5 days ‘til my first day of work. 4 days ‘til I turn 22.
Please see: pre-birthday anxiety has begun.
envious of the way the sunlight can touch you all over and all at once
You have made me a cartographer, tracing laugh lines at the corners of your eyes; finding my fingers in pockets I would like to call home.
1. Your room will smell like boy for almost four months. You will fall asleep to the sound of his snoring, wake to his impatient whining, is it time for breakfast yet? Wake up, I’m bored.When you watch him asleep on your bedroom floor, you will learn in the way his chest rises when he breathes, the way he sleeps on his side arms tucked behind his knees that there are many ways to love somebody.
2. A live audience is more tiring than a toxic relationship. If you try to find assurance in their words and applause, you will find that some nights will be harder. Here, you will learn that there is nothing wrong with self-assurance.
3. The first time you put on a corporate blazer, your mom will have tears in her eyes but she will pretend not to be crying. You will stand in front of the mirror and you will look exactly like her. Your dad will bring you on your first day of work and you will relish that moment. When you kiss him goodbye he will say, I have always been so proud of you.
4. On an isolated beach, cut off from the rest of the world, you will find that there are many things a person can lose. One of which is oneself. You will leave traces in people and places, and sometimes you can never get them back. Sometimes, you wouldn’t even want to.
5. Art will become a substitute for the lack of feeling and the numbing sensation your body has grown accustomed to. That when there is a lack of words on your part, your shadow limb writhing in pain, someone else’s catharsis will be your own. You will never know the meaning of the word empty for as long as you allow yourself to breathe in everyone else.
6. Someone will come into your life. Unassuming. Disarming. Terrifying. You will wake up with a smile on your face and butterflies in your stomach and this will scare you. For the most part, you will constantly be fighting the urge to run but when you look at her, your feet will refuse to move and you will learn that there are places you can run to other than away. Her arms. Her smile. