august 2015-november 2016
“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.
It is a good idea, then, to keep in touch, and I suppose that keeping in touch is what notebooks are all about. And we are all on our own when it comes to keeping those lines open to ourselves: your notebook will never help me, nor mine you.”
– Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem
– start –
the girl who cried wolf
perhaps i was reckless with my affections. i have Alaska Young tendencies, plus Margo Roth Spiegelman capacity for wild antics. but being with you has brought out my Juli Baker instincts, my Linda Cole virtues, plus my Johanna Wallace sensibilities. I had been different persons at different times and you accused me of being unreachable.
“You feel so far away from me…” you said. And i danced around with words. But we never let pretense be too familiar because we are meant to bask in truth, in all its gore and glory.
“I don’t feel you that much.” Now what does that mean? Indirect discretion. No one wants to fully commit — everyone’s afraid that they’re misinterpreting because no one is talking straight. we were playing the old What Are You Thinking? game.
everything looks uglier up close. or so margo says. i think to some degree she is right. closer we see the blemishes, the barely concealed pimple marks, wrinkles, crow’s feet. closer and we notice that there is a chipped tooth, a scar in the cheek, a tiny mole near the left eye. closer and we get to know the truth. it was that case between us.
when you spilled your secrets, i scooped them all up and put them in a jar. to say that i wasn’t scared of them is ‘being pretty’. at first encounter, i exclaimed my dislike. i had no idea what to do with them. maybe that’s partly why i blabbed to mom (even when you hinted that i keep them to myself). you have to know, i am my mom’s little girl for always. when i get hurt, it is her hands i look for first to touch the parts where i’ve been scratched, bruised, wounded. so love, talking about it made swallowing easier. it was how i got over the initial shock.
now, going back to the events that transpired before, during and after that night: horrific. it was the first time i went out the house at midnight to go to someplace else. my excuse was that i wanted to write somewhere new (in a sense that i haven’t written in) but god, what i craved was desperation. a kind of breathless certainty that things were really happening and it wasn’t just a scene from a novel.
i miss my friend. he would’ve known how to deal with all this.
August 13, 2015
We were our own heartbreakers. I know that now and I have accepted it with all the grace I can muster. Everything we needed each other to be, everything we needed each other to say, there lies the moments of us falling to different sides.
But all I ask of you is to remember that for a time, there was no love for me in the world like yours, and there was no heart for you in the world like mine. We were so beautiful. Even when we were struggling. Especially when we were struggling. But we grow and sometimes apart. We are still growing up. And growing up is messy. But that’s okay too. We never should avoid the mess just because it’s inconvenient. You taught me that, maybe not in words but in actions. I was my most patient self with you around. And understanding, and quietly strong. I’m grateful for that. Also, I discovered I have a heart that’s big enough to love so much. I can love my family and my friends (and even strangers!) so much the better now. Again, I am so grateful. You are a beautiful human being.
Granted we had our ugly moments, I’m not quite sure I remember right for I tend to discount them right after we smooth things out, but we were just being human. We are so much more than just the sum of our mistakes. We are so much more the better every time we try and do good.
S, you have been a gift to me. Now, it’s high time I give you back to the world. Blow them away with your music, I already know you’ll play most beautifully every single time and they will fall in love (especially the ladies, wink) with the notes and the spaces in between one lovely score and another. You will become your own orchestra. One day, I’ll have the courage to see you play, too.
Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy my wanderings. Writing the world as I see it. Traveling and experiencing life at its most breathtaking and terrifying. I never told you (but I felt you already had an inkling whenever you call me “laagan”) but you are right. I am. I have peregrine tendencies. There is in me an inextinguishable longing for elsewheres. I have itchy feet all the time! Ha-ha. And in the time I spend cooped inside v-hires or buses or boats, or hopefully in the future, planes, I will have a lot of time in my hands and I’ll be reminiscing things from home to keep me warm. I might remember things about you, too. If sometimes I write you in my stories, know that it’ll be by virtue of genuine intentions. Because there’s a piece of you I will always be carrying around with me. Darling dearest, I will always have an infinite tenderness for you.
The rest of the world is before us, and all the chances are ours for the taking. In the end, we’ll have our happy ending but separately. And we’re okay with that.
August 15, 2015
“There’s something in the way you talk lately. Very natural, vibrant, emotions seep into the words. It’s like how you talked when we first met. And like how I always imagined you would be…”
It took me awhile to come to this realization: that no matter how many times we change clothes, put on shoes, then another pair, apply layers and layers of makeup, hide behind hair extensions, we remain the same people with the same body, the same set of blemishes.
I took off all my pretensions. Stood naked in front of my floor length mirror and marveled at the stranger in the reflection.
I am imperfect. There. That’s got to be the most profound truth I can come up with.
Physically, I am marked. From a plump grade schooler who transitioned into a slimmer version of herself in high school, I earned stretch marks. Adolescence has made itself known to me by pockmarking my face with an obscene amount of scars. My almost daily stints at klutzy-ness hasn’t spared my knees and elbows either. How many times have I fallen off a bike? How many times have I tripped on my own steps? How many times have I slid off a trisikad seat and rolled in the ground like some sort of amateur exhibitionist? How many times have I climbed the tambis tree in our front yard only to be reminded of gravity? I cannot count them all by my fingers. Not even by my toes.
