Snippet Series #18: Arrival

Wrote this probs sometime in late August, before I arrived in Valencia.


 

Yesterday was one of the happiest days of my life. All the obstacles for the next stage of my life had officially been removed, and the future was wide, open, and beautiful. My family and friends wanted to celebrate with me, and some of them even said they were willing to take a leave from work if only to see me one more time. Also, I was able to fulfill a promise to a friend that I knew meant the world to him. On top of that, my favorite artists and author released something that really made me excited. I couldn’t help but dance out of joy.

And somehow, I remembered you. I think it was because of the story I was reading. In any case, somehow, the story made me realize that I really had loved you, back then. In a way, I still do. But I understand what I feel better now.

I remember how I used to be so scared of letting you go, of losing you, of forgetting you, of you one day meaning nothing to me. I was scared that you’d be replaced, that all the crazy things I felt and moments I lived when you were still such a big part of my life would be invalidated, somehow. I was scared that all this investment was for nothing, and that maybe on top of wasting my time and emotion, it would all just bite me in the end.

It was painful, the inevitable journey of getting over you. I was awash with shame and guilt and regret and loneliness and loss. It took me close to ten months just to stop thinking about you. And then after that, I thought I’d be free.

But when the anniversary of the last time we talked came around, it still haunted me. I had forgotten about the exact date in my consciousness, but as it waned closer, there was an anxious cloud hovering over me even if I couldn’t explain why it was happening. And then when I woke up on that day, the realization came crashing down like a storm. I almost broke down in tears in the camp room that I shared with twelve other girls.

And it still hurt that you didn’t congratulate me for passing my board exam, or for getting a scholarship abroad. It hurt that you didn’t greet me happy birthday. It hurt that you didn’t contact me again even if I would be leaving for a good two years.

My friends went through break ups, and even if we technically didn’t break up, they asked me for advice. I didn’t know why they were asking. I didn’t even know if what I would say would make sense. But… I could talk about how I had felt for the most part. I could finally talk about you openly, without being shy or ashamed. And somehow, they were able to find comfort in my experiences. Still… it always caught me by surprise whenever my voice would break and tears would threaten to fall.

It’s funny, because there would always be moments when I would feel like I was over you – like it didn’t hurt anymore, and that I had forgiven both you and myself. And I felt like maybe I really had forgiven both of us, and maybe I could talk about things without some sort of sting in my chest. But there was this sense of “what’s past is past” to it. Like yeah, it happened, but that was then, and this is now.

Was that really what moving on felt like?

Probably not. Not if I was still running away from our memories. Not if the things that reminded me of you had no spark left in them.

After remembering you yesterday, I dreamt of you last night.

You were in your uniform. Both of us had awkwardly been keeping distance from each other in the dream, but when I finally made eye contact with you, you relented and went over to me.

You hugged me more closely than you ever had in real life. But it felt like it had all those times in the past – complete, somehow. Full. Pure.

You asked me how I was, and I updated you. You updated me. I admitted that I missed you. I asked if you had forgiven me.

You said you did.

I hugged you again and thanked you. I asked if I could kiss you, just on the cheek. Honestly, it was something I had always wanted to do. Even after everything and all the denied emotions and buried thoughts, if you would let me, I felt like it would give me closure.

You said yes, in a confused way, but ultimately fine with it. So I went ahead and did it.

When I pulled away, you were looking at me, a little bewildered that I actually did it. But you smiled. You hugged me again and joked that you wouldn’t ever do something like that to me, unless it was like this – and then you quickly brushed your lips against my own cheek. Then you stepped back and we both just looked at each other, smiling.

I can’t remember what happened next. I think maybe I was called by someone to go somewhere, and you were too. We went our separate ways.

And I know it was just a dream. But it meant a lot. And it made me realize something.

I finally understand what people mean when they say someone is always going to be a part of them. It’s not just objectively accepting that they changed you as a person, or that they were part of your past. And it’s not some sort of sappy, emotionally hung-over hope that one day you two would be reunited.

There was something I said before, “One day I’d only see your shortcomings. One day I’d laugh at your face and laugh at how I had felt. And that is the natural order of things. How many other times had my perception of a boy undergone that same process? Countless. And I remember how all those times before, I had longed for the day when I’d forget them. When the pain of not having them would go mute, and the distraction from work would disappear.”

