Whenever I ride the jeepney these days,
I always sit in the front.
It pisses me off when I get to sit with the other passengers
Where I get to forward the fare and the change back.
Once, you handed me your fare.
That was when I met you.
I hate sitting at the back
where I can’t help but hear the same, tired talks.
The same stories we shared whenever we’re in the same jeep heading home.
Except that you told them so well and repeated them as if they were new
And we could ride through kilometers in seconds
only to end them with “Here is my stop. See you.”
I hate sitting at the back of the jeep
when it is bent on breezing to the ends of the fast lane,
While I sit next to the lady with the long damp hair whipping my face.
If it was your hair, I would let it whip my face
until the scent of your shampoo sticks on my collar
so I would wear it like cologne.
I wished to see you not only in the jeep.
I wished we could have sat somewhere more comfortable.
on the grass perhaps, with your friends perhaps
So we could burn through a thousand topics.
So we could tease, laugh, and touch. And maybe,
while we head home, we could let our emotions take a different route.
I settled instead with sitting at the back of the jeep
Waiting for something to happen.
The second-to-the last time we rode together, We ran out of stories.
And the last time that we did, we no longer knew each other.
That is the thing about riding jeepneys. Nothing really happens
Except for waiting until you reach your stop. Or miss it.
Whenever I ride jeepney these days,
I always sit in the front, safe and comfortable.
Not because I do not want to remember you
but to reject the possibility of sitting next
to someone who looks like you or
of touching another’s fingers when she hands me her fare
and forgetting what yours felt like.
Fred Layno is a graduate of Creative Writing from UP Mindanao and an emotional commuter.