Iris, find a good diner near us … actually, forget it Iris. I remember good food a few blocks from here… John, hey…” Andrea snapped her fingers to call my attention. “I know you don’t beat the time running like you used to, but let’s go.” She hurried to lead the way.

If there is someone who is good at memories and archiving, that would be Andrea. She really was good at data analysis and research since she practiced her passion and work as an archeologist. Her latest and most important work was about the further discovery of fundamental universal questions. And she has an admirable, unparalleled penchant (or stubbornness?) for them. She’d push through researches that reached an impasse and somehow devise another unseen detour to arrive at another viable conclusion. Only Andrea had given me the best repudiation of the Darwinian theory, not because some monkeys are still monkeys to this day, or some chickens don’t have the exact tooth compositions to that of the early dinosaurs, but because she had shown me a personal collection of footages from her lab results explaining to me how even throughout long epochs a single organism cannot fully evolve characteristics on its own without an external intervention. The same repudiation, which amazes me more, is her debunking of established religious systems that may provide a well-founded explanation on such intervention. She doesn’t need Holbein the Younger’s painting of the Body of the Dead Christ to question Jesus’ divinity; she only needs to progress on the discredited conclusion of early findings on the lost tomb of Jesus; that they have found the body of Yeshua Bar Yehosef, which in Aramaic means Jesus the son of Joseph, about which she made convincing arguments on why the Holy Sepulcher site is always going to be empty because the real body did not resurrect but was taken to another site contrary to the contradictions that criticized the initial drive of the findings. All other questions which for her did not merit that much interest were automatically dismissed as matters that die a natural death: beliefs like Gabriel dictating to Muhammad the Qur’an, Buddha having seizures of mental awareness, the endless recycle of soul-transplantation in reincarnations, and so on. I have reservations of course, but her silenced disposition after she had reached a good deal of answers on her own prompted her to just live her life mind-numbingly. The work that she left behind was the lifetime satisfaction she needed to find the denouement of her personal questions – she was contented and made the resolve of moving on, even though it did damage a lot of her perspectives on finding meaning in the world. She applied in the museum quite despondent despite the over-qualification remarks she obtained. It was perhaps one of the good reasons why I approached her first that day; the empathy that magnetized my own miserableness found a place beside her woebegone pose. Besides, she was, on my estimation that day, probably going to be my new boss in the line work that I barely passed a week before that since my withdrawal out of the missions – and I did found out my new boss that day.

“Ah, here.” Andrea swooped in as she beat the buzzer to be part of a limited queue of guests for the night. I followed her right away as I was catching my breath after the quick uphill walk. The diner has the sole reputation of the only vantage point to overlook the famous fjord of the province. “Two carbonara macs please” she’d memorize and imitate my usual … “What? Not available? Okay the bresaola, for two”… “and 6 glasses of guava juices”, she’d add in haste. I was reviewing the inventory for next week while she contemplated on the ironic zephyr chilling the month of April. Devil-may-care boss, leaving me with all the work. I was supposed to be concentrating when she made her eyes point to the gentleman on the far end with his briar pipe unsmoked. I secretly glanced at the old man and asked Andrea why.

“That could be you 40 years later” she quipped.

Here we go again with the silly buy time from our starving, and it never gets old.

“Old, alone, and laid-back?”

“No, grumpy, bored, and sluggish” she corrected.

But expecting the unexpected, I became more acquainted with these antics for more than a year now, in which I can fully retaliate that up until the very moment, two can already play the game.

“I wouldn’t mind eating alone and reminiscing my late wife.” I insisted.

She looked at the man again. “Oh, he did have a wedding ring. And why do you think he’s laid-back?”

“That man is happy alone. He has memories to cherish and a masterful soul who overcame his smoking habits.”

To cover up her blind spot for the ring, she gave the ultimatum, “And what if he smokes that pipe? Your treat?” she grinned and rubbed her palms together.

I hate it when she does that. All her calculative tracing of behavior is often correct. The last time we did this was in the winery when she made me taste a mix of 45% red wine and 55% white while blindfolded. Knowing my preference for white wine, she set up a high probable chance of me choosing red by asking which taste is stronger. In a close percentage solution like that, of course the taste of red wine will win over the white. But I never refuse a handicapped challenge, especially when it’s handicapped! “… Deal, but only until our food arrives”, to make a slight condition.

“Deal!” she called it.

