winning essayist JEN BALBOA has a few words for Mr. Right—before she meets him. 

Dear, I was given about one thousand words and a permission to address you. While I am not yet with you, I have been so lucky to meet in this life some of the kindest, most generous people. One of them allowed me to write to you here. He witnessed me being so distraught during December last year, he wanted to help me, and him being a writer too, and he knowing how writing has redeemed me so many times, he probably thought giving me a chance to speak to you, this way, would help me. He even gave me as long as three weeks to write this, but look, here I am, scrambling at the last hour, exactly reflective of how late I am already in life and still not with you, writing with whatever strength I have left from the day’s work.

I hope my friend does not regret giving me this chance, as I am certain I can stand for every word I will lay down here. And every word will be plain. There is nothing grand to be found here. Nothing that will sweep you off your feet. I just really want you to hear a few things.

I want you to know that around this hour, every night, whenever I can get to rest early, lying down, sometimes tearfully, I pray for you. I pray for you every day. It helps a lot because I have no idea who you are and where you are and when are you coming, so I make the prayers my daily little vessels for releasing my silly little questions.

“Could you still be working at this hour? Is it work that treats you fairly? Is it work that is just and fair, and sees you being of real service to people? Do you learn things from it every day? Do you see yourself spending years and years in it? Are you proud of it? Are you happy?” I wonder about your work because I wonder about the things you believe in and stand for, and I pray that you be a man who cares and has compassion. Because that is what I need the most from you.

And a lot of courage. This part is quite hard to explain, and I can only divulge so much within this space, but you have to forgive me because I cannot get to you. You will have to be the one to come to me, and cross the room, and walk up to me and say, “I want you, be with me.” It’s because all my life I have been the one reaching out to men, professing how I feel, and it has created for me a cycle of rejection. Either they start to keep a safe distance or run away altogether and disappear forever. Even in the couple of instances when I was the one initially sought, under shameful and regretful circumstances, the wheels were eventually turned and I ended up the one chasing and clinging, and professing love even when it could not have been love. For each of all these men, I laid down my heart, and maybe I did not deserve the love of some of them, because I have been exceedingly bad at my worst, did things I would take back if I could. But I am hoping that you would, at the very least, be the one to tell me first what you feel, so that, for the first time in my life, I could feel how it is from the other end, to be the receiver, and the responder. Your affirmer, “I love you too.”

One of the closest friends I have, a lady who thought me about the work I do now, and a whole lot about life and love, once told me, “courage has never been your problem, I know you are brave, you can stand up to any man and tell him how you feel – but what you must have is trust.” When she still lived in this country, before she met a man who crossed oceans for her and eventually brought her to the other side of the world, one of her last words to me were, “trust, your man will cross the room for you, he will kick chairs, flip tables, just to be with you.” If it’s true that I have lots of courage, I hope I could use some of it to face the heavy weight of staying still and the noble pain in keeping silent. If these be the measures of trust, let me fulfill them. And let this be my commitment to you, you who I do not know but I completely trust.

Another dear friend asked me, “what if you have to meet him halfway? What if he’s just not yet ready for you? Because I think your man, he’s still getting his shit together.” To that, trust still stands. How can it be you if you’re not yet ready, right? So still, I must stay still. Be patient. Wait. As for meeting you halfway, I believe you will not be crossing the room in the first place without feeling from me that I want you to do it, and that would even be greater than meeting you halfway, because with that I would have already walked with you the whole stretch of the way.

Repeatedly, I am reminded by friends that I am whole, even without you. Surely, I am, for how could I have existed this long? And I believe you are too, unseen and whole, even if possibly not yet ready. But as much as I appreciate their concern, this is not about being whole. Wholeness has never been what’s at stake here. It’s not about that at all. I long for you because I want to feel how it is to be with you, and to give to you what I can give only to you, and to receive from you what you want to give to me, and how good all of that can be. I want a taste.

I just want to be with you. I just simply already want to meet you, so we can start being good friends.

In the meantime, I will continue to work hard, as hard as I can, because right now it’s work which gives me the chance to pour out the love. I do not know what I would do without the work. How else to live and give?

Heart feels so heavy right now, and my body just feels like rolling off and sliding to the bed. Time to rest and lie down. Time to brace myself. Time to pray. I pray that you make it in time. I pray that you are fine and happy. And I pray that you take heart, take the risk, cross the room, because that’s the only way I would know, you knowing that my trust by being still and your courage by reaching out is all worth it, worth the long wait, worth the daily fight.

And if this be the last time that I can say it to you first, before silent witnesses, before compassionate strangers, please let me: I love you, I want you, be with me, let’s come home.


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