Uncategorized, Vignettes

Unhinged

Oh
I could ask you a million questions
All these words
That can never again be a conversation
Because I don’t talk to strangers

I would still struggle against the reflex
To call you
Love
I can’t
Because love is enough

The only thing that ever closes
Is the door


I found this buried in my archives. I’ve always been partial to paragraphs, but I guess on this one occasion in 2017, fewer words conveyed the feelings better.

It’s been rather hard to find words, if you couldn’t tell from the silence here. I write a fair bit of them on my Instagram, but haven’t really found a way to make them happen here, where I like to think I put my ‘better’ writing. There are all manner of things — good and bad — that I have wanted to write about seriously for a long time now. The question has always been how, or perhaps more accurately, how much. But I think this is going to be the year that I actually start trying again.

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Essays, Journal

Time and space

It’s been a while, I know.

Staring at my screen now, with my fingertips on the keys for the first time in almost a year, I realize that it’s because this — the written word, this space — has always been where I am most vulnerable, and I have not wanted to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is an exhausting, terrifying quality to possess in a world like the one we live in now.

The last thing I wanted was to make myself vulnerable again.

Experience has taught me that it never ends well.


It is a year to the day since I learned I’d been cheated on. Mayon Volcano erupted this morning, something I took as a sign that it was finally the right time to write again.

I want so badly to be able to write this without referencing my heartbreak of 2017, but that makes no sense. How do you write about recovering from something without mentioning that something, that someone? You can’t. I can’t.

I want so badly to free him from my narrative, because he hasn’t been in my life for nearly a year now, but that’s impossible, because he will always be part of my narrative, and the loss of him, his absence, the emptiness he left in his wake, and all the hurt, figured so significantly in the year that was my year.

That is the nature of life, I suppose. It is the nature of stories, of interpersonal relations and their endings. It is the nature of writing, and one of the perils of dating a chronic oversharer who has made words her living from the age of seventeen.

“You own everything that happened to you,” says Anne Lamott in her Instructions on Writing and Life. “Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” I’ve lived by those words since the day I read them. I’ve been living by them since before that, really.

You’re always going to be a character in my story now.

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Essays, Journal

Windswept

I am looking at the clock as I type these words. I have a little over thirty minutes to go. Thirty more minutes to mourn. Thirty more minutes to indulge myself in the agony of my heartbreak. Thirty more minutes to allow myself this anger, this bitterness. Thirty more minutes to hate him. Thirty more minutes to love him.

And when the clock strikes midnight on March 1st, I will take a deep, deep breath, close my eyes, release the last of the tempest from within me, and take the first, unsteady steps forward into the next chapter of my life.

I have thought a lot about love over the last two weeks, over the month since he broke my heart. I have thought about a great number of things aside from love, actually. True to my self-doubting nature, I held a figurative mirror up to my face and asked myself over and over again if maybe I was the one who was wrong. For some reason, I have always found it infinitely easier to hate myself than to hate the ones I love. It’s something I’m trying to grow out of, my tendency to absorb the blame for the cruelties of others. Did I overreact? Did I ask for too much? But I asked for none of this. I didn’t ask for love. I didn’t ask to be loved. I didn’t ask for commitment. I didn’t ask for promises.

He made me want things that I had grown afraid to want, because I’d been hurt by them already before. And then he hurt me with them again.

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Essays, Journal

Deafening silence

It is so quiet, and I don’t know how to contend with the silence. Lately, I’ve been chasing noise wherever I can find it — whatever form, as long as it is something loud enough outside to drown out the noise inside that only I can hear, when I find myself alone.

It is Valentine’s Day, and I am heartbroken again. I don’t think my newly minted ex-boyfriend quite understands why I am all over the emotional spectrum, and to be honest, neither do I. At least not completely. Sometimes I feel like it is not in the nature of emotions to ever be fully understood, or perhaps not as they occur. They are merely experienced, lived through, ridden out until you stagger waterlogged onto the shores of reason and sanity, on your hands and knees coughing the sea out of your lungs, amazed that you are no longer drowning. The emotions I feel are borderline tidal. Meanwhile, his life in Berlin continues. Meaningless sex (which is what began us and ultimately ended us), partying, fun, fun, fun. I can’t imagine he is much changed by all this, or tormented like I am. He possesses that glorious male capability to compartmentalize — to tuck things away into little boxes and forget about them when they are inconvenient. (I suppose I was one of those inconvenient things, in the end.)

Meanwhile, in Manila, I try to put myself back together. I am treading water, weary. I exist in a constant tumult; one thing flowing into the next at the most inopportune and unexpected moments, like a riptide. I am beyond my own control.

I do not know where to begin. I just know that I need to write this out, because writing has always helped me process my thoughts better than days of self-flagellation in bed ever have. (I have spent many days in bed torturing myself over the last few weeks; I need to try something new.)

Normally, I would already have written a hefty and emotional narrative of some fragment of our brief history together — I mean, the last boy who broke my heart got both a story published in a collection (Thermodynamics), and a monologue performed in a play and subsequently published in a script book (Intimacy), and he wasn’t even my boyfriend. He was just a guy literally everyone warned me not to date. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t listen. I’ve paid for that.) I’ve immortalized that lucky bastard.

This, this boy, my first real love since my last relationship ended in 2013, must surely deserve something on a Palanca Award-winning scale, then. (My version of Carrie Fisher’s ‘Take your broken heart, make it into art’ is: ‘Today’s heartbreak is tomorrow’s Palanca Award.’) But I’ve come to realize that I didn’t write about him as much as I probably would have because he so fiercely guarded his privacy. He barely had a social media footprint. He disdained Instagram, which I found novel. He didn’t put himself out there, which is something I wanted to respect. Oh, I would post about him — all of those posts gone now, of course, when I went all scorched earth on my Instagram account — but I kept it cryptic when I did. Unless you were my Facebook friend, you wouldn’t even know his surname. I longed to scream him from the rooftops, but only whispered the barest minimum of him.

I guess I wanted to guard him as zealously as I could, because he was mine. He isn’t any longer. All he is now is fair game.

(That’s what happens when you date a writer.)

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Essays, Lost in the World

No distance left to run

When I can’t find the words or imagery to express how I feel, I turn to film stills. I have hundreds of them saved or screen-captured into a folder on my phone, and over the last year, I’ve watched them gradually turn from quotes about love and loss, to statements about self-discovery, to lines of dialogue about escape in some form or another. (Perhaps it’s a cycle: You lose something of great value to yourself, and there’s a part of you that’s left empty. You try to find something to fill in that void. And if you can’t find it in your existing surroundings, you set out for new ones to search there.)

The need to escape is something many of us feel keenly — an escape from the banality of day-to-day living, from bad company, from a difficult situation, from an uninspiring environment, from ourselves, from all of the above, from all that and more. Some will find that escape in music, or in books, or in binge-watching films and television series and losing themselves in those fictional worlds; checking out of one reality and into another. Some will find escape in creating their own alternate realities. Some will find escape in a bed or in a bottle.

And some will find escape by literally escaping.

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