You sit on the edge of a wooden dock, in front of you is that dog, both of you silhouetted by the setting sun. I envy the peace that you have; my wish is that someday I’ll have it, too.
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.
Juanma has told me many times that I can empathize better with animals than with humans, that I care more for the welfare of my cats than for any of the people I know. I don’t agree with him, but there must be some truth to this observation.
I know when my cats are sick or are sad. I don’t merely anthropomorphize them because through years of raising them I can sense the slight changes in their meows, the drooping of their ears, or the abnormal shedding of their fur as indicators that something is wrong. My four cats are so dear to me that they figure prominently in most of the plans I have for the future.
I’m thinking of getting my third and a bigger condominium unit because I want to accommodate them and take them away from my ex who currently houses them. I think that they’re becoming too much of a burden to him. (Being with four cats while trying to begin a new life after a time with someone can be very difficult. How can he explain to the guys he’s dating the four felines that sit quietly while they talk about what each looks for in a partner? And for this I am most thankful to him for agreeing to provide a home for our cats) Sure, I see them regularly during the week to deliver their food, buy them the best cat food I can afford, take them to the vet for their vaccines and emergency health needs, but I want to see them every day, play with them, and make sure they have the best life I can provide. The condo I currently have does not allow pets and is too small for four cats.
I do not know when I started to be enamored with cats, but it should be when I was still young. Growing up, we never had a pet in the family because our house was practically open and any neighbors’ dog or cat could enter whenever they feel like it. But cats, they have smitten me with their proud demeanor and elegant gait. They look needy but are never.
I had wanted to have a cat but one cannot own a cat. Leave your door open and the next thing they’ll do is escape and find their happiness somewhere.
I believe my four cats will do the same. Sometimes, I intentionally keep the main door of the unit and screen door open to see what they will do. Didi, the youngest among the four doesn’t think twice of zooming out, Mimi hesitates, Priya observes, and Tumi will squeal, but all of them run out just the same.
I know, however, that they will have a difficult time surviving in the street. I’m imagining Tumi meowing at the top of his lungs waiting for me to scoop him up and take him home.
I understand that these four cats are a lifetime responsibility.
They’re the closest I can have to feeling unconditional love. I care for them because I hold myself accountable for them. The relationship I have with my ex has undergone drastic changes, but my relationship with my four cats will never change. I wish for them to stay healthy, happy, and hopefully one day figure out that the reason they still see me bringing a sack of dry food and cans of wet food to their place even though I do not live with them anymore is because I love them.
At 12:53pm today I woke up from a dream almost too real, for a second I thought the emotional pain I feel inside due to a recent breakup is only an illusion, and I could take a ride to Mandaluyong to see Juanma again, but it wasn’t to be the case. Nothing is going to change anytime soon. I am still alone. This has been the longest time I have been alone my whole life. Alone in the sense that there is no one person out there that I know who will ask me if I’m all right, without a partner.
From my window I can see the metro moving ahead indifferent to what I feel because truly it doesn’t care about anyone.
This recent week, in the rush of events, I met an old love, someone I consider the closest person in my life, but even he has changed. He’s the same–his voice, scent, touch, yes, even now he looked at me, but he’s changed a lot in the same way that I couldn’t recognize myself when I was with him. I knew I love him, but it wasn’t the same kind of love I felt before. We’ve both changed so much, but ironically and naively, the only thing that didn’t change is my expectation that people don’t change after the years, heartaches, solitude, travels, people they meet on the way.
The way this expectation was shattered was too painful and traumatic for me. Reopening wounds from the past was the most inhumane thing I could do to someone I love, and I left him again knowing that after four years since that painful conclusion to a relationship that spanned for almost four years, I can honestly say to myself that I deserved now the comeuppance for the pains I caused him that time, and for this, I will never hurt him again, and the only way I can do this is to distance myself and not to inflict more pain on him by loving him like I used to in the past. We said good bye, not as friends, but as former lovers who decide that what was will never be again.
In that dream it was raining. I was going to the the other side of the road and Juanma to somewhere I don’t know where. I looked at his sad eyes. He smiled at me and gestured a kiss. I ran towards him and right at this very point in my life, there’s only one place in the world that I want to be in, and that is to be beside him.
