Tuesday, September 22, 2009

So Goodbye, These Days Are Gone

"of all the edifices man has built,
no one can deny, no one who has lived at least,
that love is the frailest structure of all...
built to tumble, meant to fall."


I was hesitant at first to write you. I know you may not want to hear from me and I don't expect you to acknowledge this letter. I wanted to wish you a happy birthday. I wonder how you are, how you feel. I hope you are happy on this day.

I wanted to give you this as a birthday present; my memory of you. I was talking to a friend who is turning 50 next year and she told me that all this, all that we see, and feel, and touch, and love right now, will all one day just be a memory.


So Goodbye, These Days are Gone
A beautiful boy can make you dizzy… like you've been drinking Pouilly-Fumé all morning. He can make you feel high - full of the single greatest commodity known to humankind - promise. Promise of a better day. Promise of a great hope. Promise of a new tomorrow. You can find it in his smile... in his soul... and in the way he makes every rotten little thing about life seem like it's going to be okay.

It was a classic tale of boy meets boy. A storm was raging the night I met M. My friend Rafael celebrated his birthday that night and threw a party. Everyone was getting tipsy, happy. Since we wanted to dance, my friends and I decided to brave the rains and go to Bed in Malate at around 3 in the morning.

I saw him standing along at the bar inside, smoking and drinking a bottle of beer. He was alone. I approached him and asked for his name. M, he said. He was wearing white long sleeves and dark blue jeans. He was tall, lean, and very good looking.

We were both drunk. We exchanged small talk, we kissed. When I asked for his number he said he had a boyfriend. I said I still want your number. (I found out later he broke up with his ex-boyfriend that night.)

Over time, we got to know each other well. M was beautiful. He made me feel dizzy. Like I was drinking Pouilly-Fumé all morning. He made me feel high.

In one of the entries of his blog, he wrote the lyrics of a song I love.

"Time is never time at all
You can never ever leave without leaving a piece of youth"

He wrote about his friend's death, of his break-up with his lover. He spoke of their love, of the pain of their parting.

We dated, deciding to take things slow. As we went out more often and often, I discovered how beautiful he was. How gentle and kind. He was responsible, and smart, and hardworking. He had a good soul. And I fell in love.

Sept. 12, 2008
Dear M,

M, it's Friday and the weekend is almost here. I am so excited to see you and this is how I have been feeling almost every weekend ever since I met you.

Hayyy.. M, I think a lot about us. I don't really know what the future has in store. When I analyze things, I can already identify some potential issues that may surface.

If I focus on those issues, I sometimes feel that it may not be worth it, that our fragile relationship may not survive. But the future is not set in stone, we create the future.

I want you to know I want to be with you. This is a choice, my choice. You are my choice. Mahal kita M. I love you, and I think I have loved you for sometime now. You said it yourself, you knew I love you, how could I forget?

You are amazing. You are humble and kind, intelligent and compassionate. Not so long ago, you told me you felt pressured because you felt you wouldn't meet my expectations. Do you remember what I said? I said "You exceed it in every possible way." And you do.


Excerpts of a text message:
M: K, can you trust me?

K: Ang funny. I was writing something kanina and I wrote about trust. Well, trust is a commodity that is hard to come by these days. But yes, I can and I do trust you

M: K, do you think I'm worthy enough for you?

K: I'd like to think I'm a good judge of character. But I have been wrong before. Does that mean I shouldn't trust again? There are no guarantees in life. I just have to trust myself, trust you and hope that we are indeed worthy of each other.

M: Bwiset! You're such a sweet talker!

One day, we decided to become a couple. We promised to love each other, forever.

M: K, when you saw me the first time I was in complete desolation. Full of grief yet filled with hope. And now, here you are, trying to complete my wholeness. I hope you can be my twin flame while I traverse the pitfalls and goodness of life.

Thus, the twin flames were born.

The past year was one of the happiest of my life. M and I shared so many things together, from the ordinary to the sublime. We ate, drank, talked, laughed, danced, and traveled. We discovered the world was a beautiful place, especially when shared with a loved one.

I still remember what I told him last year on his birthday, that whether he's 24 or 40 or 60, I hope we will always have each other.

