Friday, November 26, 2010

The Marrying Kind

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A few years ago, I wrote this.



I first met Neil almost a decade ago. I call him by a secret name; my ___ ___. If you're reading this Neil, it's still the same two words.

We were young, naive, curious about the world. We both love books and we would read to each other our favorite stories and poems. As the years passed, we discovered the world and liked what we saw. We grew older, lived in different cities, and one day, I learned he had married another man. Some beautiful boy who hails from Eastern Europe; the land of Kundera, paprika and goulash.

To this day I still know the exact spot in EDSA where I was at when he told me the news. Some things, you never forget.

We chatted recently and I asked him to tell me about his two years of marriage and the married life.

"It differs per person, I think.," Neil said.

And then he said it.

"And honestly, Kane, I think you're not the marrying kind."

My chest suddenly constricted. I was shocked and hurt but didn't know how to react. In my head, I was thinking "How could he say that?"

Here he was, my ___ ___, telling me he thinks I'm not the "marrying kind". It felt awful, especially coming from someone who was married and apparently, happy being married.

After a few minutes, Neil sensed that something was wrong.

"I didn't mean that one comment as an insult okay?" he said.

"I know," I replied. I was still.

"You know what I mean right?"

"I know."

"What I meant was I think you'll have a hard time finding a man who'd be able to keep up with you."




Keep up with me? What does that mean? But deep down I knew, all too well. This man who I haven’t seen in more than three years could still tell things about me, things that perhaps I did not realize or did not want to realize. I knew there was some truth in it, and the truth is not always kind.

At the end of the day, I think what people want is a love that lasts forever. But such a love is hard to find, or keep as we change. People do change, and sometimes they change too little. Or too much.


Neil has found his happy ever after and I do envy him that.

I still dream of love. I know I am a little unusual ... It's hard for me to find someone who understands my stories. Not just understand ... but love my stories. And love me.

But I'd like to think that there are others who will also choose the path less traveled. Perhaps the yellow wood won't be so lonely after all.



Present:
Neil and his husband divorced after three years of marriage.

"Tang-ina (Fuck) Kane," he said. "I'm married and divorced before 30. My parents don't even know I was married to a guy. How can I tell them I'm now divorced?"

"But imagine, when guys would flirt with you and ask if you're single, you get to say 'I'm divorced'!"

"Hahahaha. It's not everyday you meet a divorced gay guy huh."

He was quiet for a while. "I'm never marrying again, you know. I'm done with marriage. Tried it, it didn't fucking work."



-

Monday, November 22, 2010

That Kind of Girl

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Dwayne and I started hanging out regularly ever since that night. And it was fun. Dwayne was fun to be with. I've forgotten how enjoyable the attention of a young man can be.

"Alam mo ba (You know), I put in the log book under reason for visit - to make out and hopefully have some light sex with Kane," Dwayne told me while we were eating the creamy seafood pasta and citrus salad he brought.

"Gago ka talaga. Di nga? (Come on, serious?)" I replied

"Kahit walang sex, okay na rin naman. (Well, it's okay even if there's no sex.) Halika nga dito (Come here)," he said, pulling me until I was on top of him. I could feel his throbbing erection.

We kissed and I tasted the butter and cream in his mouth. Delicious.

"When can I see you again?" Dwayne asked me.



Dwayne is a sweet thoughtful young man and he is amazing in many ways. He would drop by at home and bring me food after his work, and over dinner we would talk about how our day went. I rediscovered the pleasure of eating supper … and eating supper with someone.

How are you? How was your day? How was work?

The small talk couples usually have, the insignificant chit chats we don't realize form and strengthen our bonds with our lovers.

But sadly the more we talked, the more I discovered how we are un-alike. And it was The End of the Affair that sealed our fate.

I was narrating the scene where Sarah Miles realized God had agreed to her bargain: her lover Maurice Bendrix lives but in return, she is never to see him again. I have always wondered at the fairness of such a contract: Sarah's lover's life in exchange for her fidelity to her husband. Can God be so cruel? Or, so kind?

When I finished, there was … silence. I was waiting for a reaction, something like "wow" perhaps but Dwayne remained quiet. Then suddenly he said, "Gusto ko yung kinuwento mo (I like the story)" in an utterly unconvincing voice.

I nodded, but I had a sinking feeling in my stomach.

