Monday, December 19, 2011

disconnect

  
  
I stumbled out of the bar looking for a cigarette. I had a bottle in one hand and my phone in the other as my arms felt my pockets for a stick. I was sure I had one left but like most things in my life, my last cigarette eluded me and so I sat on the curb resigned.

You’re only worth your last cigarette, I heard a voice in my ear. Sometimes blog posts come to me like that. You’re only worth the contents of your wallet. You’re only as good as your next project, next blog post, next big thing they expect of you. You’re only as good as your capacity to love and right now honey, you ain’t worth shit.

Just as I was about to spiral into self-pity, I start smelling the familiar scent of tobacco smoke. I look up and see a boy, probably in his early 20s, looking nervous as he stood dangerously close to me. I get up, smile, rest my hand on the wall, our faces close to touching. He hands me a cigarette and we smoke until the pack runs out. We talk shit, our fiction mixing with reality. He tells me he’s in college but with pores like that, I knew he was lying. I told him I was a nursing graduate looking for a job. We bullshit each other some more then he asks if I wanted to go somewhere quiet.

The next morning, I wake up and my head feels like it’s been split into two. The motel room is bright as fuck and it’s a struggle to find my clothes. I locate my underwear near the dresser, my pants near the TV, my shirt balled up between the sheets. College boy is still in bed. I plan my quiet exit.

Forgetting something? I look behind me to find college boy with my wallet. By impulse, my right hand flies to my back pocket. Thank you, I say as I take it from him, my voice hoarse from an entire night of abuse.

Am I gonna see you again? he asks. Or is this one of those things? His voice starts to trail off. I never was good at these things. I could tell he was a good kid. Seemed a little fresh off the boat but workable under different circumstances. He lights up a cigarette then offers me one. I reluctantly accept. I don’t know. This seemed nice. Leave me your number and maybe we could do this again some time.

I smile at him, take deep drags off the cigarette then leave a few bills on the table to pay for the room. In my head, I hear Isaac singing.

There’s really no way to reach me.
There’s really no way to reach me.
Because I’m already gone.

♫: The Fray | Vienna (2005)


MC2U. I’m closing the books (or hanging in the towel or whatever cheesy expression you have in mind) for 2011. I realize I have a few unfinished projects for this year but in light of recent events, I don’t think I have the time or effort to write anymore. You can only get your heart broken too many times before you have to start thinking if you’re going to live the rest of your life an empty shell or if you’re going to heal and adapt. This year, I’m spending the holidays far from the bus horns and the lights of the city. Let’s all hope that 2012 will be kinder to all of us. To anyone who’s reading this, maligayang pasko at manigong bagong taon!

PS. If you miss me too much, you can watch me tumble or hear me tweet!

Friday, December 9, 2011

breaking

  
  
May girlfriend ka na ba, dong? Bakit walang laman ang Facebook mo? Kelan ka ba mag-uuwi ng babae dito? Malicious little questions that mean so little yet betray so much. There are no easy answers to them (Hell to the no, kick ass security settings and when they start making them differently) so I just smile politely and change the topic.

There are so many things I’d like to tell you. Sometimes, I wonder if I can. Like maybe you’d understand, like maybe you wouldn’t think I’m evil or that I somehow wanted this. Maybe you’d be alright with it.

I imagine you and Papa. It’s a nondescript day. He is engrossed in a ₱50 book. You are in the kitchen reheating leftovers. I can hear Pet Society music in the background.

We start eating. Out of the blue, I tell you my secret. I talk about all the lies I’ve told you since all this began. I talk about my lover and how thoughts of him keep me warm at night. I talk about the urges, how they never stop, how I once thought they would. Papa stops eating. He gets up to smoke outside. You hold my hand and say you’ve always known. Papa comes back and just when I think he’s about to hit me, he holds me tight in his arms and tells me he loves me still. We all hug because that’s what happens in those bullshit Hallmark movies.

(OR)

Maybe I’ll tell you in the van. We are on our way home, at least where it used to be. Through the years, this van has witnessed many meltdowns. It is no stranger to tears. In the smallest voice I could muster, I tell you everything. You look me in the eye. I can tell you are fighting back tears. You slap me hard, so hard I almost fall off my seat. Papa slams the breaks. His door flies open and like the bass line in a heavy metal song, he marches to my side of the vehicle. He slides the door open and drags me out. You are not my son, he’d say and you leave me in the middle of Pasay with nothing but my regrets and tears.

But in reality, it wouldn’t be anything like that. It would be quiet. The only sound would be of your heart breaking, of your collective dreams suddenly shattering. Mama, I’m sorry.

I don’t ever want to break your heart. If I could, I would explain that this isn’t my fault, nor is it yours or anyone’s for that matter. It’s just how things are. It took me such a long time to accept it for myself. On most nights, I was on my knees praying, bargaining, saying I’d give all the shit I own to be “normal”, whatever that meant. There were many moments when I just wanted to be like everyone else. But I couldn’t do that. I can’t pretend to be someone I’m not. Didn’t you teach me that?

And so although I want you to see the man I have become, my true self away from the lies I tell and the masks I wear to protect you, I know now is not the time. Someday, I pray you’d understand. I pray you wouldn’t think I’m evil or that I somehow wanted this. I pray that one day, you’d be alright with it.

I do not want to break your heart and so instead, I break my own.

♫: Plumb | Damaged (1999)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

crash

  
  
“I hate flying,” I said to the woman next to me. I don’t make a habit of talking to strangers but I figured since we were stuck in Economy for the better part of the morning, it wouldn’t hurt to pass the time with a new friend. “Though they say you’re more likely to die of heart disease than a plane crash.” She smiled politely at me as she plugged her earphones in. I had half a mind to tell her she’s not allowed to play music during takeoff but as I glanced at her iPod, I noticed it wasn’t even on. So much for making new friends.

When we hit a stable altitude, I decided I should probably take a nap. I wasn’t really sleepy. I just didn’t have anything better to do. Smarter travellers would’ve brought a book or a gadget of some sort. I had the inflight magazine and half a KitKat. I didn’t want to look like a loser so I figured sleep’s the only thing left to do. I shut my eyes. One by one, the sounds around me started to fade away. Within minutes, I found myself sleeping miles above the earth.

I didn’t get much sleep though. Of all things, it was the oxygen masks that woke me. I quickly took the one that hit me and put it over my mouth. The plane shook violently as the pilot talked to us about lightning and where we were trying to land. The stewardesses fought hard to keep their balance and their composures. One was helping an elderly woman with her life vest. Another was barking out instructions. Put this on! Pull both at the same time! Women with infants! I looked around me. The woman next to me was in tears, her paperback soaking in a puddle of coffee. The overhead bins flew open as bags threw themselves at unsuspecting passengers. Couples held on to each other as though love could get them through a plane crash. The religious clutched rosaries and prayed. In the middle of it all, I was strangely calm. I wasn’t afraid. I was thinking of you.

The plane ripped open and one by one, the seats flew out like they do in cartoons. My seat ejected soon enough. The clouds and the cold air felt sharp as I passed through them. The city lights looked like stars. I mapped out the bridges and skyscrapers like they were constellations. I floated aimlessly, my heart fearless, my mind hell-bent on a destination.

I wanted to float to you. In my mind, I pictured landing on your doorstep. You would open the door and let me in. It would be awkward at first, you not knowing exactly what I was doing or how I got there. Me, heavily burdened by all that I couldn’t but wanted to say. If that happens, would all the things we couldn’t talk about stop mattering? Or would we still be afraid of all we had to lose?

I’d like to think that at that moment, it would just be me and you and no one else. No meddling friends, deep-set issues or exes who refuse to be forgotten. There’s only us and the bright opportunity to fall in love. We’d hug and it would feel like we found missing parts of ourselves in each other. Our hearts would start beating in tune. We’d kiss in sweet slow motion, like honey dripping or something pretentiously poetic like that. Maybe a few birds would sing. There would be a double rainbow. But none of that would matter because we’d be lost in each other’s embrace.