I felt like I was the happiest guy on earth. I had a wonderful job, my friends and family were great, and to top it off, I had an amazing boyfriend. What more could I ask for? But the happy man who wants nothing more actually wants something else; the continuation of his happiness.

I wasn't prepared for what was waiting for me. Some surprises sneak up on you when you least expect it.

M left me. At first, the shock and the pain were so intense; it felt like dying. Maybe it was death, in a sense.

As they say; the brightest stars burn out the fastest. The twin flames that had shone so brightly were extinguished and my world plunged into darkness. I decided to fight for our love; I wanted to win him back.

But now, a different kind of peace has settled into me. Maybe this is as far as our story goes, and maybe that is enough. We had a good run. When I look back on all our times together, I feel blessed. I am privileged to have had that kind of love, to feel for someone so intensely you were willing to do whatever it takes to make the relationship work.

A love like that is hard to come by. Yes, it did not last. But M made me happy, and I cannot deny him that. He was my best friend.

I miss M. I miss our daily talks after work. I miss sharing things about my life with him. I miss his laughter. I miss drinking wine with him. Tonight, I will raise a glass to him.

To you M, thank you. I will forever cherish you and the love we had.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Genetic Root of Desire

Leonard Da Vinci's Sketch Studies

I was browsing photos and profiles on PlanetRomeo, the gay online site du jour, when I suddenly had a self-revelation. My preference for men has changed.

I used to date cute young guys; charming, boyish, smart. Some of them were effeminate, and I found it endearing. Whenever my friends would ask me what's my type, I always say goodlooking and intelligent. If he's not, goodlooking will do. But last night I realized I was noticing men who were around 30 years old to 34 years old, who looked strong, tall, manly, mature, and built.

I was shocked. What happened, I asked myself? As I thought about it, I realized my attraction to them wasn't even sexual but in fact, I was connecting it to a relationship. After all that happened, I wanted a relationship pala.

"Oo, bitin ka kasi doon sa huli," V told me as I clicked on another profile showing a shirtless guy with arms that looked like they could sweep you off your feet.

"Tama ka nga," I said. "I must have really enjoyed being in a relationship the last time."

As I scan each of their faces and bodies, I realized I was unconsciously interpreting these men's physical traits to signify that they would be strong, mature, and caring. I know intellectually that this is not necessarily true. The human genes I inherited have been activated causing me to look for certain physical traits in a partner which our ancestors used to assure a successful married life.

Strength means he can hunt boars and rabbits for food; maturity means he is no longer a boy but a man who can take care of a family.

My break-up has affected how I look at potential dates, I realized. I now wanted someone who knows himself very well, knows what he wants, capable of giving into a relationship, can take care and work on the relationship.

We carry our past relationships with us, whether we want to or not it seems. A week ago, I told V I will only ask two things from my partner: his faithfulness, and that he will never give up. Just two things.

Last night, my dreams were haunted by strong, able-bodied men, promising to love me forever.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I Hope, Therefore, I Am

"Though you might hear me laughin', spinnin', swingin' madly across the sun, it's not aimed at anyone, it's just escapin' on the run"
---Bob Dylan, "Mr. Tambourine Man"

To hope is the human response to despair. I remember reading A Metaphysics of Hope by French philosopher and Christian existentialist Gabriel Marcel a long time ago. During times of despair, I always go back to it and remember what it means to be human, to hope.

There is a distinction between "I hope" and "I hope that". The "I hope" in all its strength is directed towards salvation, a coming out of a darkness in which I am presently plunged. Right now, I am both "hoping" and "hoping for something".

K: G, may kuwento ako. I've made a decision. Are you ready? No judgments? = )

G: Go! I'm ready

K: I have made a decision. I have decided this is what I want to hope for. I felt so lost for a while, not knowing what to want. I didn't know whether to hope that I will be okay without M, or to hope that M and I will be friends again, or for us to get back together. The easiest is for me to be okay without M, because it only involves me. That's because for us to be friends again, he has to want to be friends with me too. For us to get back together, he has to want to get back together with me too.

After a lot of thinking the past days, I have decided that I want M and I to be friends and hopefully to be back together. I decided this knowing there is a big chance I might fail. I am keeping in mind that opportunities may come to me also and I am open to it. I am also open to the idea that I may one day decide that I no longer want it. I'm open to all possibilities, ang priority ko is to get back together nga lang

K: I decided last night and as a result, mas kalmado ako. Ganoon pala. Nagulat ako sa sense of peace? Or calm?

