it must have a lot to do with the conversations. over those introductory cups of coffee it was a lesson in first meetings: (1) choose a quiet(er) place, (2) remember to pee before it begins, the better to (3) prepare for a four-hour conversation. measure the time spent sitting across each other, compare it to the time spent in each others arms. get a ruler: how far is the distance between us as we walk the streets? how many minutes to walk from your building to the hole in the wall next door, the convenience store further down, the squatters area accessible on the other side of this street. how many minutes before they are comfortable with the image of us, distant but together, an arm’s length away, a table between us, chairs beside each other but apart, i settle on the couch for one. count the times the waiter gives us a sly a smile, the deaf-mute screams his high-five, the manongs we pass grin ear-to-ear, the guard at your building counts 24 hours. how many seconds does it take for the good friend to tease you about me, out of earshot, more of the pinoy macho thing, you say. more a measure of the distance we choose to keep: i sleep against your shoulder, you put your hand on my thigh. you look down the length of our arms as you hold my hand for the first time. absolutely ridiculous you say. i wonder about coffee as the sun streams into the room i am seeing for the last time.