on the moment you are put back together



It’s funny – maybe not ha ha funny but certainly peculiar. We remember the exact moment we are broken but not the moment we are put back together. For me, my broken moment came to me on my 30th birthday. I was passed out in the middle of Puerto Galera, alcohol and bad decisions coursing fiercely through my veins. There is a picture of me that somehow ended up on my Instagram. I am on the sand clutching a liter of mineral water and you can see a little bit of my underwear peaking from my shorts. I was in a thankless job, freshly single with bullet holes where my heart used to be. I was surrounded by strangers who just moments before were singing an off-key Happy Birthday in a tiny beachside bar. I was nowhere I imagined I would be. I didn’t know how to get up. I had hit rock bottom.

In an effort to put my life back together, I vowed to take better care of myself. I wrapped bandages around my heart, built walls as I waited for it to be calloused and numb. I filled my days with attempts at meaningful work and my nights with meaningless sex. I read a Buzzfeed article about how taking care of a plant was the first of many steps to a happier, healthier you and so I bought a bunch of basil seedlings and haphazardly put it in a pot of fresh earth. I watered them every day, sang to them, spoke to them, took care of them like no man had ever cared for spices before. I reveled in the idea of three new lives solely dependent on me. For the first time in a long time, it felt like I was back on track.

Except I wasn’t. Far from it. Despite my best efforts, the seedlings hardly matured. Their branches were stunted, their leaves pale and tasteless. I went through countless how-tos and YouTube videos on resuscitating dying seedlings but after a while, it was clearly time to call their time of death. The cause – suffocation by an unstable man’s misguided attempts to get his duckies in a row.

It’s funny how that was one of the first things my lover noticed when he first came over. Of course, I didn’t know he would be my lover then. He was just one of many faceless men having their turn at me. He noticed the branches dead and limp and asked me about them. I said they were nothing, a crafts project that just never fully took off. I said I had meant to throw them out, but I kept forgetting. He scoffed, told me they weren’t dead – at least not yet, and emptied the rest of his glass of water into the caking soil.

He assessed the branches limp and withered, the browning leaves that fell off at the slightest touch, and said he could fix it. He could bring them back to life. I was a skeptic but also had literally nothing to lose and so I handed him a pair of scissors and watched as he snipped at the dying buds.

He was right. They weren’t dead but it would take some time for them to fully recover. He said all it needed was a little patience and a lot of love. Perhaps that was his strategy all along. His little project meant I would have to keep seeing him and that meant I would have to keep inviting him over and over. And so as the first of the new branches sprouted out, so did the beginnings of new love.

It’s hard to believe that was almost two years ago. As I write this, he is sleeping beside me, his gentle snoring the melody to my keyboard clacking’s percussion. Now I know when he said it wasn’t dead, he didn’t just mean the basil. And while I wrapped my heart in bandages and waited for it to be numb and calloused, he took one look at me and said he could fix it. He could fix me and so skeptically, I watched as he tore down each wall that I had built, peeled off each layer I had grown to protect my dying heart.

Friends ask me why I don’t write about him and I guess it’s because for a while it felt like I was holding my breath or waiting for the other shoe to drop. He’ll snap out of it, I told myself. He’ll grow tired of me. They always do. But in the still of the night when I creep into bed after a long day at work, no matter how deep in slumber he is, his hands find mine. As I close my eyes and let the darkness engulf me, I can swear I hear his heart beating. It is a heart that beats for me*.

It's funny, or maybe peculiar but we remember the exact moment we are broken but not the moment we are put back together. It’s impossible to simmer it down to just one moment. The most you get is an epiphany – a realization that you somehow made it back. If I had to scan my failing memory for that moment, it would take me back to a quiet morning in our first or second month together. I awake to an empty bed and think great, this is how he leaves me. But just as I was about to jump into a spiraling pool of self-pity, I hear a clacking of pans from downstairs.

Barefoot, I make my way to the kitchen. There is a whiff of garlic in the air, warm and familiar almost like a hug from my mother. There is tocino sautéing on the stove and half-beaten eggs in a wooden bowl. I steal a pinch of garlic rice, its salt and savory turning somersaults on my tongue. He emerges from the balcony, a sleepy smile on his face. In his hands are the greenest basil leaves I have ever seen, freshly plucked and aromatic. He kept his promise. He brought the plants back to life and in the process of doing so, he brought me back to life. And that is how all of his horses and all of his men somehow put me back together again.

I will never be able to thank him for all that he has done for me, but something tells me if I keep loving him every day in the only way I know how, somehow that would be enough.

♫: Kishi Bashi | m'Lover (2016)

The Post: October 2018
"Appreciation"

12 comments

  1. As the cliché saying goes, it is better late than never. I type this with fresh tears in my eyes. Happy for you! Thank you too, that piece was beautiful! ♥️

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    1. You appreciated my appreciation post! haha thank you!!! ❤️

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  2. This is great. Brought a tear to my eye and a bit of self-reflection to my own heart. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks! ❤️ there’s still time if you want to appreciate anything/anyone with a post!

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  3. This brought happy tears and all those hopeful thoughts. It is solemnly written yet it brings that fireworks of emotions and joyous revelations. Ang sarap-sarap basahin.

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    1. Yccos: You are so sweet! :) I had fun writing it - I challenged myself kasi October pa dapat magsulat pero naging super busy so I said I only had 2 hours to write, edit, and layout tapos dapat go na go na. haha Kinaya naman!

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  4. Your writing is beautiful. I just woke up from a dream (literally and figuratively), and your post was a good follow through on my intentions to move forward. Now I am wishing for someone’s horses and men to put me back, as well. Lol ��

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    1. You are so sweet! 😍 I am happy to have helped in your moving on process. haha your comment actually reminded me of this line from Under The Tuscan Sun (sidenote: if you haven't seen it yet, YOU MUST DO SO LIKE RIGHT NOW).

      "Listen, when I was a little girl I used to spend hours looking for ladybugs. Finally, I'd just give up and fall asleep in the grass. When I woke up, they were crawling all over me."

      There's so much I had to leave out in the spirit of brevity but I guess the ladybugs arrived when I stopped chasing them!

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  5. You made me cry... 😭 but these are tears of joy and of love. I felt it and it’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for being you!

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    1. Aww! That's so sweet! I'm happy they are tears of joy and love. 😀Thank you for reading!

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  6. This is refreshing. Tama na muna ang posts tungkol sa broken hearts and broken lives. ;-)

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  7. b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l!!! what more can i say? love it, nyl. :)

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