K: I have thought a lot about this. I think this is what is happening. M is trying to find out who he is and what he wants. He has options and he is coming into his own self as an adult, as an individual. He needs someone who can walk him through his options, but not impose on him who he is and is not, who he should be and should be not, what he should do or not do.

I think for awhile, I tended to "parent" him. I did mean well, I wanted what I thought was best for him. But I realized you have to make people make their own decisions, even if you think it's a mistake. I also realized there are times when he simply wanted me to listen. That he didn't need me to say what I think.

K: Romantic relationships are his least priority. Its' all about him, for now. I am trying to reach out to him. When we do start talking again, I won't bring up our issues muna. Things have to be light and happy (similar to the week after the break-up) when we were talking and having fun lang. Kasi pag issues, he will avoid it, run away, because in his mind, that's the last thing he wants right now. Sa dami na niyang iniisp, he doesnt want anymore stress. I have decided I want to understand him. Kaya pa. Isasagad ko na, and one day, when I look back, I will not regret fighting for the kind of love that I wanted.

K: I asked N when do you know if a relationship has reached its limit? I believe that for some couples, there is only so much you can give to each other. But for the lucky ones, there can be endless giving. N said, for him, it's intuitive. There is a point when he can say tama na. On a cerebral level, he says it is when there is little or no more growth in the relationship for you or the other.

Break-ups are a point of growth too. I have learned so much about myself, about him, and about relationships because of this break-up. I have to ask myself though: where is there more growth? Moving on or getting back? Break-ups give both people a time to reassess themselves.

So there, I have my decision. I have decided on what I need to do. Wait for an opportunity, take it,

K: I know you might not approve, but I appreciate everything you have done for me through this break-up G.

K: - - - - end of statement - - -

G: 1. GO!

G: 2. Go for it!

G: Obvious naman e. Gusto mo pa talaga siya. Feeling mo di mo pa tapos lahat ng options na makuha sya ulit. E di explore mo na lahat. Para kung maubos at wala talaga, mas matatanggap mo. And kung makuha mo naman, e di it's meant to be.

K: Yes, that's it, I can accept the results because talagang I'll know I tried all means. But I am fully aware that I may be hurt again, that I will fail. It's not like I am blinded.

G: I know. Actually on the contrary, you're being strategic nga e. Not blinded. Go. Wala din naman makakapigil sayo kaya isagad mo na.

K: Thank you honey = ) pero grabe ang sense of calm and peace that you get when you know what you want na. This must be how some generals feel when they go into battle, parang kalmado ka, kahit matalo ka. I'm not sure if I'm making sense.

G: You are. Nakita mo na san ka pupunta e. Di na paikot ikot.

K: Yes!! I felt so lost. One moment I tell myself ayoko na!!! Then the next, I still want him. Ang gulo. Thats the word, ikot ng ikot.

G: Ang sa akin lang e he better be worth it! Pag naging kayo man ulit dapat umayos siya and all.

K: Hahahaaha. I agree!

Second Meeting
I saw M again last Saturday. I saw him the moment we arrived in Malate. My friends chatted with him and then we went inside Bed. Inside Bed, I saw J and we danced. I told him my ex was there that night and I told him to keep me company. I was trying not to look at M.

M approached me and we spoke. He asked me about my sister and how she did during her board exams. I told him she passed and that I was so happy. So happy in fact that I hugged him.

We didn't speak again after that.

My BFF said I was so inaccessible. He said there was a time M was approaching me pero I was already jumping up and down to the tune of "I Gotta Feeling".

I called him after I got home. He was on his way home then. I let him express his anger over what happened two weeks ago. He said all is forgiven but that he cannot forget. He said he can only be civil to me right now. He said kung iniisip ko na merong mangyayari sa amin, he's already dating someone.

Looking back, I wish I had taken the chance to talk to him that night. But I guess I should be patient. Baby steps. At least, he already spoke to me.

I still believe M is worth it. He maybe is, he maybe not. Who knows? But I know he is a good man, and I believe that what we had, the love that we shared, is worth fighting for. The path of true love never did run smooth.

