Wednesday, March 11, 2009

the boy's gone

How old are you?, he finally asked. It was obvious the question had been bothering him for quite some time now. I was just about to ask him to spell Schenectady on the board when he finally got the guts to ask his question.

22, I replied abruptly. Now what’s your answer to number three? I wanted to get back to business as soon as possible. I learned early on that in my profession, being young wasn’t a good thing. I could risk my credibility. After all, who would listen to a 22 year old? I’ve always felt like I was old for my age but days like this, I feel I am once again pimply-faced and juvenile.

A simple question has once again thrown me. Admittedly, I couldn’t focus on the task at hand. I started wondering what this newfound knowledge was doing to my credibility. Were they still going to listen to me once they learn I’m practically half their age?

For a few minutes, my mind spaces out. The walls, tables and chairs start to blur. Suddenly, I am but a tiny tadpole in a lake full of frogs. Their croaks and ribbits fill the air while I try my hardest to make my legs stronger. I want to be as strong as them, I silently wished. I watched them leap and catch flies, their tongues dancing in the air. I feel envious. I am still. Will I ever be just like them?

There’s a ticking in my head that tells me if I don’t fit the mold soon, I’m going to have to leave the lake. It’s a slow breaking down of the body and mind. My legs are tired but they try to swim anyway. The water feels heavy. I can’t breathe. Damn it, I can’t breathe!

Be so happy with the way you are. Just be happy that you made it this far. Go on. Be happy now.

Over break, an elderly woman asked me the same question. 22, I once again replied. She started talking about her daughter and how she’s much older than me. I’m sure your mother’s very proud of you. Sarap mo sigurong ampunin. I managed a polite smile but in my head, I was practically screaming. My cover’s blown. They’re on to me. Pretty soon, they’ll have to stick me in the back office till I start growing facial hair.

Please be happy now. Because you say this is something else. This is something else.

I need a vacation. Nothing makes sense anymore. I search through the cabinets of my life. A few unpublished posts here, some unsorted memories there and a handful of people (myself included) left behind in pursuit of glory. Is this glory?, I wondered. It sure doesn’t feel like it. Most days, it feels more like a well choreographed dance. My mind knows the steps very well but my body refuses to cooperate. Turn left, turn right and pirouette. Disillusioned, I turn right, turn left and fall flat on my knees. The auditorium is silent. The curtain falls and so does my heart.

This is the price you pay for dreaming, I heard her say. I searched for her voice but I couldn’t find her. Where did she go? My tadpole legs struggle to swim to her but it’s too late. It’s too late. She’s wised up and left.

I lay in bed. It’s 24 minutes to lights out. In ten hours, the dance will start again. Turn left, turn right and pirouette. Turn left, turn right and pirouette.


  1. OMG! Neel, you should be proud of yourself, you are 22 and yet look at you, i'm sure you are far better than most 22's out there... I am 25 and I look up to you... don't feel bad, don't forget the wonderful things around you, please don't cease on appreciating them. Some of those things made you who you are.

  2. First of all, you have the option not to answer that question directly. You can just throw them another question or you can just blurt out a witty remark. Don't let the oldies eat you alive.

    Secondly, you should be happy you're still young. I wish I was your age again. I'm afraid to reach my 30s and yes, that's just a couple of years from now.

    Lastly, you are where you are because you are an exceptional person. Be proud.


  3. "I am 25 and I look up to you... "

    thanks juber. that means a lot to me. you know i look up to you, too. :D

    i don't think it's my age that's getting me down. siguro misplaced lang yung frustration ko. you know that naman, diba?

  4. "Don't let the oldies eat you alive. "


    "I wish I was your age again."

    sige palit tayo. feeling ko delayed ang aging ko. ngayon lang ako nagkaka raging hormones. ang strange ng mood swings ko lately.

    "Lastly, you are where you are because you are an exceptional person. Be proud. Mwah!"

    thank you, apol. you saying that means a lot to me. we are all exceptional. sabi mo nga, we are all jewels (tinanggal ko yung second part hehe).

  5. rest my child, thats all you need :)

    you over-analyze way too much, dear Lion :P

  6. i once taught a college class where 53 of my 54 students were older than me. it was a very lively term.

  7. oh so you teach? wow. that must've been difficult. how did you deal with it?

  8. not at the moment. but back then, i really shouldn't have been teaching. i just made it clear that they were there voluntarily and if they remained, they accepted my position as teacher. there was this one christian fundamentalist, older woman, who totally opposed me the whole class -- so I decided to have them watch and compare the political differences between a gay romantic comedy movie and gay porn. that went over real well.

  9. perhaps she's one of those people who think that putting two gay men in the same room = gay sex. boo to people like that.

    the fact that they stayed means you were a good teacher. why did you stop?

  10. i don't know if i stopped, or "it" stopped me. speak of not seeing your shredded remains being thrown in the boiling soup!

  11. how did "it" stop you? i wanted to teach in a real school but i'm stuck teaching call center agent wannabes. it's not like it's a bad thing. i just miss the thrill of creating class records and the feeling you get when you touch a student's life. *sigh*

  12. well. after that term, i got thrown out of my department for my political activism, (and i needed a good throwing out too!), and took up professional school. i still teach but its usually to other professionals and not to impressionable youth!

  13. well that's the good thing about leaving school. you're free from all the oppression. i haven't grown my hair to cousin it lengths even though i promised myself i would the minute i left them. with freedom comes great responsibility though and only until i was free from the so-called oppression did i realize the value of their rules.

  14. it was totally irrational in my circumstance but it was so necessary for my development. i can only thank them for being the fool of fate for me.

  15. i suppose there are some things we just don't understand. they say hind sight is always 20/20. i never really understood that until i experienced it for myself.