Chance Encounter

Tonight I allow myself to grieve.

I feel like it has been lifetimes since we met. When was the last time I thought about you? When was the last time you thought of me?

Lifetimes— yet there are days when I still can’t fathom just what happened, days where I can’t seem to comprehend those tumultuous four months. There are days, where I still ask questions and stubbornly look for answers, going through every moment, overturning every message, dissecting every memory I have, as if by some miracle— maybe the 6th time I replay it I’ll find something, anything to explain why. Nothing. Each time I find nothing but the silence of my own thoughts. Each time I find the same moment, the same message, and the same memory etched at the back of my head, unchanging, disdainful.

On the best days, I can easily shrug the entire thing as sheer incompatibility, a misguided trial of ennui and desire. A game of cat and mouse where this time, I was the mouse. I’ve always put myself in the position of advantage but this one was just a gamble that I lost. And the usual words and phrases come up like “there are so much people out there,” “you’re young, you’ll meet someone else,” “it’s okay, the world is your oyster, di mo yan kailangan.” On those days, I agree and think to myself, I’m absolutely right. I deserve better. I can do better. I’ll be better. Yada-yada. And for a moment, I believe it.

On the worst days, I still think it’s my fault, that I could have done better. I still think that maybe what I asked for was too much, that maybe I was not enough. Or that maybe I wasn’t understanding. On those days, the sheer weight of my thoughts are chained to my wrists and ankles, jangling with the memories I would rather keep forgotten. I am heavy and every movement I make creates marks where the cold, unforgiving metal scratch against hard reality.

Lifetimes— I have been vacillating between these lifetimes, the good ones where I don’t spare a moment and the bad ones where the first thing I think of in the morning is you.

When I saw you tonight, on one random evening, walking to my direction but not toward me, I felt as if all those lifetimes were crushed into one single moment. Every bone in my body whistled with excitement and anticipation.

And in an instant, almost too short to bear, I was already ahead of you and you behind me. We passed each other, our eyes never meeting.

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Patient

You’re dressed in immaculate white, dazzling smile underneath a mask. Your broad shoulders stretches across the brightly-lit room.

You’re standing tall, looming over my prostate body laid carefully across the metal bed. I’m wearing nothing but green scrubs, so thin, I can feel the cool surface of steel.

The knife clatters as you take it from the tray and inch it closer to me. I hear the blood rush through my ears. My chest is pounding.

I look at you.

Of course you make no hesitation, your long fingers deftly making an incision. The knife is quickly engulfed by vermillion. Everything feels like a whisper until the lids of my eyes close like curtains.

When they open again, I see my hands, pale and delicate, in a basin. The fingers are relaxed.

Umuwi ka na

Umuwi ka na

Sabi mo sa akin umuwi na ako. Mga isang buwan na rin noong huli tayong nagkita. Mga isang buwan na rin naaalala kita sa mga maliliit na bagay.

Umuwi ka na. 

Bakit mo kaya sinabi ‘yon sa akin? Ang dami kong pinag-iisipan na nagawa ko sana. Sana hindi na lang ako kumibo nung nararamdaman kong nag-iiba na. Sana hindi na kang kita pinaniwalaan. Sana hindi na lang ako nadala. Sana hindi na lang ako naghanap pa. Sana hindi na lang kita tinext. Sana wala na lang akong paki. Pero sa rami ng sana na gusto kong mangyari, nangyari pa rin ang nangyari: Nagkita tayo at nagkakilala nang kahit saglit lang. Dinaan natin sa sayaw yung gabi hanggang umabot tayo dito. Tumagal ng tatlong linggo hanggang may bumitaw. Ako pa rin. Ikaw pa din. 

Umuwi ka na. 

Siguro never ko malalaman ang dahilan mo. Siguro hindi naman yon mahalaga. Dahil naka-isang buwan na rin naman. Siguro tama ka nung sinabihan mo ako na umuwi na. Siguro nga. 

Rabbits

It’s 2:00 am! A lifetime ago, I was thinking of a big mistake I had committed that almost took a friend away. But she thawed and we were back to status quo. No. She isn’t what I’m thinking about.

I’m thinking about them. One was a pretty old memory while the other was a pretty warm one. Who knew they would converge on this rotten frame of mine?

1.

Yes, we were friends. But that came much after. It was such a long time ago when I first heard the timbre of his voice, a warm baritone that annoyed the life of me. Overly eager, I venomously thought. Overly eager? Look who’s talking.

He looked smart. Then I found out he really was smart. Maybe because he spent most of his time classifying things. It was music, if I remember correctly. He couldn’t move on without assigning everything he hears a genre. Pop, rock, classical, indie. So I let him listen to my song and he said that it really didn’t belonged to any one place. He knitted his eyebrows in concentration and I laughed. Music is just music.

For his birthday, I gave him a canvas. He said he was an artist. I want to say I gave it in spite, but that would be a lie. I wanted him to be an artist, like how friends wanted each other to be astronauts—or batman, whatever superhero you watched when you were young. In return, he gave me a photo. Black and white. I was confused, ’cause who returns gifts? But I liked it a lot. I didn’t hang it. My family doesn’t hang things up.

Yes, we were friends. It was because I felt that we were always in the same page. We wanted to understand the same things. But we didn’t live the same paradigms. Like I’ve said, he wanted to classify music. But music is music.

Years after we saw each other again, though time had stretched us thin. He did become an artist.

2.

December. A dare. A wooden surface. Bottles. Dim lights. The dirty floor. Black shirt. Adam’s apple. Hands on the table. A deck of cards. Smoke. An empty pitcher.

A tap. Black eyes. Slurred words. Knees. A wooden bench. Hands. An invitation. A smirk. Ceiling. Forehead. Eyes. Nose.

