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I'm vulnerable. I'm vulnerable (but) I am not a robot.

Monday, May 31, 2010

breakaway



Something in the morning just didn’t feel right. I should’ve known when I realized I wasn’t in my bed but then again, it’s not like that hasn’t happened before. I guess my body felt different, my arms felt alien to me, my legs a complete stranger. Drunk with sleep, I looked around the room.

This seems familiar, I said out loud to no one in particular. I wasn’t sure of a lot of things but if I had to put all my money on one thought, I’d say this was gonna be a pretty strange day.

Over breakfast, my mother was busting my balls again about how important getting an education is and how embarrassed she gets when she thinks about her smart son wasting away as a glorified answering machine. It wasn’t anything new. She does this every day. Today was simply Track 3 on Disc 2: the remix about how when she was a child, she fought so hard to get a college education. On any other day, I’d just let all this roll away but like I said, there was something different in the air, in the way the sound waves traveled from her mouth to the air to my ears.

I snapped. It’s my life. Fuck off if you think I’m living it wrong, I finally said, breaking two decades worth of silence. Suddenly, everything was in slow motion. The eggs, the soy sauce and the poor, innocent sinangag were sent flying in my direction at a speed where seconds seemed to take ages. If I were to be honest, I was a little amused at such a show of emotion. My mother is known for a lot of things but brutal honesty was not one of them. Once everything settled- the eggs, the rice and her breath, she politely and forcefully told me to “pack my shit and go.”

She didn’t need to tell me twice. For months, I had been in complete agony just thinking about leaving, about living the way I want to and stop worrying about things that would hold me down. I mean, it may not be obvious but I’ve got a lot of ambitions. Sometimes, I feel like I’m just wasting my life. Like these are somehow my so-called prime years and all I’ve done is bitch and whine about how I couldn’t get my way. Why couldn’t I get my own way anyway? What was I so afraid of?

Grow a pair, someone once said. He had just asked me to move in with him after which I gave him a lengthy explanation of how I couldn’t leave my mother and all that. Truth is, I was just scared. Scared that leaving would be hard, scared that he didn’t really love me and that he’d leave me once he realizes it too. For whatever it’s worth, I really did love him. 

Did? Sometimes, I feel like I never really stopped. Was it too late? I wondered as I packed the last of my underwear. I made a mental note to call him up the second I leave.

Apparently, it wasn’t too late. Thirty minutes later, I was in a part of Makati I didn’t know existed until moments before. To call his apartment-slash-room small would be an understatement. Still, it was better than being homeless. Hours and hours and calories (burned, mostly*) later, he rolled over to his side of the bed, lit a cigarette and broke my heart.

I’m glad you’re here, he said. I guess I always knew that our story hasn’t ended. At least not yet. I didn’t really know what to say. There was something so endearing about how he said it. Perhaps it was how he tried to mask it with braveness or how he thought I couldn’t tell he was crying. I suppose it was in the way the sweat on his shoulder quivered when he spoke or how his toes were curled in such tension. He wasn’t alright. Sana dito ka nalang forever, he said as he stubbed out his cigarette.

Oo nga, I replied and for both our sakes, I wished I could mean it.

Liner Notes: When you spend too much time with your friends, you start to wonder what it would be like to take control of their lives. Fresh off the screening of Here Comes The Bride*, YJ (who took the picture above), Victor and I decided to swap lives.

Kelly Clarkson
Breakaway (Acoustic)
Breakaway

Monday, May 24, 2010

fix me



Growing up, my mother told me that men are more logical than women. They cannot be bothered with trivial things like emotions or tears. If it’s broken, a man would know what to do. Sometimes I wish I had a motor. That way, if anything didn’t feel right, I would know what to do.

If a car won’t start, you check the battery, the starter, the engine, the tubes and whatnot. Once you locate the problem, you isolate it. Once that’s done, you determine if you can fix it on your own or if you need a mechanic. Then you start the car again and see if it’s better. If it’s not, go back to step one. Point is, there’s always a solution even if in the end, you would have to scrap the whole thing.

