There’s something about Juanma

I know I will never completely know him. Or I will, but it will take a lifetime. Ours is a story that’s private, almost tragic, sad at times, almost fictional (but definitely real), and this story is enlivened by the quietness and ordinariness of how people like Juan and me live our brief stint in this world.

He’s one man I am most interested in understanding. Although he has almost spelled out to me how he wanted to be understood, I think I am still as clueless about who he really is as the time we first had a chance to talk in person more than half a year ago.

When one is fortunate (or unfortunate enough, depending on how one sees it), he meets someone so enigmatic and so beautiful a person that the desire to know and to understand this other other human being surpasses any other desires that compete for his attention. This drive to know is stronger than sex or his other biological needs.

I am one very fortunate man (or unfortunate, depending on how one looks at it).

I am not wont at exaggerating.

There are texts that give you a flow chart to help you comprehend them, and so the act of reading could not be easier. There are texts that knowingly and maliciously defy being read, frustrating the reader and incarcerating him in a hall of mirrors. I am not interested in these texts. There are, however, texts that announce their cipher and teach you how to use it; however, the reader insists that there’s so much more than the offered reading. Juanma is of the third type. Or more accurately, I am a reader of the third type.

There are a lot of things that I cannot write on this public blog, but which I have written more extensively in my private journal about this man who is the subject of this essay. The conversations we exchange will stay in a cocoon of privacy because the beauty of the creature inside can only be appreciated within the threads shared by these two individuals.

I never enjoyed writing about people because my attempt at writing about a fellow human being will only be successful at insulting them due to the impossibility of capturing their complexity using language. Unlike in the novels where characters, regardless of their avowed intricacy of characterisation, can still be described almost comprehensively using stock adjectives, a living and walking human being’s identity constantly shifts ground.

But Juanma is worse. He tells me explicitly who he is and how he became who he is but I refuse to accept this because I have an aching feeling that his childhood stories, his loves, his past, and his present won’t be enough to explain the man I usually sit across in the morning when we drink coffee, or the man I quietly look at sitting next to me as we watch the people walking at a park from the window of his room.

I sometimes see myself in him, but no. We’re two different beings. And I refuse to accept that he isn’t really complex because in my mind, this man, who has explicitly told me who he is, is bigger than the sum of his sad childhood, failed loves, complicated past, and an even more tangled present.

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Pair of eyes

You are the owner of the only pair of eyes in the world I want to look at me, to see me naked, to see me cry, to see me weak.

Kinds of pain

A college friend messaged me on Viber that a former classmate of ours, Grace, passed away due to complications from Stage 4 breast cancer. The news came to me while I was having my tattoo finished. As this was happening, I also received a message that things cannot go on anymore between us because of some unbridgeable differences.

Too many things happening in one afternoon, too many kinds of pain my body and mind are taking in and have to handle at the same time in a span of a few hours.

It was something I was willing to risk everything for, but our differences prove to be too many and irreconcilable. It’s sad. I need to rest for now, hope for the best, and wait.

The wound will heal, and I’m hoping a beautiful image comes out of this. Sunscreen and moisturiser will do. I will not touch the small wounds to avoid irritating them.

A stray dog

We humans think in symbols (albeit unconsciously, and most of the time use symbols that are a part of the general repertoire of symbols so unoriginal and fully embedded in the language we fail to realize that they are in fact symbolic).

And we impose gravity on these objects that so happen to be there in the most opportune of moments and associate with them meanings both frivolous and profound. Often, we begin by using them as a metaphor, an all-purpose cliche to simplify thoughts, but which also has this very insidious effect of rendering our thoughts banal, even dead, if chosen haphazardly and in a way that is uninterrogated. (Which is almost always the case. As who has the time to examine one’s choice of metaphors in speech?)

But in some very rare instances, we strike at something novel, pure, original, and powerful that we get dumbstruck at how metaphors, if chosen correctly achieve the status of a true symbol, recurring and with multiple layers of meanings. And dangerous because they function as a frame by which look at the world.

This afternoon, on my way home, I saw this black Labrador. I used to see him last year with an older-looking Labrador who by the looks of it was in the twilight of his dog life. They were inseparable. Then this year, this guy has been seen plying Alvero Street every afternoon alone.

Cats fascinate me more than dogs. Cats seldom show emotions and feign independence. Dogs are rather predictable, unashamed of dependency. Dogs are sad creatures programmed to suffer from a tragic old-age. Cats expire in privacy that is of their own choosing, untheatrically. They don’t experience abandonment because they are no one’s pet to begin with. One doesn’t feel nostalgic towards things he doesn’t experience or believe to have experienced.

For dogs, it’s different. It’s heart rending to see an ageing canine walking on a street alone and abandoned. It’s sad because they had a taste of love and warmth but are deprived of it at a time in their lives when they need these the most. To be conditioned to feel love for one’s entire existence then to be divested of it is painful, and to witness one creature experience it is as painful to the observer.

When I was told that he’s called by someone in his past a stray dog I had nothing but pity and guilty empathy. I wanted to run my hand on his hair, look at him in the eyes, and tell him I will not abandon him, but I have nothing to prove that I will stay true to this promise. I barely know him. I don’t know his fear, his dreams, or the extent of evil he’s capable of doing. I only see what is good because that is what is allowed by our young relationship.

To declare that I will be loyal to him, to be with him, forever, will not make me any different from that person who promised the solitary Labrador that he will be with the dog until his dying days.

I, like any human being, am capable of leaving behind the things, pets, and people I care so much about.

And this is the folly of the human being. But it doesn’t mean that we stop making this promise, that we give up on attempting to stay true to this promise, that we don’t articulate this promise.

Because after all, everything begins with that promise. To have it is better than nothing at all. To experience love no matter how short is better than to not have experienced it at all. To hope that forever exists is a choice I shall make than to forever doubt its probability.

Delusional, sure.

But so what? This is what our brief existence allows–forever.