The Manila boys of the mid 60's were not ready for her. Hazel had her heart broken a few times by manipulative men who pretended to love her while harboring a hidden agenda. It's not that she was unlovable. She was simply ahead of her time. She was nineteen and independent. She dropped out of college to try her wings. The wings didn't get her too far but she was in flight. She had no definite destination in mind anyway. She got a job selling membership to a discount card company before credit cards came into fashion. She made client calls in hot pants and no stockings to show off her legs and get her foot on the door.
Then the world moved beneath her feet. Hazel found herself in advertising soliciting prizes for a television game show. This time she was resolved to protect her heart from getting toyed with. She embraced the term ‘liberated woman’ as she dated with no emotions involved. She just enjoyed the free dinner and drinks, the gifts of flowers and jewelry, and the intimacy without obligation. Birth control was new in the Philippines in the late 60’s and can be acquired without cost courtesy of a government program meant to limit children of poor families.
In the flurry of deadlines, sales quota and dating clients, Paulo came into her life. She fell in love. He did not ask her to go out with him so she asked him out and she paid for dinner. The second date was on her too. She hounded him for every date. He immigrated to America. She did not want to immigrate but she chased him from Makati City to Fort Worth, TX.
To this day Hazel is still alone and independent in California. She is now passed middle age but still in love with the one man she can't have.
Independence is as hard to begin as it is to end. It has to be continuously nurtured by fighting the need to be with someone. Like taking yourself to dinner resisting the urge to find someone to bring with you, or buy yourself gifts instead of waiting for presents. Independence is not another word for lonely. People with partners get lonely too. Some unhappy wives envy the independent woman. There is a certain dignity to a woman surviving on her own. Hazel has that dignity. She would trade it in a heartbeat for one more moment with Paulo.