I was at the gym this afternoon when right in the middle of my pull up routines strong winds and heavy rain, without much of an announcement, lashed outside. It was a beautiful sight from the glass wall of the building I was in that time. I stopped what I was doing and moved closer to the glass wall so that I could have a full view of Shaw Boulevard and the area of Shangrila Plaza. Everything was at a standstill, rendered static by the beauty of one of the first strong thunderstorms of the monsoon season.
For a brief moment, my thoughts and the melancholy that they inspire were arrested, as they were obviously dwarfed by the force of nature raging outside.
It takes courage to admit to oneself that everyone has left and that the only thing to do right now is to go back to the drawing board, find out what has gone wrong, assess the damage, and see what can be salvaged and be included in the next venture. And perhaps attempt to live the remaining years of my 30s more meaningfully and productively.
I simply cannot fix a broken system, and that’s myself. I cannot go on doing what I have been doing these past ten years as all I see were casualties and hurt in the aftermath.
I dread graduating from this period of my life full of regrets and bitterness and causing the same ill-feelings in other people.
I’ll workout more often (and add more days I spend on cardio) and not to think of using my gains in the gym to bang the next guy.
I’ll be with my cat and play with him because I know he needs me.
I’ll value all my relationships–family, friends, and the next person I shall decide to love–because they are all I have in this life that’s bound to be catastrophic in the end. I will be spending the quiet days with them, without thinking that these days could be better.
I’ll take care of my health because no amount of insurance will give me a feeling of security that tomorrow I’ll feel good as I feel today.
I’ll make more friends not because I plan to go to bed with them but because no amount of books read will come close to actually being with a real, breathing person and the depth of character he will provide me. Because I need a community of brothers and sisters whose only bond that unites us is our desire to be in the company of each other.
I’ll think less of what I think and think more of how to be in the moment and enjoy the minutes that I will have no way of getting back.
I’ll try to see love less as a romantic. This time I’ll view it as a realist, that there is no one perfect partner. That as a couple we are both going to know things about each other that will shock, gross out, even hate each other, but that we/I shall be forgiving and accepting of each other’s broken-ness. I’ll love better this time, not to be afraid to communicate my thoughts and feelings, and spend 2/3 of my time listening.
I shall get more sleep, not to be afraid to be left alone with my thoughts, and trust that things can get worse. To be thankful that I enjoy the simple joys of life because anytime fortune can change.
And maybe, I’ll write more this time.
The last month without you was a blur. I survive daily, thanking that Tumi is next to me, feeling sad that he has to live in a small space, asking himself what has become of the white man on whose lap he used to sleep when he was recovering from his operation.
In so many ways Tumi and I are very similar. The only difference is that he is a cat and there is no way for him to articulate to me the extent of his sadness. Or perhaps I am only projecting onto him what I feel now. But I can express better in writing things that I cannot say to you in spoken English because my sincere thoughts are masked by my pride, my disappointment, and my desire to appear strong in front of you. But I know I am vulnerable. I am so weak. I am barely holding it together.
And so I have to write this.
I am very sad, M.. Initially, I thought I will successfully get over you after a while, but you have left me so broken and so unable to move on. No amount of logic will persuade me that there is a better life in your absence, that being with someone with fewer issues and drama in life will make me happier. I always gravitate towards you because I know I will only feel joy and happiness with you around.
I’m writing this not because I want to convince you to reconsider me, not because I want you to change your mind (because I know nothing in this world will convince you to change your mind. Nothing.). I have come to know you very well despite the short amount of time we were together. Because I wanted to know you and understand you because I cared. I wanted to be your friend, your lover, your partner in life. And for this I know that your decision when we went to Baler is final.
But I hope you leave in your heart a small opening for me.
For the more than one year we were together, I know deep inside that what I had for you is real.
I have nothing to offer you, except my devotion and loyalty.
I certainly felt you loved me. That you cared for me. And those moments were the moments I felt the happiest. I cannot promise you the future, M.. We both do not know what will become of us. But I promise you my everyday, to decide to love you every day of my life that I am alive on this planet. I do not ask that you be perfect, M., because I love you for who you are, the imperfections and flaws included.
M., I want to take care of you, to make you happy until the very last days we spend together. I want to see you grow old, until your mind is unable to recognize me because I know your heart will. I’m crying while writing this letter because I never felt this kind of sadness in my entire life. Because I never felt love of this kind, this intense and pure.
With all honesty, I do not know why I’m writing this. Perhaps I am kept alive by the hope that when C. decides to leave for good someday, you still have that bit of love for me. I am holding on to that hope. M., please allow me to have that small piece of love. I promise to be a better man, to be the best man for you. I’ll consciously close my mouth when I eat, I will wash my face when I get home, take a shower and shampoo three times a day, cook for you, exercise with you, not look at other guys, listen to everything you say, not argue with you, cum every time we fuck, not keep anything from you, take care of you, be more sensitive, be in the moment, not to eat fried food, be less sensitive to your sarcasm, be less sarcastic.