Oh Dwayne, I thought in my head, this is why you and I can never be.



"Oh my God. Hindi siya pumasa! (He didn't pass the test!)" Neil said, after I told him what happened. "Ang hirap naman kasi ng exam na binigay mo; The End of the Affair talaga. (Of all the topics, you had to choose the hardest. The End of the Affair.)"

"I know. But Neil, I need someone who understands my stories," I replied. The way you do.

"Hayyyy… there are a lot of guys no Kane, but only a few will really get you. You're too much kasi minsan (Sometimes, you are just too much)," he said. "I remember you telling me about that story, though. Na-miss ko tuloy mga kuwento mo. (I suddenly miss your stories.)"



Dwayne's question jolted me back to reality. I realized what I had to do. It was time.
 
"Dwayne, teka lang (hold on). I think we need to talk," I said and straightened up. I looked at him seriously.

"What about?"

"Huwag ka masyadong ma-intense. Relax lang. (Don't be too intense. Just relax.)"

"Ha? Hindi naman ako intense. Ano ka ba (Huh? But I'm not intense)," Dwayne said. We were both a little nervous.

"Good. Look, I'm not looking for anything serious right now," I said.

"Bakit hindi? (Why not?)" he asked. He suddenly looked downcast.

"I just have other priorities," I explained. Sometimes a lie is kinder than the truth.

He was very quiet. "Ayaw mo ba sa akin? (Don't you like me?)"

Alam kong nasasaktan siya sa mga sinasabi ko. (I knew what I was saying was hurting him.)

"Dwayne, ano ka ba. Huwag kang malungkot (Come on Dwayne. Don't be sad)," I pleaded. "I do. I think you're amazing. But I guess I still like being single; I still want to meet more guys, have sex with more men."

I knew what I said probably hurt him more. Perhaps what I said what unnecessary. But I wanted to make myself clear and not create false hope. And telling him I'm a slut is the least painful way to do it. Better me than him. Better that I'm the bad guy. At least he doesn't have to feel he wasn't enough. Or at least, not that much.

I smiled wanly and took his hand.

"Besides, you can't be all that surprised Dwayne," I slowy said. "Nakalimutan mo na ba? (Have you forgotten?) I'm the guy you picked up sa kalye (at the street) to have a threesome. I'm that kind of girl."





"Nothing's so loud
as hearing when we lie
the truth is not kind
and you said neither am I"
---Toad the Wet Sprocket, "All I Want"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Year Ago

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Nov. 13, 2010

On rare nights like these, I suddenly remember M. But tonight is special. It was exactly a year ago that I last saw him.

I remember many, many things but what I remember most is how much I loved him. I read the stories I had written about him, and looking at those words again reminded me how I was so in love.

Sometimes I forget that such a thing exists: yung pag-ibig na buhay at kamatayan (a love that's life and death). I know, I know... I sound like a crazy old man rambling but it is true. I am old and I am a little crazy.

That kind of love exists. And it's the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced.

And tonight, listening to Chicane saying "So lay me down awake, no sound and I dream about you" --- images of our happier days flashed into my mind.

The first time I saw him.  I still remember it clearly. We met in a club and that's why Kylie's song All I See reminds me of him, terribly. The smoke, the haze, and then the crowd parted and there was a beautiful boy.


Doesn't matter what's going on
Or who's around us
All I see is you
Right now they're playing our song
Dance floor is ours
All I see is you


The DJ's got me feelin' like I did
When I first met you
And there's nothing that can break us apart
In two
'Cause all I see is you


We would dance so close together and he would look at me like I was the only girl in the world. His eyes would twinkle and we would give each other the look, our secret look. The one nobody else  knows.

They say time blurs memory, but I realize if you allow yourself to, you'll learn memories are like photographs. You can store them away, but when you see them, they become alive all over again and shine brighter than ever.



This was a photo taken during our first trip together.







Ang saya. Sobra.

For the first ... and last time in my life, I felt that kind of love. And the memory of it is beautiful ... enough to last. Enough to give me comfort on nights like these... when love seems so far away.


---

Monday, November 15, 2010

High Risk

-


Carlo and I had ourselves tested for HIV last weekend. Although I had taken the exam several times before, I was still nervous given my … uhm … recent behavior.

"Grabe Carlo. Nakakainis no. (It sucks.) No matter how safe you are, you still get anxious!!!"