I was half-smiling and was already confidently laughing inside while watching her notoriously gaze at the geezer behind me. After a few minutes, our orders came and I burst out a silent laugh almost teary eyed as I relished over her look of defeat. When her poker face went straight static for a considerable time and my laughter subsided, I grinned and sermonized with passion, “You, of all, took the bait, dear madam… The second table behind you ordered before us and already got their meal the moment you asked me to look at the man behind me. I knew then that our orders are already next in line.”

If it weren’t for the relaxing ambience of the place, I’d imagine her lose control and wail further as the demise of a smarter human being than me. She was, however, more temperate than my fancy.

“Fine, cheater.” She continued her chagrin and broke her enthusiasm; her eyes looking fierce against my constant teasing grin. “Well, go on, eat your spoils.”

It was a field day for the bored human that I am. We ate a monk’s meal over our thoughts, Andrea still playing her cool and I starting to revert back to a serious state. When she noticed the change, she finished her third glass of guava juice bottoms up.

“Okay now. Off to business.” She opened up to the matter at hand.

I gulped to follow her up, “So?… what do you think?”

“Lemme see… Hmm, this case is easily closed than you’d expect my friend.” Looking all confident.

She may have given it some thought so it boiled my excitement more.

“What do you mean? Do you know her?”

Her face! Her face! Her face is Camillia Belle!” announcing as if she dropped the mic on me. “Oh John… What kind of irrational fandom is this?” shaking her head for a disappointment.

Cecillia did kind of resemble the actress, but there are many disagreeable points. Andrea is good at pinpointing a closer semblance, an excellent job, given that she remembered the times when I’d tell her about Camillia’s films a year ago. It was all good, except that there is another fact that outweighs it.

“No…” I mildly stated, “She’s more beautiful”, then that mental image of her bustling in charm towards another work of art flashed, which made me reiterate my cherished fact again, “God! She’s beautiful…” this time, a little emphatic, enough for anyone who can hear me to call me crazy.

Indeed I did sound crazy. Andrea guffawed at the madness and went to set things straight.

“Okay, so let’s assume that she really did reflect another past relation that you have had. What makes you think that she’s not taken? And how can you just stand there and do nothing?”

At least she gave me back a little sense to answer her on that. “You see, I believe that every person is a world. And there seems to be a deceiving optimism that lights up whenever we acquaint with others. In the beginning, we see them as an unknown lot waiting to be discovered, until we realize that they are also the same with everybody else. To that effect, aren’t people versions of other people? She may be a world and if there is more to that, she could mean the world to anyone, to me, but it does not dispel the fact that the world as it is do not revolve around her person.” I was obviously not making any sense yet so I harnessed an extra effort to make it sound substantial, “… Okay, let me make this a bit clearer… In the event when worlds collide or persons intersect, there are common strands of connection but eventually they have to leave each other in peace, for the movement of worlds must go on ad infinitum. That is why it never pains me to rationalize how different persons can be close friends with those I love or the one I love. Subjectively, it snatches her attention of course: seeing other people love her could tap into that childishness which gets irritated at anyone who plays with one’s toys. But what is stopping me for celebrating love? I then accepted the disposition of wanting her to be happy, even with someone else, for as with anybody else, I also remain a mere intersection in her own world.”

I obviously went a long-winded way of evading her sharp observations but she jived anyway, “So you’re saying polygamy is a more mature standpoint than monogamy.”

“What? Nn..! How did you get polygamy from all that? Perhaps, but… look, all I wanted to say is –“

“— I get it. Don’t have to paraphrase the whole thing.” She intervened. “But anyone who’d feel that prostituted notion of love in terms of toys and snatching is suspicious for calling it love in the first place. Anyway, anything else other than mega-realizations and whatnot? Alright, I’m gonna wisecrack you a little on this. See, the girl you’re looking for is not going to be the answer it seems, and you just allow all other things to come to her without even trying to struggle with the idea. You can obviously state other sympathies to some pluralistic outlook on things but is not the point of meaning the world for someone, in your words, a special kind of connection? Is not the realistic response of jealousy the direct confrontation of it, rather than sulk in acceptance and rationalize over a false celebration of something? Of course it is possible for everyone to love her but there are levels of intimacy attached to any relationship and there is growth and decomposition in it, friend, if you just leave things at that. Don’t neglect the prevention over an unsure cure.”

Man, she has to stop making things too personal for me. “And how did you suddenly acquired a degree in psychology?” while delaying a response over a gem of a suggestion.

“It’s in my nature.” She winked and looked away, as if to feel the breeze.


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