Round off twenty-four to the nearest tens and you get twenty. Round off twenty-five to the nearest tens and you get thirty. Today is the last day of my twenty-fourth year. Tomorrow, I'd be a-quarter-of-a-century old. By posting this, I am making it a little more significant. Need I say more?
Ours is a summer affair.
I first met you last year, on the last days of April. At first, I ignored you. I admit, you were never someone I'd give a second glance to. I didn't care about you then, I didn't even know you then. But as the night progressed and after a few rounds of beer, I suddenly found myself wrapped in your arms. I was flattered with your attention. Of course you didn't know then how broken my heart was. And I just considered you a conquest, a diversion. We talked all night about nothing and everything. I didn't hold anything barred from you except that I didn't reveal that I was crying inside. I was comforted with your voice when we were talking by the poolside, me on the chaise-lounge, you in the water. I almost cooed in delight. I was captivated with your almost childish curiosity and your unforgiving straightforwardness. I was also secretly enthralled by the mere sight of you. Indeed, seeing you get out of the water with your muscles flexed almost made my whole being burn with desire. Morning came and you bade goodbye. We didn't exchange numbers. We didn't exactly want to see each other again.. no, nothing of that sort. I was just looking forward to nursing my broken heart.
A year passed by and I proved to myself that I was wrong. I wanted to see you again. I frantically searched for you, contacted your friends, and looked up every possibility to see you again. We practically lived in the same city but all my efforts were in vain. You were nowhere to be found and I decided to call off my search. A year passed with you on my mind.
Just imagine my surprise when I got to speak with you on the phone. I wasn't exactly expecting to talk with you again, nor was I looking forward to it. I was being happy with my life. I didn't need you to complicate matters. But the possibility of seeing you again is something I could never resist.
I found myself again wrapped in you arms, on the last days of April this year. We caught up with our stories, we caught up with our lives, and we caught up with our selves. The poolside became a silent testament of what transpired between us last year, and this year. It was a long year and a day before I got to see you again. I don't know if it were by mere accident that we celebrated our anniversary in the same place, but I was just happy, just ecstatic to see you again.
A few lazy days passed, with us alternating swimming in the pool, gorging on food or simply just sleeping soundly on the bed. It was fun while it lasted. I could never forget when we were lying on the bed while it was softly raining outside. You were watching an Italian film on my laptop while I was feeling the sinews of your back.
Alas, some good things had to end, albeit abruptly. We were standing by the roadside. I wanted to have an image of you imprinted on my mind but it was so dark, I could hardly see you. The last time I saw you was when I boarded a bus going to the neighboring town. We still planned to see each other that night, planned to be with each other before we went to the city together the next day. But it didn't turn out the way I wanted it to. I waited for you all night. I sent you a message two times, rang you up three times to no avail. In the morning I sent you a message and rang you up again. There was no answer. I guess you're playing catch-me-if-you-can again.
Another year to look forward to, without you. Yes, ours is a summer affair. Sweet. Fleeting. Absolute. I will wait till next year's warm summer rain.
It seems that I've been saying that to myself quite often lately. Since I frequent Rustan's on a daily basis, everytime I pick a new item, and it turns out to be quite bad, I console myself with that phrase. If I lose something or did something inadvertently, that phrase comes handy. Okay, okay I'm not making a point. I guess I'm just so overwhelmed with the number of times I have said that to myself or to Affur aka Dyesebel, my constant companion in my misadventures.
This afternoon, we went to Buhisan Dam, on one of the mountains that loom over Cebu City. It turned out that the place is off-limits. So we ended up walking along the dirt road. Nonetheless, the road is on the edge of the forest so somehow I have fulfilled the reason I went there in the first place. Suddenly it struck me that a path leading into the woods is waiting for us beside the road. After much persuasion and cajoling, Affur aka Dyesebel, reluctantly agreed to take the path. But fear overcame us, so after just walking a few steps, we backed out. We were afraid that some guards might shoot us because a BIG warning was nailed on an equally BIG tree. The sign read: NO TRESPASSING. We ended up trudging along the dirt road further up, since it does not go anywhere but up. We found a bend in the road and we found ourselves sitting on a wooden bench under a majestic tree. After a few moments of solitude and more moments of incessant chit-chat, we reluctantly left our spot, leaving behind the slight breeze and a group of drunk men, smirking rather nastily at Affur aka Dyesebel.