But I don’t have a motor and so while I feel like there’s something wrong with me, I don’t quite know how to fix it. My days are filled with dark clouds. In your arms, you have but one question. Are you okay? Mostly, I am but how do I even begin to explain that sometimes, I am just unhappy? Sometimes, I just want to be left alone. I am, I would lie unconvincingly and that was that. You knew not to press my buttons too much lest I get too annoyed and stop talking altogether.

And it’s not like I can just scrap the whole thing. My heart pumps blood to all my other organs. So while I seem to be walking around without a heart, it’s still there. It’s slower and there’s a funny ticking sound inside. Tic toc tic-tic toc, it says instead of tic toc tic toc. It tells the whole world that I’m broken.

Sometimes I wish I really had a motor. I would fix it, make the parts shine then I’d call you up so I can give you the kind of love you truly deserve. I’m sorry my heart is not an engine and with all the will this little ticking thing can muster, I wish you’d stay right where you are.

Photo Credit: Man Fixing Car

Coldplay
Fix You
X&Y

Sunday, May 9, 2010

mississippi



I was just about to fall asleep when my phone started ringing. It was an unknown number. I was going to ignore it but then my curiosity became too heavy to hold. On the last ring, I finally picked up.

The line was quiet at first but then I could hear someone breathing in the background. I was about to end the call when I heard a voice I thought I had learned to forget.

“Did I wake you?” he asked. His voice still made me weak even after all these years.

“No. I was still up anyway.” I lied. “What’s up?” I wanted to sound calm and casual but deep inside, I was shaking.

“Can you meet me? I need someone to talk to.” I couldn’t answer right away. This was the man whose absence hurt me so deeply, I didn’t think I would make it. Without him, I learned to walk, breathe and live again. My life’s been quiet for a while now. Why did he have to come back?

“I understand. Alam ko naman na nasaktan kita noon eh. I just really need to see you. I can pick you up if you want me to.”

Honestly, I was afraid he would rob me of my peace again. It was something I moved mountains to get back. After what felt like a lifetime but in reality was just ten seconds, I lied about an early meeting in the morning. I knew he knew I was lying. He was always good at spotting that. I suppose he understood why I wasn’t jumping out of bed at his invitation as he didn’t push the topic any further.

When the call ended, I felt the room blur away. Damn how he still had so much power over me, after I thought I was finally strong again. After I thought I was over everything that happened between us.

He was my one great love. When no one else understood me, he was busy writing my instruction manual. I felt like nothing could shake us. I was wrong. I didn’t believe it was possible to wake up one day and not be in love anymore but it happened to us, or rather to him and I was forced to live the rest of my life without the one man I had leaned on for so long.

The next night, he called from another unknown number. This time, he said he was in the area and offered to drop by for a quick talk. He seemed adamant to see me in the way he spoke. I was just about to give in when my logical side prevailed.

“I don’t want to see you.” I said as I put the phone down.

On the third night, he contacted me from yet another unknown number. This time, it was a text message. Car broke down. Few blocks from ur place. Jumpstart? I ignored it and five minutes later, he called.

“Please,” he begged. “I just really need to see you. Just give me five minutes. Five minutes of your time. I promise I won’t try anything funny.” Truth is, I had been weakened by his persistence. The offer was very tempting. If it was just a booty call, I really had nothing to lose. This man knows my entire body. He knows where to touch me. Whenever we did it, I felt like a dummy and he, my very willing puppet master. I was just about to say yes when he broke the silence.

“I’m sorry I even asked,” he said, with goodbye in his tone. “‘Tang ina naman, minsan ang kitid talaga ng utak mo. I won’t bother you again.” The line clicked, the call ended and my tears fell like curtains closing on the final act.

On the fourth night, on what would’ve been our sixth anniversary had he not left, he called again. He sounded drunk, high or possibly both.

“I’m sorry about everything. I know you never want to see me again but I just need to tell you something. Something important.” He was sobbing and soon, it became pretty hard to understand him. “I’m in my car now. Please, just meet me outside your house. Please.”

