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


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*.