But fate has other things in store for me, for him.
I promise myself not to be afraid to be alone this time, to not force myself into anyone’s life without first making sure that I will never hurt them like the people I loved in the past.
I don’t like being alone. I have never been alone before, but I hope to discover the value of being single, of depending on no one for my happiness and sense of self.
Only after this will I know how it is to be truly beside someone.
I am often intrigued (I’m not sure if this is the best word to describe it) by all these that are happening between us. The start, it was something I did not think would lead to anything deep and beautiful, but to something deep and beautiful it led to.
This morning, while walking toward you, you smoking what remained of that cigarette stick always stuck in between your index and middle fingers, I barely held myself from smiling. I felt I was again a teenage boy mesmerised by the sight of a teacher he admires a lot, whose attention he wants to catch, whose affirmation of his good works he always seeks.
The noonday sun as it shone on your face almost blinded me. I tried to ask you a mundane question because if I said anything other than ‘how are you’ I’d betray the upwelling of excitement I had inside me. And it has long ceased to be appropriate for a man my age.
I have told you that my circumstance keeps me from being with you, and you told me that my choice of the word ‘circumstance’ is something that you don’t like. You’re right. It’s a word used by a coward, someone not brave enough to understand our agency as humans who are always given that choice to redirect our journey to wherever our hearts lead us.
Forgive the cliche. I have not written here for a long time, and I have become quite rusty. This is my way of documenting this very important decision I’m making as an adult.
Yesterday was a good day. We walked under the trees, we lay on the grass, you lay your head on my chest, you read me a poem, we kissed; it was so good I didn’t want for the day to end. I wanted it to go on forever. But my circumstance keeps on pushing itself on me.
But this shall soon change because you’ve given me enough reasons to.
As for irony, I shall write about it soon.
These past few days, I had been peppering this blogsite with hints of you. It started with a pesto right after new year, then an account of my crazed repeat playing of a song I would otherwise consider moronic had I been my usual hateful self, and a declaration of your ability to put a semi-permanent horizontal groove between my lips which romantics often dryly call ‘smile’ [a manifestation of a bodily response men of science describe as hormonal over-secretion of the hypothalamus, which I find very prosaic and insulting]. But these are inadequate if I factor in the given that my thoughts in a single day are preoccupied by nothing but images of you.
I am in love with you. Not in the idealist’s sense of a sublime, unconditional love that rivals that of God’s nor is it an abstraction that does not lend itself to corporeal ideals of feeling and sensation, however. But while I keep myself from intellectualizing it, I also avoid myself from reducing it to the level of the carnal and the base. Admittedly, though, the temptation of doing so is rather difficult to resist as touching you and being touched by you have been a decadent addiction that I simply do not have courage to withdraw from.
I do not know how ‘I am in love with you’ differs from ‘I love you’, but I guess their difference matters less now that I am already in love with you and loving you at the same time.
I was told that love does not require reasons nor logic to justify its presence. If it did, it could be because of any of the following, but love: that it is a mere image in the mind of somebody with delusional tendencies, that it’s pure and unadulterated lust, or, the most painful, that it’s all unexpelled gas that terribly needs expulsion. Experience taught me, however, that responding in the line of ‘I do not know’ to the question ‘Why do you love me?’ is naive. Nothing is more logical than finally choosing to fall [in love] despite the knowledge that the risk entailed of falling is uncalculated and that it can mean losing one’s self in the process. Still we went on, dove without any preconditions, and held our breaths while we’re free falling. It is the most logical because we were both fully aware that the sensation of flying, or free falling, is worth the risk of confronting the unknown. Jumping head on despite full knowledge of not knowing what will be can only be a result of careful contemplation.
Free falling by myself was an exhilarating experience; now that the experience is shared, I know it is going to be more exciting than it used to be.
You’ve bugged me for reasons why I love you; my responses and how I said them were less serious than I would have wanted to. But I have always been serious.
January 13, 2011, Rm 202 Media Center, UP Diliman