Wednesday, April 4, 2012

three of three: right or wrong


I guess you’d think it was silly but I still remember the exact moment I realized I was in love with him. It was in the early days when things weren’t complicated. He was escaping from a destructive relationship. I was picking up broken shards of my heart. We were simply distractions to each other.

“Are you seriously asking me this question?” he asked as he flipped the cap off a fresh bottle of beer. The bar was practically empty. Most of the drinking crowd had already gone home yet there we were, still crawling our way through another bucket.

“Yes, I am.” I answered. “I believe there’s plenty you can learn from someone based on the food he identifies with.”

“Well,” he said, looking up in thought. “I guess you could say I’m a lot like bangus.”

“Milkfish? Seriously?”

“Yeah. Growing up, I saw a lot of them back home in the province. Did you know they can practically grow anywhere? Like it was completely normal for you to see bangus in little creeks or in the flood when the storms came in.”

“Ooookaaaay,” I said in disbelief. “How does that make you a milkfish?”

“Well, I guess it’s sort of like how… these days, it feels like I’m just swimming in mud.” He stubbed his cigarette into a full ashtray. A few stray butts fell to the table as the speakers chimed in a Jack Johnson record on loop. “It would be nice to think that someday, I don’t know. Maybe someday, someone would think I was beautiful.”

His eyes looked so lonely. I was never sentimental, never truly cared for anyone before but at that moment, I knew I could spend the rest of my life making this boy realize how special he was, how truly beautiful he was in the mud.

I always saw myself as plain tortang talong. It wasn’t that I couldn’t aspire to be anything more than eggplant omelet. It’s just, I always found the way that you cook it to be pretty interesting. You grill it or burn it on a stove then you mash it to bits with a fork. You have to fry it with a scrambled egg because let’s face it, no one sets off to eat just an eggplant. It always has to be prepared with something else. It goes through such a beating and at the end, it tastes exquisite. I guess you could say I’m a lot like that. It would be nice to think that all the shit I’m going through is temporary and when all this is through, maybe someone out there could say that I was deserving of his love.

I knew what we were doing was wrong. I’m not stupid. I didn’t wake up one day and say oh, I think I’m going to steal a husband today. I tried to fight it but it was always too strong for me. Each night, I said to myself this is the last time I’m seeing him. I promised every night would be the last. But there was always something in the way, some little thing he’d do that would remind me of one simple truth: there was no way my heart would let me live without him. I could hold my breath till I turn blue and each heartbeat would still call out his name.

“Hello,” he said, his eyes lighting up from alcohol and optimism. He was playing one of his little games. “I don’t believe we’ve met. I’m the guy who does nothing right. I’m the guy who let you down when you were 16. I’m the one who fucked you up when you were 23. I’m the guy who broke your heart, who breaks your heart. Have a drink with me,” he offers, his drink held high in the air. “Did I mention I do nothing right?” I raised my bottle to meet his and the clink sounded lovely but lonely.

“Hi,” I said, a skewed smile on my face. “I don’t believe we’ve met.”

“And you are?”

Six words and I broke my own heart. “I’m the guy who stayed anyway.”

He said he’d had his suitcases packed and stored in the trunk of his car since Monday and he was just waiting for the right moment to leave. On the day he was to arrive, I barely got anything done at work. I was nervous. My hands were sweaty with anticipation. I didn’t know what to expect.

He said he’d be home by 8. I cooked dinner, something I stopped doing since I was always out at night with him. By midnight, I still hadn’t heard anything from him. I checked my messages a couple of times. I kept trying to call him but he was always out of reach. The dinner sat cold on the kitchen counter, the oil turning white and solid. By 12:30, I sent him a three-word SOS: Where are you?

A gentle knocking wakes me at 4:25. I was still fully dressed, supine on the sofa. My neck and lower back wrestled in pain as I stumbled across the living room to the front door.

“I’m sorry,” he greeted. “I’m here.” He was drunk. It looked like he swam through cases of beer to get to me. He could barely stand, let alone carry his suitcase. He put his hand on my shoulder and collapsed to the floor.

I wanted to berate him. I wanted tell him how cross I was because he didn’t even call, didn’t bother to check in or anything. But when I saw how he looked, I knew to bite my tongue. That night found him leaving the woman he swore he’d be with forever. I’d probably be drinking like a fish too if I ever had to break a vow like that.

I carried him to the bedroom and took off his shoes. I grabbed a washcloth and a basin from the bathroom. I slowly stripped him of his shirt and jeans. My washcloth ran warm water all over his skin, stripping him of the day's dirt, his sweat and regrets. All the while, he kept mumbling about how sorry he was and that he came as soon as he could.

As I sat there giving a sponge bath to a man who’d just left his wife for me, I couldn’t help but think of all the different circumstances that aligned to bring him to my bed. That first cigarette, the many nights at the bar, the stories we shared, the first time we kissed. I recalled the night he told me he was leaving her and how it felt like I was alive for the first time.

You can judge me. You can call me names. Cheater. Liar. Home wrecker. It doesn’t even matter to me anymore. They’re just words. As random as cat, coin or comb. I just loved. I just listened to my heart. How can that ever be wrong? I loved a man and I did all I could to keep him in my life. I fought for my happiness. Doesn’t that sound like someone you know? Doesn’t that sound like you?

Part 1 | 2 | 3
♫: The Civil Wars | To Whom It May Concern (2011)
Photo: The Kiss



The Emo Blogger's Happy Blogging Challenge: A Criminal Mind

63 comments:

  1. Yay! First to comment.

    Oh may gad Nyl. This is like the awesomest Criminal Mind ever. I had goosebumps the whole time. And if this was true, I'd call you a bitch. And a really hot one at that. LOL

    The song is love :)

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    1. Rei: Yay! First to reply! lolz

      It's not all real. haha I lived some parts of it when I was younger but the rest is a result of having this thing in my head for close to a year. I sat down and pieced together coffee receipts and drafts on my phone trying to get the story straight. In the end, I had something completely different than what I first imagined! :p

      Ooh and I hit two birds with one stone in this post! EBHBC theme (check!) Finish the series (check!)

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    2. At ngayon ko lang na-realize na ang EBHBC pala ay Emo Blogger's Happy Blogging Challenge. Lechon. Srsly, it's been haunting me in my sleep. Hahaha.

      And I believe that writer's are the most truthful people Nyl. Kasi no matter how fiction a post is, it all boils down to self-personal beliefs, prejudices, experiences, etc.

      And congrats on hitting the birds. Lelz :P

      (Nalurkey ako sa comment ni Mr. Baker. Kung maka-comment, essay ang peg. Haha.)

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    3. *writers. Urg. Forgive the clerical errors Nyl.

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    4. Rei: At binalikan mo pa talaga! hehe

      Hala, so what did you think the challenge was about?

      Yes, some people may think that writers are big liars but I'd like to think folks like us just know how to distill the truth. lolz

      At siyempre, si Rick pa! He's got a lot of stories to tell. That's why I've been hinting at him trying prose out! :)

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    5. Of course noh. Nakakahiya ma-wrong gramming. :P

      I meant di ko alam na acronym pala ang ebhbc. Hehe.

      So true Nyl. So true. :D

      I'll keep my comment short. Nahiya na'ko kay Mr. Baker. Hahah.

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    6. Rei: You crack me up, Rei. And if Rick ever came back to these comments, I'm sure he'd share a laugh too! :)

      Delete
  2. Oh hell yeah, it sounds like me. Well sort of. Four, five years ago I was madly in love. We hit it off in every way except one: Sex. Well, we did have sex the first few times we met, but then I remembered he was a bit drunk the first time, and probably, in retrospect had popped an E at the dance club he was at before we met.

    As time rolled on, we saw each other a couple of times a week, he living 3 hours away. One day, my frustrations couldn't be ignored by either of us. We talked about what he called our "Dr. Phil problem." Well, HIS Dr. Phil problem. He simply said he had certain hang-ups. I really didn't know what he meant. Then he said something to me that left me speechless, ( and frankly, to this day somewhat self-conscious) He said in these exact words, "I've thought about it, about us having sex, and that I could just close my eyes, grit my teeth, and try to get through it."