The only thing worse than waking up from a nightmare is to wake up from a silly dream. We will never meet. We will never touch. We are too fucked up to let go. The pilot announced that we’d landed early. I stood up to get my carry-on. I turned my phone on to check my messages. There was one from the office, another from an old friend. I tapped compose.

“Just landed. The airport is five different shades of lonely.” Not that you asked. Not that you will.

♫: Jason Mraz | Plane (2005)
Photo: airplane window / pixlr.com

Monday, November 14, 2011

conflict

Bird’s losing his feathers, I casually said to my sister over breakfast. Over warm pan de sal and small talk, she and I came up with theories. I said he might be shedding like snakes do. She said he might be sad or lonely. For the entire year since he crashed into our living room*, he’s always been alone. Everybody needs somebody, she reasoned. Perhaps music would help.

Since then, I’d grown accustomed to hearing her sing to him in the early morning. Jazz standards, hymns from the church we grew up in, top forty mainstays – my sister’s repertoire knew no bounds. The bird responded frequently. Though off key, he did his best to keep up with her vocal runs. I wish we’d listened to him at night when we all went to bed. If we did, we’d understand the real reason why he was losing all his feathers.

This morning, when I went to the kitchen to get a glass of water, I saw Bird with one of his feathers between his beak. There were a few others on his cage’s floor. If I’d come earlier, I would’ve heard the incessant gnawing of his self-mutilation or the sound his beak made as he slammed it repetitively on one of the bars. He wasn’t shedding nor was he particularly lonely. He was stripping.

---

I don’t understand this, my father said one morning. He was tending to his latest project: an herb garden and though he stuck to the internet how-to he’d printed out, he could not get the sprouts to live past a few days. My mother, ever supportive, suggested that maybe it was the weather. Perhaps November’s too chilly to be growing arugula.

Rubbish, he dismissed. The man at the seedling bank said it was the perfect season for arugula. I wondered how he could care so much for something so frail. I could not find any compassion for those green little things but they kept my father busy so I couldn’t complain.

I’m thinking about all of this as I sit outside our house at three in the morning. I have a cigarette in one hand and a cup of ash and water in the other. I puff, flick twice into the cup and think about my father’s rosemary, his Thai basil and a few more that I couldn’t name. I think about the care he takes, nipping the bad ones, treasuring the good. My big toe traces the outline of the chalk fence he drew to keep the pests away. And when I finished my cigarette and thoughts of his babies, I carefully poured the contents of my cup into each pot.

---

Are you leaving because you’re in love with me? he asked. My mind knew this game too well. It was time to override the control of my heart. I was starting to lose it. I was acting funny, saying things I wasn’t sure I meant, spiraling into an abyss of empty promises and failed expectations. I pleaded my case and lost. I convinced myself I gave it a fair shake and it was time to move on. It was time to say goodbye.

No, I said, my voice thin and frail. I’m leaving because you’re breaking my heart.

From out of nowhere, a voice whispers in my ear. Honey, you’re breaking your own heart.

---

97% of scientific experts agree that the climate changes, the crazy weather, the spontaneous tsunamis and consequent droughts are all very likely caused by man-made activity. We like to destroy our own, don’t we? After all, what is life without conflict?

♫: Jet | Look What You've Done (2003)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

surrender

We may never speak again. That was my first thought when I woke up this morning. I don’t usually get up before noon on Sundays but today was different. My head throbbed from drinking too many beers in too little time. My three-hour sleep nap was yet another cosmic joke that I didn’t get. But none of that mattered. The only thing that did was that we may never speak again.

And there is so much to say. Sometimes, the sheer weight of all the things I say to you and all I leave behind feels like it’s going to crush me. My shoulders ache from lugging it around, the way I conceal my psychoses, the way I pretend to ignore yours, the way I used our common pain as common ground. I carried them around for weeks. One day, I said to myself I didn’t want to carry that weight anymore. Especially not on this strange Sunday morning where I find myself hung over, with a splitting headache, heartbroken and writing draft after draft for you.

What took me months to rebuild is once again shattered. I stare at the mirror, at the cracks on my cheek, the glue stains on my neck and wonder what it’s like to be unbreakable. I run my hands through scars, both fresh and old and wonder if there was more to me than what you saw. Perhaps I’m not really as wonderful as I thought I was. Maybe you were right.

Over dinner, a friend talks to me about strength. I only half-listen for in my mind, I was still reeling from what little we had ending so abruptly. Through bits and pieces, she told me that strength is not winning the break-up game. It’s not about being the first to move on or the last to hold a grudge. Strength is getting punched in the gut, doubling over, standing up and asking for more. Many lose when they look for love. I guess that’s why so many of us just wait but only the strong can love, get hurt and still find it in them to come back day after day after day, heart on their sleeve, smile on their face, saying let’s do this. Like it’s the simplest thing in the world. Like it’s never going to hurt.

When it’s time to live and let die
And you can’t get another try.
Something inside this heart has died.
You’re in ruins.

One, 21 guns.
Lay down your arms. Give up the fight.
One, 21 guns.
Throw up your arms into the sky
.

She said strength is in standing up and asking for more. I’m sorry I’m not that strong.

♫: Green Day | 21 Guns [Cast Version] (2009)

Monday, October 31, 2011

what it was like

I needed to know what I was like back then. For nights, I thought of nothing but my youth, hoping he would come to me in my sleep. On the sixth night, he finally did.

It was like I had my eyes closed for a long time. His image, blurry at first, began to focus. We exchanged pleasantries, neither of us wanting to acknowledge that we met because of a mutual pain and that perhaps we are each other’s keys.

“Can you tell me what it’s like?” I asked when there was nothing left to say. “Can you remind me what it’s like to have a dream?”

“I want for nothing,” he began. “But I want everything. Hunger fills the corners of my silences like a dark flame. It’s a reason to get up in the morning. Something to look forward to when I give my mind up to slumber.”

I remember how that felt. I remember how my dreams felt like little flames on my skin that would consume me if I didn’t work for them. I remember yearning for the future – the future which has unfortunately become my present. Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.*

I yearned. It was all I had. I had an image of where I wanted to be and I was determined to do whatever it took to get there. And all these years, I climbed the mountains of my ambition and desire. I went on a lot of dates. I worked myself to the bone to get promoted. I climbed until my legs hurt. I climbed until the air was so thin, I had to shut my eyes. It wasn’t until I opened them again that I realized I had finally reached the top.

What happens when you realize you have nothing left to climb? I have come to the realization that there is nothing else to want in life. I live my days with a vacant expression hoping that someone or something would wake me from this comatose.

“You know I’ve been looking for you too,” he said, breaking the silence. “I’ve reminded you of who you were. Maybe you can tell me what it’s like.”

“What’s what like?”

“The future. Will I be happy? Will it all make sense in the end?”

I wanted to tell him everything: the hollow that haunted me, the sadness I still could not explain, the vacant that punctuated my days. I felt he had a right to know and I was going to tell him but then something made me stop.

He stared at me with such hope in his eyes. I didn’t want to crush him. I didn’t want him to worry about the things I should be searching for myself.

“Are you happy?”

“Yes, I am,” I lied. “And you will be too.”

“Will there be more mountains?” he asked, his voice sounding more like an echo. “Will we live long enough to see?” His eyes pierced through me with hope. I knew it would be impossible to be truthful.

I suddenly awoke in a pile of pillows and bedding on the floor.

“Plenty,” I said to him even though he was gone. “There will be plenty of mountains,”  For both our sakes, I pray my words ring true someday.

♫: Shakira | Hopes For Plans (2005)

Monday, October 24, 2011

this is your life

Last night, I let a paid man fuck me. It had been years since anyone went down there and though I thought it would be like riding a bike and a few moments to jog my memory would be all it would take, it wasn’t. I felt like this man went inside my body, spit on my soul and asked for payment.

And my legs hurt from the haphazard massage that came before it. I went to one of those dinky massage places. Within moments, I was butt naked with my face pressed on a hard mattress. The entire place reeked of semen, cigarette smoke and broken dreams. Through the harsh red lighting, my seemingly innocent masseur asked me if I liked it hard.