He was driving. I could hear buses and other city sounds whenever he paused. I feared for his life. He shouldn’t have been driving in such a drunken state.

“Sure.” I said meekly, my voice too weak for its own good.

Ten minutes later, he was knocking on my door. When I opened it, he pushed me against the wall and kissed me ferociously. His lips tasted like brandy and saline. Damn it, he still knew how to touch me. He traveled from my lips to my neck until he reached my chest. He clumsily unbuttoned my shirt, all the while kissing me all over. I could feel him getting hard as he pushed me harder against the wall. Like a whirlwind of things unsaid, of feelings pushed under the rug, we made our way to the bedroom. In our wake, we left vases and plates smashed to pieces on the ground.

We fucked with a passion I didn’t know we could have. I was sore in seven different places but it was all worth it. As we retired to sleep, I crept up to his side of the bed.

“I have loved you for years, here in the dark where no one can call it wrong. Thank you for finding me again.” I whispered in his ear.

He turned around and looked me in the eye. His expression was vacant but I could tell his thoughts had become pregnant.

“I wish I could still tell you I feel the same way but I can’t.” Each word he said crushed me into pieces too small for the human eye to see. Tears started welling up and before the first one could fall, I turned around and wept in silence.

In the morning, the space beside me was empty. I checked my phone. It had fourteen new messages. Must’ve been a hell of a night. I scrolled down until I saw his name.

Thank you for everything. Four very simple words. I shouldn’t be surprised. He’s always had a way with economizing emotions, distilling them so that I only got the simplest form. In my head, I was drafting a reply. Should I be equally nonchalant or should I be honest? Would either one bring him back?

Just then, the front door opened and I realized I let my mind run wild again. “Good morning,” he said, reeking of cigarettes and with sleep in his eyes. I felt stupid for all the things I thought about just moments ago. I walked over to him and kissed him softly.

“Do you want coffee?” I asked.

“Yes, please.” he said as he went back to the bedroom. I hurried to the kitchen and pulled the good china out of the cupboard. My hands shook as I boiled some water and readied the sugar and milk. I couldn’t wait to see him again, couldn’t bear another second without him right there. I clumsily stirred instant coffee into the cup and set everything on a tray. My feet paced quickly back to the bedroom, drops of coffee and water marking my sudden path.

The room was as cold as ice despite the warm sunshine illuminating every inch of space. The bed was made and he was gone. Somehow, I knew I would never see him again. The phone rang but I let the machine get it. My mind was busy preserving details of our last night together.

“It’s X,” the woman on the phone began. “I’m afraid I have some bad news.”

One by one, the objects in the room faded away. Dizzy, I sat quietly on the bed. I could still smell his perfume on my sheets. Maybe if I blocked out the sound of the machine, the woman’s words would be untrue. Surely, he was here. He was in my bed last night and in the living room this morning. In my mind, I could still hear what he said to me before we went to sleep.

“I wish I could still tell you I feel the same way but I can’t.”

It was only then that I fully understood what he meant to say. I stared blankly at the two cups sitting quietly on the tray. One had coffee that seemed too dark, the center still swirling to an unknown beat. The other just had water, like an unfinished story with nobody left to write it. From inside the kitchen, the radio began to play.

Though I’m baptized by your touch, I am no worse at most. I’m in love with your ghost.

Co-conspirator: victor
Photo Credit: rockstarxqtr2


Indigo Girls
Ghost (Demo Version)
Rarities

Sunday, May 2, 2010

detachment



Dear S,

It’s funny how I should find myself writing you this letter. I guess you affected me more than I’m willing to accept. I don’t really know what I want to say. All I know is there are so many things in my heart that I need to say and if I don’t do it now, the weight of it all could crush me to bits.

Perhaps I should start from the beginning. Do you remember your first day in class? You were wearing that green shirt- the one that looks like moss and I remember how refreshing it was to see such a strange color. I introduced myself to you and your classmates, all the while noticing how you had your eyes glued on me.

