Cornflowers

I’ve always loved corners. It is inconspicuous and silent and there is tenderness in it.

You may have noticed this and this may precisely explain how we both ended up in this wooden cafe. The rain drizzled and pelted and I noticed your side glances. You wanted to tell me something, I’m aware, but I do not want to initiate the conversation. Somehow, I feel safe and warm in not knowing how things stand between you and I, in days that should not have been but, well, have been.

Wild orchids, you told me, are ethereal. It blooms for approximately six weeks, gracing this Earth – no matter how wicked and whimsical – with its elegant symmetry. It rivals asphodels, you said, and if planted in the underworld, all sunken places in the nether regions would sunk no more.

You moved close and stretched your arm until, one second after the other, it rested on my shoulder. I let my head fall on your chest and listened to that metrical batter that makes this life bearable. You held me close and, at that moment, I was confident that all my pieces – even the most broken ones – would remain intact.

I drew a deep breath and told you, casually, that the Turkish word for rain is yağmur. You looked out the window and, in your low, husky voice, whispered: “Yaah-moore.”

Poetic, isn’t it? I asked. Yağmur. Yaaah-moore.

You agreed, and you may be right but in that corner in the wooden cafe, in the span we were together, you outlasted all the rains and good writings and, to me, became the sestina of everything that dances and dazzles.

Comes and goes

“So, my roommate pointed to me how İ constantly talk about death. She asked: ‘Why do you always say these things?’ İ bluntly told her: ‘Because there simply is no point in living.'”

“That reminds me of what Nietzsche said: ‘Life is meaningless.’ And İ agree with that actually.. Like, İ can die right now. Like, so long as it is painless, İ do not mind dying right now. No more regrets. No more worries. No nothing. İt’s done.”

“True. Same sentiment.”

“İf people ask me why İ do PhD, İ’ve no profound reason actually. There simply has nothing else to do so İ opted for PhD. Life is meaningless anyway.”

“Samedt. İf people ask me why İ study in Turkey, İ’ve no profound reason as well. İ simply want to get out of a shithole country. Life is meaningless anyway. İ guess this realization of meaninglessness explains why figures from the past led their lives in a decadent way. Oscar Wilde. Rilke. Nietzsche. Bukowski. Kerouac. Etc.”

“True. Life is meaningless so you do whatever you want.”

“Somehow it’s liberating, no? İt relieves you of accountability.”

“Haha! Life being meaningless should be a pessimistic thought and yet, here we are – finding liberation in that!”

“Yea. Look at Plath. She sought meaning in a world where none exists. Ending: she killed herself.”

“We do what we do because life is meaningless anyway. Drink till dawn. Write a paper. Don’t write a paper. Spend all our money buying things we want.”

“Or have an affair. Live a double life. Sleep around. Be a mistress. Give in to polyamory since monogamy is too rigid and stifling and overbearing. İ’m actually thinking of doing this academic thing on one end, and prostituting myself on the other. Not because İ need money, no, but because life, simply, is meaningless. So we do what we want to do. Live. Then die. Get on with it.”

“Travel.the world. Spend money. Live a bourgeiouse life because we can. Life is meaningless anyway.”

“Come to think of it: the impact of that thought may vary. For instance, if you are struggling in a poor country and you internalize this thought, this will indubitably lead to hopelessness. İf you are in a good country and you internalize this thought, chances are you’ll opt to live it the other way around. We’re lucky, İ guess. We have options.”

“Well life is meaningless. We can opt to live it in a decadent fashion or allot our time to social struggle. Maybe we do the latter?”

“Nah. İ prefer a decadent one.”

Cross-over

I have always imagined this line that serves as our breaking point as people. When crossed, we lose all regard we have including warmth, and we wind up in a sunken place where tenderness is not possible.

I have always imagined a lane where we all stand. The distance we have from the line may be distinct and relative to the individual and the circumstances surrounding us. And yet here we are, perpetually tried and pushed until, in small but incremental stages, one foot in front of the other, we get near the line, step over, cross it, and become someone else: a shadow of our past selves, a portion of what we used to be but no longer, an individual capable of mutilating the world without feeling any remorse at the sight of the wreckage. Sometimes, by some sleight of chance, we become someone better and we call that miracle.

I imagine myself standing less than an inch away from that line, arms stretched in limbo, feet buried in deluge, persistently rammed forward by events and contingencies. I am at this point in life where I’m trying to decide whether to cross that line and give in, or to abandon the entire lane altogether.

Tarry

They descended slowly, those white mists. The academics claimed that meanings are forged in binaries where one cannot exist without the other; yet that night, there was only silence between us and nothing more.

The absence of the other houses the embodiment of nihility. It fetters and in dry, frightened steps, it paces back and forth. The void tarries in its surroundings and, apart from the clean sheet of white mist, there was nothing it in.

The academics claimed that meanings only thrives in binaries but perhaps they are wrong. You see, it was not that stiff figure of detachment as it recedes and flees; there was more to it than exile.

Meanings, I suppose, reside in multiverse where one reality collides against your endlessness. Because, my love, in this topographical distance between you and I, there exist the hundred attempts I’ve tried to find you and the hundred years I’ve failed.

But, in broken spaces and dimmest worlds, there breathes my defiance to never give up and my unwavering resolve to always, always hope.