An hour later, he was inside me. I was okay at first but then I started weeping. The pain was a little too much. Though he was pretty short, his cock had somehow transformed from flaccid and infantile to erect and ginormous. I thought that the bit about me paying for this would ease the pain or that he would stop when I told him to but despite all I said, he kept going and going and going. He rode me hard and with such abandon. Intent on getting my money’s worth, I focused on the ceiling and made patterns with the irregular brown stains. He finally came, then I came and we settled the bill. As he popped out to get a towel to wipe the blood and shit off my leg, I closed my eyes and imagined I was at the beach, relaxing with the warm sun in my face. I imagined I was far, far away.

And then I realized at that exact moment that this is what I've become. This has become my life.

Two weeks ago, Nick asked if he could “borrow” some money. This was weeks after his last text to me. His promises to love me despite myself were left hanging in the air. I sincerely thought I would never hear from him again but when I opened my eyes, he was in front of me, taking the last of my money. I looked at him, trying to memorize each line on his face for in my heart of hearts, I knew. I knew I would never see him again.

A sugar daddy at age thirty-three. I guess that’s why I allowed the masseur to fuck me even though I didn’t really want him to. At least I knew what I was getting into. I paid him to fuck me. There weren’t any messy complications or pretensions of affection. If I give him enough money, he can make me forget that I am who I am – someone who is impossible to love without a few Ninoys involved. After we both came, the masseur and I lay side by side on the small mattress. He offered me a cigarette as he lit one for himself. His breathing was labored, probably by all the smoke in his workplace.

“Can you kiss me?” I asked him. He gave me a quick peck on the cheek. I looked at him with disapproval.

“Not like that. I want you to kiss me like you mean it.” And he did. It felt real. True enough, he was worth every single centavo. For a little over an hour and at the expense of an entire week’s salary, he was mine and I, his. It felt nice to be owned again.

He held me for a little bit and then with the sounding of the house bell, we knew our time was up. I got dressed and walked home. It was drizzling a little but I ignored it. I had my iPod on shuffle and it started playing a Switchfoot song. This is your life. Are you who you want to be? the singer asked. It was almost 5AM. The sun was beginning to rise and everywhere, people were waking up and to take part in their lives.

This is my life. I am not who I want to be.

♫: Switchfoot | This Is Your Life (2004)

Monday, October 17, 2011

seeing

She sits at a lonely table in the middle of a busy restaurant. Her hair is pulled back, her clothes simple but stylish and there’s barely any blush on her cheeks. She has her hand in an open book but her eyes stare blankly at the window. Her fingers feel the words. A woman. A man. They are in love. They kiss under the pale moonlight. She finds it hard to focus on the words, on the promises they betrayed, on her own thoughts racing quick like fire. She closes her book, takes a sip of water and listens to the sounds around her.

There is a baby a few feet behind her. His cries pierce through the symphony of spoons and forks scraping against plates. There is a man talking loudly on his cellphone, something about an art deal that went sour. She can hear a pair of women gossiping about her from a faraway table. They comment on her shoes, how they’re too high, how they’d have bought a pair in a different color. They speculate about why she’s alone. She shifts uncomfortably in her seat.

“Phone call from an unregistered number,” an electronic woman speaks from her purse. She fishes out her phone and taps lightly on the screen. The voice of a man from a thousand miles away patches through crystal clear.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be there.”

She smiles. His voice feels like soft fur across the fleshy part of her thigh. It’s not right but it feels nice. He talks about Cleveland, about how it’s not what he imagined it would be. He talks about the airport, how the people look funny, how the shops feel alien to him. He talked about how slowly time seemed to pass over there and how he longed for nothing than to have her by his side.

“I got you a little something.”

She inhales sharply. Perhaps he did remember after all.

“I know I shouldn’t. At least not after the last time.”

Her eyes stay transfixed on the window. He reminded her of what happened, how the wounds have not mended, how it pains her to not know where they stand.

“Anyway, I wish you’d talk to me. I really am sorry.”

She sighs. It is all she could give him. Any more would be indulging. Any less and she’d explode.

“Are you seeing anyone new?” he asks. She waits for the line to click, certain he’d soon tire of speaking to the wall she’d put up.

“I wish you had remembered,” she says after he ends the call. She stands, her napkin falls to the floor but she does not pick it up. She walks towards the sounds of the bar and lightly touches the arm of one of the waiters.

“The middle table,” she commands. “It’s her birthday. I want a cake – strawberry, not chocolate. I’d also like for you to sing her a song. Do this when she asks for the check.” She slips a horizontally-folded fiver with a handshake and walks slowly back to her table.

Her food arrives and she eats slowly and carefully. The meat tastes sinewy. Its juices tickle her taste buds. She tastes a bit of the potatoes. They are mushy and overcooked. She listens to the hollow sound of her swallowing, of food making its way down. Do they sound the same way while I digest? she wonders as the sounds of the restaurant fade away.

The women have stopped talking about her. The baby has stopped crying. The man on the phone has left. She listens as new people take their places in booths and tables around the restaurant. People coming, people going, nobody stays long enough to enjoy their food anymore.

When she is finished eating, she hears the familiar sound of tambourines coming from the kitchen. People stop talking as several waiters slowly approach her table.

They sing Happy Birthday, their voices loud and off-key. She smiles politely, her eyes resting lazily on the flowers on the table. One voice particularly stood out. She imagines him to be stout and sweaty with long curly hair. The song ends on a sustained, happy note as the lead waiter wishes her a final happy birthday.

“Thank you,” she says quietly. He hands her the check. She pulls out three vertically-folded bills from her purse and slides them into the leather holder. She takes a final sip of water, puts her book in her purse and maps out her exit route.

“Is she?” one of the gossiping women asks.

“Dakota,” she calls out and her golden retriever springs up from his rest. She clicks her tongue and he pops out from under the table. He walks slowly, guiding her out of the restaurant and onto the street.

The October wind was a little chilly but her nape burned feverishly from the restaurant’s collective gaze. She walks calmly, confidently, her heels making loud clacking noises on the pavement. He had asked her if she was seeing anyone new. She smiles an empty smile, wondering if he understood the irony.

♫: Rachael Yamagata | Answering The Door (2008)

Monday, October 10, 2011

reprising the teacher

There are moments, little victories, I suppose that I relish. I find myself in the middle of a café and I am smiling at nothing. Or I laugh at a scene in a movie and I feel like it’s real, like it’s not that laugh I keep rehearsing in the mirror at home. There are days when I hardly think of him.

But there are others that are unforgiving. They knock the wind out of me until I’m a big useless ball weeping on the bedroom floor. I press an ear against the floor, waiting to hear his footsteps returning. I imagine what they would sound like. Plop. Plop. Plop-plop. Or was it just Plop. Plop. Plop? The jingle of his keys, the turning of the doorknob, the shuffle his feet made on the welcome rug. I jump up, turn around to face the door but no one was there. I couldn’t find him. He didn’t want me to. So I guess I’ll just have to wait.

Or do I? I slowly undress, my nude body almost translucent in the livid moonlight. I picture his face, each line, each shadow. My pencil traces intricate dances on the paper. I sketch his hands and with each stroke, each line, I could feel his warmth brushing against my body. I sketch his eyes, the way they looked at me when he first beheld my nakedness. I blush. No one’s looked at me that way before, I whisper to no one in particular. I sketch his arms, his chest, his wobbly knees. I sketched him to life.

And he came into my room looking just like he did on the night that we met. A cold draft entered through the doorway. I shiver, hide myself behind feeble hands as though I hadn’t noticed I was naked. He comes towards me, his big hands reaching for mine, feeling, longing. He kisses me and it feels just like it used to.

Tell me a lie, he says. Just like before. Soft whispers in my ear trickle down like water.

I didn’t miss you. I answer, my eyes unfeeling, staring right into his.

Tell me another one.

You don’t turn me on. At least not anymore.

Another one.

I still think of you on most nights when I can’t sleep.

I told you to lie to me. He looked confused. That wasn’t a lie.