    I was stunned. I never thought of myself as THAT unattractive. I finally dropped him, distanced myself and got over him. He STILL texts, and occasionally calls. Two weeks ago I went to his city for a two day break and we had dinner and drinks. We talked about our past. He didn't remember what he had said...seemed surprised that he had said that. Somehow he later ended up in my hotel bed, with his shirt off, and kissing me. I suddenly stopped, got my wits together, and said that he would have to leave. I couldn't do "this."

    Yeah for me! I still had balls. Even if that night I refused to use them. What to make of this shameless confession? Nothing. I can still, though, maintain the illusion of self-worth and dignity.

    Post script: Two days ago I got a text message. No, two: "Why don't you meet me in Rome in September, you cheapskate." Then: "Better yet, come with me to Malaysia. I'd really love to introduce you to my family."

    Some people just can't hear themselves through their own bullshit.

    (sorry for this rant)

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    1. Rick: oh please don't apologize. I really enjoyed that little story. haha

      it just occurred to me that I've mostly just read your poetry. you obviously can hold your own in telling a story. maybe I just need to dig through your archives but have you ever thought about shifting to prose? Lolz

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    2. I have given it a passing thought. but not sure I could write fiction like you do. I'd end up spilling the beans of my personal neuroses I'm afraid, and make people think I'm screwed up. Really, I'm not! Just another average joe who's looking for love in all the wrong places.

      Um, that could be a song! Oh yeah, it already is. Hell, EVERYTHING is a song......

      (hands over ears: "lalalalalalalalalalalalalalala")

      Ha!

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    3. Rick: But isn't it all about our neuroses? It should be a fun little project. I'm sure you've got a lot of stories that need to be told in the big ol' head of yours.

      And aren't we all just looking for love? lalalalallala....

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  3. geez nyl, you are so good.

    i had tears in my eyes after reading it.

    i can totally relate. sapul!

    "oh, I think I’m going to steal a husband today"<<<outright funny!


    isabelle

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    1. Isabelle: hello! Welcome to my blog (yata! :p)

      thanks for your kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I would love to hear about how you can relate. what was it like when you went through your own right or wrong? Which did you choose?

      Interview portion itey! Lolz

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    2. i didnt think that there was a right or a wrong path to choose. just like you, i just decided to listen to my heart and did everything i could to keep him in my life. and for a while, he was mine....until it was time to let go.

      i guess, that's just life.

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    3. Isabelle: Wow, you actually replied! I love it! :)

      I'm glad you were able to keep your optimism (or is it realism?). I've met a lot of (to borrow from Under The Tuscan Sun) empty-shelled people who went through something similar but ended up jaded. It's not an easy feat. Congratulations!

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  4. it's truly amazing how you were able to integrate all the stages of Kohlberg's TMD in just one post. charot!

    i always thought Victor was the better abuser of metaphors until i read this. :P

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    1. Ate Meg: was that an educ reference? Moral development ba yun? Lolz

      I love when all 3 of us abuse one metaphor! remember that time when we kept messing around with the full moon?

      dinner at 6 later ha. don't be late!

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  5. @Nyl: tse!!! nandamay ka pa!! lol :P --- "Doesn’t that sound like someone you know? Doesn’t that sound like you?"

    i, honestly, don't know what to say.. i'll just clap my hands.. galing, nyl! you already! :)

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    1. Nate: Natawa naman ako. haha That line was the first thing I figured out but the last thing I got to write down. Oo, forced empathy line siya. lolz

      Thanks for dropping by, Nate! :) I appreciate it. Pasensiya na rin at sobrang behind na ako sa pagb-bloghop. Di bale, long weekend naman. :)

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  6. So many things going through my head as I read your story. Let’s start with food.

    Tortang talong is like home to me. It can be simple or complicated—with the eggs well done or coddled with onions and tomatoes. It is the one thing that I often resist making at home because I like it done differently from the way my housemates like it. But I think that’s good. Tortang talong means compromise for me that way. The thought of it now makes me want to take better care of myself and the people around me—the simple yet complicated thought of cooking it two ways so that everyone is happy and content…and at home. :)

    But enough about tortang talong and myself. :)) About your post, God, it almost made me cry. I hate you again,Nyl. I hate you when you write the truth so …well truthfully. Or is it writing lies truthfully? A basta. You almost made me cry. Pakshet. :))

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    1. Debbie: Awww girl, first the letter and now this. You're touching me in all the right places ha. hihihi

      I adore tortang talong. I even have it in my about page! haha let's get together and eat tortang talong one of these days. I'm learning to cook it so it would be nice to get some practice.

