Tuesday, July 18, 2006

How To Be Lonely

It's that loneliness again, creeping up on you like a long-lost lover in the night. Sometimes it's easier to pretend that you are strong, that you can put on a straight face and say that yes, everything is all right, everything is well, damn the Residential Services for not having proper housing for the students and running around a place that you cannot even visualize in your head, looking for a spare room.

It is easier to say that you are fine, then to explain why you need someone to hold you when you need it the most, and finding out that, really, there is no one to turn to.

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We as a culture are naturally averse to lining up. Heaven forbid the evil queues that assault one's senses as we line up for taxis and official papers - the word "line" of course, representing the rather uneven curvature of people simply following the person in front of them and hoping to whatever gods they believe in that it goes to the place they want to be in. Even the bureaucracy is inefficient to the point of incredulity: I took just one look at the PhilHealth service center in Pasig City one morning, and decided, to hell with free medical services. I am not going inside that room - there were more people than available oxygen.

Why is it so difficult for us to keep in order? Is it a natural predilection of going against the flow? Not that I have any problems with being an individual, but I am more concerned with the lack of precision and order we have in this country, in the way things are run. I am afraid that I am not armed with the kind of skills that I may need when I leave: a trust in the system, that all of my papers are in order, that I will not prove other people RIGHT - that the Philippines is a country of lawlessness and disorder, that even a mere instruction cannot be followed just because we immediately assure that the system is wrong.

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My suitcase is already a third full with my formal clothes and my house clothes. My toiletries are already carefully stashed away and separated, and tomorrow I will need to buy boxes for the books that I will be bringing to Singapore. Evans Lodge is putting me on their waiting list, which means I will still have to look for alternate housing (again). I am leaving, and it is finally sinking in, and I am afraid.

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I am trying to swallow as much of Manila as I can. Unlike before, I am leaving when there is light.

When I left for Davao when I was seventeen, our flight was in the early morning. And so my last memory of the city at the time was seen through the tinted windows of our cab, the streets almost empty and the malls still shut down for the night. All the windows were blank, and the only glow came from the streetlamps that created puddles of concentric light on the road, and the reflection of the lamps on the river as we crossed the bridge. And I remember thinking, "This is how Manila should be: empty and full of ghosts."

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I was watching my triumvirate of reality shows earlier on ETC - Project Runway: Season 1, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and America's Next Top Model - Cycle 4 - and I realized that shit, I won't be able to watch what will happen next week because I won't be here anymore.

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If there was a way for me to hold your hand and help you as you go through this sadness, my friend, I will do it.

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