How would you know? You weren’t there.

---

Did you miss me? His breath feels warm and wet. He leads a hand down to my crotch, the pain of my arousal relentless against his will.

Now you tell me a lie. I command.

I don’t miss screwing you.

Another one.

I never loved you.

Another one.

I’ve stopped loving you.

Another one.

It’s been difficult to move on. Not when I see you like this.

I bit my tongue. I wasn’t sure if he was lying like he was supposed to. All I knew was either way, it would hurt.

I awake from my daydream yearning for a time so clear, it could have been a memory. Whatever happened to us? I used to see us, hands clasped, waking up to a million forevers. Why did we have to lie?

♫: Azure Ray | Sleep (2001)
Post: in oblivion [mots]



Reprising again / Year Seven. I haven’t reprised any bloggers in a while. In case you weren’t here last year, they’re like song covers for blogs but way looser. Click here to see the others. Ooh, and this blog just turned seven years old last Thursday. I know I haven’t been the most consistent blogger but it means a lot to me that you guys are still here despite my craziness. Thank you for the friendship and the encouragement-slash-ego boost. I promise to write more often real soon.

Monday, October 3, 2011

this year's love (II)

“Honestly, I don’t know if you’re lucky or unlucky,” said a friend. He put stress on all the right words so they cut right through. We were talking about love and logic. He says when you find love, you can’t help yourself. You have to surrender to it in all Amy Winehouse glory and do whatever it takes to be with him. I said it was possible to be logical about it and when I find myself with people who can or have hurt me, I use my mind to bottle up all my feelings and stow it away.

“You have to protect yourself,” I argued. “I’ve seen too many people scarred beyond repair from what you call love and I don’t want to be like them.”

“If you keep doing that, you’ll never truly open yourself up to anybody,” he warned.

“It’s helped me survive all these years,” I said. We argued well into the morning light, both of us drunk and exhausted. In the end, we agreed to disagree, or at least I did. He predicted I would soon see that he was right.

I walked home and met a nice black kitten. He was playing with a twig in front of my house and didn’t mind much when I came close to touch him. We exchanged a few meows and purrs and after saying goodbye fifty million times, I opened the gate and went inside. It was such a breath of fresh air – a street cat who isn’t afraid of humans. I would’ve said he was being avant-garde but if I were to be honest to myself and to my new friend, I knew he was just being naïve.

Two days later, he was dead. I saw his guts splattered on the concrete and he had a strange expression on his face. I wanted to take a picture to show my friends so that they could confirm what I was seeing – the dead avant-garde kitty was smiling. What was he smiling about? A bigger black cat walked towards us. I assumed she was the mother and so I got up and let the woman grieve. As I walked away, she sprung up in defense and I could hear her anger through her fangs. She was older and in cat sense, wiser not to trust humans. People will kill you, if you let them, she seemed to say.

People will kill you, if you let them. I’m not talking about getting run over or shot. I’m talking about a harsher death. They can make you feel worthless and ugly, they can crush your spirit if you let them. I should know for I’ve made that mistake too many times. For weeks, I’ve been spiraling into an inferno of self-pity. There’s a voice in my head that tells me to stop and cling to whatever I have left. I’ve got a good job, a stable family, fantastic friends. Why do I need anybody to validate me? Why should the actions of one person define me? My logic tells me to be big and brave like the mother cat. It’s a big old world filled with assholes and those naïve enough to believe in love and its fragrant promises usually find themselves squashed on the pavement with their pink parts exposed to the world.

There’s another voice though and I hardly recognize it as my own. It must be from when I was younger. The kitty was smiling. He was on to something. You’ll never know love if you don’t try. Not everyone will hurt you. Not everyone who does, means to. If you give up now, how will you ever find it?

Question is: do I lick my wounds and become calloused or die with a smile on my face?

I don’t really know what the future has in store for me. Truth is, I’m terrified of the thought of meeting new people, going on dates again and opening doors that I quite recently forced shut. As I got home last night from what felt like such a long day, I glanced at the sky and saw something I hadn’t seen before in my twenty-five years of existence. I was beginning to think they weren’t really real but last night, it shone in its brief teal glory. They say you have to wish when you see a falling star. I closed my eyes and through clenched teeth, I wished to fall in love again.

♫: David Gray | This Year's Love (1999)
Photo: Yohan | cat / sky
Post: This Year's Love



Re-imaginings. It’s been weeks since I wrote anything fresh. I was in the middle of this series* but I suddenly found myself straddling the line between reality and fiction. I have so much hatred for the third person in the story that I just couldn’t find the empathy to pen his version. Instead of going on hiatus yet again, I thought I’d come out with some reworked blog posts from before Citybuoy. This one is from three years ago*.

Friday, September 16, 2011

how would you do it?

How would you do it? It’s a question that’s been in my head for over a week now. I suppress it, fill my head with things to do, anything to get my mind off it. Deal with problems as they arise. My laptop battery dies, I grab my charger. My tummy rumbles, I eat. My coffee spills, I wipe it up. Never succumb, nothing is let go. But there are days like today when I’m too weak to fight; too weak to stay sane so I just let the thoughts calmly trickle down.

I imagine white sheets on a white bed in a blindingly white room. There is a Tornatore score in the background. The windows are open but the sun is too bright to see anything. The curtains sway feverishly. I am naked, lost in slumber in the middle of the bed. A small red dot appears in the middle of the bed. It grows and grows until all you see is red. The sheets, the bed, the curtains, the wallpaper. The cellos end on a peculiar note. I’ve slit my wrists. The scene fades to black.

The next scene finds me on the roof of a skyscraper. It is nighttime. Hyperballad plays from a loud car on the street. I go through all this before you wake up, Björk sings. Her song mixes with car horns, traffic sounds, trains screeching through tracks. I feel the wind on my face. My shirt gets magically unbuttoned. I leap. I am free. I smile. Safe again with you, she sings over and over again. The scene fades to black.

I am in the bath in the house I grew up in. I soak. My mind is at ease. I close my eyes. My mother is listening to the news on our old multiplex. A murder in Marikina. No one saw it coming. No suspects, no leads, just a body in the middle of the river. I tune out. The water is so calm, so inviting. I fidget a little, ripples on the water’s surface. I dip my head slowly. The water enters through my nose, my ears, my eyes. I feel it in my lungs. The radio begins to sound muffled. The scene fades to black.

Hanging. Sleeping pills. An insane amount of ecstasy. An air-conditioned car with a hose in the muffler. Leaping in front of a speeding bus along EDSA. Gasoline and a match. A river and a stone. The scenes mix, one right after the other like boom boom boom. The soundtrack confuses. Sia, Adele, Sparklehorse, Fiona Apple, Liz Phair and Amy Winehouse. OneRepublic, Robyn, Paula Cole and a Lady GaGa song for good measure. Silence, static, the Angkor Wat theme. I am dizzy. And then, a realization.

How can someone die when he’s already dead? How can you kill someone who’s already been killed?

How? We meet. It is wonderful. We share coffee and cigarettes. A Train song plays in the background. We laugh, discuss poetry and movies, time flies. A park bench. Love. A day, a week, a month, six months. I start to believe in myself again. All of the shit I went through in the past suddenly makes sense. We make plans. He talks about our home, our children, the stories we will write. Promise me you’ll always be happy by my side. I promise to sing to you when all the music dies.*

And then, it does. There is only silence. A bump in the road. And then another one. And then another one. It feels like all we ever think about is him leaving. I hide, weep quietly. I show him nothing. There’s no reason for both of us to be miserable. I withdraw. Am I here? A missed opportunity. Another one. Another one. I am invisible.

A week before a year and he needs me. I am distant. I am busy. He seeks comfort in another man. Can you blame him? A choice, a decision. Him instead of me. Another decision. Him again. Again and again and again. Can you blame him? I am broken. I am nothing. I’ve lost faith in men and love and the birds in the sky. I’ve stopped believing I will ever love again. It feels like I’m a sheet of paper slowly burning in anger and self-pity. He has killed me. The scene fades to black.

