Architecture

The good that remains in us — the parts that can still be used, not entirely lost or damaged — we build new things with them, on them, as a foundation. Somehow it makes for a sturdy whole, this reappropriation of remnants with history emblazoned on their surfaces, proclaiming how they are truly able to withstand anything. We need bits and pieces of invincibility to bless our breaking of new ground. We could never really build “from scratch”, doing so entails new equipment, imported materials, a completely different timetable.

For us, we have to evaluate our ruins first. Ask the questions, repeatedly, in search of answers, better ways to build: What caused the fall? Was it avoidable, if only we opted for durability instead of aesthetics? Weren’t we protected enough from the elements, all that we couldn’t foresee? Or did we simply erect very prematurely, and so crashed after only a few blows?

We search for evidences of foul play in this disarray, non-quality labor or a scheming contractor, but we find nothing of the sort. The blame is entirely on us.

We ask next: what can still be used? We search for pieces of metal, beautiful shards of glass, tiles that came out unscathed. All of these will make for a good story someday, mementos from the past to be used as centerpieces, having a charm surpassing that of brand new silver or porcelain jars. It’s laughable how time can trivialize loss, how such is the fate of everyone who grieves.

When the time comes to close down some road to work laboriously all hours of the day on some new showpiece, we know better than to rush. We ask for safety certifications, proof that the ground we are on is suitable to our purpose. We endure the persistent hammering of things into place, the sawing off of parts that aren’t needed anymore. It takes months, years, but what is that short period of waiting when we get a stronger edifice in return, this one truly built to last?

Onto Higher Pursuits

2013, for  all intents and purposes, has easily become the most defining year of my life. With good timing, too, since in less than a year’s time, I’ll be twenty years old. It definitely helps that I don’t feel the need to go around most days like a little girl donning her mom’s dresses and cosmetics just to feel the least semblance of being an adult. Putting things in perspective, I never really felt much like one, either. It’s just that now more than ever, I feel like I am outgrowing most of the beliefs I have stubbornly clung to for the last few years.

Surprisingly, shedding old gear, I am anything but dazed and confused. I have worn the naive smirk on my face for years, boasting to everyone I meet that being passionately skeptical about all things that lay claim to my attention is actually ten times better than certainty, and have warmed up to the identity (or the lack thereof) so much that I’ve never really allowed myself to go beyond the surface value of everything and everyone I meet. There is this sudden desire to truly get to know strange places and even stranger people minus the disregard that usually follows shortly after, a greater value of and for insight and things, a yearning for something genuine, an insistence on significance. All else pursued solely for the thrill of the chase — what for? What now?

I suppose it — whatever it is — truly comes with age. Feeling like my body isn’t being hurled into the unknown at warp speed is extremely liberating. This is not to say that I’ve grown (c)old and cynical, I am still ever the deluded optimist, eternally a staunch believer of possibilities. Perhaps I have really just grown wary, although not regretful, and have finally come to terms with the fact that a shift in priorities is what I really need at this point.

Maybe I missed a memo of some sort, but due to the recent turn of events, I’ve come to conclusion that I’m at my best when alone. I am so self-absorbed that anyone who threatens this sense of freedom and balance gets showered with unsolicited throngs of affection, and unless I find someone in the near future with the same value for the same things who’ll inspire the same or a heightened level of productivity, sweeter than my solitude, to borrow from Shire, I’m truly better off by my lonesome, minus all the negative connotations — seeing as it is that aside from this new view on attachments being directly correlated to timing and self-sufficiency, I’ve come to terms as of late and/or was even more assured of the things that truly matter to me.

There is so much to be done, places to be seen, books to be read, stories to be written. It doesn’t make sense to jeopardize all that in favor of a whirlwind infatuation that fades almost as soon as you breathe life into it — you should not be even breathing life into it, after all, it should come about by itself, as a testament to all wonderful things that thrive on their own without the need for a doting support system.

There is a better time for all this, indeed, with only pervading certainty to mark its arrival.

 

And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter— they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long.”

― Sylvia Plath

On the true state of things

 

 

I. The end smells like barako coffee and corned beef on toasted pandesal. What it looks like: cloudy, with a hundred percent chance of rain not letting up for hours. So go ahead, drench your sorrows in caffeine and rainwater. Accept finality as cooking oil settles on your lips.  The end sounds like yet another song on how about really, there are worse things in life. Press replay and assure yourself survival. You owe yourself that much.

II. When morning comes, allow it. Do what needs to be done.

III. Find a recurrent name being dropped by your friends on a night like this. Feign nonchalance at first but later on feel like your silence betrays you. Recuperate by divulging tidbits of information, both ambiguous and vague. Your shallowness dawns on you once you say things out loud. Realize how you have idealized gestures which are probably meaningless to another in your head, how you have been nursing them for months, hoping for some organic unity in deeds and intent. Find no such thing now, hear the imaginary unifying thread snapping.

IV. Later on when the band starts to play your song, isolate the bassline and lose yourself for a minute or two. Never mind all else the street calls to mind, never mind regretting, never mind finding fault. Never mind sloshy Expo nights and footsteps sending ripples through puddles, never mind warm palms and the distinct tightness of a grip. Forget reasons and longing. Forget what is amiss. Forget everything but this. The song ends and the crowd goes wild. Smile and cheer yourself. Raise your bottle — one last toast to memory.