"I know!!! I mean, ang kunti na nga lang ng sex ko (I don't have a lot of sex), but still, I'm a little nervous," Carlo replied.

"I guess, low risk or high risk, it's still a risk."

"Yeah. But I'm pretty sure I'm negative. You, on the other hard, I'm worried a little ... I mean, you have been rather frisky lately," Carlo teased me.

"Fuck off. Hahaha. I am always safe kaya."

"Still ... "


While waiting for the result, I realized this is how I will always feel during an HIV test, that I will always be a little scared. No matter what you do to protect yourself, there is always a risk you will be exposed to the virus during sex.

The condom could break, you could have sores in your mouth. Fuck, even a blowjob isn't safe these days. You'd better be careful what you put in your mouth, ladies. Or anywhere else for that matter.

The counselor suggested I use a condom during fellatio. To be completely safe, he said. Bu then again I wanted to say, "Now, honey, where's the fun in that?"



But the biggest shock was when they told me I am what they classify as a high-risk individual.

"Are you saying that because I'm gay?" I asked.

"Oh no. It's because you have sex with multiple partners," the counselor replied.

Oh.

Tekaaaaaaaaaa (Now wait a minute)… did he just call me promiscuous??????

"To lessen the risk, you can explore other options. Maybe have only one partner, or practice celibacy," he added.

I suddenly missed the Kane in a relationship, he never had to worry about such things. But that girl is gone, I told myself, and this one has to face the consequences of her actions.

I thought about the options he presented and realized that I probably will be high risk for a little while longer.

The danger is great, but  I have needs I cannot suppress. Yes, the spirit is willing but the flesh is oh-so-weak.

I always have safe sex, but I do have sex. Once in a while, if my schedule permits. Celibacy, unfortunately, is not an option. Nor monogamy. And as Carlo told the counselor, "I'm a risk taker, baby."

And I'm guessing so are most of you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vacation

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I woke up that day with a single thought in my head: I wanted to see the ocean.

It was a three-day weekend and everyone was busy preparing for the Halloween parties in Manila including the annual Cream Ball and the Black Party in Malate.

Fuck, my friend Jason even had a Hellcats cheerleader costume made. He was hoping to snag a quarterback.



 
 
 
But I wanted something different.
 
"Come on Brian, let's go to Ilocos," I said, trying to convince my friend to come with me. "Cobbled streets, lighthouses, windmills, beaches, and bagnet; what more can you ask for?"

"Hmmm... Why do you want to go out of town ba?"

"I want to go to the beach. I want to swim, I want to travel. Besides, if I stay here, it's the same old thing. Parties and boys na naman."

"Hahaha. You make it sound like it's such a bad thing. Pero sige sige, punta tayo. (But okay okay, let's go.)

"Yey!"

 
 
The bus left Manila Thursday evening and by dawn the next day, we were standing on top of the 400-year old San Agustin belfry watching as the sun's rays slowly crept up on the nearby town of Burgos.






The sun rises and sets every day, but not all sunrises are the same. There was a golden light, streaked with blood and purple, as if the end of the world had come without intruding on everyday-life.

In the afternoon, we stopped by the town of Burgos to see the Kapurpurawan rock formation. The rock was carved out from the surrounding sandstone through the centuries by wind and waves erosion. It was huge, imposing and white, very white.






Brian and I headed towards the rock for a closer look. We were walking on dead corals that dotted the landscape when suddenly a wave hit us. I fell into the sea.

I struggled to reach the surface to breathe but the current was too strong. I was tossed under the ocean, scraped my hands, arms, legs, feet and back against the corals. Then I crashed into a rock, hit my head and everything went dark.






When I was alive, I often wondered why there are no happy ghosts, but now that I am one, I understand why.

The universe of knowledge opens up to you in death. Every word, every detail now has weight and meaning: the smile thoughtlessly given, the promises made.

You begin to understand each moment of your life clearly, identify all the things you should have done, and shouldn't have. But what's the use, when it's all too late?

When you're mortal, you only have so much information at hand. You never know what other people really think; their desires, wishes, impulses. You never know what is hidden.

All these are revealed in death. The lover who waited in the rain for two hours, hoping you'll come back, the dad who can never tell his son how proud he is of him, the friend who betrayed you.

The people closest to us suddenly become strangers, and all their motivations are suddenly laid bare.