So further up we went, settling on another clearing and sitting on some stumps. After discussing our future and what we wanted to do with our lives, we now went downhill, intent on going home and having a nice meal. Suddenly, after Affur aka Dyesebel talked with some sinister characters, we ended up walking yet again along the path going deeper into the woods. With nothing to accompany us except the chirping of the birds, the croaking of the frogs and the silent trickle of a spring nearby, it was an awesome experience. Affur aka Dyesebel earlier agreed to meet one of the sinister characters in the woods. After walking for about twenty minutes and not seeing the sinister character nor his shadow, we were suddenly struck with fear. It was already nearing twilight and a few minutes more in the forest means darkness and the subsequent but inevitable chance of losing our way. So lose our way we did. After trying several forks and ending up going in circles, I began to panic. Affur aka Dyesebel being obviously the lighter and more agile one, was several steps ahead of me when we broke into a run. I grabbed her camisole in an effort to slow her down, but to no avail. It was one of those moments when I realized that I should quit smoking altogether and do my gym workout more religiously. Thankfully, we were able to locate the correct path and found our way out of the woods. So there we were safe and sound albeit panting. And it was truly a terrific misadventure, a perfect day to end my rather boring restdays this week.
Noóng Lunes, sa Dalaguete, Cebú namalas ko ulit ang isáng napakagandáng hapon. Nagmuni-muni akó hábang nakaupó sa balkón. Wari'y sumásayaw ang mgá dahon ng kawayan sa íhip ng maalinsangan na hangin. Maaliwalas ang panahón at tila naglálayag ang mgá úlap sa bughaw na lángit. Paroó't parito namán ang mgá bubúyog at paru-paró sa mgá bulaklak at halaman. Napakatahímik, payapa at lubháng napakagandá ng hapong itó. Naalala ko tuloy ang aking nánay at ang aking kabataang kasama siyá. Párang kahapon lámang na ihinele niyá akó at hindí pinahintulutang lumabás ng báhay. Naalala ko ang mgá kalaró ko na párang waláng sawang tumakbó at nanghuli ng mga tutubí sa párang. Natatandaán ko pa ang palíhim naming pag-akyat sa mgá puno ng aratiles ng kapitbáhay. Nagunitá ko sa isáng hapong katúlad nitó ang makúlay at payak kong kabataan.
Dáhil dito nais kong magpasalámat sa maraming mga kaibigang nakasama ko sa ibá't ibáng magagandáng hapon na dumaán sa aking búhay.
Kay Sígling, sa isáng hapong hindí ko sinásadyang nabásag ang iyóng mgá labi (na naaalala pa rin káhit naghílom na ang mgá súgat.)
Kay Tiyá Leni, sa mgá hapong nagtindá ka ng maruya (kapalit ng sápilitang pagtúlog.)
Kay Van Dyke, sa hapong sinamahan mo akóng magdilig ng pananim sa ating halamanán (na nagsindí ng duda sa aking nánay.)
Kay Tiyá Pacit, sa mgá hapong ipinaggúhit mo akó ng mgá bandila ng ibá't ibáng bansá (ipagpaumanhín mo na hindí kitá pinaniwalaan noón na waláng bandila ang Míndanao.)
Kay John Q, sa isáng takip-sílim na nakasama kitá (ikaw ang aking unang pag-íbig - sakaling hindí mo pa alam.)
Kay Andy, sa maínit na hapon sa dágat ng Barcelona (at sa muntikang pagkalúnod ng aking mgá kamag-aral.)
Kay Noel, sa mgá hapong tinuruan mo akóng tumugtog ng biyulín (na sa totoó lang, hindí iyón ang hábol ko sa iyó.)
Kay Celeste, sa mgá hapong sinamahan kitáng magbantay sa inyóng tindahan (at paglaruán at dukutin ang bigás na panindá.)
Kay Ruth Karen, sa hapong nagpakasawa tayo sa kakakain ng kamías (hanggang sa namutí ang ating mgá ngusó.)
Kay Kitchie, sa mgá hapong nahigá tayo sa lílim ng mgá puno at kumain ng ságing (at magpalitan ng mgá hinaing at ala-ala.)
Kay Miradel at sa mgá Diwata, sa isang hapon sa Taal, Batangas (at sa halo-haló at malamig na túbig sa palengke na pamatid-úhaw.)