A co-worker barks my name snapping me back to reality. I am suddenly awake and painfully aware that all that I’ve written is true. And then there are things to do, bills to be paid, emails to respond to and reports to be sent. Life goes on despite the absence of it. I breeze through the tasks at hand.

Are you okay? a friend asks. You look terrible.

I’m not, I answer reluctantly, but I will be. I smile. It is vacant. In my head, I see slit wrists, tall buildings and buses speeding along EDSA. I put on my headset, plug it into my iPod and the world is silenced by a song.

You'll say you'd never let me fall from hopes so high.
But never is a promise and you can't afford to lie.

♫: Fiona Apple | Never Is A Promise (1996)

Monday, September 5, 2011

vacant

  
  
“Story,” I called out from the darkness. The dungeon was dark so I brought out my lighter. I spotted him in the corner, sleep in his eyes. “C’mon Story. Let’s go. It’s your turn.”

“Not today, boss.” he said. “You’ve got something else you need to write.”

I looked around the room. Stories in various states of finish looked at me and then ran away into the darker parts of the room. “They don’t want to be written today either.” He looked at me, or rather looked through me as if to say he knew something I didn’t want him to know.

“Is it that obvious?” I asked. “I thought I was hiding things pretty well.”

“You are. But we know better.” One by one, my stories came towards me. They wrapped around my legs, some crawled up my back as they fought to lay me flat on the table. Some struggled with my button fly, others with the leather to bind my hands and feet. Stripped and bound, I took a deep breath to get started.

“You could go on and on and on, given the state you’re in. You could fill a whole novel about your sadness,” Story warned.

“What do I do?” I asked. “How do I even start to talk about how my love died?”

“Focus on what’s important.” His beady eyes still sliced right through me. “Focus on this.” His bony finger resting on my heart, I knew just what I needed to say.

“Write this down.” I began. “Before I forget, I want to tell you I love you…”

---

Before I forget, I want to tell you I love you. I can feel my fickle brain, fragment after fragment pulling you away from me. I close my eyes, trying to remember your face, the way your eyes squint when you laugh at my jokes or the wheeze you make from smoking too much. Memory is a tricky bastard. Count on it all you want but it’s got a mind of its own.

There are moments when I find myself staring at lost corners of the room. I think about our plans, the children we were going to have (adopt?). One was gonna be a boy and he was gonna be like me. He’d be friendly, not that smart but really active in school. We talked about him playing sports, the unlived lives of his fathers coursing fiercely through his blood. I remembered our daughter, how she was gonna have your gentleness, your eyes, how she was gonna be a dancer. I pictured her pink tutu as she fluttered around the kitchen. I saw her poetry written in crayon, magnets on the refrigerator door. And then memory took her away. He took them all away.

And then anger fills the Vacant. I picture you, I picture him. I close my eyes and all I can see are his hands on your body, your mouth on his lips. I hear your moans and I hear his (with the voice I imagined he has). I clench my teeth, my fists, my soul. I’d punch my eyes out if it would stop these tears. I stare at my reflection in the mirror, feeling ugly, feeling obsolete and unworthy of anyone’s attention. I hear the collective laughter of my exes, how they said I would never amount to anything. I listen closely, wondering if you had already joined them.

And then shame fills the Vacant. Last night, I dreamed that I was flying and everyone could see. I was yelling, screaming, squealing with delight. I relished the moment, setting myself apart from those I walked the earth with. I’m different, I’m special, I seemed to say. My feeble wings reeked of bird shit and glue and then I flew too close to the sun.

I still hear your voice when the room becomes quiet. There are days when I feel okay. Then there are days like today when I stalk you both obsessively on Facebook. Part of me is praying you’d unfriend me soon so I wouldn’t see the pictures you just posted or his vague status I saw right through. And then the vacant fills the Vacant and it’s a struggle to remember your face, the way your eyes squint when you laugh at my jokes or the wheeze you make from smoking too much. So before I forget, before my mind loses to its own defenses, I want to say I love you.

---

“I promised you a song. We had just met and you asked if I could sing. I’m sorry I never got to.” I opened my eyes but it was still dark to see. From behind me, I could hear Story scribbling angrily on my notebook.

“Who was it that said that loving is too short and that forgetting is too long?” I asked Story as he wrote down my last few sentences.

“Neruda,” he answered, almost instantly. “That bastard.”

“Let’s throw that in somewhere.” As our voices faded into the night, the other stories untied me from the table. The leather left marks on my skin. I sat up, the cold creeping from the window to the table to the small of my back.

“I want to forgive him, Story. I really do. It’s just…” I looked around me and I realized I was alone.

Someone wise once said that love is a series of choices and that you choose to love somebody despite understanding, despite all your defenses. I’m sorry I chose myself.

We are born innocent.
Believe me, Adia.
We are still innocent.
It’s easy. We all falter.
Does it matter?

♫: Sarah McLachlan | Adia (1998)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

two of three: fragments

  
  
Question: How do you ruin your entire life with one decision? Is that even possible?

To say that I never loved her is a lie. Because I did, maybe I still do. I had once pictured a life together, silver in our hair, hands still clasped.

But now, there are only fragments in my head, floating like entities in space. I want to make sense of them but whenever I try to grasp those little shards of images and sound, they just float away, farther away from me. The most I can do is observe them carefully, quietly and with the eye of a jeweler stringing beads of olive, copper and cerulean together.

“It’s not easy for me either,” she said to me. We were in the kitchen fighting. There was a piece of burnt toast on the table, the butter slowly melting onto the wooden placemat. The purple plate it once rested on lay in pieces on the floor. “You think it’s easy to be 25 and feel like your life is over?”

“I was young too.” I barked. “I used to be funny. I used to know how to laugh. I used to write you letters. Now what am I? I’m old. I might as well be dead.”

“Who are we,” she asked. “and what have we done? Where are the people we used to be?” There was a sadness in her voice, something only years of regret can give.

“How many times can I lose you before I finally do?” I asked. She turns around, tears in her eyes as she comes at me with fists in the air.
It’s a slow death, I realized. When love dies, perhaps a part of you dies with it. When we met in high school, I thought she was the gentlest person I had ever met. I didn’t know anything about life or love but I felt like I didn’t need to know any more. Just being around her, I had all the lessons I would ever need.

I’d tell her I missed her when what I wanted to say was how I loved her. I’d write poetry about the delicateness of her fingertips or the curves on her body. But now, that all feels like a lifetime away. Now, there is only hollow and anger and lots and lots of regrets.
Question: How do you ruin your entire life with one decision? Answer: You don’t. Truth is, it’s an orgy of a million wrong decisions. You hardly notice them but they pile up. Before you know it, you’ve got your clothes stuffed in the car trunk speeding into the city in the dead of night.

He’s been good to me. He listens to me and he laughs at my stories and I know he means it. We were complete strangers when this all began. He found me one night nursing a beer. With a lit cigarette in one hand, he asked if I had a light. It was bullshit but he had a kind face and I needed a friend so I let him sit with me.

Night after night, I’d see him at the bar. We’d talk and get drunk and everybody just blurred away. It felt good. I felt alive again. He'd listen to me gripe about my marriage, my work, the things I never got to do and I never felt judged. Not one bit. In return, I listened to his problems with men and offered a different perspective.

“Why are you straight and married?” he asked one night. “Sometimes I feel like maybe you were the last good one out there.”

“Where were you when I was 17?” I asked.

Two men sitting at a bar. Both of them filled to the brim with regrets.
I just wanted to feel like a man again. I wanted to feel like for once, I could do something right. One night, I dreamed I was back in school waiting in line at the drinking fountain. One by one, the kids stepped on the lever and drank. They walked away with smiles on their faces, feeling blessed with their good fortune. When my turn came, I stepped on the lever and the dirtiest water I had ever seen came out. The spigot reeked of decay and I walked away with thirst unquenched.

All the fights, all the arguments, I was slowly dying. It seemed she had something new every day. She rambled about how the kids were fucked up and how they needed a father with a backbone. She complained about how little I made and how much work she had to do. She accused me of being a sloppy fuck and how I didn’t hold her like I used to after we came. I sat there listening to her wondering how many deaths I had to suffer through before I could put all this behind me.