I love you very much, M.. That’s the only thing you cannot stop me from doing.
I cannot move on because I will not move on M..
I am so deep in this shit.
I love you.
I lost my phone on Saturday, or it was stolen. The entire Sunday, I read a book on Marxism in the Philippines edited by Abinales. I finished reading the book in half a day, all because there was nothing to distract me from reading. Except for one–Tumi’s wailing.
My poor cat kept going back to his litter box, scratching the walls of the pink, square plastic container which I lined with shredded paper bags from 7eleven. A follower on Instagram told me that it’s good to replace the usual cat litter sand with paper as paper won’t be too painful for the cat to claw repetitively when he attempts to poop following a major operation. (Last week, he underwent an operation to remove his ruptured anal sac and to clean the surrounding area covered with pus and abscess.)
Seeing Tumi in pain, neither eating nor drinking, unable to excrete the waste inside his body for four days, and looking at me with so much dependency one doesn’t normally see in a cat was disheartening. He would climb to the bed, clumsily carrying his heavy body to sit next to me. After getting tired of looking at me, he would inch closer and lean his head on my arm while my other hand held the book I was reading. Then he succumbed to sleep, to forget if only for a few minutes the pain and discomfort he might be feeling. Seconds later, his small head was held by my palm; he curled his body like a croissant, but it’s not the cute kind of cat croissant one sees on Instagram. He looked like a baby, and I think among the four cats, it was Tumi who didn’t grow up like a normal cat. It’s as if he’s suspended in animated kittenhood. And for this I feel that he, among my four cats, needed me the most.
I didn’t want to document his suffering. It isn’t my object whenever I take pictures of him sleeping or yawning or walking in the room without any clear direction where he’s heading. In fact, I question the need for Tumi to go through pain in order for me to keep him by my side.
I asked his veterinarian what our options are. The most radical is to open him up again to remove the hardened stool in his large intestine which is a result of his inability to normally evacuate his excretion from his digestive tract.
I said no. I didn’t want him to go through surgery again for my sake. Owning a pet can be a rather selfish thing to do. It’s keeping an animal in a small place, letting him wait for his owner until he finishes his day job, come home to him, feed him and play with him for fifteen minutes, then feel good about providing the animal his basic needs and what little time the owner has left after toiling the whole day, and himself being a version of a pet by someone who’s more powerful, better connected, more moneyed. It’s a little too cynical, but it is.
While at the vet last night, I observed the comings and goings of pet owners who were holding their animals, all dogs, close to their chests, imitating those Renaissance paintings of the Madonna and her child. It’s almost grotesque. The cat owners were different. The cats were caged, the owners aware of the fact that what they have is a semi-wild animal who would not think twice of using their sharp claws in the event they felt their safety is compromised. The cats were as sick as the dogs, but the felines based on how they stared at me knew that they had to be respected, their honor to stay intact in spite of the presence of IV tubes attached to their arms. When the nurse brought Tumi out, I saw an infant looking helpless, meowing to me as if he’s telling me that he needed to be held, that he missed holding my arms while I embrace him tightly.
It was a difficult scene to look at. I do not know what I have done to render Tumi dishonored, to forget that he’s a cat, that he is supposed to be independent of me.
A good lightbulb creates that perfect mood.
Photo by Juanma
Now this is how it feels, to be alone at the end of the day.
I arrived home at 6:20 after leaving work at 5:00 and having done my grocery that I hope will be enough to last me for a week. As soon as I got to my place, I took my clothes off, washed my face, and flopped myself on the edge of the bed to reach for my iPhone charger. I opened Spotify and searched for Amy Winehouse’s songs.
I fell asleep for a good one hour.
When I woke up at around 8:00 I knew I had to force myself to eat. I prepared a simple dinner of salad and eggs for one.
This, it is now clear to me, is the life of a man on his own. The sensation is new. I don’t know if I will ever get used to it. Certainly I can imagine a life of independence. I didn’t cohabit with any of my partners right away, but at least then I was sure I had a partner. We lived separate for some time, but I practically spent most of the time with them until eventually it was decided that I had to move to their place.
I’m mature enough to understand the nuances of most agreements. I’ve become more adept at reading the fine prints as well as inferring the implicit meanings of phrases used to set the terms of the contract of a relationship. I have to keep a place of my own and not to think of it as a dead investment but rather see it as an emergency fund. It’s sitting there without earning any interest, in fact losing its value to inflation and the changes in the purchasing power parity of the currency, but it has to be there, depreciating in value, because someday, I will have to open the door of the unit using a set of keys that is barely used while trying to carry several pieces of luggage, boxes of books, a decor or two bought in one of the travels I had with my partners, a box of love letters, and a microwave.
This is how impermanent relationships are, as all things. In the meantime, I have to force myself to endure the silence, not to be ashamed of solitude, and maybe see myself free from images in the background or foreground, and to know the person standing in front the full length mirror better.