"Like this, I want you. Like this, I love you."
---Pablo Neruda, "And because Love battles"

Friday, September 04, 2009

A Scandal to Remember

Hey Upper East Siders! Once in a while, a piece of gossip comes along, so juicy it explodes into a scandal. And have I got one for you.

So what's the difference between a gossip and a scandal? Anyone can commit a minor offense and generate a day's worth of gossip. But in order to birth a true scandal, it requires the right person to be at the wrong place. Or in this case, two people at the right place at the same time.

Take one It Girl, put her on a pedestal, add a crowd waiting to see her fall, and then watch as the fireworks happen.

Spotted: K and M at a showdown at the Blackout party last Saturday. We heard drinks were spilled, shouts were heard, someone went home, and someone broke down.

M and I had been talking to each other last week. Our conversations were cheery, reminiscent of our happier times together. We spoke of how we both didn't want to return our things yet to each other because that would mean tapos na tapos na talaga kami. I told him I still believe we would be back together someday. He said he misses our talks.

M told me he would be at the Blackout party last Saturday, the same party I was going to. He told me he will be with someone and he might do drugs.

I got so upset he planned to take drugs. I told him I appreciate that he told me about it given that we were no longer together, but I guess that was just not how I knew him.

M: K, I was very different when I was with you. I wanted to show you my best.

K: And you did. And I loved every bit of it. But you said it yourself. You were very different. Well, I guess the old M is back, and I'm not very happy to see him.

Last Friday, I texted him and told him this.

K: M, I have been doing a lot of thinking and I want you to know not to worry about Saturday night. I want you to enjoy and be happy. I'm also thinking maybe it's time for us to return each other's things. I want this to be as easy as possible for both of us. I want you to be happy. Don't worry about me, I'm okay.

M didn't reply and didn't answer my calls. I was so worried why he was not talking to me, I couldn't understand why he was avoiding me. I had thought I made myself very clear and wrote the text in the nicest possible way. I wanted us to be good friends.

The big night finally arrived. It would be the first time M and I would see each other in seven weeks.

I saw him the moment we arrived. I was battling with myself whether to approach him or not. I danced, drank, and chatted with the various friends I saw at the event. Two hours had passed and we haven’t spoken.

Fate finally intervened.

While walking around, we accidentally bumped into each other. Just like that. I was shocked. He was too. I tried to talk to him, but he didn't want to. I went after him when all of a sudden, the guy he was with suddenly barged in and started telling me to leave M alone.

Needless to say, I was shocked (again). My eyes never left M, I didn't speak to his guy and I didn't look at him. I never acknowledged his presence because from my point of view he wasn't involved in our problem.

What M does with the other serfs in the village is his business. But when he brings his new maiden to court, and the maiden attacks the Queen, it's a declaration of war. Sound the trumpets!

Eventually, M's friend intervened and we spoke. M was very angry. I only remember two things he said. He kept repeating I don't like you anymore, I don't like you anymore. I told him in a quiet voice that I thought we were twin flames (the name we call each other). He said, no, we're not.

He left. I cried my heart out. And then I went back inside, and went back to partying. The night passed in a blur.

A day later, I learned M thought I spilled my drink on him. I was shocked (again). I texted him to tell him I didn't do it, I told him I swear by God I would never do something like that.

I texted him several times, I told him how I couldn't understand why he was so angry. I told him I was reaching out to him, with open arms and a bowed head. I told him it's important for me that we remain friends, na mahalaga sa akin ang aming pinagsamahan.

He told me I was the one who made a scene. He told me kung ano mang naging atraso niya, sana nakabawi na ako.

I was shocked (again). I couldn't believe what he just said. Is this the kind of person he thought I was? I told him I just wanted to talk. And that I hope he knows I'm not the kind of person na bumabawi. I told him hirap na hirap na ako. I told him sana maawa siya.

I never heard from him again.

So this is how a royal break-up happens. Hearts are broken, dreams are destroyed. It is painful to realize certain truths about your lover, and your image of him slowly changes.

I realized M is not compassionate. He is a coward, and he refuses to take responsibility for his actions. Nagmakaawa na ako, but he didn't respond. It was the humane thing to do, my friend said. I know. I would never do that to someone else.

We must choose our lovers well, I learned. Sometimes, their worst traits may be hidden so deep down, but when it does surface, all hell breaks loose.