But the truth is… the other boys in my life… after I had healed enough from them, I had always looked back on the memories with fond thoughts. I remember their good sides more than their shortcomings. I laughed at how I had once been attracted to them, sure, but it was still something precious to me, the same way you are endeared to a child for being silly. And though I had hated acting out of character before… I’m a lot more merciful now. There’s a liberation to being in love. It’s okay to be stupid happy for a while.

And I still miss those boys. And I still think about them every now and then. And I would always want to spend an afternoon hanging out with them and being kids again. I wouldn’t undo things – I’m happy where I am right now, and I’m happy for them, wherever they are. But they still make me smile, when I think of them.

And now you’re like that, too. I smile when I remember you. I’m finally here. I’m thankful.

Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for being you. And I’m thankful God put you in my life, even for the short period that you were in it. I still love you. Not in a soulmate kind of way, but I love you, and I love them, and I love all these people who I have shared a part of myself with. I hope that doesn’t change.

Wishing you all the best. May your story make everyone’s hearts soar.

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Himbing

Just thought it’d be nice.


 

Sa unang bukangliwayway

At bawat paghingang sumunod

Ikaw ang pangarap na ginisingan

 

Ang iyong mukha’y nasulyapan

Sa pagitan ng banaag na

Tumagos sa’king pilikmata –

Tila sinag na nguminginig

Sa ibabaw ng hamog

 

Ang banayad mong tinig

Na umaaliwiw ng mapaglarong lihim

Ay ang bulong ng amihan sa bagong araw

At ang alikik ng pagpukaw

 

Ang lamig ng umaga’y umiinog sa’ting paa

Habang hinahalo ang mainit na kape

Ang aroma ng sapin kagabi ay

Nakakapit pa sa’yong batok

At nararamdaman ko pa ang bakas ng

Iyong mga daliri sa’king baywang

 

Di ko pinangarap ang ganito –

Walang sinabi ang kama sa lambing mo

O ang kumot sa iyong init

Lumalambot ang kutson kung ika’y kayakap

At tumatahimik ang mundo sa dilim

Walang gabing mapanglaw sa’yo,

Walang bangungot na nag-iintay ‘pag humimlay

Sanlibong gabi ay masarap na idlip ‘pag katabi ka,

Sandaang taon ay bagong araw sa piling mo

Kahit puno ang isip, mapapahimbing ang tulog sa’yo

Kahit antok, sisigla ‘pag bumangon sa’yo

 

Habang nagtatagal, ang lamig ng umaga’y nagaalis

At naglalakas ang sikat ng araw

Nagbubutones ako at nagsasapatos ka na

Mayamaya, nawawalan ng tao ang bahay

At lilipas ang araw na ‘di tayo magkasama

Ngunit sa paglubog ng araw, sinasalubong natin

Ang gabi na nagiging atin

At habang naglalabas ang mga tala

Ang pagnanaginip natin ang nagdadala

Sa umagang ginagawang pangarap ang buhay

Family Partner

I don’t know how important preschool is to most people – in fact, most people might not even remember their preschool years. But my preschool, Family Partner, left several lasting impressions on me. It was recently their anniversary (20th or 25th?), and they had asked us to write a testimony about how Family Partner influenced us. I thought about it, and I realized that maybe one of the most important lessons I had learned in this lifetime, I had learned during my stay there – something that I kept coming back to more and more as I found my place in the world.


 

Some of my earliest memories are of Family Partner, and though I only stayed there for a short period of my twenty-one years on earth, I still remember those memories fondly. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the forest green gate and mint walls that greeted me every day. I won’t forget the grey sand in the box and the yellow playhouse. And the murals on the walls – especially that tall bunny. I still remember the easel they taught us the alphabet and how to read clocks on. I still remember the stairs going up to the reading area, and the carpet I’d roll around with a ragdoll on. I remember “reading” Adarna books – really just looking at the pictures – upstairs, or playing with the wooden puzzles in the classroom while waiting to be picked up. I loved that, honestly.

