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.