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I'm writing this on March 29, Sunday. Tomorrow is Day #16 of the Luzon lockdown. It's quite hard to put into words, the feeling all this brings. Two weeks ago I was blissfully apathetic. Last week there was a bit of worry? Today there's this strange resignation. I'm curious what Week #3 will bring. I like the quiet though. I know a lot of other people are having it worse, and I'm thankful it's been "easy" for my family so far. I try to limit my intake of information that may be stressful. Thinking of friends in the media. Hi.
Tomorrow is Day #15 not Day #16. Okay. Last March 26, Zane Lowe had Harry Styles on his Beats 1 show for 2 hours. They mostly talked about being in quarantine and all things comforting and tender. Harry also shared a playlist of stellar tracks. Old and warm and bright. Also learned from that show that No Diggity has a sample of Grandma's Hands (Bill Withers). I've listened to the speaking parts of the program probably 5 times now. All 30+ minutes of it. Harry Styles' speaking voice is calming, and Zane Lowe asks the most interesting questions. Good times.
There's an occasional bag of Piattos that's just the right amount crispy and salty. You know the one. You know it on the first chip. It makes me happy when I chance on one. Summer's come early. Don't think we even had a real cold spell. December was especially hot. February was a bit kind, and then that was it. There's an eatery in Baguio—Cathy's—that serves really good fried rice. Havent't been to Baguio in 2 years. Wow. It used to be home, now it's one of those places I dread visiting. I love it and resent it.
There are specific months of my life in 2011 soundtracked by Penny & the Quarters' "You and Me". Many of us have that, no? We hear a song and it brings back vivid memories without much effort. I hear "Fences" by Phoenix and I'm instantly in that Ortigas office, pining for a boy who would never like me back, waiting for him to instant-message me on Pidgin. I hear Tracy Bonham's "Whether You Fall" and there's the sound of rain. I'm walking home, thinking about everything that ended and how should I begin again? Should I begin again? What now?
It's March 30, 1:10 p.m. as I write this. We just had lunch and are now passing the time until it gets dark and we have to sleep. I've been going out for supplies every 2 or 3 days, and apart from last Saturday I go out around 8 a.m. Last Saturday I went out around 2 p.m., just to see if the queue at the nearby supermarket was shorter in the afternoon. It wasn't. Maybe because it was a Saturday? IDK. I'll try again on a weekday afternoon. Going-out bag/s and umbrella ready.
After Jang and I broke up, there was 1 week apart then she had to spend the next weekend with me because of an emergency. She was seeing her new girlfriend, Daphne, at the time. When I asked how she was taking it (Jang being with me for the time being), Jang said Daphne's response was " Okay lang, sanay na ako." At that time, I was (??????????). No words. TF? I remember the strongly worded email I sent her to which she replied with "Thank you" and I feel, even now, so black and dirty having been that person who begged.
(Continued...) I knew it was wrong, everything I was doing in the aftermath. But I couldn't stop myself. I needed, most of all, to tell them how they hurt me. Looking back now, yeah...nobody needed to tell them that. If they didn't know, it wasn't anybody's place to inform them. Not even me. I was just being selfish and entitled. I still wish I had been kinder and more patient, more together, more self-aware. I wish I had respected myself and them a bit more. But all that's done now. I look back time and again, and shrug.
Might just republish old entries because TBH it's difficult to wring out anything other than thoughts about the ongoing community quarantine and uncertainty about the future which are quite not-helpful thoughts to be having these days. I allow the sudden sadness, of course, but it's also important to allow ourselves to think ahead to when this is all over. Be present and then dissociate. Lol. Kidding. Well, not so much. I sleep a lot, how about you? I watch a lot of shows. Haven't gotten around to reading books yet. That might require a bit of calm. Maybe soon.
It's still March 30, 1:50 p.m. I hear the garbage truck. They've been dependable so far. Three times a week, I think. Grateful for that. Staring at my curtains now. Green and red. Not very Christmassy, but a bit festive. A calm festivity, if there's such a thing. The other day a car almost rammed me in the middle of Shaw Blvd. Partly my fault because I was in that part of the road after a blind turn, lolling around. Thankfully the driver had presence of mind. We both assumed, I guess, that the road would be clear.
You say that the stars speak to you in a funny way. There are consonants upon consonants, semi-audible words. They are color blue, sometimes orange. They stream in front of you like ribbon-y smokes. You try to catch them but you are distracted by their sound. Hgtrfhgtrfghtrf. Sometimes they sing, you say. And you are mesmerized into a sound sleep. The only thing you can remember from this one time was that a light blue smoke almost touched you but it hesitated. And then you began to spend your life trying to understand that hesitation. How's it going?