I just wanted to feel like a man again. So it’s ironic how someone queer made me feel that way. We were drinking. They had one last call for alcohol. When we finished that, he offered to continue at his apartment. “It’s just a block away,” he said. I didn’t argue.

Waking up the next day, both of us naked, I could smell his sex on my skin. At that moment, I knew I was right where I was supposed to be.
I knew what my marriage was doing to me and I could take all of it just as long as he was by my side. I was being selfish but for once, I was happy. One night, I woke up to an empty bed. He was perched on a chair smoking, the window open just a crack.

“Is anything wrong?” I asked, sleep in my voice.

“I’m fine,” he answered although I could tell he was crying.

“I can leave.” I said.

“No, don’t. You don’t have to. You can stay the night.”

“I meant her. I can leave her. If you want me to.” His face lit up from across the room.

Question: How do you ruin your entire life with one decision? Answer: You just do. But sometimes, it’s not really important how we do things. It’s why we do them that makes the difference.

Part 1 | 2 | 3
♫: Leona Lewis | Happy (2009)
Photo: American Gothic / Masterpiece Me!

Monday, August 8, 2011

happy birthday / vlogging

So I decided to give video blogging a shot. No one tells you how difficult it is to find the right scene, the right words, even the proper lighting. And no one ever says how ang lakas pala niya makapangit. :X At the end of everything, I just said fuck it. Let’s do this. I have very poor EQ.


For those who can't see the video, I was just talking about my birthday, being sick but still being blessed. I thanked everybody who's been on this crazy blogging journey with me and I made several excuses why I haven't posted the next part of my story yet. lolz

Before I forget, I also wanted to say Happy Birthday to other bloggers: Momel, who is crazy but that’s why we love him, Green Breaker, who is new and therefore fresh, and to Herbs, the Coffee Babies’ very own bebigurl.

UPDATE: TwitVid's being weird and YouTube finally cooperated so here's another link to access the video. Also, the post I was talking about can be seen here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

one of three: like clockwork

       
Is it morning? I ask myself as I lay awake in bed. My eyes hurt as the room comes into view. The bed is a mess as sheets lay disheveled on the floor. Violent sleep has become my reality. Outside, a bird is singing me good morning. The sun is bright and angry and we are just ants under a magnifying glass.

I stare at the empty space beside me. In the early morning light, I dared to want to see his body and its arches. Instead, I see the imprint his body has left on the mattress. I run my hands through it like a child does to a scar, his absence even more blinding that it was when I first woke up. These valleys that once caressed his body and its arches now stare at me in disgust. Why did you let him leave? they ask. Wasn’t he good for us?

Why did I let him leave? Simple. Because he wanted to. I couldn’t make him stay, none of the things we have, none of the life we’ve made was good enough for him. I should be happy that I’m alive for another day but this feeling that’s crept up and stayed in my gut is anything but that. I resolve to make breakfast not because I want to eat but because I have to. It’s been almost a whole day since I last ate and so with all the energy I could muster, I head to the kitchen.

The wooden floor feels cold on my bare feet. My robe tickles the backs of my knees as I make my way through the stairs and into the kitchen. The fridge door feels heavy to the touch and like clockwork, my hand grabs two eggs. One egg, I remind myself. Not two. And just like that, all the strength I was faking crumbled. Winded, I sit on the kitchen floor. Why is this happening to me? From my view on the floor, I could not make him. The flowers were dead, the books and records segregated and distributed, these are just my things. None of our things are here.

Of my five senses, it was my nose that missed him most. I rush up to the bedroom and into the walk-in closet. I open his and see the shirts he left behind. I gather them up in a bunch, the hangers making rattling noises as I searched for his scent. I inhale deeply. He is here, they seem to say. All at once, fabric conditioner, hints of aftershave and cold memories fill my head. He is still here.

I take the last pair of shoes he left from the bottom drawer. I put them on and walk around the room. I walk to beat of the second hand, the clock reminding me that time has never once stood still. I listen to the sound my steps make. I wanted to hear his footsteps again, wanted to hear the shuffle his feet made on the carpet. Try as I may, I could not copy it. It was as unique as he was. Why do I feel so common?

There’s a voice in my head that has guided me all my life. Right now, it’s telling me to keep going, keep living as though none of this were real. Go on, it says and so while my whole body tells me to go back to bed, I crack the egg open into my waiting skillet. Like clockwork, I say to myself. Life should go on like clockwork. I empty the skillet onto a piece of toast and stare at the window. My mouth opens, the toast crunches as I chew, the salty egg stings my tongue. All this I observe as though I were alien to my body. I might as well be in the yard, staring from the outside.

Hunger filled and dishes cleared, I crawl back to bed like a snake. I clutch the sheets close to my heart and wonder what the day must be like for him. Wherever he is, does he know that I am here, feet stuck, wondering what to do with the hours that pass? They say time is cruel and from the tears I cry, it makes a raincoat. There really is much to do but right now, this is all I can manage. Tomorrow will be better, of that I am certain but at this moment, at this precise time, I only want to fill my head with thoughts of him.

Part 1 | 2 | 3
♫: Carla Bruni | Quelqu'un m'a dit (2003) | translation
Photo: The Persistence of Memory


IN MEMORY. One of my work friends and also, one of the first readers of this blog died recently. I’d like to take a moment to tell you about him. I’ve mentioned him a few times in this blog*, mostly around the time I was still dishing out lessons and epiphanies in every post. He always said we learn something new every day and that the day you stop learning is the day they put you in the ground. Looks like that day finally came for him.

I will remember him for our yosi sessions, our long talks over beer and how he would always find something good to say about everybody, whether it be a new haircut, a new shirt or something related to work. He would force his trainees to visit my blog and whether they actually do or not, it’s nice to have someone who believes in you that much.

To the writer of Canned Thoughts. You taught me so many things. I’m sorry if I never got to thank you. Ride in peace, D. We’ll miss you forever. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

existence

       
Phillip: How can I love you? I don’t even know who you are. And you know what’s sad? I don’t even think you know who you are. So, how am I supposed to love somethin’ that don’t even exist? You tell me.

Steven: How does a person who doesn’t exist go on existing? The answer is, he doesn’t.

[Steven Russell and Phillip Morris, I Love You, Phillip Morris]

Can love define who you are? Or is it something you need to figure out on your own before you can truly love?

♫: Garbage | Nobody Loves You (2001)

Monday, July 4, 2011

sinehan

WAIT. Okay, so here goes another disclaimer. I said to myself I’d stop doing these but I think for this particular post, there are so many things that I need to explain. For the longest time, I’ve been wanting to do a concept post like Tori’s American Doll Posse. In 2007, she introduced five women: Isabel, Clyde, Pip, Santa and Tori. Each woman had her own personality. Each had a story to tell. I remember listening to that record feeling completely blown away. I said to myself that one day, I would try it for myself.

This isn't the first time that a blogger changed personalities for a specific post. For example. Victor becomes Greg when the need arises. In Journal No. 257Manech experimented with the differently-abled. I took a story that was in the back-burner for a few weeks and thought of the best refraction of myself to bring it to life. It was quite an effort. I don’t think I’ve pushed myself this much to write in a while but I hope that it was all worth it in the end.

So anyway, without further ado, my first post in Jeje-nese! Enjoy!

       
sBe nila, lHat ng ta0 may kwent0.,cgUr0, if u sAw me iN pers0nal, dI m0 maiicp nA andAme q naNg npaGdaanan. gNun nmAn kCe ak0, jAz go wid dA flow,. sbe ngA niLa. waLang em0, wlaNg k0mpliKasyon.