One good scandal deserves another. Wonder who's going down next? Everybody, if K has any say in it.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A Tale of Two Heartaches

"Hannah, can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up Hannah. The clouds are lifting. The sun is breaking through."
---The Great Dictator (1940)

J: Sorry I don't think I can meet you tonight. I went to my ex's house and returned the things he left sa bahay. I burned all the letters and a picture of us. The only picture I saved. I'm sorry. I can't talk about it. Not yet.

K: Naiintidihan kita. Tight hug. If you want to talk, I can listen. If you don't want to, that's alright too. I am sorry you have to go through this pain.

J: I lost half of me and I have come to accept it. It is hard.


J: I am crying na naman.

K: Hay. Ako katatapos lang. Do you want me to call? If not, we can text.

J: Huwag muna. I don't know what to say. Tears just started falling. I am losing it Kane, I am losing it.

K: Alam ko man ang sakit na yan. Siguro I embrace mo na lang ang pain, iiyak mo, ilabas mo lahat. Huwag mo ng pigilan. Matagal pa siguro pero darating din ang araw na okay ka na. Darating din.

J: Ayaw ko na. Everyday I cry, everyday. Why? Wala naman akong ginawa. Wala naman akong ginusto sa nangyari. Bakit ako?

K: Siguro makakatulong if you talk to a friend.

J: I know what they will tell me. I have heard it all. But they don't carry my load. They don't know how hard it is to watch something you fought for die in front of you… to beg, to watch, to cry. They don't know that moving on is letting go of a part of you. Someone I ate with, someone I can't sleep without, someone I cried with, someone I am willing to die for. How in the world do I let go of that? Tell me Kane, is that suppose to be easy? Parang binubutas ang dibdib ko.

K: Alam ko, hindi madali. Devastated ka talaga. Parang giyera yan na talagang natalo ka at nasira lahat. Mag uumpisa ka na walang wala, paunti unti.

J: Thank you Kane. You don't know how much comfort I get just knowing somebody understands. Mahirap talaga eh but I am trying. Nanood ako ng Up kanina. Akala ko feel good movie, lalo lang ako na depress.

K: Hahaha ako din! Umiyak ako after the movie sa parking lot.

J: Naaala ko kasi promise naming sa isa't isa, we will be buried in the same grave. Ahhh this is too much. Good night. Thank you for sharing yourself to me. A gift I didn't expect.

Yesterday, my friend JM and I watched the movie Up. The film begins with a romance, sweet and lovely. Two children meet and discover they share the same dream. They grow up, have a courtship, marry, are happy together, and grow old.

It's not a perfect life. Problems get in the way, but at the end of the day, they always had each other. Until one day, death came for one of them.

I wanted that kind of love. I once told M that couples who absolutely love each other are afraid of only one thing; death. They knew nothing in this world can ever break them apart, not distance, or illness or another person.

"To have and to hold from this day forward,
for better for worse,
for richer for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
till death us do part."

JM hugged me and comforted me inside the car. But what surprised me the most was when JM broke down. He spoke of how his heart was broken four years ago, and how he was never the same after that.

JM: I wanted to give him the world, but now the world is not even enough to pay for my pain. Now, when someone tells me they love me, I think to myself, until when? Pare-pareho lang kayo, isang araw iiwan niyo rin ako. Kaya uunahan ko na kayo.

JM: Now, when you talk to me about love K, I can't relate to it. I don't even know what it is. After R left me, I told myself, never again. I will never give my heart to someone else.

He spoke of their vow, of a day when they went inside a church, gave each other a ring, and promised to grow old together. I saw a future with him, he said.

I hugged him tightly. All this pain, all these years. But who would have guessed? JM with his prancing ways and lovely gaze. But underneath all the smiles and laughter is a heart that has gone cold.

Heartaches affect people differently. Some become stoic, others shrug it off after a few days, some are haunted throughout their lifetime. But a few are able to accept it, quietly, with grace, in time.

Last night, as I fell asleep I thought of those characters in the film, of a kid trying to please his Dad, of two old men battling for meaning in their lives. A loyal dog. And always, that house, that flying house with all those bright, colorful balloons.

"Thank you for the adventure. Now go get yourself a new one."

---Up (2009)