Tuesday, October 26, 2010

if i were you

If I Were You  
A Nu Day  

There are three people in this story- him, me and you. Now, how many of us will end up hurt after all this is anyone’s guess. If you ask me why I did what I did, I really wouldn’t know what to tell you. I was searching for something, the way a kid breezes past lonely grocery aisles when he has a sweet tooth. But no one ever told him he was looking too quickly. No one warned him that when you run, things have a way of passing you by.

There’s a part of me that will always love him. I think that’s the way it is for everyone we have loved. But this particular love was destructive. I was young then, unaware of the dangers that conceal behind the guise of love. I married him without a prenup, figuratively, of course. He would have all of me whether or not that relationship worked out. It was chaos, I know but it was our chaos and I gave furiously without requiring anything in return.

It didn’t work out and like a broken wing, my heart was dormant for close to three years. I tried endlessly to fly but it hurt too much. I numbed myself, sure that it was the only way I could survive. I promised I would never give myself the way I did with him. I built an impenetrable wall around my heart. Relationships became logical and unfeeling. Fucking started to feel routinary and mechanical. There was only one goal: to feel better. Slowly and in time, I became stronger. I learned to live my life without anyone seeing I was hollow. I was stronger, yes, but at what price?

And then you came into my life. You changed everything. You made me think that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t as broken as I thought and I wanted to hold on to the feeling for as long as I could.

One day, you asked to see my heart. Shaking, I held it up for you to see. I was afraid you’d look closely and see the cracks, the pieces of scotch tape and dried-up glue recklessly put into place. I knew you could tell that a part of me was dead. What crushed me was that you stayed anyway. You would kiss me with your eyes closed. I could feel your passion and the pressure to love you in equal amounts.

I wanted to. I really did. It’s just, I had given all my passion to him. I had nothing left to give. Would you be angry if I told you I went to him to see if I could get it back? I wanted to see if that part of me was still there, hiding behind layers of bitterness and sorrow. And so I came to him and over vodka and triple sec, he showed me that my passion was still there, sleeping. Waiting. Why was it so easy for him to bring it out? Was it because he was the last person to make me feel it? Was it because he was the last person who had all of me?

That night opened my eyes to a lot of things. I learned that you could only pick at a scab so many times before it starts bleeding again.

Would you hate me if I told you that I fell into his arms? I do. I’ve been blaming myself nonstop since I left his house, shitfaced and intoxicated late that night. I’m a bad person. Behind all the pretenses and walls I put up, I am an evil, needy person who only takes and never gives back. Cliché as it may sound, you deserve better. You’re a good person who should only be surrounded by rainbows, butterflies, perhaps a unicorn with a golden saddle. Okay, bad image but you get the point.

And I said all this to you with a straight face as we looked out into the city. Your eyes were blank. From afar, I could’ve sworn I could hear a strange bird singing. You couldn’t look me in the eye. Even after my confession, all you could do was blame yourself. I am the bad one here, I corrected. You are beautiful and blameless. You have every right in the world to hate me but you chose not to. I wonder why you chose not to.

Seek vengeance, I offered. Slap me. Hit me. Tell me you’re not just gonna stand there and pretend everything’s fine. Everything’s not fine. I am broken. Don’t you see that? I cannot love you the way you need to be loved. I cannot hold you the way you need to be held. I have never admitted to it but I have always known.

I am broken. I need you to be strong so you can fix me. Can you be strong for me?

Your closed your eyes. I wanted to shake you so you would look at me, so you would talk to me but you had already retreated into your safe place. I let you because I cannot hurt you there. And though it seems that’s all I’m capable of, I never meant to hurt you like this. I never wanted to hurt you the way he hurt me.

You need me to be passionate. I need you to be strong. Could it be that in the end, all we ever do is look for ourselves in each other?

