Monday, January 27, 2014

unfold


When I was a kid, I wondered what it was like to fall in love. I had only ever seen it in fairy tales – the prince would sweep the lonely maiden off her feet as the music swells. There would be birds singing and stars aligning. If you're lucky, maybe you'd have fireworks. I wondered if it was like that in real life. In the summer of 2007, I found out.

Vince was not a friend of mine, at least not right away. He was quiet, always sulking in a corner with a paperback and pack of Marlboro reds. But I loved him just the same. I had just graduated. I didn't know the first thing about love, my career, or anything remotely adult. By the time I threw my graduation cap in the air, I didn't know where it would land. I received a call from a call center recruiter one day. They received my application from a job website and they were inviting me for an interview. A sign, I declared. Since I had no other leads, I wore my father's best polo, polished my shoes, and dragged my ass to their Makati office.

I got in and on the first day of training, I spotted Vincent right away. He was slightly older than me and spoke with a perfect American accent. Because we were the only smokers in our wave, we got along fairly quickly. In between orientation and pronunciation modules, we learned about each other's lives. I was a call center virgin fresh off of college. He was an undergrad who had spent years in a non-voice account in Cagayan. He didn't look bad either. He certainly knew how to dress himself. He also had quite a temper on him. We'd barely gotten to lunch when he got into an argument with our accent trainer.

"It's ih-REH-vuh-kuh-bul," he insisted. On the board, a speech drill sentence stood frozen in time. "Irrevocable" was underlined twice for emphasis and they were arguing about how it's supposed to be pronounced.

"Americans say ih-reh-VOW-kuh-bul. It maintains its original stress. Surely, I must know this. I'm your trainer." Our rookie trainer looked like she was about to explode.

"Surely you must. But that doesn't change that fact that it's ih-REH-vuh-kuh-bul." My other wavemates and I, we didn't know what to do. It felt like we were caught in the middle of the world's most pointless war.

"Here, I'll show you," he said as he typed furiously into his assigned computer. Within seconds, the speakers boasted of the truth that none of us wanted to hear. He was right.

"Are you browsing a non-work site?" she asked. We all knew the rules and he clearly just broke one. It didn't matter if he was right all along. He made her look like an idiot and there would be hell to pay. "Stay after your shift. HR will be hearing from you."
I waited for him outside our building after class. There I was, first day of work and the only guy who was remotely interesting was about to get terminated. I must've burned through my pack of menthols from the nervousness. When HR finally released him, he walked out of the building looking cool and confident.

"What happened?" I asked, fear in my voice.

"I explained what happened and they let me go with a warning." He fished out his pack of cigarettes from his coat pocket and lit up a stick.

"If it makes you feel better, Merriam-Webster agrees with you." I showed him my phone. There were fine lines on his face. His eyes squinted into tiny slits as he viewed the definition.

"But then so was she," he said, referring to the secondary pronunciation. He continued to read the article. "From Latin. Irrevocabilis."

"I thought for sure they'd sack you." I said, hesitating. "I was worried that I would lose my only friend."

"It'll take more than a green accent trainer to bring down Vicente Cabrera," he chuckled. "Plus it wouldn't be fair. I was just starting to get to know you." We finished our cigarettes in peace and went our separate ways. In my heart, I could feel the quiet tugging of a chapter about to unfold.

♫: Jason Mraz | Unfold (2000)
City Part 1 | 2


THE HARDEST STORIES to write are the ones that are actually true. I realized this as soon as I started writing this story down. A friend and I were talking about the cheesiest things that ever happened to us and I remembered this little scene from when I first started working. I got to write it all down this morning and the daunting word count led me to chop it up into smaller bite-sized chunks. I won't make the same mistake I made with Stella. I actually made sure I'd written most of it down by the time I started. Next installment within the week. :)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

to my lover on his twenty-seventh year


Someone once told me that if you truly want to be happy, you must marry the kindest person you know. And I briefly thought of this while we were having coffee this morning. The café was full of people but there was only one person I wanted to see, only one person I could ever truly love. You were laughing at something silly I said and there was a slight wrinkle at the corner of each eye. It took my breath away.

You are sleeping as I write this. I hear your gentle snores rising from the bed. Tomorrow you must leave me. You are so real to me, such an integral cog in the machine of my life, that I feel as though I am broken whenever you leave. One day, I will forgive you for the five months you made me wait until you were born. Till then, I relish the idea that the days I spend without you are numbered.

It was as though you knew all this would happen, that day you stepped out of the fog and into my life. You saw past the pretenses, the walls I put up to hide my psychoses, and saw me as the man I didn't know I could be. Forgive me for all the stupid things I did that hurt you. So much of who I am now – the maturity, the strength, the over-all feeling of wholeness – I owe all that to you.

You stir and calm me all in one breath. Happy birthday, my love. You are more than just my greatest adventure. You are all my dreams come true.

♫: Hoku | You First Believed (2000)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

on forgetting


"You left the shampoo bottle uncapped again," I shouted from the bathroom. I wasn't picking a fight or anything. I just remembered this thing a friend told me about how there are little particles of shit in all bathrooms and I didn't want that stuff in my hair.

There was no response from him so I peeked out of the bathroom, my body safe behind the wall.

"Did you hear me? I said you forgot the…"

"The shampoo bottle. Got it," he said, barely lifting his head from the laptop. I smiled at him, letting him know I wasn't flying off the handle. He smiled back, a hurried one at first but then when he saw that this was something that genuinely bothered me, he eased back with a sharp exhale.

"It's a small thing really but it's slowly driving me nuts. Last week, you left the fridge door open and I had to throw out some meat."

"I'm sorry for being forgetful but…"

"But?" I interjected, my pitch a little too high for comfort.

"But I'm not the only one," he said with a chuckle. He pointed his lips towards the outlet. My cellphone charger was plugged in, the cord left hanging like a headless snake. "Don't blame me if you set your apartment on fire."

I laughed, a genuine one at least. How have we become so forgetful?

"What are we going to do?" I asked. "They say love is about remembering, about keeping track of the minute details of each and everyday, and I just don't think we have the mental capacity to remember all that!" I pictured us grey and old, forgetting to unplug appliances and cap shampoo bottles. What will we fail to remember next?

"Well at least we'd have each other," he said, finality in his tone. Conversation over. I shut the door and showered in peace. With wet fingers, I searched my phone for a familiar song. If he paid attention, he'd hear the prayer of my heart.

I wish I wasn't so fragile.
Because I know I'm not easy to handle.

Oh, baby please.
Don't forget you love me.
Don't forget you love me today.

Oh, my baby please.
Don't forget you love me.
Don't forget you love me today.

Well at least we'd have each other. With that, I knew I would gladly forget about everything in the world except for one thing – him.

♫: Schuyler Fisk | Fall Apart Today (2009)


HELLO! So I updated my music player to HTML5 with an option for Flash on older browsers. I'm going to sincerely make an effort to pay attention to this space this year. I've also set up a Facebook page which you can like here (please? pretty please?). I haven't really done anything to it but I fully intend to one of these days!