Tuesday, August 22, 2017

your umbra, my penumbra

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration defines an eclipse as an event where one heavenly body such as a moon or planet moves into the shadow of another heavenly body. There are generally two kinds of eclipses: a lunar eclipse where the Earth blocks the sunlight that is normally reflected by the moon and a solar eclipse where the moon blocks the light of the sun from reaching the earth. In cases on total solar eclipses, the sky becomes very dark, as if it were night.

I remember holding your hand as we made our way through the crowd. I remember the beads of sweat glistening on your forehead as we looked for our perfect spot. I remember the strength of your arms, your sinewy muscles as you laid out a blanket on the damp grass. I remember you squinting your eyes, your right hand resting on your brow as you struggled to see.

The sky began to darken as we sat down. I squeezed your hand tighter as the crowd began to scream louder and louder. Through high-powered lenses, we watched as the moon emerged, encroaching gently on the sun. I watched as that big ball of light faded into unnatural shapes - a bitten apple, a child's toy, an orange wedge, slowly retreating to a fingernail. The crowd grew in fervor and despite warnings from the government, a number looked directly at the sun. How could you look away when you know that these things only happen once in a lifetime?

I didn’t look at the sun. I didn’t look through the lens. I was looking at you. You were all at once so beautiful, so curious, and yet so dangerous. I could’ve stayed there looking at you forever. The sight of you was more beautiful, more breathtaking than the sun, moon, and Earth combined.

For what seemed like a millisecond, the whole world was wrapped in darkness. I held my breath and closed my eyes, letting the sound of the crowd, the warm August air, the grip of your hand, the magnitude of a solar eclipse in our lifetime – I let it all wash over me. For a second, I was no longer in my body. I had somehow found a way to fly away into the darkness. I was floating in zero gravity. I had never felt so calm, so free. That’s probably why I didn’t notice you’d let go of my hand. You let go of me.

I opened my eyes. It was the afternoon again. The crowd began to put their cameras and their sandwiches away. Everywhere, everyone was moving on with their day. It was as though the eclipse and all that came with it had never happened. I looked to where you were but you were gone. I searched through your face in the crowd but you weren’t there. Why did I look away when a love like yours only happens once in a lifetime?

In the middle of it all, it was as if the moon stayed put and there was nothing but darkness. Some eclipses last a few seconds. Some stay for a few minutes. Some of us are still waiting for the sun to come back.

♫: Jill Andrews | Total Eclipse of the Heart (2013)
Photo: eclipse
Text: NASA

Monday, August 14, 2017

burns like a promise broken

Sometimes, I feel like life would be so much easier if I were a cat. I imagine weaving in and out of crowded alleys, strength in my legs as I leap from room to roof searching for my next adventure. I laugh as I evade countless threats with my speed and wit. I know how to run with the best of them but I also know where to find solitude. Cats know many stories and this one starts as I enter a studio through a hole in the window screen. I am silent save for a hushed purring that I tried but failed to contain.

They do not hear me for they are asleep. She is clutching the sheets to her chest. The blanket resists but gives. He is left with nothing but the thin film of sweat the covers his body. He tugs at the blanket, the tug-of-war only briefly entertaining. I jump towards the top of the shelf where I have a better view of things. I gently paw a pointless figurine towards the edge. It shatters into a million pieces.

His eyes fly open. At last, he awakes. He glances at the wall clock, the minute and hour hands like an ice cold bucket of water. And just like that, he’s up.

“Fuck. Fuck. FUCK!” he yells. It is obvious he does not care if she awakes. She stirs, mumbling incoherently, her sleep prevailing over this midnight tantrum. He is dressing hurriedly. The button from his boxers nearly comes loose as he tries to put his pants on. He is hopping. Always hopping. Why do humans like wearing such tight jeans?

“What’s happening?” she finally asks.

“I must’ve slept through my alarm. It’s almost morning and I’m still here. Fuck. FUUUUCK!

A bright light embraces her face as her eyes squint to adjust. “Um, it’s just half past 8.” He isn’t listening. He seems to be looking for something under the bed.

“Have you seen my socks? Damn it, I swear I left them right here.” She slinks towards him, her arms like little snakes that caress him from his back to his chest as she adjusts his tie. “Honey, It’s just 8:15. The batteries on that old clock must’ve died. You have time.”

“I do?” She nods. He exhales. “There’s still time to…” She continues the rest in a whisper.

“Phew,” he interrupts. “I’m sorry I panicked.” She kisses a line from his shoulders to his neck to a fevered cheek. He seems unfazed. “I didn’t want to sleep in the car tonight.”

“You are welcome to sleep over. You know that, right?” Her voice is suddenly cold and sharp like a steel knife. His hands fly to his ring finger where a golden band burns like a promise broken.

I may be a cat but even I know what that means.

♫: Dragonfly Collector | Someday, Someday, Maybe (2014)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

on love and food

“Do you ever wonder who started the whole garlic-onion power combo? Like did some random housewife from the 20s try it once and then it just sort of caught on or was this something our first ancestors passed on to us?” I was in bed thumbing through cookbooks, hell-bent on learning about my culinary heritage from the masters of Filipino cuisine.

“I don’t think that’s how you’re meant to use a cookbook,” he reports from the kitchen. “You’re supposed to be in here, trying it out for yourself.” Various scents and sounds of spices in symphony wafted through the air. It was a Sunday afternoon and my lover was making me brunch. I know of few pleasures that could come close to this.

“Well, you gotta start somewhere. I’m sure even…” I said, scanning the cover for a credit. “Nora Daza started somewhere.” I just don’t think I should be trusted with flammable things until I know at least 20% of how these things work. Need I remind you what happened last week when I tried to fry an egg?”

“No,” he chuckled. “Although the fire department might appreciate the caution you’re taking.” I could hear the sounds getting louder, the smell of gisa filling the tiny 19 sqm apartment we were in.

“Gawd, that smells good. Ugh. I just don’t know how you do it. You make it seem so easy.”

“Patience you must have, my young Padawan. These things take time, patience, and a little bit of magic.” I peered up from my book to see him with a sachet of Magic Sarap. “Plus, if it smells so good, we’re in trouble. You know what they say: Ang mabango mag-gisa, magaling mag-sinungaling.

“What? I literally know no one who says that!”

“My lola used to say that all the time. She’d say never trust a good chef. But then again, she was shit at love and cooking so maybe that was more rationalization than actual advice.

I put the book down and dragged the covers all the way to the kitchen. He was sautéing garlic, onion, and some random vegetables I wasn’t confident I could name. I wrapped my arms around him as he stir-fried.

“But the real secret to any good dish cannot be found in your little cookbooks. If you really want to know, here’s the secret ingredient.” He set the spatula down, took my hand, and placed it on his chest. “Do you feel that? I’m cooking with love.”

I pulled my hand away almost immediately. “Ang baduy ha!” I said between fits of laughter. He puckers up and makes air kisses. I wiped his sweat away and planted a solid one right in the lips.

Whether his made-up saying proved true or not, I’d always have this memory in my head and in my heart. That summer, I learned exactly 26 of the 304 dishes in Let’s Cook with Nora. The novelty faded after the book called for ingredients like beef kabilugan, ox tongue, and tripe. And while I can now sauté like the best of them, none of the dishes I’ve made have ever smelled as good as that one little dish he made with love.

♫: Yael Naïm | New Soul (2007)

Postcript: While this is mostly fiction, I really did try cooking my way through Let’s Cook with Nora. Documented [here], I channeled the stresses of “funemployment” into developing a new skill. Shortly after I published the sole cooking post, I signed a job offer and that was that.

The POST: April 2017