It’s a bit dim but there is a beautiful memory deeply lodged in the indented piazza of my childhood recollection.
Like all the other kids, I have godmothers and godfathers. One of them, my godmother, is a couturier. This explains why my clothes back in the 90s were specifically tailored for me. Her husband, on the other hand, is a photographer.
My mom normally commissioned their services each time there was an event in town wherein I was invited to participate.
One time, my mother left me in their house. I don’t remember much about that day but I do remember a long, tenebrous corridor lined with stuffed animals.
By stuffed animals, I don’t mean toys made of fabric and cotton. I mean actual animals, dead and preserved and striking in their haunting beauty.
The trick there, I noticed, was the chip of glass planted inside their eyes. This was what made all of them flare with life.
At the foot of the stair, there stood two white wolves. Their mouths were half-opened; the crinkles on their snout boasted its prominence. They looked as if they were about to jump and slaughter their prey.
At the top of it was a cat, curled and sleeping. Except the cat was stuffed, like the wolves so it was not sleeping but dead. There was an owl tethered from the ceiling, there were rabbits and guinea pigs and other species of birds and dogs, and they all inhabited that long, tenebrous corridor.
I do not remember if there was a window at the end of it, but I remember walking in that musty hallway, lined with dead, stuff creatures and feeling not a nip of fear but a burning fascination. I remember the creaks of the wooden floor and the echoes of my footfalls.
I was five years old, and at that tender age, I have discovered my love for everything that is strange and remarkable.
Went to the beach today. The place was packed with merry yells and warm sand, gathering dusk and sea foam, last glimpse of the red sun and late afternoon salt water. I walked barefoot on the shore and conversed with people and savoured the wind and read a bit. Oh, the stubborn way we refuse to surrender hope and insist in transforming the pains of this bleak, bleak world into candid portraits of ecstacy.
It’s April. A year ago, I was in Los Baños manically writing my manuscript. Life was neatly laid out — the goals for the next month, the thesis sections that needs to be filled, the diagram of existence that needs to be followed, all idealism burning afire.
Days used to be banal, until the collosal blow of everything hits you hard. Suddenly you are surrounded by weddings and childbirths and deaths of people close to you — the blend of excitement and loss passing through you and leaving cracks.
And there you are, on the bed somewhere, watching the soft, innocent gleam of the morning sun. The ball of your life rolls beside you, patched and pulsating, like the stubborn beatings of your wandering heart.
Another day? It asked.
Another day. You answered.
The inside of my mind is filled with murky water. The scribbles of my thoughts are submerged in a sullen, silver mist. Sometimes I wonder if human existence is condemned to lead a life of phenomenological isolation.
And so we collect memories as we tread on, our days a montage of choices and sacrifices. We savour the strange contour of the mountains, we laugh here and there. We inhale the cold wind, love the innocent mornings, deliberately seek tranquility, and crave for our bygone childhood.
There are things we cannot share, and there are those we can but can never be understood. Still we hold on and nurse our hope — against sorrow and death and anything.
And this is what catches us when we fall.
Went to the beach again today. In my better state, I would have jumped straight into the ocean and reveled in the current and folds of the undulating waves. I would have screamed in pure delight.
Ruefully, I am in no better state — I have not been for a while now. So I walked and walked and walked under the scorching sun.
I wanted to see the pine woods, and I did. It was brimming with people, hundreds of them, drinking and gawking and submerging everyone in sheer noise. Their tents were scattered randomly, everywhere.
The tranquility I’ve expected was crushed by morbid disappointment.
I feel so disconnected and isolated, and often, when I mingle with others, I find my body exhausted; my thoughts drifting in a far, misty place.
But I do — I do — crave the company of those I can be open and raw and honest with, without inhibitions and walls and rehearsals.
I’ve been reading the journal of Sylvia Plath and the letters of Vincent Van Gogh, and I find comfort in each entry.