But it took me all these lessons of ungracefulness to finally learn what it means to have composure. To hold my anger in my right hand then give it to my left for it to throw away to somewhere far some place else. Because my anger can exist away from me. To hold back tears but after several seconds of futile attempt at holding it in, crying anyway because it is the heart’s plea to let the self feel and deeply. To hold my limbs together just so I won’t crumble down in the midst of my walking in the middle of the street.
So out of all this, I come out a little stronger. I confess I am yet to know of the difference between differential and integral calculus, of Oedipus and Elektra, of flying and falling. I did not come out of my struggles as a genius: I haven’t discovered that one perfect formula to explain the existence of the universe, much like Stephen Hawking’s obsession. I am still the same awkward girl trying hard not to lose her balance, especially when in heels. I have the same set of fears. But they have different faces now. No longer that scary. O look at them square in the eyes and say “Someday, I won’t ever see you again.”
D, for pointing out my fakeness to me when I was busy covering my patches of imperfection, I am grateful. And for pointing out my genuineness when I had finally taken off my clothes so to speak, to let myself show through, again I am so grateful.
I am better at being myself. I will not stop getting better at being myself.
And when we meet, I will show my blue skin and you will show your blue skin so we won’t just pass by each other and never know.
love letter (prose)
i know i’m often sad and every night before i go to sleep i count my ribs and pound on my chest, knocking, checking if a heart is still there. some days i wake up to the sound of my bones creaking under the weight of all the lives i’m not living and all the people i’m not loving. i have never been a genuinely graceful person; i trip on my own steps, laugh at my own inane jokes, fall from trees i try to climb with too short limbs, clumsy hands and never a pair of nimble feet.
but this is it.
the listless girl in me has collapsed, died a a star and reborn into dancing lightness. today the sky beautiful in its ethereal glow and i can never close my eyes again to everything that screams at my senses. today i adore the oxygen in my lungs. i worship the stardust in my pores.
there is utter magic in this struggle for existence.
i feel it.
everything has gathered at my feet — all the fears I’ve mistaken as truths that I’ve tucked in with me every night for months and months on end, the doubts that whisper their miserable brilliance in every breathing space of all the words i say, the hopes for the blessed unrest that can only come from the desire to create and create beautifully — they sparkle like all things beautiful and lovely and real.
i am alive.
yes, i will live madly. yes, i will read like hell and write like i am all kinds of brave. nothing scares me anymore.
this love will last forever i swear to the galaxies it will.
October 19, 2015
Everything has changed. I can never look at you the same way now. I can never call you by your name in the same voice. All pretense is useless, I know myself and I know the countless things I am capable of doing when moved by feelings other than my own.
This love is good, this love is bad, this love could be anything in between. I know now more than ever before why people create songs about it, and poetry and such beautiful, beautiful art. I know now what it means to be ten again, scaling heights, climbing farther and farther up the huge sycamore tree without knowing how to get myself back on the ground. You do something awfully good to me. You make me want to be brave. And I am brave (writing this isn’t as easy as you might think, I had to dip my pen right into my arteries, so to speak).
There is a certain kind of happiness that comes from simply knowing and knowing so well and deeply. I know so many things now. One I believe to be most real is that I have fallen in love with so much of you.
I have fallen in love with our midnights. And our mornings. I have fallen in love with our days. I have fallen in love with your voice and the countless songs you let me listen to. I have fallen in love with the way you say your words and the worlds that breathe within each nonchalant letter. I have fallen in love with your hands and your arms and your shoulders and you. You can’t begin to imagine how much joy your existence has brought into my life, my lovely boy.
But I will tell you that this love is free. It roams and wonders and often gets lost. That is to say, this love is unlike any you’ve known before. There’ll be days when the knocks on the door will remain unanswered, the tireless entreaties remain unreturned because I will not allow us to blend so much into each other, forgetting that we are, after all, separate pieces of dazzling art. We will encounter so much that will turn our heads towards different directions and that is entirely, utterly fine. Love stops being beautiful when it’s shackled, ordered around, restricted by rules, and told “No” quite so often.
With you, I can still feel the delight that comes when the wind plays with my hair, and the childlike wonder every time I experience the world as vivid as waves drenching me, rain falling down my face, and the earth reminding me of gravity and strength. With you, I can still belong to my dearest home which is this big, big world.
And I will never, not in a thousand years, try to take you solely for myself. You belong to the world too, and all its magic.
So out of all this, we come out more human. And we are, I pray to the universe inside ourselves, more able to love the better.
See you when I see you,
June 29, 2017
1:43 AM, Thursday
D, darling, dearest,
Infidelities. Streets, sidewalks, walkouts, chasing. Curses, shouting, leaving. Damage done. Leaving. Always leaving. Infidelities. All the bruises. Leaving. Leaving. Curses, leaving.
You cannot be accused of ever truly loving.
There was no love.
Only words to get what you wanted.