Photo Credit: speed blur

Monday, October 11, 2010

his jacket

In almost all of my father’s pictures from when he was my age, he wears a thick leather jacket. It didn’t matter if it was eighty degrees out. He would always have a crisp white shirt, tight dark jeans and that bulky jacket on. I always assumed he needed that whole macho image to enter manhood, something that my grandfather and seven uncles failed to teach him. No one ever teaches you to become a man. It’s just something you should know from the get go.

He refused to throw it away even as he outgrew the style. It stayed at the back of his closet for decades. I remember one time, he caught me and my sister playing with it. I think I was about seven or something which made my sister about ten. Anyway, she and I had no idea about the jacket’s history. We just saw it and thought it would be cool to play dress up with it. When he saw me wearing it, he saw red. I had no right to wear his precious jacket and I got the beating of my life to make sure I always remembered.

I think that’s why it felt a little weird when he called me into his room and said he had something to give me. His room always smelled like naphthalene balls, a scent I have since associated with old people. He reached into his closet, pulled out the jacket and told me that it was time for me to start wearing it.

“I was about your age when I bought that,” he said. Part of me cringed and I was hoping it wasn’t very visible in the afternoon sunlight. I’m not exactly the leather jacket wearing type. But this wasn’t just any jacket, I would soon learn. It had a very special meaning to my father.

When he was in his early twenties, most of my father’s clothes were hand-me-downs from his brothers. He knew his wardrobe lacked a few key pieces. With his first paycheck, he bought that jacket. At first sight, it was a simple accessory, just scraps of leather, cotton and polyester sewn together. But underneath those layers, it symbolized everything he deemed important- freedom, growing up and making it in the real world. Whenever my father put on that jacket, he was becoming less like the boy who grew up in a farm and more like the man from the city he was becoming.

“Now I know times have changed but classics like this will never go out of style,” he beamed as he removed the jacket from the wooden hanger. I was torn at that point. I knew there was no chance in hell I would wear that thing but at the same time, I knew how much it meant to him, how this moment must’ve been in his mind for years. He was passing the symbol of his manhood to his only son. Now why did it feel like such a burden?

He put the jacket over my shoulders. I popped my hand out of each sleeve to find that it was at least three sizes too big for me. The shoulders drooped and the sleeves swallowed my hands. All in all, it just looked like a real big mess. I walked over to the dresser to see my reflection. I looked like a large black cow swallowed me whole.

“It’s too big,” I reasoned out as I took the jacket off. “I could have it tailored but that might ruin it.” My father stood behind me, his lips pursed and tense. I stared at our reflections in the mirror. How could we be related when we look nothing like each other? He stared at my reflection, his eyes lingering on my frail shoulders. Was he thinking the same thing? Was he asking the same questions?

“Perhaps you’ll grow into it,” he said, his voice filled with an alien hope. He took the jacket from my hands, folded it up and gave it to me. “Who knows? One day, you might decide to bulk up and it’ll fit then.” I smiled at him, that polite smile I only use when he makes me feel uncomfortable and thanked him for his gift. Deep down, I too wished the jacket would fit me one day.

Photo Credit: TSY

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

six / war on chores

Buddy Holly  
Weezer (The Blue Album)  

Today marks my sixth year as a blogger* as well as my first month with A. Normally, I’d write something snazzy to celebrate but I’m going through this phase where I feel like everything I write is crap. I’ve got about a dozen or so stories all in my mind or on torn up pieces of tissue paper and I can’t seem to make sense of them.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been sick. I haven’t been to work in ages. This stupid mosquito bit me and poof! It became dengue! It’s not the big D I’m worried about though. It’s the boredom that comes with it. I’ve been on reverse isolation for about a week and a half now and I’m about thiiiiis close to exploding from sheer idleness.

And so because I feel like I should post something but at the same time I feel like nothing I write is good enough, I figured I’d dig something up from the old baul. The article I chose is one of the first things I ever wrote with the intention of posting online. I published it in early 2004 when I still had my own website and before I signed up for a Blogger account. I reeeeally want to edit it but I know that would go against the whole activity. It’s all very whiney, self-deprecating and fake-cool which was how everyone wrote in those days.

