The temperature has gotten cooler, but the two people sitting cozily on the park bench didn’t notice the change. Nor did they notice the passing of the hours. It has been several hours since they sat on that bench and chatted. They were so caught up in getting to know each other that they were only aware of themselves. They discovered they came from the same university. However, when Maya started, Richard already graduated, putting him five years older, to Maya’s 27 years. Both of them are the youngest child. Rafi is a year older than Richard and Cristina Rose, two years older than Maya. And yes, both of them are being asked constantly by family and friends why they are not settling down yet, considering their siblings are with kids, and they are of age.
Richard and Maya also talked about every topic they could think of. They discovered that they both love to read and while they both have eclectic, diverse tastes in their reading literatures, they both like detective/crime stories, ranging from the classics like Agatha Christie’s novels, to P.D. James, to Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy. They also love the theater and is partial to musicals. They have compared notes on their favorites and what musicals they have seen so far on stage. In movies, they both like old movies. However, they differ vastly in their TV viewing. Richard is not into it, except for news, business and current events programs, while Maya loves series – from period dramas like Downton Abbey, to medical series like House, and romance ones like Lovers in Paris, her favorite.
From movies, to literature and the arts, their discussion shifted to politics and current events and in this they have opposing views. Richard tended to be on the conservative side, and Maya has a more liberal point of view. Nevertheless, they had a very interesting discussion on the current state of Philippine politics. Then they connected it to how it affect the business climate in the country, which led to discussions about their jobs. Then to other things. As if they shifted from one topic to another so they can spend more time together. Both, not wanting the afternoon to end yet.
Richard felt at that moment was perfect. Here he was, in a very beautiful surroundings, talking to this articulate, intelligent girl who was not even conscious of how beautiful and animated she looked as she discussed a subject she felt strongly about. She was also unaware of admiring glances she was getting from male tourists who passed by them. Yes, he noticed, because it felt like his male radar is on the up whenever he felt someone doing that. He really is enjoying Maya’s company and her unpretentious ways. His first impression of her was correct.
Maya can’t remember when was the last time she had a fun and stimulating discussion like this. Not at all! She is so happy. She never thought that she and Richard would hit it off like this. She liked and enjoyed talking to him. She didn’t notice the passing of time. She can stay like this for hours with him. He is a very good conversationalist and he really listened when she talked. She, of course, noticed how handsome he is, especially when he smiled, and reacted to what she said. But she tried not to. She didn’t expect someone with his stature to be very down to earth. He looked at her, at times, like she is the center of his universe. She can’t help but feel the kilig when he does that, though she tried to fight it. In the meantime, she shelved whatever natural reserve she had, and decided to just let go, and enjoy his very stimulating company.
Both of them took a breather on what they were discussing, and finally surfaced from their own world after a good-natured discussion on books – ‘real’ books versus e-books, romance novels versus serious literature and so on. They looked around and noticed that the hordes of tourists were gone and those who were left were people who live near the area – jogging, walking their dogs, couples and families passing the time. From a distance, they saw a couple kissing each other. Richard noticed Maya looking at the couple intently.
“I guess it’s pretty normal here to do something like that, than in the Philippines, I mean the PDA.” He remarked.
“Yes, I think so too. People don’t even notice or they don’t care at all.” Maya replied, choosing her words. “I was thinking more of, along the lines of, how long they have known each other? Are they really in love? Will it last? I do hope so. But you’ll never know. Sorry for being a bit cynical.“
“Oh, I never thought that you are cynical. Maybe wary? And maybe you have good reasons to be so? Am I correct so far, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa?” Richard asked Maya, looking at her with a smile on his face.
“Wow, you got that from talking to me several hours! I’m impressed. You read people well, Ricky. It is not that I am closing myself to love or something or had a bad personal experience with relationships. I didn’t. I just don’t know if a love that lasts really exists. Would I know if it comes knocking on my door? That sort of thing. I think it is because people around me didn’t have very much luck in love. I know it is a bit narrow-minded of me. But you don’t know, maybe, I will know when love comes calling.” Maya ended her long statement with a smile.
“You have a point. The important thing is to keep an open mind about it. You’ll never know, di ba? We live and therefore, we love, we feel emotions. I guess, we all want love, the kind that lasts forever, otherwise we just exist and don’t really live at all, if we don’t take a chance. I do believe that lasting love exists. My parents has one. It was not a perfect relationship. No relationship is, but two people can make a go of it if they love each other enough. Also, look, for example at the old couple there. They look so in love, considering their age. Come.” Richard said as he grabbed Maya’s hand.
“Ricky, where are we going?” Maya asked puzzled as she let herself be dragged in the direction of the old couple. “Oh, Ricky, don’t tell me….No, they may not like it. Hindi natin sila kilala.”
However, Richard didn’t listen to Maya. He approach the couple politely.
“Hi, good afternoon. My name is Richard and this is Maya. We are visiting from the Philippines.” Richard said smiling to the couple who smiled back.
“Hello. I’m Erik and this is my wife Linda. You are from the Philippines? We have been to your country. Beautiful beaches and very nice people!” Erik replied. “The wife and I had so much fun there with our son who is married to a Filipina.”
“Really? What a nice coincidence!” Maya said, warming up to the couple. “Do they live in the Philippines or here?”
“They are currently based in Singapore. Our son is an expat working for one of the Danish companies which has an office there.” Linda added. “is there anything we can help you with?”
“Maya and I are wondering, and we hope you don’t mind us asking. How long have you been together as a couple? We are having this debate on lasting relationships before we saw you. You two looked so in love. I want to prove a point to Maya here.” Richard explained. “Of course, if it is too personal, my apologies.”
