I had a bad episode a few nights ago. Driving along the span of Commonwealth past midnight, a stray thought suddenly crossed my mind. I was so caught off-guard that I almost hit the brakes dead stop. It just came out of nowhere, and at that moment, all my processing and resolutions meant nothing to me. It just went down the drain like dirty dishwater that couldn't wait to get to the sewers.
You see, while I was driving, I suddenly thought of Spice.
We had a game whenever he was at my place. He has always been fastidious with his looks. I found it amusing to see him preen in front of the mirror, fixing his shirt or styling his hair. I never tired of mock-teasing him about it, and he'd respond with a mock smirk of his own. But in the middle of it all, I would usually end up hugging him from behind and bury my face in his nape. I'd then take my time inhaling the scent of his perfume.
(I can't breathe. No, I can. But the only thing I can breathe is the memory of your scent. Oh God. It hurts.)
"Smile ka naman," I'd cajole him while rubbing his goatee.
"Sige na, please?"
Even then, I could see him suppress a smile that was forming. A suppressed smile which all the more brought out his dimple.
(Be still, my heart. Please.)
It was a just a routine, but it always managed to take my breathe away. For in my heart's eye, he was most handsome at that time.
"I love you," I'd say as I kiss him tenderly on the cheek.
He'd sigh and whisper softly, "I love you, too."
(Stop it. Stop it. Stop it. Why are you torturing yourself with these sketches of the past?)
My heart winced as I continued driving behind the wheel. I haven't felt that pain in years. I had forgotten how excruciating it can be. Dammit. Why do these things suddenly pop out of the blue just when your defenses are down and you're at your most vulnerable?
When shit hits the fan, it spreads around. Big time.
My tears started to well up even before I managed to chuck my half-spent cigarette. I closed the window, and the night road before me was a blur. All I had for company was a radio on full blast as I sped straight to heartache city.
Your offspring has had you in his thoughts as his day of birth approaches. He may not be with you, but the engulfing distance does not prevent him from offering his totality as a gift on your natal day. It may not be enough, but that is all he can humbly give to you.
I was lost in thought as I was walking around the neighborhood well past midnight. I have always taken pleasure in these midnight walks. The solitariness of this nocturnal activity has consistently provided a certain measure of comfort; the relaxed pace of the strolling helping to clear away the sticky cobwebs in my thoughts. This particular occasion was turning out to be no different from what I have done in the past. Or so I thought.
It was a hot and balmy night, and the muted roll of the distant thunder was an ominous sign of an impending thunderstorm. I momentarily stopped to wipe away the glisten of sweat gathering on my brows. Then, from afar, I heard a dog bay mournfully. I looked up with a start, and immediately realized something wasn't right.
I took a wrong turn. I didn't know where I was.
The street was unfamiliar, partially hidden in the recess of dark shadows. A nearby lamp post was dying, its flickering light casting an eerie glow on the surrounding. The slow baying of the dog had stopped. The sudden silence was jarring, almost deafening. I felt the heaviness of the atmosphere suddenly weigh on me, so I decided to walk down the gloomy street in a more hurried pace.
My heart was already starting to pound when I saw it.
It was all but a faint shimmer at first. Gradually, the light coalesced into a diaphanous figure. I couldn't help but gasp in chilling recognition.
"I know you!" I uttered in a quivering voice. "Why do you still come before me? Why are you doing this to me?"
It remained wordless and silent, its pale eyes stared directly at mine. Slowly, it raised its ghostly hand and beckoned to me.
"No! I will not come near you, do you hear me?!" My voice was rising almost to a fevered pitch. "I have already wrestled with you. I have banished you. Why do you come back to haunt me?"
My shirt was drenched, sweat mixed with fear and anger at the phantasm before me. I remained obstinate and defiant in my stance. When it sensed that I absolutely refused to approach, it started to go towards me, plodden in its movement. I saw its translucent lips opening, forming voiceless words I could strangely understand. I shivered uncontrollably at what it said.
I am you, and you are me. We are inevitably linked to each other by your the decisions in the past, the actions taken, and the choices not made. You cannot exorcise me. You cannot deny me. But what I offer you is peace, Free yourself from the shackles of what was, and the anxieties of what might have been. Accept me, and you will be granted the gift of peace. Accept me, and I shall be granted the gift of peace.
I closed my eyes, and sighed a deep breath as the phantom drew closer and closer.
My eyes were still closed when I felt the first raindrops on my face. The rain had started to fall, and soon, the full fury of the thunderstorm was unleashed upon me. It was as if the heavens was one with my catharsis. I had taken it all in, and now, the rain was washing away all the grimy doubts and apprehensions built over time. When I finally opened my yes, I knew that the ghost would no longer be there, and that I would not find myself lost anymore.
As I made my way towards home in the rain, tranquility nestled within my soul.
----- Why is it that the ghost of what-might-have-been suddenly haunts us at the most inopportune moment? Will we constantly berate ourselves for indecisions in the past and opportunities lost? Contentment, it seems, is as fleeting as the moment that was let by.