January.

February.

March. A dare. A wooden surface. Hands on the table. Dim lights. Empty bottles. A single plate. Smoke. Knuckles.

A rap. The door. Black shirt. Ceiling. Hair. Adam’s apple. The dirty floor. A pair of shoes. The stool. Hands. Black eyes. Ears. A smirk. Shoulders. Neck. Knees. The door.

The artist and the dare. Though my mind raced for the first while my hands for the second, I kept none of them. And this is what I’ve been thinking about.

Sabina

I am 21 years old and the desire to run has never felt so right, never so much needed in the moment. It has never felt so required. Selfish as it sounds I feel like my person, which has been formed from the countless corrects and mistakes I have dealt with my entire life has finally reached an impasse. Actions have matured into attitudes. Likes have turned into preferences. Strangers have turned into friends or kept frozen as acquaintances. I desire to thrust this person into the unknown and see how strong of a body it has become. 

For the last few weeks I have been closely monitoring my reactions and my motivations and I have realized one thing — that I have rooted myself too firmly among people, almost feel like they have entrenched too deeply into myself that I cannot bear but feel their combined weight across the horizon. My actions have shifted from being truly mine to being enlarged as to become in conjunction with others. I guess that is part of becoming an adult — the understanding that the years have turned you into an web of relationships that to move a finger in the wrong way would break it all together. But wasn’t it ironic when I realized that what I thought had been the strongest string of my combined existence actually turned out to be the flimsiest? It was only the matter of extending my finger as if to reach some new unknown that I had forgotten that these strings existed and now I have threatened my sanity as I try to pick them up and try to stitch them together.

See, this is what I want to avoid. I fear that I may not truly reach adulthood because these obligations — these contracts that we unwittingly sign with others — have neither provided me security nor stability. Instead they have turned into tethers that are too immaterial for me to take a knife and cut off. I want to go back when my actions were too infinitesimal to bear burden. 

And this is why I want to run. Despite the fact that I have maintained a monotony that has provided me reprieve, I want to have nothingness. I want to hear the deafening silence against the harangue of my thoughts instead of incessant, insipid chatter. I want to be able to move without causing ripples I do not intend. But to get there I must claim the journey of Sabina* as my own. I must betray. I must betray every attitude, every preference, every person. To reach the cool feeling of possibility, I must betray everything that prevents me from being. Honestly, I am terrified. But the chance to be beyond what I am now — to be what I am not — exhilarates me.
*Sabina from “The Unbearable Lightness” by Milan Kundera

Isabel

You called me selfish and you’re right. All I care about is my self and my self-preservation. I want the easy things out of life because life is so fucking hard already. Why do we have to complicate things? Why do we have to take things and process them? I suggest we take everything at face value and be rid with them at once. Thinking hampers progress; makes us feel insecure. Decisions are final and should not be questioned.

8.6.12

Sometimes I can’t figure out if I’m being honest because my brain tends to work faster than my heart. So for now, I’m giving my brain a break.  Here’s my attempt at honesty:

I’m sorry. I wish I were some unfeeling robot who could just turn away without giving things a second thought but unfortunately I’m not. It’s been weeks since the incident and ever since then it’s been eating me at the back of my mind. Every time I let my mind wonder for even just an infinitesimal of a second, it keeps coming back to that moment when I decided that it was worth burning bridges. Sometimes I wish I said different words instead, like “I don’t want it to end this way,” but that would have been a lie. Without intending it or not, this coldness would have been inevitable.

I guess we just had different priorities. We had different things on our plate. I was impetuous and you wanted consistency. I saw relationships as static but you thrived in their depth. In reality? I was just scared of people leaving me. Ultimately? I didn’t want to even have the possibility of allowing people to do that so I did it instead. Every time I’m with someone I keep distance. I never allow myself to go beyond a line that I’ve unknowingly crafted all these years. It always goes like this: whenever I’m with someone, I can only spend a set amount of time. I don’t want to overdo it. I don’t want to ask for favors. I don’t want to rely on that person because I don’t want to have the responsibility of having to return anything I’ve taken.

What maturity.

But that’s how I’ve wired myself. And now I’m terrified that I wouldn’t have anyone in the future. I’ve lived all my life making boundaries that I don’t know how far relationships can go anymore. Right now all I want is for you to say It’s okayI understandWe can still be friends. Let’s have another go.

In which it is 1:34 AM

And I am not sleeping although my eyes are closing by themselves because my brain is preoccupied with the perennial question: why? Accompanied with how? And finally For what? These three questions have plagued me since I’ve been struck by ennui — which to say has been often enough. Every time I’m not running errands, or playing silly video games that only cater to my ego, I keep coming back to them in the last few weeks. And each time I get the creeping feeling of cowardice. Something tells me something else could have been done. But you know what they say “be a man and keep to your word.” So I am and I have. So you are and you have.
And besides, there is no changing the past. It’s so easy (and maybe I am resorting to believing) to resign to the fact that what happened must happen. But if there’s anything I learned in Philo class, the necessity of the past is only realized by its happening i.e. fate is merely a construct of our learned helplessness. I digress. The fact of the matter is I feel powerless despite the two hands I possess.
Maybe? Just maybe, things will work themselves out. Maybe we’ve come to the point where we are rubber bands, and the farther we pull away, the more inevitable our return. So get this: the reason why I’m so quiet and the reason why you’re so quiet is for the both of us to whiplash back to each other.
But it also scares me to know that when you stick a rubber band inside a freezer, like glass, it shatters. And the last few weeks, I’ve never felt so cold.
So there it is: we either return or we shatter. Which end snaps first? Or who picks up the pieces that are left? Or more importantly, are we given the decision in the first place?