,gBi gbi aq nglalakad s cuBao.., cguRo meI hnaHnap aQ, im nAt sUr. pAg gnTo n kC khBa yung kwent0, nkKlit0. cgUr0, cmUlan q nlAng nunG bta paq. yUn ung lSt tym nA i feEl I am mE.. nA walaNg nagdIdiktA qng cNo aq dPat.. nMatay aNg nAnay. hLos syA lang aNg ngPalaki sKen. nUng laMay q na uNang nkta si pApa. iNiwan nya kc kMe bGo ako napaNganak. mGulo unG tIme na un, uNa, bTa pA tlga aq nun., bu0ng buhAy k0, dI q nmAn klala c paPa. ngaun, I nid to liVe wid hIm daw.

,.tHimiK c papA sa bYahe. dNala nyA aq sa maYnila. fIrst tym k0 nuN. sbe nYa mnunu0d daW kme ng cNe. sAkto! firSt ulEt. 6Th sEnze., nkakatAk0t., bGo mgcMula unG m0vie, sbe nyA bibilE dw sIya ng p0pc0rn,, anG s2pd k0 lng kce di q tlGa alAm wat is dat aLl ab0ut. npanCn nyA atA na natak0t aq, sbe nYa, be bRave, anaK. baBalik agAd aNg daDdy. mlUngkot mukha niyA.., cgUro nalUlungk0t sya dhIl kei nAnay,.

nAg-cmUla na uNg m0viE per0 wlA priN si paPa. gRabe, s0brang ntk0t aQ dun sA m0viE per0 inAlala q ung sbe ni pA na be braVe daw. dI k0 nmaLayan na ntp0s nA unG m0vie eH wlA prIn xa. nKailanG ulet pa uNg m0vie pr0 wla prin xa. gnCng aq ng gUard nuNg nagsAra na cLa. ksMa k0 sI paPa nunG puMasok ak0 sA sInehaN per0 mAg-iSa nak0ng lumaBas. aNg lamig-lamEg nUng gabIng 'yUn. dI ko aLam san aq pUpunta kYa nAglAkad-lAkad nlang aq hAnggang sA mapag0d.

..,lIfe go On, ganUn nmAn tlgA. mDameng plAboy sa cuba0. mdAme kmIng nkatIra sa mgA madidIlim nA eskInita.  kYa dI nmAn ak0 msyad0 nhraPan. ntUtunan k0 unG kalaKaran ng buHay sa labaS, yUng linggwaHe ng kalsaDa.,. pr0 dI ko mpGlan na tuwIng maY nkKta akoNg kamukhA ni paPa.,. nagbaBakasakAli aqng xa yuN. sBe nilA, cnadYa daw nI paPang dI buMalik. nA ntk0t sYa sa resp0nsiBilidaD. aYuk0 icpin yUn. bSta paG mhaNp k0 sYa, aLam k0 na maY dhIlan t0 lhat.

ngAun, paB0ooking aq sA sInEhan... cMple lng nMan anG gnT0ng trbh0. kaIlangAn lng ng kpAl ng muKha at lkAs ng lu0b., mdAMI aqng cosTumer,. iba'T iBang klce ng ta0. mdLas mgA mtaTandang bkLa. aUs lng nmAn sken. yUng cnEhan nu0n, buHay prEn per0 iBang iba nA unG mgA ta0 ngaUn,,. datE kc mgA pmilYa, mgA btA, mgA mag-j0wa anG nanunu0d dit0. ngaUn, puR0 gAy at mgA ktulaD ko nAlaNg ang puMipila sa tikEtan. nagkAkapAan sA dilIm,. preh0ng gust0ng makara0s, mkAtawiD sA bUhay sa lBas ng cnehAn. tulAd nI paPa, madalAs umaalIs sila kaAgad,.nsAnay na ak0 na man0od ng cnE mag-iSa., pagkatap0s labAsan, magaab0t nlang ng perA tapos ni thaNks u, walAng sasabhen.

,.cgur0 nmAn alAm ng mgA tao kunG an0 aq,. tInitgnAn nilA aq, prAng may juDgementaL sa matA nila. maY isa, iLang lingGo nAng duMadaan,. gAy, di katangkAran,. nsA mAy trntA na rin yung edAd., tUmitingEn, pag ngingitiAn ko nmAn, bigLang titIngin sa baBa. prang gAgo. iSang gbe, kNausap k0 na. aNg kulet kc eh,. nLapiTan k0, saBay nag-uNat prA mkitA nya ktWan ko, k0ntIng kamByo, dI na nakatIis., sbE k0 sbAyan nyA aq maGlkad. sun0d nmAn sYa. ehEh

,an0 kyA saLtik nit0ng ta0nG it0? thMik siYa,. di mKatinGin sa maTa. cniMulan k0ng makipAgusAp. pAngalan, eDad, mgA ganUn., dI talAga sya nagsAsalitA. aKala k0 nga pipI eh. daDalhin k0 na sYa sa sinEhan nung bgLa  sIyang nagsAlita.

.,waG diyan, wAg munA. sbE niYa. e saAn?? tnung k0,. bSta.,.

ngLakad kmE hangGang sa nkAratIng kmE sa may SM. umuPo kme dUn sa haGdanan, nkaHarap sa mgA builDing., thImik prIN siYa,. prAng tk0t na tk0t. gnIt0 ba nkIta ni pApa skEn nUng kumuhA xa ng poPc0rn?,

.,pano ba t0 ngccmulA? tn0ng niya., bBgay k0 n b sau uNg perA?, an0ng ggwin nteN? anDami nyaNg tan0ng,. praNg antgaL na niYa t0ng pnagIisiPan. bglA k0 syang ngEts. tak0t, mlmAng. ,.first tym m0 ba? tn0ng k0. tumUngo syA.

.,mtgaL n ktAng pnaPanaood., ibA ka s kNila eh,. sbe niYa. prAng dI k bgay sA gngwA m0. pn0 ka bA nagIng ganyaN?

pAg tnatan0ng ak0 ng mga costUmer k0 ng gan0n, mdalAs, pinaiik0t k0 silA,. kuNg an0 an0 knikwent0 ko, mInsan triPper lang aq, dala ng lib0g,.. paG mukhaNg myamAn, cncbE ko n may skit l0la q., at gngwa k0 lng t0 prA may pambilE ng gm0t.., di k0 alaM qng an0 nangyarE,. bakIt yunG tot00 cnbe ko.. knwent0 ko si naNay, lhat ng naAalala k0, yung b0ses nya pag kumAkanta siya, yung am0y ng giSa sa kusIna nmEn pag naglulut0 siYa,. yuNg araW na naglaSlas siya,. kinwent0 k0 si paPa, ung p0pc0rn,. yUng paghAhanAp k0 sa kanYa khet ilaNg ta0n nA lumiPas., kinwenT0 k0 yung mgA nagi k0ng kaibIgan sa lbas ng sinehAn. ngUlat ak0 sa nanGyare,. bakIt k0 nakwEnto yuNg mga yUn e di k0 nman xa kacl0se. yUng mga ut0l ko ngA, di k0 makausAp ng gn0n.,.sa tutuo lanG.. pwEra barbEro.. nging k0mportablE ak0 sa kanIya. khEt kaKakilalA k0 plAng sa knIya, filing k0, magkabAbata kmi,. nkInig siyA nang wLang paghUhusgA. nakatIngin lng siya sa rabber sh0es k0,.nkikInig, nagmAmasId.,

,.hUy,. mag-aMbag ka nmAn sa kwEntuhan.. binir0 ko siYa. an0ng iniiCp mo?

