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.
Certain places in the city never catch my attention and make an impact—like the crowded stretch of a boulevard or the blinking signal of traffic lights. I consider them ordinary, the way most people do, and recognize them as merely a part of the overall rhythm of the life force that drives and moves the city.
Certain conversations never leave my head. They linger in me like traces of smoke after a bonfire is doused with water. They hang onto me like memorial lanterns, constantly parading themselves in front of my weary eyes, demanding to be felt and comprehended until I finally give up the resistance and give in to remembering.
Here is a memory.
I look back to one sunny day in March: by the hall way of the sixth floor of the university, the entire view beneath us glimmered in the light of the noontime sun and the sticky breeze blew me away as in a daydream. Someone was speaking to me but her words came off as indistinct murmur as I went about staring mindlessly at the cumulus clouds over us. She nudged me twice, thrice before I managed to pull myself back to Earth once again. Her voice was intrusive when she burst out her question.
My heart still
breaks a little
at the sound of
I wonder where
you are, or how
you have been
or how many nights like
these passed by without
you noticing or
once, on an August night
we were together
and you were mine.
Despite the rain, this is the driest semester I have so far. Parched from the absence of oceans and waterfalls and enthusiasm that once welled up within me. Drained of devotion to its very last drop.
Blame it on my two-day schedule. A schedule that actually allows more time for self-pitying than for sitting in class. But most people at school would look at me surprisingly, express their thoughts about how seldom they see me, and say with all their hard-earned desperation, “Buti ka pa ito lang klase mo”.
I could engage them in this particular subject matter if I wish to, draw a perfectly shaped circle of my inconsistencies and talk them into believing how it’s ten times worse to be an irregular. But in the end I would simply attend to their thoughts by subscribing to the weather, asking them about trivial matters, cracking the most mundane jokes in the planet like I would crack an egg. What I realized over time was the futility of explaining things to people, the hollowness of a desire to be understood and the attempts to understand what most regular students never will.
There is a vast desert island in the depths of my soul where even the oasis is ennui. As the rain makes its dreamy downpour I, however, thrive impatiently in my own tropicality, basked under the heat of my withdrawal from people I thought were sensible and sincere to hear the truth of the matter. I’m sunburned to the third degree by their shallowness masked under the pretense of their half-baked knowledge about Heidegger. I’m toasted by the way they made my life a private joke, and how at random times they would approach me in the hallway and ask me how I’m doing, and the stupid little doll that I am would answer however untruthfully “I’m okay”. If they were real friends they would’ve accepted my decisions and sticked to their promises for better or for worse. But little did I know that I was married to a barkada whose hard-rock ego blinds their sensible judgment of people and replaces it instead with prejudice of maximum proportions. Before I even knew it I was the barkada’s newest joke, an excommunicado.
But most of all I am tired. Dead-tired and almost at the brink of surrendering to this exhausting and utterly pointless life in the academe. There are days when it’s too tempting to pack these bags and leave. Travel South where I came from, or North where it’s too far from everything I’ve ever known. I learned from Mom that if you’re not happy in a certain place all you need to do is move someplace else. If I tell her I want to quit college she would probably only laugh at my indecision. She would simply say “Just do it”.
But do what? Quit school and find a job in the BPO industry that pays enough to buy a Starbucks venti when the 8-5 shift turns horrendously unbearable? Or enroll in an art school and paint your boring unproductive life in technicolor? Or join a creative writing workshop and convince yourself of your own inadequacy? Or get fucked up somewhere sometime by people who has no sense of direction in life like you? Or die an uneventful death so Mommy won’t have to worry about sending cash to her crazy little damaged daughter?
There’s so many possibilities.
The Law of Cause and Effect states that everything happens for a reason. All actions have consequences and produce specific results, as do all inactions. The choices we make are causes, whether they are conscious or unconscious, and will produce corresponding outcomes or effects. If I am moved from where I stand, there has to be a given cause. And when I close my eyes and think about the reason I see their faces, red with alcohol, burned by the silence of the secrets I kept for a long long time, consumed by the hunger of a human being who knows not to care or to understand. If I were to retrace this profound longing to get away from the university I would remember the sun, and how it burned brightly one day in July, and flickered softly until there was nothing left but the afterglow.
I haven’t moved on, if that’s what they want to hear. I haven’t forgotten one single detail of all that was said and done. But that doesn’t mean I still want it back. In fact I hate it. I loathe it. I despise it. Somewhere deep in outer space there’s an other I who has learned to forget. She isn’t afraid of hurting people. She has no time to play it safe. In some alternate parallel universe she is leaving them.