Anyway, I just spoiled everything with a lengthy disclaimer. Here is my War on Chores.

There should be a law against chores. There should be. I mean it. There should be a law that makes it illegal for suburban homes to be without a maid. I hate chores. They’re messy and you get nothing in return for them. At least the maid gets a monthly check. What do I get? I get calloused hands and the distinct smell of leftovers. I hate chores and I hate people who assign them. They keep me from the more important things that I have to do like… hmm… I dunno… I’ve been doing chores so long I don’t even remember what a normal teenager does in summer!

Chores always upset me and when I’m upset, I eat and get fat. It’s what I do. So basically, the ten pounds that I lost last month is now down to a dwindling five. I got it! That’s what I wanted to do with my summer… concentrate on slimming down.

Do you know that fifteen minutes on a treadmill or a bicycle will burn you about 70-90 calories? I biked briskly in the gym two weeks ago and it burned me 96 calories. I was mighty proud of my accomplishment until I realized I didn’t even burn enough calories for the bag of chips I had for breakfast. 96 friggin’ calories means nothing.

Elections came again and I was assigned another chore. Bring my grandmother to Makati so she can exercise her suffrage. For the record, I never agreed to this arrangement. Next thing I know is people are waking me up to bring Lola there! I didn’t give in and I just slept the whole morning. My sister ended up going. It wasn’t so hard. They rode cabs to and fro and they didn’t have any heavy bags to carry. So I was a bit surprised when my sister came home tired and sleepy. Suddenly, she was exempted from chores! Aaargh! I was so freaking pissed! It just wasn’t fair! What do I get for walking fifty blocks just to deposit Lola’s money or mail Lola’s affidavits? Mind you, Lola’s a very picky person and you have to do things perfectly or you’re doing it again… So, what does she get for helping Lola out. She gets exempted for chores. What do I get for helping Lola out? A shitload more chores. There is just no freaking justice left in the world. And just to prove my point, here’s another story.

It’s no secret I failed trigonometry last semester. Trying to convince them a new school is best for me only terminated the possibility of future attempts. So I needed to accept the fact that I’m going to be an irreg. That’s basically the kiss of death for someone like me who’s unassertive most of the time. So I figured you got the car, might as well drive it. I was going to take some advance courses so that I won’t be soooo behind next few years. But in UST, that’s not even possible. I need to talk to a bunch of people who will then decide if I can do that. So I told my mom last Friday that I needed to go to UST. Guess who didn’t want me to go. Guess who didn’t leave me any money… Clue, she’s my father’s wife… It doesn’t get any simpler than that. Water under the bridge, I said when she got home. So I reminded her this afternoon and she said (and I quote) “There are a lot of more important things that you need to do that go to UST. What makes you so sure they even have office tomorrow? Mag floorwax ka na lang!” So I guess the floor’s future is more important than mine… and for further proof of the world’s injustice and the overabundance of chores… here’s another story, though somewhat unrelated.

I called Bleep’s cellphone last week in the middle of a chore. To my surprise, it wasn’t Bleep who answered but someone else who sounded like they were just waking up. Complete with yawning and stretching sounds. I quickly hung up and repeatedly told myself it was the wrong number. Several days later, Bleep calls me up. “Listen, I was checking my ‘Received Calls’ and saw this number. I don’t remember you calling me so may I ask who this is?” Bleep doesn’t know my number. That was the beauty of everything. Everything was casual, no strings attached unless I wanted them to be. But now I guess Bleep’s moved on. I faked (with expertise) a probinsyano accent and said “Sorry piru sari-sari store lang pu tu i kaya de ko talaga alam kong seno ang tomawag jan. Pusibleng kahit seno kasi madami naman nakeketawag deto eh” which was quite a change from my greeting (Good Morning, Hello!). There is no justice in the world and when I hung up, guess what was right there waiting for me… chores!