.,di k0 alam,. naKiking ako. medy0 nangInginiG b0ses nya. iniIcp ko cncbe m0. maluNgk0t..nakakalUngk0t. tinItignAn ko siYa, malungk0t nga mukHa nyA. suMama l00b k0 na nagIng malungk0t sIya dahIl sa kwEnt0 ko.

nalUlungk0t ak0 sa kwent0 m0 kasE dI mo deserVed 'yUng ganon. niYakap niYa mga brAs0 niya,. s0brang higpit, namula yuNg balat.. dI ko mainTindihaN naraRamdaman k0, per0 nunG cncbE nyA yun,.nunG pinanod ko ginGwa nYa prAng gust0 ko syaNg kumUtan,. ntAwa nga ak0, sa isIp iSip k0, srile ko ngA di k0 maAlagaAn, siyA pa kYa?

bakIt ba kasi sa iy0 pa koH 'nagKagust0? bul0ng niyA sa srile. nKatingIn siyA sa mlayo. mayA mya, nag-aYa na sIyang man0od ng sIne,. ak0 na bumiLi ng tiCket, tp0s sa l0ob umup0 kamI sa may lik0d. hal0s wlAng laMan yunG sineHan, mangilan-ilAng anin0 lang..,

nUng ngcmUla na yUng pelikula, binaBa ko na ziPper ko,. ganUn nmAn pratI yun eh sbaY ab0t sa kmaY niyA. ngUlat nlAng ak0 sa ginWa niyA. imBis na hAwakan ak0 du0n, binAlot niyA kamay k0 sa kaMay niyA., pag gan0n, mdalaS tinatAbig ko yunG c0stumer. haseL lang yun eh. di k0 tlga maexplaIned ng mabUte kunG bakit per0 di k0 yun ginAwa,. nUng unA kamIng naghAwak, prAng may k0ntIng kuryentE. nkaKaadik,siniKipan ko pa lal0 yUng kapIt ko sA kanYa.

maYa myA, natap0s yuNg m0vie, mgkahaWak prIn kami ng kamaY. nung bInuksan na yUng ilaw, biglA siyAng bumiTaw. dumUk0t sa buLsa sbAy nagAb0t ng pEra,.

,.bro, slMat ha. sbi ko. humIngi sYa ng pseNsya kc yUn lng dAw kya niYa tap0s naglaKad paAlis.

,.wait lang, sbE ko. dI nmAn yUn ung dhLan bat Ak0 naGpsaLamat.

.,bKit k nagppSalmat? tn0ng niYa.

inIsip k0 kung sSbhIn ko, na kUng msYado nA ba aqng ngiGing komp0rtable. tInignan ko siYa sa maTa. di nMan niYa inalis yUng tingin nyA. tanGina ak0 nMan kinaBahan.

,.firSt tyM k0 kce mno0d nG m0viE na mAy ksMa. ngUmiti sYa., tp0S prAng may sSbihiN siYa per0 di nIya tinul0y. ngumIti siYa ulit tap0s lumaBas na ng sinEhan. inisIp k0 kuNg makikiTa ko pa kaYa siya?

fIrst tyM ko kcE man0od ng m0vIe n maY ksMa. yUn lng nsBe k0 sa knYa pr0 sa tutu0 lng, andamE k0ng gust0ng  sbHin. di k0 mainTindihan kung an0 nangyarI. magpApara0s lang nman kMe dpaT. dapAt aalIs din sIya agad. an0ng nangyare? nUng nakaup0 kme duon, magkhaWak aNg amiNg kamaY,. pkIramdam k0 i aM righT weR i bel0ng., praNg sa lakI ng siyUdad, sa dInamI damI ng lugAr na pwEdeng puntaHan at ta0 na makAkasAma, sakt0 lNg ung knalaLagyan q. dI k0 kaIlangan magpUnta kuNg saAn maN. pKiramdaM ko, sa uNang pagkaKataon, I am hoMe.

may milyon-mily0ng ta0 sa pIlipinas., sabI nila, lHat daW tay0 may kwent0., ikAw, an0ng kwent0 mo?


♫: Maldita | Porque (2011)
Co-conspirator: manilabitch

Monday, June 27, 2011

eraser

       
My sister visited an eraser factory in Japan and picked up a few trinkets for my nephew. Among the fake sushi plates and the gummy animals was a red and blue helicopter with plastic blades. She was showing it to me the night she arrived and while she was sleeping, I slipped into her room and stole it.

A and I had been going out for quite some time then but I couldn’t find the words or the courage to take us to the next step. It was clear that we loved each other. We both were just afraid of what could happen if we became a couple. One night, after videoke with a few friends, I took him to my favorite park. We both knew what was coming. I was going to ask him to be mine.

“I’ve made so many mistakes,” I began. “I’m not perfect. I’ve fallen for all the wrong people. I didn’t even bother to check if they were going to catch me.”

The September night was crisp. The park was almost deserted at that hour, save for a few insomniacs who were walking around to clear their head. I looked at A, wondering what he was thinking of as he stared back at me. His eyes were a familiar shade of brown. I remember thinking I could swim in those dark pools forever without tiring, without breathing.

“I once said* that the next time I’m going to love, I’m not going to fall into it. I’m going to fly.” I took out the eraser from my backpack’s front pocket. “I want to use this,” I told him. He didn’t laugh. He must’ve been used to my crazy by then.

“And I know that I’m going to make a lot of mistakes. When that happens, I need to know you’re not going to go anywhere. I need to know we can just erase those moments and start over.”

He smiled at me as if to say that he completely understood. There were a few challenges but we didn’t discuss all the details. We were young. We were in love and that was enough.

That was almost a year ago. We’re still in our red and blue chopper, floating around each other’s lives, hoarding the good, keeping out the bad. Several times, we had to use the eraser. Moments when we’d fuck up and we didn’t know how to move on. Lately, I ‘ve been wondering if I could ask for it back. You see there’s a moment that I desperately need to erase.

We should’ve seen it coming. In all fairness, he did tell me that day on the park bench. I just refused to listen. A few weeks after our first anniversary, I will have to say goodbye to A. He’s moving to a place where my arms can no longer reach him. With the advent of technology, you’d think it would be easier for us to stay together but fear and anxiety have their ways of making us doubt. I doubt if I can be enough for him when he’s miles away. I doubt if I can love him when he’s no longer with me.

“I don’t want to be like those long-distance couples who fight and end up consuming each other,” I told him. “I want us to end nicely.” He made a face. I could tell he didn’t agree. He just didn’t want to say anything. He was, after all, the one leaving. I was the one who had to pick up the pieces after.

We had so many plans. I saw countless mornings waking up beside him, hearing the slight wheeze he makes when he sleeps, listening to him talk about random things like life, work, dreams and friends. I saw him come to my aid when I felt lonely, when the demons would be too strong to contain. In my mind’s eye, I saw us sitting on matching recliners, reeking of BenGay, not a single hair between our heads, recounting times when we were just commenting on each other’s blogs. Will I ever see those dreams come to life?

So I want to take that eraser back from him. Because right now, it feels like it’s ending. It feels like we’re ending. It’s like watching a movie after hearing the spoilers. I have nothing but questions, so many questions. Most of them begin with why. Why all of this? Why now? Why did I have to meet him and fall in love if it was all going to end anyway? Why is he the only one who ever really got me? Will we ever be the same?

When he leaves, I know the world will still turn. The streets will still be filled with people rushing, never knowing what was left behind. They say the course of true love never did run smooth*. I was thinking of this one morning as I walked home when I saw a tree almost stripped to its core. I looked at the ground to see the damage most likely caused by that week’s storm. Flowers and leaves lined the street like glitters. They know not of death, I pondered. The flowers, the leaves, they are so unafraid to die. They leap, they fall, they embrace their fate. Why can’t I be as brave? Why can’t I hold on to him like I know he wants me to?

I want to take that eraser back from him and erase this part of our story. I want to rewrite our story so it can be fair, so it doesn’t hurt as much. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to rewrite our own endings?

♫: Adele | Take It All (2011)
Photo: manilabitch

Sunday, June 12, 2011

write me

       
They come from all directions. They whisper in my ear while I’m at work. They spark with my lighter when I smoke. They are in the exhaust while I shit. They tug at my underwear while I sleep. Each one beckons, they need something from me. I close my eyes so I can hear their voices.

Write me, one says. No! Write me first! says another. Their voices grow in volume and succession until I have to open my eyes to block the sound away.

My stories, I feel like they need me. You need us more, one snaps back. Without us, do you even know who you are?

One creeps up from under the bed. He wraps his body around me, slithering from my leg to my crotch, from my chest to my neck. Write me first, he begs.

Write me, they command. I get up from my bed, brush the dust off my laptop and clack away.

♫: Eliza Doolittle | Empty Hand (2010)