I can almost hear the raspy voice of Vincent, his gasps and spaces in between words; I can almost feel the strain in the hands of Sylvia Plath. I can almost see the English countryside, the symmetry of French architecture, the wheatfields and downbridge of Provence and Antwerp.
Suffice it to say I feel less lonely — and less alone. This is the beauty of arts, I suppose, and it’s magic too. It burns, after all these years, from generations to generations, in all space and in all time, and it accompanies us in moments when we feel so isolated.
So, in the hour of our heartbreaks, we stubbornly defy the dastardly acts of this world with all the love that we can master. We refuse to surrender hope and insist in painting our candid portraits of merry yells and growing souls.
I almost accepted defeat, almost, but I realized that the brave thing and the right thing is to struggle, especially in moment like this.
So I will write and write and write — not for me but for anyone out there who may be bleeding and close to giving up and in dire need of a company, of a friend, who understands.
No, I don’t expect the insides of your mind to be coherent and organized. I don’t believe there is a single person on Earth who possess that kind of well-regulated consciousness.
I understand that you are a fractured being, a montage of everything you’ve encountered in this cosmos — late passengers in the subway, long lost friends, the comfort of the falling rain, the pang of rejection, the bitterness of coffee that puts you to sleep.
No, I don’t expect you to be spotless and perfect. Doing so is an unrealistic conjecture. You are not spotless, and I perfectly understand why.
I imagine your inner landscape as a field of dandelions. It’s sunny at times — the bright sunlight piercing the sky of your consciousness, your dandelions swaying in your wind.
But you cannot be like that the whole time.
A sullen mist is bound to fall and engulf your consciousness. Your flowers will wither, your field will be submerged, you will be overwhelmed, always close to drowning.
You have sunny days and you have sullen mists, and I understand the co-existence of these two and how it makes you who you are. I don’t think you can ever dissociate one from the other, but if you ever succeed, I don’t think the outcome would still be you.
No, I don’t expect the insides of your mind to be coherent and organized. It is not possible. You are a montage of good days and bad days, a fractured, evolving being with a patched, beating heart.
With all your strength you try to hold your pieces intact, but there are times when, in the dead hours of the night, you simply want to let it all go. There is nothing wrong with that. Uncork your bottled feelings and pour me all your happiness. When there’s nothing left, pour me all your pain.
I am here to help you pick up your pieces if you ever fall apart.
I will love you like the 90s. There will be no social media hype for us — no Twitter or Instagram selfies, not even a Facebook post that professes the depth of my affection for you.
We won’t need that in constructing our world.
Instead, I will get a 1935 typewriter from an antique shop and write you a letter. I will press it in-between your book pages or leave it in random places — on your pillow, in your pocket — for you to discover in random days.
I will watch you read and reread it, and I will find delight in seeing your secret smile. Understand that I wrote it for you and no one else.
I will ask you for a walk on the beach. We will talk about life. We’ll bring a chaperone, a kid preferably, and she will trail behind us and collect sea shells. I will kiss you sneakily when she’s not looking.
The wind and the open sky will serve as our witnesses. I will crown your hair with purple thistle.
I will write a poem for you. Better yet, I will dedicate an entire volume of work — like F. Scott Fitzgerald to Zelda — and I will make it strong enough to stand beside your name.
In the cozy afternoon of every summer, we will sneak in the movie theater — passed the guard and the ticket lady — and we will revel in popcorn and old films. We will walk out after that, hand-in-hand, giggling at our secret joke.
I will recite random verses as we stroll on — past the mannequins behind the glass window in that lane of RTWs.
There’s a vinyl in my room. I will ask you to come up, gingerly, through my window. I’m never good at dancing but I will ask you to dance with me.
We’ll play Eric Clapton, Sixpence None The Richer, and Beatles. We’ll sing our lungs out until we’re exhausted. We’ll collapsed on my bed. The online community will never know how we slip into intimacy as the night blooming jasmine soothe our tendrils.
There will be no social media post about it. Our kisses will be a metaphor. I will love you like the 90s. Our entire history will be typewritten.