Wonders and short convos

“Do tell. What happened?”
“We talked.”
“You mean you two confined yourselves in the hotel room for 48 hours and just talked?”
“Yea. It was surreal.”
“And you talked about what?”
“A lot.”
“Like?”
“Solipsism. Narratives of suicides. Past life regression. Mercury retrograde. Parallel lives. Politics in art. Emile Durkheim. Effects of various drugs on nervous system. Angel’s trumpets. Waltz of Chihiro. Myers-Briggs. Both of us are INTPs, you know?
“Yea. Nerds. What else?”
“Chances we took. Chances we took for granted. Chances we never took. Second chances. Third. Fourth. Labels. Social stigma. People we have hurt. People we loved too much, in our best capacities as emotionally detached individuals. People we have to forego. Obligations. Uncertainties. Dull inanities in life that made us question if these are all we actually have in this material plane. Secrets we have never told anyone.”
“Mind to spill a wee bit of those secrets?”
“Ah no. Maybe next time. Or ask her directly but gain her trust first. I’ll introduce you.”
“As if. And then? What did you do after the talking?”
“We slept. Ah, no. We went out past midnight and had ramen, all the while conversing about anything and nothing at all. She’s eloquent and well-read. You’ll love her.”
“I’m sure. She’s a bit renowned, yea?”
“She worked hard for it, like really hard. They dismissed her at first, debased her creations even.”
“And then?”
“She persevered.”
“What did you two do after the ramen escapade.”
“We lay on bed and talked some more.”
“About what this time?”
“I can’t remember. While she was saying something, I zoned out and found myself regarding the details of her face with delight. She’s otherworldly. With her, I realized how easy it is to lose yourself without rehearsals and inhibitions.”
“That was… intense.”
“Yea but it is more like.. I think this is what friendship actually is.”
“You mean what?”
“I mean, I think friendship is the most sublime affection of all.”

Those frameless heads

“I’m going to tell you something. I don’t know why I want to tell you this but I want to tell you this. C, that guy who was sitting across us, he was apologizing to me a while ago. Thing is, last Tuesday, he confessed to me. I rejected him.”
 
“People have become obsessed with this relationship ideals. I’m not sure if it is indigenous in the Filipino culture but it seems like nowadays it has become impossible for us, females, to be friends with males without them jumping into us like rabid creatures.”
 
“It was revolting. C said he has this thing with me that has been going on for 6 years. I was like, wtf. I was not even informed. He then asked me if he stands a chance. I said nobody has a chance.”
 
“They treat single-hood as if it is a disease that must be cured. What a weak-minded notion of human existence!”
 
“Yaaaaaa. Abominable! Like, they said I’m lonely because I’m single but actually I am not. Not having anyone is liberating.”
 
“I actually find it fascinating, this seeming obsession people have towards human relationships. If their age ranges somewhere between early to mid 20s, I would understand the behavior following the tenets of Eric Ericson’s psychosocial stages. The behavior falls in Intimacy vs Isolation category.”
 
“On my end, I don’t think I need the presence of anyone to validate my existence. You see, I am not emotional as a person. I cannot handle too much emotion. When C confessed, I was like ‘please don’t say that. It’s dangerous for you.’ Haha! But of course I did not. My mind was like wtf dude how in the name of fresh hell should I react properly.”
 
“Saaame! It happened in Zambales. I was there to gather some court documents and was staying in this house in San Narciso. I was genial to people because basically I have no reason to be hostile. Then there was this nephew whom I befriended. We went on road trips, had dinner outside, visit places. I actually expected we were friends. Next thing, he confessed to me. Que ultimo horror!”
 
“Have you been intimate to someone?”
 
“I don’t think I am capable of that. I have an arid heart.”
 
~Tam-awan Village, Baguio City | May 2018

Undulation

Perhaps it’s the blood-soaked moon that douses us tonight. People who barely know each other clutter the streets and fill the alleyways. Lovers sit on the seawall and revel at the sound of the breaking ocean. Friends on the rooftop set up their binoculars and drown themselves in brawl and laughter. The world has gone mad but right now all I can see is the undulation of your tousled hair.

Perhaps it’s the night blooming jasmine. The evening opened the flowers and allowed its scent to spiral in the air. It seeped through the spaces in my window and invaded the room — all corners, every inch. You spun around and there was your three-day old beard. I traced the lines of your jawline with certainty. I took a deep breath and you exhaled my name and there was sea-salt and midnight and tenderness in it.

Perhaps it’s the morning light: warm and yellow and soft. The curtains hum the crunch of our footsteps as we strolled round the ancient parks. We were surrounded by statues of gargoyles and elves, of courageous beginnings and guarantees. You told me that raindrops fell on the park bench like fallen friends. That day I constructed a home in a strange and unfamiliar place.

Perhaps it’s the map, each country content beside each other. Here are the white forests of Russia. Here are the golden sands of Mongolia. Here is China and New Zealand and the thousand gods of India. Here is Germany. Here is Prague. Here is Egypt, and, inches away, here is Japan with its still lakes and cherry blossoms.

But, more than that, here we are, months ago, surrounded by gargoyles and jasmine and morning light, loved by the birds outside my window. And there you were, laughing, worshipping the broken rain, your eyes in golden numbers, your beard with its lonely trees, sea-salt against my skin, the memory of you behind my pillow, your tousled hair undulating inches away from me.