How many photographs do I need of you, just one good shot, is all. You will be smiling that smile of yours, your eyes will tell me of blue skies and the smell of powder, your ears will stick out and remind me of your touch, your hands will be by your side and I will know what you would have wanted to do with them. In that photo will be a million possibilities frozen in a single frame. The sun off your hair will make it appear golden, there is a breeze and I am forever looking at you.
Today you woke up and wondered "Who was the first person who got their heart broken?" Patient Zero. Maybe that person was the one who thought up ways to mend a broken heart. He or she was the first one to tear love letters, drown in tears, curse at the walls, pine for a lost loved one, beg, smile at a memory, cry upon realizing it will not be repeated. These things, maybe they were invented. Maybe they weren't supposed to exist at all. Maybe people should have been better off if this person's heart was not broken at all.
You have a slightly bent posture and you walk funny sometimes. Walking along by your left I could see your Adam's apple, your long neck, your facial hair. I don't know how long I can go on speaking of you, without you noticing that I am speaking of you. There were these four seconds yesterday wherein after I said the word "follicle" we laughed a real laugh and I remember thinking, "please don't let me fall deeper." You have hair on your hands, they're nice to look at, you are so nice to look at it almost breaks my heart.
Your laughter is like the sound of chimes on a gentle, windy day. I like hearing it, I don't want it to go away, I want to hold it and ask it to stay. I want to bathe it in milk, tell it that it's special, thank it for existing. I like you. Everything about you, even the things that annoy me. I like imagining us in front of the sea: Quiet, looking out, holding hands. We will walk back to a cottage without walls, you will put your head on my lap and I will sing you a song.
There was a time when I could play both sides of a cassette tape and have the discipline to listen to one artist at a time. There was a time when I sat down to eat a meal and not text at the same time. There was a time when I could stay on one channel for hours and hours. There was a time when I would lay down and find sleep in a matter of minutes. There was a time when we were younger and things were much simpler. There was a time when I didn't love you yet.
Let me tell you more about the smell of sleep. It's that earthy smell of sweat and that-which-I-don't-have-a-name-for but I'm sure you've encountered it already. If it had form, it would be a grey cloud. It's the smell of your lover's head in the morning, the smell that he leaves on the pillow, the smell that lingers after your father has used the bathroom for the first time in the morning, the smell at the breakfast table when your brother hasn't washed his face yet. It's a smell you don't know you know.
It rained today. My memories of summer rainshowers are many, most of them involve my brother and our then spacious backyard. At first the raindrops are warm and there is steam rising from the concrete. We liked laying down on the ground and feeling its warmth slowly absorbing the coolness of rain. We could tell if it was just passing rain or if it'd last for hours just by looking at how blue the sky still is. I like how these memories comfort me on days like today when the past seems to be so far away. Summer's almost over.
Rain is pouring. You are somewhere else without an umbrella and I am home feeling so cold. I am thinking of you and wishing I could keep you warm just by thinking it. You are coming home to me and that is comfort enough. In a few minutes the door will open and I will see your face. Your sweet face. Your clothes will be soaked and you will ask for tea, warm soup, and a cuddle. This pocket of a few minutes of anticipation is the best part of my day, waiting for the nearness of you. Come home.
Bhikkhuni Pema Chödrön asked: "Knowing that death is certain and that the time of death is uncertain, what's the most important thing?" Today is Tuesday. Somebody offered to buy me coffee and I said "No." "No?!" was his reply, maybe incredulous that all I said was No. I was taken aback, too, that I said it right after he offered, didn't even say "thank you, but..." and that I actually said No to my favorite thing on Earth. Making a mental note to react more appropriately next time. Because what is the most important thing? It's saying Yes.
In spite of our best efforts to do otherwise, we sometimes still succumb to lip service, empty statements, gratuitous conversation starters. I do that sometimes, mostly via reflex, and afterwards proceed to cringe at the uselessness of it all. In our urge to connect we just end up disconnecting. And I know it’s unreasonable to expect that people appreciate sincerity, because who’s to know now if someone is being true, fake, or neutral? I guess everyone, as some sort of defense, thinks of someone as fake nowadays. Its becoming harder and harder to fight this mindset every day.
I want cake. Maybe 5 variants. Ube, mocha, mango, strawberry, chocolate. Then pasta, then iced tea, and then you—in front of me, humming something. I want to hear your voice, look into your eyes, and laugh with you. Remind you, hey, be nice—it’s all we can do to keep our sanity. Be nice? You will ask. You will wrinkle your nose and ask me again using your brows and eyes. You will wait for my answer, pretend to be impatient, and then perk up and listen when I start answering. I like it when you do that.
