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Breakfast, windows, sleep, rooftops, dappled sunlight, sound of dry leaves, fog. You and me are going to meet today for the first time and already I have memories of you. My heart is beating fast yet steady, like it knows this is going to be a good day. And isn't that what we wish for most of our life? A good day. Waking up beside someone and feeling their soft, warm breath on our neck. A thick blanket not enough to ward off the cold, never enough, and so we cling tight to each other, making the bed our home.
This much is true: I like you. But then you misspell a word or write a convoluted sentence or confuse your tenses and then I make myself believe that I don't like you as much. And that's me being a snooty editor who thinks she's better than anyone else. But the truth is because it's all I'm really good at, I use it as a badge when the situation calls for it. Truth is, I'm only looking for ways to unlike you. At night when it's all quiet, I remember your soft hands and how good they feel on mine.
Dreamt I was in a theater to spy on someone. One wrong move and the result is death for me. My associate said if something goes wrong I should drop these marbles under the seats and he'd know to come for me. Anyways, I was able to extricate myself out of the theater and find the getaway car. It felt tense in the dream but there was also a feeling of "I've done this a hundred times now, I'm not going to fail." I think it's a mixture of the moth balls and GoT marathon over the holidays. Long story.
You smell of orange, thick curtains, an afternoon at the sea, a muffled laughter, an affectionate ruffling of the hair. My fondness for you intensifies with each passing day. Do you know what? At night, I call my mother and ask her if you're real. She met you once, and she was pleased. She would say Yes, honey, that person's real, why do you keep asking. And I would sigh and not know what to say. I love you, I love you, I love you. You're a mixture of madness and clarity, a kind monsoon right after the hottest day.
I can write about you and to you all my life. Your favorite jacket, the way you lick your lower lip when you're embarrassed, the little noises you make when you're asleep. Your contained tantrums, your messy side of the room, your smelly feet. I meet friends and they ask me about you and it's my favorite topic. I like having a new story to tell every now and again. The most mundane ones, to be honest. "The other day," I would start with a giggle, "he slurped his milk too enthusiastically, and some of it went up his nose."
It's how many miles from here to you, and I always feel like you're just beside me. I miss you and your quiet mornings. The old McDonald's at Session Road corner Mabini Street where old men eat breakfast while reading the paper. Burnham Park and its non-tourist-y spots. The lake, where you find the occasional fortune teller. The haphazard decks of houses seen from the side of the road. The cool air on my face when on a jeepney. Long Johns. The kind cab drivers. And the fog. Hey, you, you're my favorite memory. Don't go away, please.
Saw you at the grocery taking too long to decide in the potato chips aisle, like always. I'm positive you didn't see me or felt that someone was watching you--five aisles I was able to tail you. On my good days I'm an optimist, on my bad days though...I sometimes have the urge to harm people who are insensitive and lacking manners. You know this. You used to. You...it's still hard to know how exactly to talk about you. I wanted so much to say Hi at the grocery. But I was/am invisible to you. Always.
I dreamt of an alpaca frantically asking pedestrians to help it, I don't know, find its way or get a ride. I was watching it from an overpass stairwell. In the dream I was hoping the alpaca won't sense my presence and approach me. But it did, next thing I know it was heading towards me up the stairs so I shooed it away with a wooden stick (it has turned into a pony at this point) then I ran down and didn't look back. I also dreamt of a friend giving birth and me looking after her six kids.
You took me in when you knew next to zero about me. You treated me like a trusted friend after just about a few weeks. You laughed with me, you fed me, you offered help and gave it even if I didn't ask. You gave me free rein, you expressed disappointment in the firmest and gentlest way, and you punctuated our talks with an endearing chuckle that only you can do with such boyish sweetness. You have been a rock, a steady wall, a sanctuary. "Don't worry," you often said. I didn't, because you were there. We will miss you.
Imus, Cavite today with lovely people. January breeze in Cavite is cold! Air is fresher, too. When we got back to Manila, no kidding, I almost puked. But maybe that was 95% the bad AC situation at the bus and the even worse driving skills of the bus driver. Anyway, tried to sing Owl City's Saltwater Room at karaoke yesterday and I couldn't. Trusted that I would remember the melody when it played but the words kept on flashing and I didn't know how to sing it. So much for heart-kept memories. Still in my top 20 favorite songs.
She is fascinated by boundaries, thresholds. When does someone start doing something? When does someone start allowing himself to believe in something he previously rejected? When does someone start at all? Or stop, completely? She goes online and checks on her Facebook contacts. Today, she finds out that two of her acquaintances have moved to California. Last time she checked these people were making a life in Manila. How fast can life change? Where does it begin? How does someone decide to take a step that they can never take back, and do they know at the moment, what's happening?
