Thank you, more please

The author: Before New York, a failed marriage

By Jean Charisse A. Arboleda

Alright, so we have established the fact that I can be slow. I just realized after three years that the failure of my marriage has prepared me for life in the mean, gritty, and unsympathetic New York City. I never would have lasted this long here had I not made that first mistake of getting married to the wrong person.

Throughout my life, I’ve always had an able, responsible man provide for me. My father is the standard by which I measure all the men who’ve come through my life. He is strong, honest, kind and dependable. So it was with a little trepidation and a lot of youthful stubbornness that I cast aside my ideal and married my boyfriend of three years. He vowed to take care of me as my father did. Like passing the Olympic torch.

We didn’t get married young, mind you. I wasn’t pregnant either. I was 28 and he was six months younger. We had been in a relationship for three years but were actually physically together for a total of two months. I lived in Manila and he in Davao. I would travel to see him every few weeks for a weekend and he’d travel to Manila to see me.

Our fights were passionate, protracted and draining. With all the fights we were having, a rational person would have walked away and started fresh. But one is never rational when it comes to love, right? So I did the next best thing to suicide. I married the guy.

Not surprisingly, we went from being happily married to being estranged in a few months. I left the job that I liked so I could be with him and work things out not realizing that he was already done with me. Annulment was the solution for him. Travel was the way out for me.

I left Manila in 2008. Just mustering up enough courage to open my eyes every morning on my aunt’s couch and making breakfast was a huge effort. I cried openly to anybody who’d care to listen, I wasn’t picky. I spent a bus ride to Boston with a childhood friend bawling my eyes out. I cried during long distance phone calls to my parents. I tried to keep the waterworks under control as I told my story to a college friend while we sat under the bright lights of Times Square.

As a people, Filipinos are full of empathy. They feel you, will let you grieve for however long you want to, and care for you as patiently as your own parents would. They will spoil you if you cry longer.

But I wasn’t with Filipinos most of the time. I work with a diverse group of people and it was only a matter of time before my separation became water-cooler topic like the freezing weather or plans for the holidays. There was exasperation in my co-workers’ eyes and I could just imagine them shrugging, “Big deal.”

You and your husband got separated after five months? Lady, you must really be a horrible person. Your ex-husband told you in several dialects that he doesn’t love you anymore and would rather die than be with you? Big fucking deal. He lied, so what? It happens all the time, join the fucking club.

But wait. These are caring, loving, warm people. In their world, they were telling me to snap out of it, offering me walk-it-off kind-heartedness that is true and authentic. They’re not being short or cruel, just telling me there’s no sense in crying over something that happens in this city every day.

I live on my own now, far from family in New Jersey and the West Coast. I pay for everything, rent, school, phone and hospital bills and travel, eat out and entertain myself. I am still in the process of finding my place in this city, and while my father will always be there to support me, I’m loving myself and my independence more everyday that I’m in New York.

I guess I can love two places at the same time. The East of my youth, the West of my future.

Jean Charisse A. Arboleda works two jobs: She’s a receptionist at a theater district restaurant and a paralegal-in-training at a law office.


  1. Gama H. wrote:

    The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they feel. At all times go after your heart.

  2. Mr. Dent wrote:

    How did you deal with and manage to move on?…. I admire your strength and courage—- its really difficult to move on with much hurt inflicted by some you value the most

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