You hit me like a bullet, unmindful of what damage it will bring. You landed on my planet with the impact of a meteor—burning, immense, relentless. It’s been months and I'm still standing here, reeling, scanning the ruins, trying to understand what has been destroyed. And how do I make it right, when I don’t even know exactly what happened, where I’ve been hit, when it all started. You arrived in my city with a bomb. You were smiling that sweet smile. I kept trying to protect myself, but always ended up walking into the explosion.
Most mornings I look forward to a spacious bus with lots of window-side seats to choose from, I look forward to one hour of zoning out and listening to Miley Cyrus telling me that we run things, things don’t run we. I’m relishing these commutes because soon I won’t have the luxury of just sitting back and watching traffic crawl. The year is almost through. I’m constantly struggling to remember things, hoping I’d actually convert plans into concrete action. I’m always wishing for the ability to breathe underwater for long periods of time.
Hey, Friday! If you're a color, I imagine you'd be sky blue. Looking at you will calm people and make them think of childhood summers by the river, or a tire swing under a tree, or ice cream melting—and the strange kind of joy that is felt whenever one licks it from the cone. Looking at you will evoke sweaty Sunday afternoons laden with such sweet memories such as a grandmother stroking a girl's hair, rubbing her back, singing her to sleep. Rough hands, powder, warm breath. Hey, Friday, just a quick note that I like you a lot.
Airports are full of: anticipation, impatience, relief, excitement, worry, elation, apathy, etc. You step into one and you are assaulted by the impact (however small it is) of having to leave a place, of having to go somewhere else, of having to be in between an old and new place. And you begin to wonder: What if I stay put? What if I leave and never come back? Can I stay airborne? What is possible, what is not? A rapid succession of lightnings greeted our arrival. There was heavy rain and where we used to be seemed like worlds away.
I’m imagining green skies, blue trees, yellow clouds, and a white-hot sun. Your voice in my head, your smell in the air, your hand in mine. There is a café at the corner. We will go in and sit at a booth. There will be silence, coffee-stained napkins, our trembling hands, two sets of eyes darting about. And there would be us, not knowing what to say but at the same time fighting so hard against blurting out the simplest of words. Two sentences or two letters are all we need sometimes to begin or end something.
She stood in front of the church, breathless from running. Armpits heavy with sweat, blouse soaked, heart defeated. He's not there. Was she too late? Tears mixed with sweat and she couldn't remember any other day when she felt more horrible. She looked at her trembling hands and exhaled so loudly that the man peddling cartoon character balloons took notice and started to walk toward her. She saw this hesitation and it made her feel more miserable. Her greatest love did not come to their intended meeting place. And some people still think twice when it comes to showing kindness.
If I were being pessimistic, this is what I would put out to the universe: I'll probably grow old to be a morose single woman who's scared of moving vehicles and even the pedestrian lane, who will doubt the safety and honesty of everything, who will end up choosing to stay in the house and have her food delivered for the rest of her life. If I were being optimistic, I would say I would marry, have two kids, vacation in Baguio four times a year, drink hot chocolate with my kids every night, and sleep soundly all the time.
The truth? Christmastime sucks. Family and food are good but the truth is Christmas only makes people artificially happy and that's not a very good thing. I sound so negative so okay, here, hear me out on this one thing: If Christmastime did not exist, which time of the year would people be this generous and kind? Will they even think of such a time? Do you think they can stop being such arrogant, self-absorbed human beings and take stock of their lives and know what really matters? I sound so negative. I like Christmastime, just not the artificiality.
That is the bittersweet truth. You will forget about me. I will forget about you. I think I have tried so hard to hold on to those days made out of the thinnest threads, even if I knew that they were not made to last. It was like grasping at the wrong chances. But there is no regret. This feeling came without me summoning it. This feeling came and it will go away. There is no regret, just happiness and gratitude that lessons were learned. And that some laughter came in between. Life is always good with a little laughter.
Entries from March 10–30 are reposts from 2013. Okay. Hi. It's April tomorrow. Last Saturday, March 28, I was at a convenience store and saw that the newspaper on display was dated March 17. That was kind of eerie. Outside is eerie, even with the sun shining bright. How are you? I really want to know. I sent my mother and brother a voice note telling them about my learnings in the past two weeks. I'm like my mother sometimes in that as long as I can get away with something probably ~illegal, I will keep on doing it.
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