Erik laughed at that, smiled lovingly at his wife and assured Richard and Maya that they don’t mind their question as it was not the first time they were asked that. He told them that he and Linda have been together for 45 years.
“Wow, 45 years!” Maya said amazed.
“Yes, and we will celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary in two months. Our wish is that we are still alive for our 50th!” Linda said as she intertwined her hand with that of her husband.
“Congratulations to both of you!” Richard added happily as he looked at Maya meaningfully. “I like hearing about marriages that last.”
“Well, young people these days give up easily. Marriage is not like a fairy tale, that is true, you know, not just a happy-ever-after kind of thing. But it can last, provided that the two people who contracted it are serious in keeping their vows, of continuously loving each other, of compromises and being friends with each other. Passion fades in time so the there must really be more than that to sustain a marriage.” Erik explained, as his wife nodded in agreement. “But looking at you two, you look so in love also. I’m sure your relationship will last. Just keep the flames burning.”
“Oh, but we are not….” Maya started correcting Erik, but Richard stopped him.
“Thank you, we hope so.” Richard smiled at the couple. “We wish you a good day.”
Erik and Linda smiled back at them and wish them a long and happy marriage too.
Richard steered Maya towards the other side of the promenade, leading to the royal palace.
“Why didn’t you correct their assumption?” Maya asked Richard as she matched his long stride. He is still holding her hand. “That was the second time today we are mistaken as a couple!”
“ Hmmm, are you complaining Ms. Dela Rosa. Guwapo naman ako, and a good catch, sabi ng mom ko.” Richard teased Maya. “And what can I say, people think we are bagay.”
“Ha, Mr. Lim, ang ego, baka maging kasing laki na nung cruise ship na iyon o.” Maya bantered back and pointed to a huge ship docked at the end of the harbor.
Richard laughed and gazed at Maya meaningfully. He liked her witty comebacks, and he does not want the day with her to end.
“Maya, what are your plans for the rest of the day? This evening?”
“Ha, eh, wala naman. I was thinking of seeing the sights this afternoon since paalis na ako bukas and then dinner at my hotel or one of the restaurants by the harbor where the tour boats dock.”
“Would you have dinner with me, please? I can also be your tour guide.” Richard asked Maya, hoping she would say yes.
Maya looked at Richard, thinking. She is having fun with him and there is a part of her that wanted to be cautious, but the pull towards him is stronger. “Yes, to both, and thank you for keeping me company and being my tour guide.”
“I should be the one thanking you. I thought I would have a lonely afternoon, and dinner in my room with some papers. But here I am having a wonderful time with you.”
With that, Richard continued holding Maya’s hand as they walked back to the royal palace, took pictures there, went to another castle with a very beautiful and extensive grounds, climbed the round tower for a beautiful view of Copenhagen. When they reached the top, Maya was hesitant to go up to the viewing platform as she is really scared of heights. Richard held out his hand and promised her that she will be safe. Maya took Richard’s hand and he was right, it was not as scary as she thought, with Richard there, and the view was wonderful. They asked another tourist to take a photo of them.
Richard and Maya walked through the long shopping district to the other side of the city. When they reached the Copenhagen City Hall, Richard told Maya he knew of the perfect place to end their evening.
“Talaga, saan?” Maya asked curiously, looking around.
Richard smiled, assisted Maya when they crossed the street. They stopped infront of Tivoli, a very old, beautiful and popular amusement park and gardens in Copenhagen. Maya smiled when she discovered where they are. She wanted to see this place and it was included in her list of places to see in the city. She read that it is among the famous attractions in Copenhagen.
Richard paid for the tickets despite Maya’s insistence that she would pay for it. They toured the amusement park. Maya liked everything she saw, especially the gardens. Richard egged her to try some of the rides. Being scared of heights, she was hesitant at first, but said yes eventually. Richard held her hands all the time to assure her that it was okay. They had a wonderful time, letting their inner child go.
The evening was capped with a dinner in a Danish design restaurant, showcasing beautiful ceramics. Richard thought Maya would like it, having come to Denmark to check out Danish designs. They enjoyed their dinner a lot. Maya took a liking to Danish food. They toasted each other with a glass of wine each.
“To a wondeful day and to the most wonderful company.” Richard said as he clinked his glass against Maya’s. “Thank you, Maya.”
“Thank you too, Richard. A great day.” Maya smiled, so happy at that moment. “Thank you too, Mathilde, for making us meet again.”
“To Mathilde.” Richard said laughing, remembering the little girl. Their own angel, or probably, cupid!
Richard insisted on taking back Maya to her hotel, which was walking distance from Tivoli. They had a leisurely walk.
“Maya, do you have time for lunch tomorrow? My meeting will be finished at 11AM.” Richard asked when they reached the lobby of the hotel, wanting to spend more time with Maya.
“Ah, yes, am just planning to sleep in. Then pack my bags. My train leaves at 3PM.” Maya said, surprised, thinking that this is where she and Richard would part ways and for some reason, was feeling sad about it. They have already exchanged business cards earlier. “I would be happy to have lunch with you, Ricky. Kaya lang, okay lang ba that I have my things with me na?”
“Yes, we can drop it off the locker room at the train station, then have lunch.” Richard suggested, happily.
“Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow. Thank you for a wonderful afternoon and evening. “ Maya said, smiling as she offered to shake Richard’s hands.
“Thank you too, Maya. “ Richard said gazing at Maya, then instead of shaking hands, he kissed her on the cheek. Then said softly, “Good night. Sweet dreams.”
Maya was slow to react. She gazed at Richard with her expressive eyes and manage to utter a whispered good night to him. She watched him walked away with a smile, at the same time unconsciously touching the cheek he kissed.