AUGUST 19, 2004 (THURSDAY)
It's almost been a year since I wrote this poem, right after I got home from the farewell party for that Israeli poet (gods, I forget his name) at Rockwell.
It was the language of hands that spoke to her,
lips brushing her forehead in muted colors
bringing her to remember the tingling of skin
when palm touched palm, and arms cradled her
to the slope of his chest, small bird half-awake
and warm, knowing only the safety of the words
he whispered in the shell of her ear.
The sound reminded her of the ocean: water
swishing along the curves of her body, touching
her fingers, tendrils of seagrass curiously exploring
the space between each strand of her hair.
The sea molded to her form, followed her lines
seamlessly, ignore the boundaries between skin and sea.
She knew the quiet bursts of light
as viewed from beneath the surface of water,
or behind tinted glass. She knew only silence,
the truth of his touch, the movement of the car
cutting through the river of traffic as it sped
across the asphalt expanse of the city. Senses blurred
as she heard the surge of his heart beneath flesh,
allowing her to imagine a momentary happiness.
I promised myself I won't be nostalgic. And I promised myself that no matter what happened, I will not regret anything - not now, not ever. It's always about balance, Dell told me over coffee Monday evening, and I think I'm regaining some sense of equilibrium. He will always be in the back of my mind, that little space reserved for him alone, and perhaps that's the only reminder I will have that I still love him. But it gets easier to live with it with every day that passes by. I suppose, after a year, I am now stronger because of it, and wiser, and perhaps more cautious.
Maia tells me that she admires me for being strong enough to hold on. I tell her that I admire her ability to move on completely. Maybe I am stuck in a rut, and maybe I am too stubborn to actually believe that he will never come back. Sometimes I find myself so pathetic for still caring, for still wondering if he's all right - why can't I steel my heart from him? Why am I still here, after everything he's done to me? What am I still waiting for? I know I deserve more than him, I know that there are still a lot of men out there who will want to be with me - but why him? Why this guy? Why am I still holding on? Because he made me promise never to leave him and I've always intended to honor promises made on birthdays?
I will forget about this tomorrow, in the light of everything that I will have to do: graduation pictures and preparing for GRAIL's induction, and the Ninotchka Rosca book-signing at Makati. I still have my life, even after everything, and I have existed before him and I will exist after him. But that's all there is to it - existing. Because how can you go back to merely glowing with a soft light when you've already experienced true incandescence?
I know that he will hate me for writing this down, for talking about him in this virtual space. Especially right now, when he's not feeling well. And I wish that I didn't have to express myself like this. But doesn't he see - we don't talk anymore. He never listens, and I feel so patronized whenever we do get the chance to speak. There are so many things that are now off-limits. I am so sick and tired of hearing, "I don't want to talk about it," or "Let's just not say anything about that," or "Never mind." I mean, if you really don't want to talk about it, why bring up the topic in the first place? Shall we go back to talking about the weather? I mean, why talk at all? I just don't understand what he wants from me anymore. He says he still wants to be my friend, that we mirror each other in strange ways, that he still cares about me. But how can you be friends with someone who always allows you to go one step forward and then pushes you two steps back, as if this was some kind of twisted tango?
I would have wanted to share my life with him. And I am honestly interested in his life, and all the stories he has to tell. I don't think I will ever tire of listening to him prattle on about the spectrum of his existence. I would willingly walk with a blindfold around my eyes if he'd take my hand. It was never about roses and chocolates and expensive dates (what expensive dates? We could barely afford a movie...) - it was just being with him, and being happy. And I think he was happy with me. And I don't know now where we went wrong - should I not have gone to Dumaguete? Should I not have chosen my craft for once? Was I wrong in thinking that we were strong enough to be physically away from each other for three weeks, that I was trusting enough to think that I was coming home to something? Was I wrong in trusting him, that he'd be able to do his academic work and his thesis in the time that I was away - and now that I am still away, at arm's length - since I knew that he needed time to himself? Because at least I know that the break-up right now would still be validated if he'd actually start turning in parts of his thesis, or fixing up his academic life.
It's almost been a year. I thought that this time around, I would be the happiest, luckiest girl in the world. I thought I was worth something, that I was special - the same way I thought that he was worth it, all the sacrifices we've made. I didn't think all I'd be left of the cake would be crumbs. And stupid little me - I'd still eat it all up, and smile all the while.