V. From here on forward, there is no going back. Set off into the proverbial unknown thinking you aren’t leaving anything behind anymore, anyway, nothing binds you to these ruins. Mean it this time. Resist the urge to pick another distraction to function as your anchor, start sketching an itinerary instead.  Settle into your seat, the sleeping world passing by your eyes. Keep humming about how you don’t want to learn what you’ll need to forget.

VI. Look outside and see your face reflected against EDSA, almost entirely void of lights and sounds, desolate but content. Morning will arrive soon. Life will, too.

 

Like losing a limb

 

..this was how you put it once. Like losing a limb. I was asking for something beyond what is due to me, beyond what I wanted, even.But I did, and kept on doing so, kept on prodding for answers. It is what the moment called for, after all, some unrelenting questioning, an insistent skepticism. This was your response, like losing a limb, how you managed to phrase an outright refusal of parting perfectly, adequately — perhaps a reference to morbidity functions as a striking contrast of sorts, or you truly thought it was the closest approximation of the hypothetical pain.

It was then that I felt assured and void of doubts for the first time. I remember thinking how roads can go on forever but how ours will always circle back to each other nevertheless; for whatever we find on the other side — some perspective, another hand to hold, maybe love and certainty and other things we know we don’t have here — at the very least, we would want to tell each other about, a sprinkle of adjectives and hyperboles here and there, but only for good measure.  I remember witnessing daybreak from a mountaintop and wanting only to transport the images back home to you. I remember faces and places and names and detours and wanting, always, to tell you of all those that happens in between, the things other people would overlook but you would beg to be told about each night, when nothing and no one matters as much. Like losing a limb, you said, and never again did I bother to ask about leaving and what is logical and what we both deserve instead.

And then I remember reptiles and regeneration, and your skin: dry and flaky under the glare of the summer sun.

Of Red Horses and Men

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I’m a city girl at heart, always have, always will be. My version, though, doesn’t involve leisurely strolls on wide sidewalks, sashaying in between high-rise buildings with an iced latte in one hand, my phone in the other — well, at least, not all the time. My city also involves evading muggers, dirty footbridges, standing room only in buses during rush hour,  knowing with utmost certainty that global warming is not just science fiction in a packed jeepney when squeezed between giggly students and a young man headed to yet another job interview also sweating for all they’re worth and poverty staring you in the face everyday and having to deal with the gnawing guilt of being unable to do anything. Manila, despite the allure of the business districts and the gigantic shopping malls, has a thousand faces — you choose what to see. I’ve seen most if not all.

And it is with this in mind that I headed to Cubao Expo last night for a breather. I actually needed a drink, and some time on my own to think. I’ve found that beer, pen and paper are the best tools for fast recuperation, and I was losing time, I needed at the very least, an intervention.

See, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been enamored by concerns either petty or juvenile or both, and I was getting sick of the vanity, really, the very act of allowing myself to indulge, day in and day out. I needed to snap out of it, I haven’t been feeling like myself anymore, and really, nothing and no one is ever worth this much anguish.

I thread through the streets of Manila six days a week and I see the good and bad — but I can’t pause to marvel at beauty or feel genuine indignation for the injustices we can actually prevent anyway, all because I’ve stopped caring for anything else besides myself and this monstrous need to be adored and valued and showered with adulation by anyone, really. It’s pathetic — how we, for all that we’re worth, for all that we are, bring ourselves to ruin by indulging in our conceit, anchoring our days on how much or how little love we get.

They make it seem sublime in the silverscreen and in paperbacks, and there might be some truth to that, but I like my balance, even more than anything. Having to preserve it actively and consciously to feel the least semblance of sanity threw me off, I truly needed to reevaluate what’s important to me. I shouldn’t have to clamor and beg and rationalize and overthink — I am too proud, and too much of a believer in right timing and Taoist notions, for that.

I say this not out of spite, but really, we shouldn’t have to force things, much more, people, into our lives. Let’s leave it at that.

After about a hour and a half of simulatenously people-watching and transforming teenage angst into words, I looked up and saw a friend who then brought me along to the neighboring bar where other familiar faces apparently were for hours now. They were four, five years older; I was a wide-eyed Philosophy freshman when they were seniors. It was good, unexpected fun with great, witty folks — and came at the time I needed it the most. Isolation, in my case, is just a laughable myth, and perhaps this is why I’ve felt so bad about my equilibrium being disturbed: I forgot all about the things that mattered to me, how the world is a huge place and each of the seven billion a new face, and there was I, sulking about, well, boys. Pathetique.

I’m at my best when I am assured of what I am, what I want, and my reasons for desiring. I’m at my worst when I am dazed and confused about anything. I’m all for surprises and accepting all that comes — and leaves — my way. Getting what I want and wanting what I get has always been a good rule of thumb, the Stoics’ twofold way to happiness has always worked for me. What we don’t get, what isn’t there for us, perhaps because it isn’t deemed appropriate by cosmic forces, shouldn’t be forced into our orbits.

This, too, shall pass. It always has, it always will.

A Status Update

Concrete and asphalt, the smell of gasoline and midday sweat, roads leading to and from nowhere — they whisper tales of people habitually getting lost, but eventually, inevitably, getting found. And it is this assurance that you can always circle back, this perpetual finding, if you may, that propels me to move along towards this unrelenting search for peace, or love, or goodness, or Home.

To borrow from Dalisay: Home with all its disquiets was wherever I found myself writing. And indeed, no matter where or who I am with, figuratively and else, putting down words is pretty much tantamount to maintaining equilibrium to me. Lest I deal with myself and all the thoughts in a stubborn swirling in my head, fashioning what I see into poems and those I love into fictional characters, I will never strike balance and feel the least bit sane.