She craves for the security of yesterday, when all she had to do was hide under a blanket, and the monsters would go away. This safety, elusive as it is nowadays, still haunts her in dreams, in the soft look of a child, in the taunting laughter of an old lady at the bakery. Every morning as she strolls to the prayer hill, this old lady walks the opposite direction and whispers "See you at the bakery." She doesn't know why. She'd consider not going, but she still does. There is safety in routine, there is safety in the unknown.
Hello, if you're listening. I've been trying to reach you for days. You pick up the phone but say nothing, you just let me talk, talk, and talk, do you listen at all or do you just leave the phone and go about your day? I've tried knocking on your door, you looked through the window, and you let me stand out there in the rain all morning. What have I done? What haven't I done? I wish there was a way to know aside from your silence. I wish I can finally admit I've known the answer all along.
He is a man of few words. He likes soft blankets and gentle mornings, a pink sky, a cheery bird. He smiles at babies and asks to give them a cuddle. Mothers like him for this, they say "You'll be a good dad." This makes him happy. Someday someone will come along but for now he is content with routine, coffee in the morning, long walk to work, the sky from where he sits, Chinese food before sleeping. "I love you, Ma." He whispers to the phone. His dreams are color green, like the sea in a far away land.
Day number four of a fever dream. When this week is over I'm quite sure there will be gray days. Quite sure is odd, yeah? So okay, just sure. There are people who try their hardest to be detached. A beautiful person is in front of them and they choose to look at the wall. I know of a little boy who sleeps like a cat. I can watch him sleep for hours. In this way, he is not in the act of leaving, here, now, he is present and dreaming, safe beside me, unaware of his power over me.
In another time, there is a park with bikes, rusty handlebars, balloons, a red double-deck bus selling hotdogs. Here, the sun is often bashful and rain usually threatens, but it's just teasing. In the afternoon, you can sit on any spot and see an unbelievable sunset. Like a painting being created, right before your very eyes. This other time has gone away and in its place, a memory of cotton candy and wine-colored skies, bikes that fly, a mother sat on a bench waiting for her son's return. A boy overeager to share about his day. Hugs. Kisses.
Mondays are dressed in blues and grays. Smart suits and elegant dresses. Hats, gloves, brogues, the works. Men and women alike fancy the imagined loftiness of Mondays, when new beginnings are promised and sometimes fulfilled. There is a small faction, however, who stay in bed in their sleepwear, carving their bodies onto the mattress and forcing their eyes shut to dream some more. This is elegant, too, they say. Someday, elegance will mean not caring about appearances (although they will say those are good, old days), elegance will be about being able to conduct one's life straight from the bed.
Dreamt of a bright-colored sky. Reds, oranges, blues, yellows. We were watching meteors pass by. Then one of them hit the ground close to us and then we were running for life, because meteors were dropping fast, exploding, obliterating. We found a white door and somehow we knew we'd be safe inside. It's a house with many rooms, and later on it turned into a semblance of the old Gapan house. We stayed there for I don't know how long but in the dream, we went about our lives always afraid and worried. I was happy to wake up.
I keep dreaming of houses lately. Elaborate ones, many rooms, intricate doors, confusing passageways, worrisome security details. In these dreams I am kept awake by the thought of outsiders barging in my house. I wake up amused though, because the houses look and feel familiar and yet they are also strange. They're like old friends but also new ones. Have I told you about Baguio in 2000? When I had to live in a house with unwelcoming people in it and a bathroom with no door? I understand the roughness and uneasiness. I, too, wouldn't like a stranger milling around.
I want to clarify that the people who let me live in their house (for a week) did their best to make me feel welcome. I'm not sure why this Baguio memory is creeping up on me today. Maybe it's because I am finally understanding all the reasons, well, almost all, why people do what they do to make someone feel welcome or not. Anyway, it's Thursday, what are your fondest memories of this day? Does it include cotton candies? A familiar voice on the radio? Bikes? Cookies and milk? A letter you've been waiting for? A child sleeping soundly?
Ah, Thursday is today. Not yesterday. Hi. If you add up all the days in which you wished you were living another life, do you think the sum would be enough to power your journey towards the life you want? Why do you not like this life? Conversely, why do you like it? If someone were to take it away from you, do you think you can convince them of your contentment with this life and that they shouldn't take it from you and replace it with another one? What if the replacement is loads more interesting and...IDK...light?