Kung ako ang tutanungin nyo, siguro ang pinaka masayang period ng buhay ko e yung nag-repeat ako nung high school. Ironic ba? Hindi naman. May pagka-gago kasi ako nung early years ko sa high school. So hayun, nadale ako nung 3rd year. Buti nga pinayagan pa ako ni Father Principal at ng Assistant Principal for Academic Affairs na mag-repeat e. In retrospect, maraming kabutihang naidulot sa akin yung pagbagsak ko. Natutuo akong magseryoso sa academics. Natutoo rin akong mag-adjust at makisocialize sa mga kakalse ko. At higit sa lahat, natutong tumibok ng tunay ang puso ko.
Oo. Dahil nung nag-repeat ako, doon ko nakilala si Varsity Boy.
Nung sumemplang nga ako, sumemplang na rin sa buhay ko si Cris Villanueva. At saka wala yun. Bata pa si Sabel nung mga panahong iyon, kaya matatawag na puppy love lang yung nangyari sa amin noon. Pero sa totoo lang a, tense na tense ako nung unang araw ng pagpasok ko sa school. Bagong class na nga, bagong batch pa. Pag pasok ko sa class room, ang pakiramdam ko lahat ng mata nakatutok sa akin. Pero kahit muntikan na akong himatayin ako sa anxiety attack, e palagay nyo ba di ko mapapairal ang likas na kalandian ko?
Hello. Ako pa.
So kahit na kumakabog ang dibdib ko sa kaba't tension, ang mga mata ko'y dali-daling nag-reconnaisance. Laban kung laban, fight kung fight.
Apat. Lima. Anim...
Ay, diosmioportodoslossantosdelas-ai-ai-delasalas! May karamihan ang cutiness at yumminess dito! So instead na madismaya ako sa fact na ito yung first day ng repeated na school year ko, e kulang na lang maghanap ako ng swimming pool na puno ng Caladryl. Pero baka di pa rin kayanin. Kasi ang pakiramdam ko, binalot ako sa gabi leaves na punong-puno ng higad at dikya sa mga sandaling yun.
"Alright. Ready for standby. Rolling, three, two, one. Action!"
The klieg lights are shining brightly on the scene. The set is all quiet for the take. Two actors mumble their dialogues. I stay hidden in the shadows of my room, and let my eyes roam before the action that is unfolding before me. I am but a silent voyeur, seeing everything and yet uttering not a single word.
"Cut! That was a good take!"
"Set-up natayo for sequence 52. Yungkabilangkwartoanggagamitin."
All is a pandemonium as the gaffers set-up the new lights for the next scene. In a corner, an actor seats silently, his eyes closed as if lost in contemplation. His mouth is slowly moving, a litany of words that is to be his next dialogue. I do not hear what he says, nor, do I suspect, really care what it is. After all, I still play the role of the silent voyeur, seeing everything and yet uttering not a single word.
The minutes march progressively into hours, and the chaos settles into a routine. Rehearse, take, set-up. A repetitive drill broken only by an erroneous delivery of a dialogue or a sudden intrusion of an obtrusive background noise.
Then there is a noticeable lull in the activity. I arise from my desk to scrutinize what is happening. They are done with the shoot. The lights are already turned off and being dismantled. The crew slowly mills about, their glassy eyes betraying the fatigue of the long day just finished. They slowly file out of the house, zombie-like in their movements.
I close all the lights and lock the doors of the house. Darkness and quietude blanket my surroundings.
But even then, I remain a silent voyeur, seeing everything and yet uttering not a single word.
When Eternal Wanderer said he'll do housecleaning, he literally took it to heart. As per Dabo's suggestion, he threw out the itsy-bitsy polka dot bikini (but kept the black and yellow striped one for sentimental reasons). He also threw out tons and tons of papers in his room that was taking up a huge amount of space. In his rummaging to figure what to throw out (Math 53 blue book - yes, 3rd year h.s. English paper - no), he came across a box he hadn't seen in years.
The box containing the memorabilia he saved from his high school years.
Amidst all the mess and the dust motes, Eternal Wanderer surveyed through the items in the box. It was full of knick-knacks: pictures of his h.s. classmates, a handful of party invitations, notes from various girls he met in different soirees, love letters and a rose petal from the birthday bouquet he got from Varsity Boy.
The various items filled Eternal Wanderer with a surge of wistful nostalgia. He read through the love letters of Varsity Boy, and chuckled at the sweet nothings that it contained. He saw a picture of his ex-girlfriend, and gently reminded himself to give her a text and ask how she is. His wacky h.s. class pics prompted a smile out of him and made him text his h.s. barkada to ask when and where the next gimik was.
Amidst all the mess and the dust motes, Eternal Wanderer thanked the box for making him realize that it was indeed still possible to be happy. That happiness is always a choice is something he had forgotten in the swirl of the emotional storm he was going through. He had every right to indulge in mourning for a loss, but it was about time to acknowledge the window that was opened for him.
Amidst all the mess and the dust motes, Eternal Wanderer decided then and there to be happy. No regerets, no looking back, no bitterness in his heart. The fog of disconsolateness had been lifted, and he felt it was about time to let the sun shine on him once more.
Yes, there is no more mess. There are no more dust motes. The housecleaning is done.