This was about a month and a half after my last relationship ended so I guess I was a little lonely. I think that’s how you got to affect me in such a short period of time. You were never shy about your feelings for me. I think you told me on our third meeting. I reminded you about the rules of professionalism and how I had no plans of breaking them but I suppose you heard nothing. You interpreted it as “I like you too. I just can’t do anything because you’re in my class.” That wasn’t what I meant. Not that I didn’t want to date you. I just didn’t think it was such a good idea at that time.

And so the weeks flew by. We had a lot of fun in class. Your classmates teased us all the time. I used it to my advantage. I knew that it somehow made me more relatable, more in tune with your people. If I were to be honest, I liked the attention. I liked how your face lit up when I went in the room. I liked how pregnant your greetings were whenever we passed each other in the hallway. But if I were to be honest still, I knew I didn’t desire you. At least not in the way you needed me to. It was just something I enjoyed, something to look forward to when the day began.

Do you remember your last day? You were so happy you finally passed. You surprised me when you kissed me. I had half the mind to reprimand you for being so unprofessional. And since the point of this letter is I want to be very honest, I think it’s time you knew I kinda liked it. I liked the feeling of breaking the rules. It was so new to me. I’ve always been very obedient. I guess the fact that you initiated everything made me technically blameless so I thank you for that. I guess until that moment, I never saw a future with you. But with that few seconds, your tender lips on mine, I felt like I could, you know… I could maybe love you too.

I held back because I was afraid that your feelings for me were only temporary. That you would forget me as soon as you left my class. You once assured me it wasn’t true but I guess I know how these things work more than you do. I never saw you again. You never even came back for your certificate. For days, I questioned that brief moment when our lips locked. Should I have kissed you back? Was there something wrong in the way our lips moved? Did my breath smell like cigarettes?

But then I remembered. It was the phenomenon- the illusion that I project and sell in class. You only liked me because I had power over you. You were mesmerized at how I spoke because you knew you had to be a little more like me if you were to have any chance at getting employed. You fell in love with the image I sold, not the person I really am inside. When you didn’t need me anymore, it’s like I lost the thing that made me all shiny and sparkly. You forgot all about me.

Too many and too late were the realizations that came after you were gone. I didn’t know I liked you too. I felt bad I didn’t feel it sooner. I regretted all the time we wasted without each other. I would’ve wanted to tell you all this but I couldn’t find my voice. You took the one thing I could not live without- my ability to express myself.

I don’t blame you. It’s happened to me way too many times. I guess the purpose of this letter is to formally end whatever it was we had. I’ll miss your smile and how you always asked such interesting questions in class. I’ll miss your bubbly personality and how you always made everyone laugh when you told jokes. Oh, there’s also this other thing. I should probably tell you about someone new in my life. They say history repeats itself until we learn from it. That’s probably why C is in my life right now.

C is just like you in so many different ways although I doubt if anyone could be as forward as you. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. There is some beauty in the covert and how C leaves me with questions instead of loud statements. Be that as it may, I don’t think I can give C the same attention I gave you. I don’t want to be a victim of my illusion yet again.

I know now that the lesson I should’ve learned from you is that of detachment. I should’ve never allowed you to fill the void of my loneliness. I think Janet Fitch said it best*. “Don't attach yourself to anyone who shows you the least bit of attention because you're lonely. Loneliness is the human condition. No one is ever going to fill that space.” I realize now that I was unfair, that I asked too much of you without you even knowing. I don’t think I’ll worry too much about C. I’ll just watch as life unfolds its plans for us. I’ll just sit back and enjoy the show. No expectations, no promises, no feelings, no problems.

So that’s all I want to say. I heard they kicked you out two days ago because you talked back to one of your supervisors. Though it seems we wasted our time on you, I refuse to think so. I hope wherever you go, you’ll remember the things we taught you. Take care always, S. Remember that life is too short to have regrets.

Yours,
N.

Lenka
The Show
Lenka