Monday, April 26, 2010

lost...and well, lost. full stop.

i just realized something.

when he was happy, or claimed to be, he hid it.

there are two things a man cannot hide, goes a saying: a cough, and if he is in love.

he was very good at hiding the latter.

but when things got bad, and sour, he showed it immediately. the silence. the facebook posts. the bitterness of his actions and his words.

"sino yan," he asked M, when M answered one of my phone calls. he himself wouldn't pick up his phone, and M hadn't had a stroke yet then, and being his neighbor, was my nearest link to him. "kung si Gina lang yan, ayokong kausapin."

when in love with me--or so he claimed--he couldn't even hold my hand in public. never kissed me in public. never took my photo. couldn't introduce me properly to his son, his parents, his uncles, his friends. like a dumb fool i always stood back, an insipid smile on my face, telling myself how endearing his cruelty was.

he only posted "in a relationship" on facebook last December, when he finally felt i would really leave him.

today, he took down that status. after two months of silence and yes, bitter messages and actions.

i think i owe it to myself to feel bad. just a little. as a friend recently posted on twitter, 'the only things that should be kept bottled up are wine and vinegar.'

i always felt love--as well as grief (even if only temporary)--should be uncorked. grief and despair from the slaves of the US south were sung into the air and permeated the air, absorbed by the leaves, swallowed by the great trunks of trees, seeped into the soil, only to find life again and consumed by the same people who would give the world the greatness of blues and honkytonk.

and love is only alive and well if it is expressed in a way the beloved understands and appreciates.

i tried to make it flourish, i really did, by asking for the many little and myriad forms with which i could store it in, in my humble understanding. forms in which i could store away in my memory--i wasn't even asking for anything to be stored in my fucking jewelry box--to be pulled out and take a whiff at, when needed.

i guess--well, i know now--that he couldn't give those things because he hid them so well, and for so long, he's forgotten where he put them.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


when i was in high school, the nuns taught us how to sit.

well, not really the nuns, but our home economics teacher did. and she could have very well been a nun. slightly overweight, with a low, tiny twitter that she hid behind a fan. she once told us that when having sex--oh, excuse me, making love--with our future husbands, we should always disrobe with THE LIGHTS OFF.

sit perched on the edge of the seat. legs set diagonally, one heel tucked behind the other, hands on one hip. 'like Gloria Diaz,' she says.

that's stayed with me for the past 20 years. i automatically sit like this when i'm working or in a meeting, or in a social event--then i gradually slacken and sprawl as i get more and more comfortable.

it is like this that i sit at a coffee house as i wait for simone and her friends at the mall. my laptop is in front of me, and as i look up, i see sim and her friends rush past. a group of adolescent girls, in straight-cut jeans, graphic tees, harajuku/kipling/gap bags slung over their skinny shoulders. the boys follow, ambling clumsily but trying to look trés cool behind their female counterparts.

they like to say i'm "cool", this young, happy crowd. "simone, your mom's a PRO," they say. that, in 13-year-old-speak, is "awesome".  they even add me on facebook.

my breath catches in my throat as i see them run by. if only they knew how scared i feel sometimes, how tender and worried i feel about their futures.

i am still seated that way, back straight and legs crossed like a 1960s beauty queen, as the last of them disappears from my view, and i feel like i'm going to cry.

very uncool.

Friday, April 09, 2010

simone and her secret to happiness

we are in the car, simone and i. she had just completed the Yes! course of Art of Living Foundation, a four-day course tailored for teens (meditation and yoga, as well as age-appropriate issues self-esteem, peer pressure, etc., are tackled). Simone is not yet a teen--she'll turn 13 in June--but, according to her tita dona (and i totally agree), Sim has been through much in her young life. her emotions, questions about God, and outlook surpass most kids'.

she is visibly exhausted. her hair, matted by sweat from the 36-degree-Celsius heat outside (and from doing 40 full rounds of surya namaskaras), sticks to the contours of her face. the car's aircon is a relief.

"mommy, what makes people hate other people?"

the question floors me, because the answers seem so obvious. because people hurt each other. they lie, cheat, steal. they backbite and connive to take power away from one another; they snatch away what the other loves and values; they are selfish.

what i tell her, though, is different. "we hate when we feel the other is apart from us, outside of us. different from us. not part of what we love, our experience, our life." i try to figure out where this is coming from, and i realize Sim has so much to learn.

"did they teach you about the God consciousness, that everything is One?"

"no, not really..." she says.

"that God's love makes us One. my consciousness is a part of yours, and yours, mine, and mine, Ranie's (the driver's), his, yours. when we feel apart from that One-ness, we hate."

she nods. "yeah, i think i understand."

dozens more thoughts and words run through my head, but they're too quick for me to catch and express out loud.

so instead: "what did you feel during meditation? did you cry?" she told me earlier that one of her classmates had cried.


"no? why?"

"i have no problems."

i find this surprising. i'm beaming inside, but i'm wondering: "you don't consider not knowing your dad a problem?"

"no. i just don't care."

"whoa. that's worse than hating."

"no, i care," she explains. "i'd care if he got hurt. or if something happened to him. but i just...don'"


my daughter may still have many more questions to ask, and things to learn, but i think she's pretty much okay where she is.

Friday, April 02, 2010

drunkan (sic), we

my younger sister A rapping at my bedroom door: "nang (term for 'older sister'). nang. help me."
A is there. drunk as a skunk. i help her to the toilet and she worships the porcelain god.

years after: "B, where are you? come pick me up."
my baby brother, then 20 or so, drives to where i tell him. holds me by the back of my blouse, at the collar, nape, like a mommy cat guiding a kitten, and hoists me up into his SUV.

a year or two after, A visits from the states. i am at a farewell party with friends from publishing. i have discovered jagermeister, and perform a scene from exorcist on the 2nd floor of a building in makati. A and B come to save me. they stuff me into the "mafia car" my dad had acquired recently, all soft and quiet and plush, and drive me home. it is dark and soft, like a cocoon.

tonight, holy thirstday, B says, sure, come by. i had just finished several drinks with friends in their new posh home in makati, and needed more alcohol. so i join him and his friends for more.

"isn't it a good sign," i text A, "that our baby brother considers me cool enough to drink with his friends?"

and maybe it is.

we get to our mom's place a couple of hours after. my bladder is bursting and B is about to blow. instead of "over the bakod", he does "under the bakod", and opens the gate sans help of the maids, lying on the pavement and reaching upward for the lock. the kids and i are sleeping over because my new house is being painted, see. i should feel and act grown up, but instead i feel like i'm in high school and uni again. B is the co-conspirator i never had. we let ourselves in through the window. i clamber over the sofas, gently, lest any blemish be blamed on my 6-year old twins, and hurry to the bathroom.

when i come out, i hear B heaving and hacking the alcohol out of his intestines.

some things never change.