      At almost lang? Pakshet naman o. Gusto ko mapaiyak ka! haha chos lang. Remember one of our first PedXings and you and Uleb said nangilid kulangot niyo? lolz

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  7. You just reminded me to finish my real criminal mind post. :))

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    1. Aaaaaand, moving forward, I'm glad the third part came out na, Nyl. :) OH MY GOD. TAPOS KA NA.

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    2. Spiral: I know right! I'm so glad it's done na. and you have a real criminal mind post? Lolz I can't wait!

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    3. hahaha... Know what, pwede bang magbago ng criminal mind post? Hahaha.

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    4. LJ: Hala! Una si Spiral, ngayon ikaw naman! haha What's happening? lolz

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  8. Nyl, nadala mo na naman ako. I love your last lines. Please never stop writing, I know it's selfish of a reader like me, but yeah...

    But would you still fight a losing battle?

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    1. Rowell: Naks naman! Nakakataba naman ng suso este puso. :) I also hope to never stop writing. Kahit na minsan natutuyuan na rin ako. haha

      As for fighting a losing battle... grabe noon, sobrang wala akong ganiyang konsepto. Logikal kasi talaga ako. If I don't see it happening, goodbye, move on. ganun lang. I broke a lot of hearts back then, my own included.

      And then I grew up and I realized there are moments in life when you have to choose. There are people that you fight for. Whether or not matalo ka in the end, at least alam mong lumaban ka. haha

      I guess you could say if I ever played Deal or No Deal, I'd make sure I open the damn briefcase I chose in the first place.

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    2. Thanks for sharing this Nyl.

      Sa akin, I even used to fight with bare teeth and claws, but I grew weary and just stopped fighting a losing battle.

      Did I smarten up and became logical? or my spirit was just crushed and became a scared fool?

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    3. Rowell: Naku, wag naman sana.

      In fairness, napaka-gandang topic 'to to explore for a future post. I even have the perfect soundtrack. Alam mo yung Love Is A Losing Game ni Amy Winehouse? At yung Battle ni Colbie Caillat? Love love love those songs! :)

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    4. Yes, I agree Nyl. I await for this post of yours! ^_^ Now I kinda want to write with this theme myself. hehe

      I've only heard of Amy's Love is Losing Game, and after listening to Battle, ok sya, melikes!!!

      You have a great and safe Easter Nyl.

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    5. Rowell: Glad to have introduced you to Battle. Sakit din nung song na yan! lolz

      You have a great and safe Easter too, Rowell! :)

      Delete
  9. I have to admit that I was teary-eyed while reading this post. I fought crying, you know. For another salty lake named after me.

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    1. Gian: well that makes a lot of sense. you know a little bird told me you're not a fan of crying. I wouldn't want to cause another salty lake. lolz

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  10. i see a pattern with yours and mine on this challenge

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    1. LOF: Oh yeah.. that whole taboo, we can't be together thing. Tama ba? Or did I misread it? lolz

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    2. i was thinking criminal mind bears stories of married men. and if married men are taboo and can't be together thing means emotional unavailability. then, yes! lol

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    3. LOF: Oh yeah! May pattern nga!

      I initially wanted it to be murder, a drowning specifically. It just ended up turning into this big cheeseball and so it went into my Vanity post. lolz

      Delete
  11. Very Ann Curtis ang peg! Hahaha.

    Haist, I remember someone while reading this. And then I realized of all of your post that I was able to relate to, this is the only one that made me locked my pc, went down the building and smoke.

    I know how hard it is to be called names, but what makes everything harder was when someone will keep on reminding you the wrong things that you were doing. As if they know the things that are right.

    And then I will read someone's comment saying, "But would you still fight a losing battle?"

    My friend told me this once, and the only thing that entered my mind was, "we haven't lost, we are not even close to losing. And as long as we are not defeated, I will fight my hardest to win."

    Congrats Nyl, this story really sounds someone like me. :|

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    1. LJ: Well that just warms my heart. Siyempre, bilang blogger ang gusto ko talagang ma-achieve eh yung you write something that elicits an emotion sa nagbabasa. So maraming salamat at napangiti mo ako.