I'm a mug. A little boy calls me "coffee" and much as I want to correct him, I can't. I am the color of sunset and oftentimes I'm left unwashed, forgotten on a nightstand. The same little boy points at me and shouts "coffee." Can't blame him, all that he sees people drink around here is coffee, and he has tasted some, to be honest. I'm a mug, though, why does this name mean so much to me, you ask. Well, what is the importance of names? Isn't it for remembering? Identity? So that someone won't be forgotten whatever happens?
And you will say, no, names aren't necessary for remembering. You can remember a person based on their smell, the way their hair moves in the wind, the sound of their voice at 4 a.m. But let me ask, I'm a mug, see, I can't move. If I shatter and get thrown in the trash, how would you remember me, when I can be replaced anytime by numerous other mugs. I can hear you judging me, a mug. Why is it so concerned with identity? You'd ask this. And all I can say is, who isn't, or, what isn't?
Let me leave the subject of inanimate objects worried about being remembered and direct your attention to...babies. Last week, there was a two-year-old here, and his laughter sometimes sounded like chimes. That's the lovesick aunt talking. Truth is, he's now a little person with his own quirks. He's a little hard to talk to, because he has his own decisions and he likes showing you that he knows he can do a lot of things on his own now. Kind of heartbreaking, but makes me glad, too. Miss his smell, his two-year-old endearingly sweet arrogance.
Entry for 17th wasn't supposed to talk about Mondays because that wasn't a Monday. Now that's out of the way. Hi. Last Monday of this month, what's your plan today? Yesterday at Shang I thought I saw my former boss, turned out the man I was looking at is Mike Enriquez, who looks exactly the same in person as he does on TV. Anyway, Jericho Rosales looks more handsome in person, Piolo Pascual does, too. If you've been seeing my Kuya online, he looks more handsome in person, too, so does Brysen, so does my father and my younger brother.
When someone receives a gift, wrapped and mysterious, they shake it to see if they can tell what it is, if they can't tell, they chuckle--I like that about people. When someone is complimented and they are pleased yet taken aback, they have this little smile and an infinity of hesitation before they express gratitude--I like that about people. When someone is told good news about something that's been long-waited-for, their face lights up and they clasp their hands as if in prayer and a pretty sound comes out of them--I like that about people.
A baby learning about its body. Oh, I can bend my legs at the knees, let me do this bendy dance until I get tired. Oh, noodly appendages on my hands, let me eat them omnomnom. Oh, my feet! Let me...just...*struggles a bit*...reach for one of my feet and...there...oh what are these pudgy creatures attached to them, let me nibble on these, too. Oh, liquid's coming out of my mouth, let me produce more, haha, oooh it's dribbling out, haha haha. *feels pain* I don't know what this is but I feel like crying. *cries*
Comfortable places: A corner store with a bell on its door and pretty things seen from its window, dry leaves crackling in the wind; a foggy day inside a coffee shop watching people in coats and hoodies huddling together while walking; a couch beside you, large mugs of warm milk in our hands, soft cookies on the table; in bed on a rainy day, the smell of your hair and sweat on my pillow; a bowl of ramen after a tiring day; a funny movie on a Sunday; your hands; your face; your neck when we hug, my favorite place.
I'm looking for traces of me in your social media. I'm almost going to say: Pardon the arrogance. But you know what? I changed my mind. I believe we had good times and it's certainly unreasonable to look for them online, any sign that you like remembering them, but it's all I can do now that we don't talk anymore. Arrogance would be me knocking on your bedroom window and demanding that you tell me we mattered, I mattered. No. We're way past that. So, hi. Here I am looking for myself but already accepting it's okay if I don't.
If I could keep a pocket of time in 2013, it would be the first few weeks after Brysen was born. Kuya shared numerous stuff online about Brysen. He was so cute, infectious. My favorite is that Facebook post about how they had similar ears. It was just a fun time, seeing how happy and proud Kuya was. For 2014, it would be that Guam airport parking lot moment when I first met Brysen in person. His teeny body in my arms, his round face inches from mine, his baby smell assaulting all the bad things out of my system.
Things take time. It's taken her almost a year to accept that she has to do that thing she hates to do. It's taken her almost seven years to understand it wasn't her fault. It's taking her almost 40 years to learn how to give. If a fish in fishbowl only knows that world, it goes round and round and eventually nothing is new, who's to say that it's any different for a fish in an ocean who, let's imagine, has traveled round the world and to whom nothing is new, too. Everything is finite, everything ends, everything arrives someplace.
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