Family Partner was where I first learned about fractions, and also how to make my own blue modeling clay. But I think some of the most important things I learned there were things that I am only realizing now were imprinted on me by Family Partner. I learned the basic stuff, like sharing and taking turns. I learned how to clean up after myself once snacks were over, or when hands needed to be washed after play. And there is one particular memory that I somehow always keep coming back to whenever I feel hesitant about taking an opportunity.

We were doing a nativity skit for Christmas, and I had been chosen to play the role of Mary. As a child, I enjoyed the limelight. But I had always just been a very bibo sheep, or a very loud, expressive member of the choir. Those were always background characters – I had never played the lead in anything. It was the first time I felt the pressure of carrying a performance. I shied away. I felt unworthy. When I told Teacher Linda about the predicament, she at first encouraged me, but I still felt unconfident. So she told me, “If you really don’t want to do it, we can give the role to someone else, you know.”

I stared at her, shocked. It had never occurred to me that the role could be given to someone else. I can’t remember what happened next – not even if I eventually ended up playing Mary. But it was at that moment that I realized that what has been given to me can also be taken away if I do not rise to the occasion. A chance to shine is exactly that – a chance, a gift. It’s not something that can only be mine; there will be others who would be happy to have the same opportunity to do well.

As I grew up and reflected on that moment more, I realized that it matters less whether or not I am deserving of an opportunity, but rather that I step up to its corresponding expectations. The person given an opportunity could be anyone – it wasn’t restricted to just an outspoken, playful little girl, or a shy, timid one. It matters more who one becomes and is in the role that they are given. It matters more that one does her best, and that one works in excellence.

This notion is one that has come back to me more often in recent years – when I accepted a leadership position in my church, when I ran for a position in my college org, and when I applied for a scholarship abroad. It’s tempting not to call attention to oneself, to not push against the track that most of my peers follow. I wouldn’t want to appear greedy, and I don’t want to make others feel bad because of the advantages I know I have at my disposal. Furthermore, those same privileges have often made me wonder if I’ve worked hard enough to be deserving of certain opportunities. But I understand now that a grateful heart is not one that passes off opportunities. It is one that makes the most out of everything one has been given. Besides – opportunities aren’t about oneself. In the same way that playing Mary all those Christmases back would have been for the greater glory of God, every opportunity we are given are opportunities to serve God and people. Opportunities aren’t about getting ahead – they are about developing or positioning oneself so that one can multiply opportunities for others. I now believe that passing off those opportunities is almost the same as passing off the responsibility and joy to do good.

A lot of things have changed since my school days in Family Partner. I’ve experienced so much over the course of my life, and there have been many new beginnings and graduations at Family Partner. Still, my family and I maintain a close relationship with the school and Teacher Leclec and Teacher Linda, a relationship that I hope only continues to strengthen. I am grateful for the jumpstart they gave me in life, for the sweet childhood memories, but most importantly, I am thankful for the life lesson on stepping up that I am blessed to have to draw on whenever the horizon calls.

Spanish Rain

When it rains like this in Valencia, the world stops. She said she dreams of driving through the American deserts in a Cadillac.

Ask.

There would be a house facing the western sea.

The car inched past a dog and his man playing fetch in the November rain. Her friend said she’d drive alongside her in a Porsche, with a large golden retriever in the passenger seat.

Ask.

There would be French windows opening up to an ocean front balcony.

The wipers’ beats interspersed with the tick of the standby blinker. He said he wanted a house by the Dutch canals, with a garden in front. A rarity, he mused.

Ask.

There would be a stained-glass window on the east wall, over my bed.

And what about you? The question was directed at him. As he pressed the car forward, he said he wanted to help the world somehow.

Any selfish dream? They were joking.

He wanted to get laid every day.

They were laughing.

He turned the wheel. But, he said, he wanted to have a family all his own.

And then, they continued to chatter. The traffic jam the car was stuck in extended for miles more.

I grinned, looking at him. “That’s nice,” my smile murmured. I turned to face the window and the grey skies. I watched the cold water pour as their babbling flowed.

In the summers, our glorious sunset would lull me to sleep, and I would wake up surrounded by colors.

I closed my eyes and slept.

