I stood by the bridge, overlooking España Boulevard and UST. I thumbed through the spaces that surround me, overtaken by the swooping sensation that I was so close to the world, yet so distant and so disconnected from it all. Lights blinked from every corner of the place like kaleidoscope colors splashing life to the dead canvas of my troubled mind.
It was past 7 on a Tuesday evening. Everything around me was humming with motion. Before I even knew it, the boulevard transformed into a raging river of cars, buses, and jeepneys where it flowed and flowed and flowed toward the ocean of strangers faces. I leaned closer to listen to the sound of traffic, only to hear my heart scream above them all.
I waited for him to arrive. I waited for what felt like light-years of waiting. As I stood there and waited, I was suddenly reminded of my younger self: long jet black hair, pallid skin, cracked cherry lips. At 18, I was wasted and wasting away along city streets, meeting strangers and seeking some kind of shelter in each of them. I was with someone, with anyone, and then I was alone.
He arrived a few minutes before 8. When I saw him that night — scrunchy hair, sweaty face, apologetic smile and all — I began to feel some sort of hate toward myself for ever deciding to go out and meet him for dinner. I wanted to run back home, head back to bed, and forget every inch of my decision. But I was powerless. I was stupid, like I have always been.
We began to walk around UST, leafing through the streets for places to eat. When we couldn’t decide, he suggested that we take a ride back to the university where we once studied. In a blink of a second, the hate I felt a while ago slowly melted into a tender wave of tender nostalgia.
We crossed the street and took a ride, all the while laughing and giggling like two young kids in love. Except that we were not, really. I looked at him that night with both fear and sadness, the way I would look at something that I know for certain is about to end, like the setting of the sun or a fragile final smile.
Beaten with remembrance, we toured the place where we once settled as college students. We pointed to houses where we once stayed, to street corners where we used to meet, to holy grounds where we shared stories, ideas, time. He took me to a small cafeteria where he used to have dinner with his friends. He looked at me as we were eating, and I sank to the bottom of the earth for remembering too much of the feeling.
After dinner, we roamed the street leading to the university. We settled at the pavement outside the school and sat there like two happy homeless people. I was reminded of my college years, of all the sad and beautiful memories I had when I was there. I told him this was the place where we first met, as if the truth wasn’t already a given variable in this lonely equation of me loving him, him coming back into my life, and us wasting away this time together.
The rest of the night was a hazy cloud. At some point, he talked to me about us. I clearly and lucidly remember everything he said but never have I ever understood a word of it. No, it wasn’t a matter of comprehension but far from that, an ancient case of memory.
I was flooded by the feeling. I imagine everyone in my life: my fucked-up parents, long lost friends, strange ex-boyfriends, standing in a single file right in front of me, each of them flashing half-baked smiles, telling me they how much they want me in their lives but never really want me.
I am everybody’s limbo. I belong to them but they do not belong to me. I am with someone, with anyone, and then I am alone.
I walked my way home alone around 6 in the morning, dead tired and heavy and
unhappy. I recalled the exact same feeling I used to feel back in college when I used to spend time with him. Always that strange beautiful feeling, always that vague and foggy feeling that both saved and smothered me. But mostly, it smothered me.
I wish I could just take back the past few days and remember nothing about the rain, the street lights, the crashing waves along the bay. I fucking wish I never said anything or never been honest about my life. I was so naive to assume that a person could actually ever learn how to delve into the ocean of another person’s life without ever shattering and leaving behind a trace of damage or harm.
I burn my bridges and set them back up again like the stubborn, irrational, pathetic fool that I am. I hear the breaking and smashing inside of me like a familiar song that pops up every time I play the part of the clown and I laugh at the thought of everyone in the crowd watching me unravel, as if it was solid show of entertainment, my long line of history as a fool.
“We cross our bridges as we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except for a memory of the smell of smoke, and the presumption that once our eyes watered.”
My love, my heartbreak.
Under the ground you go where I shall bury you for the last time.