Musings

Calming Storms

Dock your ship 

On my furious shores 

Let not the waves steer you off 

To play-safe distances 

Choose my madness 

Cradle my chaos 

For when I am silent, unobtrusive

Calm –

My peace will leave you wanting. 

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Take a Number

My neck cranes past the long queue

The discomfort is bearable, or so I tell myself

 

For a second, I am in doubt

Surely, there must be some mistake – must I really take a number?

My neighbors rub against my shoulders uncomfortably

I’m wedged in between “late night meetings” and “bank errands”

I make myself smaller, compact – as I make more room for them

 

Suddenly, the lights are closing, the place is packing up

A neon sign brightens in the tunneling darkness,

The light hums

“SORRY, WE’RE CLOSED”, it read.

 

So I stood, left empty-handed

Discarded the late night musings, the dinner plans

 

I crawled into bed

Tired bones pressed heavy against the mattress.

Letting out an audible sigh

But the air was thick with silence

 

It was all bearable

Or so I tell myself.

The Pursuit of Evasive Things

The Pursuit of Evasive Things

Sometimes you have to wonder how
we can want the things we want
in the unapologetic way that we do.

A violent stirring
in the depths of our being;
our insides reeling
with an insatiable restlessness.
A wanting that quickly rises
to the surface of our skins;
Piercing and determined to make itself known.

But it’s almost as if they heard us-
Feet heavy and eager
An audible lunge towards our prey

Their eyes widen;
Startled by our hunger,
they hastily take flight.

And again, leaving us wanting.

Even if they are evasive as ever.

But what is life’s purpose if not to chase after our passions?
What are the steps we take for if not to bring us closer

And farther

And closer

Until suddenly.

The dust settles.
The planets align.
The time is right.

And what was once evasive
Perpetually keeping their distance
Beyond arm’s reach
Is finally nestled calmly and perfectly
in the palm of our hands.

Monumental Firsts and Well-Celebrated Lasts

The week that had passed was full of monumental firsts and well-celebrated lasts.

(And if I start an entry in this tone, you know you’re in for a lot of feelings so just a mild warning for you guys)

At 8:47 am last October 6 (Monday), I, together with three other friends, went on a spontaneous adventure and decided to climb Mt. Pico de Loro. Excited as I was, endurance is not my thing. But doubts were the last thing on my mind at this point: I could not pass up a chance to tick off something in my bucket list.

A heavily physical challenge was the perfect way to  start the week. Although I said yes to climbing, I guess I didn’t really know what I was saying yes to. What I actually signed up for was an 8-hour struggle with nature: with slippery soil that refused to cooperate with my shoes and even clung like koalas, with bamboo trees that had conniving self-defense mechanisms which pricked you if you held them the wrong way, and rocks that were half-friendly and half-cruel at the same time. And so we climbed with no training nor physical preparation whatsoever (I was fresh out of couch potato mode with the exception of the occasional afternoon run). We climbed until our hands were polished with dirt and our shoes were adorned in mud. We braved the mountain trail until we were lightheaded and breathless, until we reached the summit with a sense of accomplishment. A monumental first.

 

Mt. Pico de Loro - Monolith

* * * * *

At about 11:45 am last October 11 (Saturday), I, together with 1,282 graduates, raised up my right fist with reluctance and pride (reluctance because I knew this was the mark of a bittersweet end), to sing the La Sallian Alma Mater. It was officially my last day as a college student.

Graduating from De La Salle University was a bittersweet way to cap off that eventful week. La Salle has been my life since Junior Prep (when pencil cases and lunchboxes were fashion statements and cops and robbers in the nearby park was my highlight of the day) and saying goodbye to a place that  I considered my second home for more than half of my life was pretty difficult.

This may sound silly, but I was literally fighting back tears of joy and sadness and other equally overwhelming feelings such as nostalgia and fear. Nostalgia for the morning assemblies back in Zobel; running around in the school fair while booth catchers chase you until you reach safe zones – like a scene out of a Tom and Jerry show (and that proud feeling of immunity when I’m carrying around a drink that was full to the brim); for the infamous sizzling burger steak of La Casita; for the intramurals which brought out friendly competition among frenemies; and for the time well-spent with friends – may it be on the bleachers of the field, the Gate 5 parking lot, the CPA lobby, the Cadlum Hall (which I believe no longer exists anymore to date), or whatever nook or spot our “barkadas” have called dibs on (hello territorial instincts). Yes, a lifetime worth of memories played like a movie in the back of my mind in the duration of that 3 minute Alma Mater hymn. And then there’s fear. Of what comes next – the open-endedness of it all. What’s now left is a butter-finger hold on comfort zones and a pressing need to make life-changing decisions.

But before the decision-making queue gets too long and stressful, I guess this is something I have to do: to take a moment and just pause and to be grateful for all those years of constant learning. For all the cups of coffee that helped me through my long exams (especially those that require reading more than a hundred pages of font size 10 text), for the hand cramps I got from writing back-to-back essays, for the nerve-wracking recitations, presentations and defenses, for everyone who inspired me to stay curious and to chase my passions.

Now that I look back to that week, I can’t help but think how timely it all was: from the climb up the mountain to that climb up the stage to receive my diploma. How those events tie together to help me come with a simple realization:  You have to start from the bottom to appreciate what awaits at the top. Needless to say, struggles and success go hand-in-hand and I am sure that no one will ever be exempt from this principle. But the best part of the journey, and the hardships that come with it, is knowing that there are people that will make them worthwhile. Ultimately, graduation day was a well-celebrated “last”.