Kay Ayeng, sa hindí mabílang na mgá hapon at mgá tasa ng kapé at kwentuhan (at sigarilyo at mgá kuwento ng pag-íbig.)
Kay Jijí, Myra at Arbie, sa isáng hapon ng kasiyahan sa Maribago (isáng áraw ng satsatan, laró at kuwentuhan.)
Kay Eden, sa isáng maalinsangang hapon sa Dalaguete (alam mo na kung ano ang tinutúkoy ko.)
At kay Jen na sinamahan akó noóng Lunes ng hapon sa aking pag-iisá (isáng kahapong aking sasariwain sa dárating na mgá áraw.)
I have never actually seen that movie nor do I have the slightest inkling of what the story is about. All I can remember is that an article on Youngblood was published with that same title on the 18th of March, 2003. Strange coincidence on my birthday.
In my waking moment today, I remembered you. It's been five years. Five freakin' years without a word from you. The edges of memories are blurred now. Blunt. I can only faintly remember your scent, the touch of your skin, your impish smile. I reckon that I have smoked thousands of cigarettes now since that silly day when we've attempted to quit smoking. I must now owe you dinners upon dinners had our deal still held true.
I sent you an SMS lately, just to let you know that I think of you. My phone remained silent. Nothing.
My Dear Tito Jessie,
I still can't believe that you have gone. I refuse to cry because I know that if you were here with me, you'll just laugh at me. And I know that you will tell me what utter rubbish I am doing. I know you that much.
But still, I feel that a part of me goes with you. I will always be your little boy. Although by now you would have known that your little boy isn't that little anymore. I guess there were lots of unspoken things between us - unspoken but understood.
I will miss you. I will miss hanging out in your house. I will miss smoking with you. I will miss our talks. I will miss everything about you.
Tito Jessie, I may not have told you in this lifetime that I love you, but I certainly do. I love you, Tito Jessie.
Take care. We'll see each other again beyond the bend on the road.
I hate goodbyes. And the uncertainty and finality that comes with it.
When all that I hold on to is a purple balloon resting on my hamper.
If you change your mind, you know where to find me. For now, I have to face a parting looming in my horizon.
Do not stir in your sleep, lest you stoke the embers of the hearth. Unlike the sacerdos Vestalis, I chose to let the fire die out.
I am hoping that embers remain be. And one day turn into ashes - warm to the touch but unable to rekindle the fire.
I will celebrate life once more.
Yesterday I took the MRT and all sorts of memories flashed on me. I was suddenly transported back to 2004. I miss taking the MRT with you, Woolly. And all the muted conversations that we will never have again.
Last night, I panned the southwestern sky, looking for Jupiter. I pointed my unaided eye to the spot where it was supposed to be seen, only to end up in disappointment. The sky was almost overcast, the clouds were illuminated by the orange glare of the city lights. I cursed out loud and willed the clouds to drift away.
I whiled away the time, walked the long stretch of the deserted street and talked mostly to myself in a strangely British (read: posh) accent. I wondered why suddenly the Latin given names of the planets sounded crass to me. The Greeks called it Φαέθων, Phaethon, "blazing". I don't speak any Greek but Hephaestus sounded so much better than Vulcan. So did Eros over Cupid. Or Selene over Luna.
And I mused along.
I have yet to forgive myself for not pursuing my dreams. I have always wanted to study Classics in Europe. That's why I took Italian in the first place. Although the sing-song accent appealed to me, I have always planned to use Italian as a stepping stone for establishing roots in Il Belpaese.
Another dream that I had to let go was my desire to become an astronomer. I have felt special then. When everyone else wanted to become doctors, nurses or teachers in grade school, I naively but proudly announced that I wanted to be an Astronaut. Apparently while my classmates were rooted firmly on the ground, I was floating, reaching the high heavens. The sad reality was that Physics helped destroy it. True enough, it took more than appreciation of the unknown in the universe to become an astronomer. Numbers and formulae and my allergic reaction to them made me give up. That dream remained what it was.
As I was walking back home quite frustrated, the thick blanket of clouds parted little by little. I was too lost in my thoughts to notice. And there, tucked in its corner of the southwestern sky, the Big planet shone proudly. It twinkled in a moment before disappearing yet again from the assault of the clouds.
Planets aren't supposed to twinkle. Perhaps I just imagined that it did. Perhaps.