      At oo, natiwang din ako sa comment ni Rowell. Patugtugin natin si Ate Amy.. Love is a losing game :'(

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  12. "I knew I could spend the rest of my life making this boy realize how special he was, how truly beautiful he was in the mud."
    -ooooh mud wrestling! how kinkeeeey!!! haha charot!! :D

    i really like this post. TANGINA NAKAKAINGGIT KAYO! PUCHA, KUKUNIN KO MGA UTAK NINYO AT ISASAKSAK KO ISA-ISA SA MAGKABILAANG TENGA KO PARA MAKASULAT AKO NG TULAD SA INYO! (tita tubol voice) -yan ang entry ko for "a criminal mind" haha chos lang! :D

    pero seriously i like it :)
    and nice idea sa tortang talong! shet nagutom ako bigla! love ko kaya ang tortang talong. i love eating tortang talong pag lasing! (and i'm talking about food... hahaha)

    okay Good Friday , Good Friday, Good Friday... hahaha :D

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    1. Sin: "and i'm talking about food... hahaha"

      Buti nilinaw mo. lolz akala ko kung ano na haha

      And I love the mud wrestling concept! Shet, mag-iiba yung anggulo ng kwento. haha Ang sexy kaya nung nasa putikan kayo tapos you're trying to catch fish using your bare hands! lolz

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    2. yah food yan hahaha! pero pwede din kasi yung isa, holy week lang kasi. wahahaha CHOS! :D

      mud+boys+bare hands here and there = porn. wahahaha charot! :D

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    3. Sin: Wow, you're really living up to your name! So sinful! And on holy week! lolz

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  13. I love the Klimt painting! I saw this huge book somewhere; compilation of his paintings. 3k. It left me drooling, haha

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    1. Andy: 3K is a little steep but if it's got a lot of his work then I'd say it's worth it.

      As a movie buff, would you judge me if I tell you I remember now where I first saw this? lolz it was this super commercial movie called This Means War. #facepalm

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  14. Replies
    1. Glentot: Oh hi, Glentot! I don't believe we've met! Welcome to my blog.

      And I'm sorry. I don't understand what you mean by "puki." Elaborate?

      :p

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    2. i think it means to vomit. originally spelled as puke. am i right?

      (haha charot! :D )

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    3. Sin: I'm not really sure what he meant. Either way, it doesn't make sense! What would vomiting have to do with extramarital homosexual affairs? :-?

      Delete
  15. Yes, I am her. And I've never been happier.

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    1. Mikee: Oh wow! I love how that's so proud and fierce! Good for you! :)

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  16. This is beautiful! Galing! :) At hindi ako nanghusga sa kabuuan ng pagbabasa ko. Guilty? Haha.

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    1. Babit: Ooh, haven't seen you here in a while! :) Salamat at di mo hinusgahan si kuya. Baka nga at some point in time, you were in his shoes. lolz

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  17. deep breath. you weave an extravagant tapestry of emotions that i almost always cry after each last line. you do know that's a gift right? ;)

    thank you for sharing your stories.

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    1. Kaloy: Wow, that was really nice of you. Thank you for appreciating the stories I share. It only makes it all the more worthwhile to churn these stories out week after week. :)

      I know you went through something similar and so I feel a little validated knowing you thought it was nice. Thanks for dropping by. Your comment made my day. :)

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  18. You know it's written so well when the characters did something so wrong but you still feel for them.

    Ang galing galing mo!

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    1. Allen: Hey! Long time no hear! How's Canada? :)

      Salamat for your kind words. I'm happy that you were able to empathize with Three. It took me close to a year to do the same thing. haha

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    2. doing well, thanks!

      ive always wanted to write stories like this. i want the readers to BE the character in the story. i need more experience though. lol

      cheers!

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    3. Allen: Well keep writing then! I think that's the only way to get through it. :)

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  19. Yay! Finally!

    Thank you, Nyl. Been waiting for this last part for quite sometime. It's really worth waiting for this. Lakas ng tama nito sa akin. Lakas maka-relate lng. Haha.

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    1. Louie: Uy! Long time no see! Salamat at nagustuhan mo. :)

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