And now, there is a shift in the air: it’s intimidating but it’s definitely the good kind. A myriad of new monumental firsts awaits.

Graduation at PICC

In Love with (the Idea of) You

I’m in love with the idea of you.

For the longest time, I’ve been spreading myself thin trying to understand it – how you can only love the mental outline of the person you used to know like the back of your hand. Whose habits you have memorized, whose peeves you’ve mastered and skillfully dodged like mines in a field, whose features you’ve committed to memory like the map to your favorite city. From that disobedient twirl of hair, to the crook of a smile the constellation of freckles, the exact number of tequila shots it’ll take before her cheeks start to flush fervently.

I used to love so many things about you. Especially the ones that others didn’t know about. Over time, I found that your vulnerabilities were just as beautiful as your strengths.

I loved our conversations – the ones we’d have over breakfast, in quiet parks, in that 30-second stoplight.

I loved your jokes, even those that weren’t particularly funny but you deliver the punchline with so much conviction that it deserved the consolation. I loved your habits, your ragged penmanship, that knowing smile that reaches your eyes when I’m just a few seconds shy of forgiving you. I loved how you slurred your speech when you’re too sleepy to talk, vomiting gibberish in low murmurs. I love how in a sea of monotonous routines, you were playfully unpredictable. You couldn’t bore me even if you tried. 

I loved how you eagerly shared with me the things you loved – and I remember the warmth I felt when I would see you sigh with happiness. With Contentment. But were you? Because I was.

And so I loved you until it was easy to talk about you in the past tense. Until logic tamed emotions. Until the heart firmly understood the difference from what it wants to what it cannot have.

Now, I only love the idea of you. I love the poetry that your memories evoke. The words that gather at the bottom of my feet, slowly pooling up to my ankles like vines – begging to be written. But it ends there.

Now, you are just a muse in my art, to be displayed for all seasons in my gallery of secret regrets. I will revive you in a million ways. I will sculpt you in how I see fit. You are a mere idea. To be re-written over and over.  One story with a thousand permutations. With no definitiveness. No spine nor structure. I will rewrite you over and over because I’m in love with the idea of you. Formless, boundless, infinite you.

 

 

“It’s Just a Phase”

“It’s just a phase.”

Have you ever thrown this casual accusation at yourself?

Maybe you tried being a vegetarian. Suddenly, like Phoebe from Friends, you decided that eating something that once had a face is synonymous to a crime (btw, if you’re on Instagram and you love eating healthy, follow @millenialkitchen – I’m not vegan, but I adore the recipes they feature). Or perhaps you went organic and often posted your latest #detox concoction on Instagram in that unapologetic cliché mason jar. Or maybe you were a frustrated baker and tried to make brownies which would mysteriously come out the oven looking like molten lava cake every time.

Maybe for a time, you used to like watching French Noir films and loved to frequent vintage stores. You even dubbed yourself as an old soul and convinced yourself that you were definitely born in the wrong era.

Maybe you fancied yourself as a collector once. Coins. twigs, dried fall leaves in all of nature’s gradients, the crusted remnants of the sea that have been washed ashore – shells and cones that make you wonder about the beauty that lies in the deep blue: a virgin to human discovery, tucked in secret trenches.

Maybe you used to listen to punk rock music that reminded you of that first boy who gave you the butterflies and made you write poetry in the margins of your notebook. You were on the verge of Gothic and painted your nails black, but it was less of a fashion statement and more of a curdling rebellion.

Is there a dusty guitar, a drum set or some funky bongos in your basement? Probably reminiscent of that time you wanted to become a musician. You probably even had a notebook of unfinished and unsung songs fueled by unrequited love.

Perhaps you once smoked like a chimney, and even promised to go cold turkey for every last cigarette you had – but already on the other side of it was the next withdrawal like it was right on queue. Or you would get so wasted until you could barely remember the idiotic things you did – like swim in a public fountain or drunk call that girl you used to like five years ago. Or maybe you raved until you were in a wonderland in your mind, until the heavy bass became your heartbeat and you’d have glow sticks for breakfast.

Let’s talk about those ripped jeans, high waist bottoms, and those crop tops. Just how many of those do you really need in your closet? And don’t you already have that SAME knit top in that SAME color? (is it obvious that this is me addressing myself? no? well, shoot. I just threw me under the bus then!)

Whether you’ll proudly wear these old habits like badges, or hide them viciously like a pimple on your first date – it was still something that more or less defined who you were at some point.

 

How about you? What were your phases? Do you look back at them with ease, or do you cringe?

To Ricochet Between Remembering and Forgetting

When I remember you, I remember you in bits and pieces; like unfinished sentences.

Like a poorly crafted movie that knows no fluidity of transition, there was nothing elegantly seamless about it. In fact, you could see the clear edges, the abrupt punctuation. It is not like a gradient where the cobalt sea melts with the teal of the sky, but rather, a series of ricocheting between remembering and forgetting, remembering and forgetting.

Laughter. Drive-thru’s past midnight. I don’t remember enjoying a fudge sundae that much, and I don’t even fancy ice cream.

An argument – to agree to disagree on 80’s music and peanut butter.

Late night mundane talks. “I had a really crappy day.” “Tell me about it.”

Apologies. “I can’t go to bed mad at you.”

Long drives. That priceless look on you when you go passed the speed limit. 

Moments of pride. “Fine.”

A pause. The hint of a smile that grew from the corner of your mouth.  “I love you”, you exhaled.

I remember seconds of you, seconds of me, seconds of us. Fragments that I have never been able to play as a whole. 

You weren’t a blur, but rather, a recurring clarity.