Wednesday, November 7, 2012

forever clouds

The little things don’t scare me. You could tell me about a client presentation fifteen minutes in advance and I wouldn’t even flinch. I can watch scary movies like the best of them and I’d have my eyes wide open, hands firmly on the popcorn bucket, waiting for the next big scream. I don’t get scared that easily. But when you ask me about forever, well… that’s a different story.

You see, it’s not easy. I’ve seen it from end to end. You’d think I would know everything there is to know about forever. I’ve seen an imagined life flashing before my eyes. I’ve banked on promises of memories that never materialized. I’ve sworn to spend the rest of my life with somebody and I watched as I took it all back. I’ve held on. I’ve let go. And despite everything, I feel like I still know nothing about forever.

And I think about all this as I stare at the man I love. He is flat on the floor, reading a book. I am on the loft, watching him devour his paperback. I think about how good it feels, how easy it is to just sit here, passing the time, neither of us wanting to go anywhere. I think about how easy it is for him and I to just be.

And if I could fill the rest of my life with quiet moments just like this- the two of us killing time, I knew I’d be okay. I set my iPod on its dock and thumbed over to a familiar song. A gentle drumbeat ushers in this story’s score as I walk over to him and offer an open hand.

“Yes?” he asks, barely looking up from the dusty pages of his book.

“Come dance with me,” I say. He smiles and it’s the crooked one he uses for when I’ve gone insane again. “Please? I love this song.”

He stands and puts his book away. He walks slowly to me, hands raised in mock surrender. I meet him in the middle of our imagined dance floor and wrap my arms around his waist. He throws his arms around my neck, our faces close to touching. We sway softly, his hot breath alive on my skin. The verse kicks in and for the next five minutes and forty-eight seconds, I am one with my lover. We are one with the music.

Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

And I feel so close to him, so close I could almost read his thoughts. I wonder if he could read mine.

Does he know how happy I am that he is here? Does he know that I am only truly living when he is around? Does he know about the storms that were coming? Is he just as afraid as I am? I wonder if he, too, could feel the pain of broken promises, of countless lovers I swore to under countless moons. I feel these questions burning in the middle of my chest. I rest my head on his shoulder and let him lead.

I've looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall
I really don't know love at all

And yet I always go back to the feeling of having him with me, swaying, loving. Maybe instead of holding on to forever, I should just hold on to love.

♫: Rachael Yamagata | Both Sides Now (2009)
Post: d-i-y

Thursday, November 1, 2012


The city frames many stories. The streets are paved with characters and plotlines and those who wish to hear one need only to find a quiet corner and press their ears to the ground.

ISA. A small group of women were gossiping loudly about the office slut. Their words snapped, crackled, and popped with disdain. Pokpok. Kerengkeng. Bitch. Slut. They threw these words around like confetti, peppering their insults with deep breaths and profanities. The pregnant woman in the middle who I assumed was their leader threw the most insults. ‘Di na siya nahiya. Kababae niyang tao, siya pa naghahabol sa lalaki.* I attempted to overtake them but their girdled strides kept me at a steady pace two steps behind them.

Just then, an intoxicated foreigner got off a dusty cab. He walked briskly towards the women and me. It soon became clear that collision was not only apparent, it was imminent. Most of the women adjusted accordingly – all but the hotheaded pregnant woman in the middle. He passes her, angling his shoulder to hit her smack in the face. There was a blunt sound of loud, body contact. She covered her belly as the force almost knocked her to the ground. Cheeks flushed, mouth agape in horror, she turned around to face him.

Putang in- she said, interrupted.

What? What’re you gonna do about it? he shouted at her. He punctuated his sentence with a middle finger to her face. The woman’s gaze shifted towards me. And to think I’d almost forgotten I was part of the whole exchange. She looked straight at me, maybe even through me, her eyes speaking as clearly as the midnight moon.

Well, they said. What are you gonna do about it?

DALAWA. Does everyone know? she asked me. It feels like the whole world knew before I did. Her cigarette had burned to the tip three and a half minutes ago and yet there it stood, shaky in between her fingers. I’m so embarrassed. Pakiramdam ko, ang bobo bobo ko. Bobo ba ako?

Hindi, I said. Hindi ‘yun ganun. Nag-mahal ka lang. Shouldn’t that be enough?

Bullshit, Erik, she said to me as she lit another cigarette. I flipped my phone over to check the time. It was well past my lunch hour. You don’t do that to people who love you. You don’t do that to the people you love. You can’t kiss me and expect me to understand why you need to fuck some little temp with tits for brains. I gave him everything, you know? Everything. And what do I have to show for it? She took small, deep drags off her cigarette, her eyes surprisingly dry. Wala na akong mukhang ihaharap.

I knew to shut up. Sometimes, a woman just needs to vent.

Ikaw ba, kelan mo nalaman? she asked, sounding a little too casual for her own good.

Mga last week, I lied. Truth is, it had been almost a month since Susie from Accounting told me. I wanted to tell you. I really did. I just didn’t know how to. She smiled politely as she exhaled the last puff of her cigarette, her eyes vacant and transfixed on a line of ants on the floor.

Though we said nothing after that, her silence spoke volumes to me. You knew. Why didn’t you tell me? You could’ve told me.

I wanted to tell you. I really did. I just didn’t know how to. Now that was bullshit.

TATLO. Sabi nung prof ko nung college, tatlo lang naman daw yan: kaya, gusto, pwede. Pwede mo ba siyang mahalin?

Oo naman, she answered.

Gusto mo ba?

Ano ba, Erik? Iiyakan ba kita dito kung hindi ko siya gusto?

Eh kaya mo pa ba siyang mahalin? Kaya mo pa bang masaktan? She ran her fingers through her hair. If you were looking close enough, you’d have seen the purple bruise on her left eye briefly becoming visible.

She was quiet after that. We both just took small sips of our coffee to stretch what little time we had left.

Why can’t he be more like you? she asked me. I had no answers. In fifteen minutes, my brother showed up. He parked across the street and signaled her to come over. He knew why she was with me. He knew we were talking about him. He was cold and expressionless as he sat on the hood of our mother’s car. She pulled her bangs down, got her things, and did as she was told.

As she walked away, she turned around to take one last look at me. She spoke no words but her eyes told me everything: help me.

APAT. And I wondered when chivalry became so old-fashioned. How could we treat the women in our lives so casually? I always thought I’d somehow managed to set myself apart from other men, that maybe I was a tree among bushes. But three out of three times and with three different women, I stood there doing nothing.

The city frames many stories. Sometimes, the city is the story. The streets are paved with characters and plotlines and those who wish to hear one need only to find a quiet corner and press their ears to the ground. Tonight, it’s an old song set to a new tune. My heart knew all the words but my mouth refused to sing.

Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods?
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night, I toss and turn and dream of what I need.
I need a hero.

I’m no hero. I’m just a flimsy patch on a quilt of apathetic men. Most days, I could use a little saving myself.

♫: Ella Mae Bowen | Holding Out for a Hero (2011)
Alternate: 2 (No Taglish)
Photo: fallen warrior