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Volition

Please don’t tell me that I’ve got to open my heart and be vulnerable, that I should allow myself to be hurt. Don’t tell me I should seize the day, or take a risk, or let myself go. Because there is a kind of pain you can never move on from, a kind of love you can never fully close the door on. This is the price I pay for looking into someone’s eyes while I hold my tongue, deciding it is too early to again ask someone to stay — the very same person who once answered with neither a yes or a no. Only not tonight. Only wait. Only I try so hard to forget you but I can’t, so I do what I can. I try not to see you, or hold you, or hear your voice on the phone. And in turn I try, too.

These attempts amount to days living a semblance of life, thankful for everything but without the love that I know so well, one that I have found myself suddenly holding onto. Don’t tell me that I need to take a chance, that I need to allow myself to feel great things for an ordinary other, that I should just let myself fall without a safety net. Because here I am holding out for someone whom I have loved for so long despite his reluctance to be loved, for someone who is at the center of every future I have dreamed of despite his tendency for uncertainty, for someone who has never left my life despite the many goodbyes. Here I am, as I have always been, and I wait here alone. What is this openness and vulnerability that you speak of if it’s not what I submit myself to in waiting? What other risk should I take if it’s not allowing myself to be helpless? What else should I let go of if not myself?

What is surrender if not giving up everything in exchange for the unknown?

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Of accidents

As my dad was driving, inching towards the sidewalk along EDSA-Boni so I could take the MRT to Quezon City, a bus suddenly sped up on our right side while another bus tried to cut us off from our left — two buses that would’ve most probably crushed us a few minutes ago if my dad had not stepped on the brakes on time. I didn’t even know what was happening until I looked up from what I was doing, which was looking frantically for my stored value card inside my bag.

We were in the middle of EDSA for about five seconds that felt like forever.

I’m writing this down because I know there are a lot of things I’ve long been wanting to say to a number of people, but never had the courage to say them.

I wish I could tell you I love you or that I wish I had been kinder, but today I live — whatever that means.

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Alone, Not Lonely

Before 2014 came rushing in, I promised myself that I will begin making a conscious effort to take very good care of myself, at least for a full month before my 26th birthday. I have become so used to taking care of other people that by the end of 2013 I was, by all means, spent.

One night I found myself talking to one of my closest friends, in the saddest voice I have ever heard come out of my mouth, talking about how heavy things have become.

And so this. It’s disconcerting, really. I was fine until, well, I got tired.

***

I got myself a bracelet today — a reminder to give as much as I can, not as much as I have. Here’s to hoping I get to keep more of my head and my heart this year.

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Thought Process

Whenever I fail to find a word for something — something I know but cannot name — I think of context, hoping to situate something which I cannot instantly identify, only imagine. Funny, then, how something transforms from actual to acquired, something I know absolutely is reduced to an approximation, only because I cannot remember its name.

Once I held your hand and knew the word for it. I lost the word for that warmth, that comfort, at least not until I held it again. But now the word is different, the context having changed vastly, although the feeling is strangely the same.

It’s a kind of struggle, whatever it is that we have when we hold hands. One that is far from finished, one that will always take more than we could give.

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You

because I doubt that you’ll find this.

We’ve been seeing each other more often these past few days and — this is probably a fault — I’ve been finding myself fighting the strange urge to hold your hand. It is, however, utterly surprising how I can look directly into your eyes while we’re having a conversation and not feel the need to look away.

You make me feel happy.

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Excuses

Under normal circumstances, I probably would’ve just slept this feeling off and take comfort in the idea that waking up in the morning after a good night’s rest always seems to make things better, but right now things are far from normal.

I am nursing what feels like a fever in waiting, and so I will be using the “I am weak, sorry I’m not sorry” card.

Yesterday, after what feels like way too long, I finally:

1) Cried again. The first time I read about the death of the B’laan tribe’s Bong Fulong (leader), I felt like I had to confirm by calling friends in the area. I knew it was a long time coming, but at the back of my mind I knew this would happen sooner or later — it was only a matter of time. Some things you can never entirely prepare for, no matter how much you know.

2) Got sick. I only get hit by some disease or illness twice a year at most. I have no idea why this happened, but if “lovesickness” was real, this is probably what it would feel like.

3) Admitted that I may be feeling  things more strongly that I initially predicted I would. The thing with feeling is that it is never predictable.

4) Walked a good distance. I haven’t walked ~seriously~ for quite some time; it was a welcome break from all the cab rides I wouldn’t usually take if only I were not pressed for time. I used to have a lot of time.

5) Found myself wishing that there was more of me that was happy and less of me that cared.

Usually I’d man up and shut up, but right now I just really wish you were here.

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Notes on Independence

Last year, on Independence Day, I boarded a plane bound for Cotabato City. It was a day after I resigned from a job that paid considerably well, because I realized that I needed more than money and comfort to be at peace with myself.

Funny how things can change in a year.

1) A year ago I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. I have plans, sure, but they are all within a five-year range. I have causes and advocacies I staunchly support and believe in but, compared to my friends who had some sort of career track already in place, my life felt like some sort of abstraction. At the time, I applied for readmission in my college and was accepted, but then a job offer in Cotabato came up and I knew it was something I couldn’t refuse.

And so I left.

“Lessons in distance” is one of those three-word phrases I am fond of using, and here was a chance to actually live it. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot this past year.

2) A year ago part of me felt like I was on my way to being mediocre. I haven’t published a poem in so long, let alone write one. Poetry used to be a really big part of my life. I used to read, write, and revise on a weekly basis, many of them are attempts which I wished would someday be actual poems. To be honest, it was a time when I felt like I haven’t been doing much for myself and for the person I would someday be.

Going away meant I could start focusing on myself, or at least try to see what I could do on my own. Here in Cotabato I have no friends and family, no one to come home to. At the end of every day, for the past year, I walk into a room that houses only my clothes and some of my books — where I lie on a foldable mattress pushed against a white wall and talk to myself sometimes. At first it was okay. I would usually have monologues about how my day went, what my plans are for the next day, that sort of thing.

Eventually I found myself having monologues where I end up asking myself about my plans for the future, about the life I left behind, about what I really wanted and if I can really find it on my own.

I still cannot answer these questions, whenever I find myself confronted with them. Last night I found myself asking these questions again and although I couldn’t come up with an answer, I did come up with a decision I’ve long been considering to make.

I still haven’t written a decent poem since I left. But soon enough, with the many changes that came with the past year, I think I can start working on my poetry again.

3) A year ago I wasn’t sure about what I felt for you — I wasn’t sure about us. I left a lot of people behind in the city, many of them just passing acquaintances whom I wouldn’t be in touch with five years from now. But there are a handful of people I’ve long built a home with, the kind of home that you take with you wherever you go. These chosen few have kept me sane and have always welcomed me whenever I found myself back in Manila, and they are the reasons why I would sometimes find myself close to tears whenever I’m about to take the plane back to Cotabato.

And then there are those whom I have loved for so long, but have always been in denial about. There are those whom I have loved for so long, but have become so familiar and constant that I have learned to ignore their presence in my life. There are those whom I have loved for so long, but I eventually didn’t mind living without.

In yearning for a semblance of independence, I thought I could afford to let you become a matter of convenience. Never in my life had I been so mistaken.