Still

The narrow path between these strangers was a tightrope

And every grazing shoulder was a sweeping gale

My gaze fell like my feet did

And I could feel the emptiness between my icicle fingers

The air was as sharp as the pain in my chest

And my cheeks were stained like my memories were

Their profiles shuffled past like a deck of cards

And their images fluttered like broken butterfly wings

 

Where were you?

 

Everything was white–

Day caught on the frames and forms

But my soul had not caught up with the dawn

My heart was still pinned to the frozen hope of you

 


 

Gerald said this reminded him of Glassy Sky from Tokyo Ghoul, LOL.

I wrote this about a month or two ago, but it was seriously underdeveloped for a time. But my unfinished poems were sort of building up and I wanted to at least have one less poem that felt unresolved (I’m the type of person who can get restless without a sense of completion). So here~

Panalangin para sa Inaasam

Kanan, kaliwa,

Nagmamartsa na, kahit noong simula pa lamang

At patuloy pa rin habang may araw na sumisikat

 

Bumabaon ang aking mga paa

Sa matabang lupa

Na nagbubunga ng halu-halong ani,

At magaspang na ang aking balat

Hanggang bukung-bukong

Ngunit umaraw, umulan,

Palaging may yapak na kasunod –

May hindi maipaliwanag sa pagsisikap,

May hindi mahagilap sa abot-tanaw

 

“Sana, sana…”

Di mabitiw ang susunod

 

Matamis ang hangin

Na dumadaplis sa napawisang pisngi

At malamig ang ulap

Kung sa’n kami ng aking anino’y

Sumisilong sa sidhi ng araw

Minsang tumingala –

Paano nalalaman ng ibon kung saan sila patungo?

 

Naririnig ba ako ng langit?

 

Tumatakbo na ako’t

Tumatalon –

Hanggang saan pa ang ilalakad

Bago malaman, sa wakas,

Nakarating na?

 

Kanan o kaliwa –

Saan ang hantungan?

Baka mali ang pintuang kinatukan,

O natabunan ang hinahanap

Baka mali ang pagbasa ng mapa’t himpapawid

O nakaligtaan ang sinasadya

 

Umuungol ang mga binti,

Nagbabantang bumigay ang mga tuhod,

Nadudurog ang talampakan,

At hinuhugot sa puso ang bawat tadyak

Habang naghahabol

Upang makaabot lamang

Ang aking mga sigaw sa lumulubog na araw

 

Makakasapit ba ang hinaing?

Maaari bang malampasan ang tadhana?

 

‘Pag naubos ang lakas

At sumabay ako sa pagbagsak ng dilim,

Magpapakita ba ang mga bituin?

 

Makikilala ba,

‘Pag siya na’y naharap –

Mata sa mata, mukha sa mukha –

Ang Kanlungang kukupkup sa’king kanan at kaliwa,

At magsasabing “Nakauwi ka na”?

 


 

For every time you have doubted your purpose, your destiny, or the worth of your work.

Bigo

Paumanhin

Para sa lahat ng bagay

Na hindi mo maintindihan

Natututo pa lang ako

Kung paano gumalaw sa

Mundong ito

Alam kong

Para sa’yo’y madali lang ‘to

Para sa’yo’y walang mahirap

Alam kong

Di mo naiintindihan kung bakit

Ako’y bingi sa mga salitang

Di mo iniimik

At bulag sa katotohanang

Hubad sa’yo

Patawad dahil

Baka sinasayang ko oras mo

O nakakasira ako ng araw

Nagtatanong ka kung

Paulit-ulit na lang ba

Pasensya na

Di ko masagot

Kulang

Ang salita ko para maipaliwanag sa’yo

Kung ilang beses ko na rin hinanap

Kung ano ba ang mali

Alam kong

Di ka maniniwala

Kung sabihin kong

Di ko ‘to sinasadya

Pero di gan’to ang hinangaring hantungan

Pangako


 

Not from any immediate personal experience, don’t worry about it LOL (rest assured, these past couple of months have been the farthest I’ve felt from the content of this poem in a while). I don’t even remember how I started writing this. But I did want to go for something with simple words and simple structure – something that still evoked a lot of emotion. Something conversational, confessional.

This goes out to all the souls who’ve felt incompetent and lost, and like they disappointed someone who was expecting more from them.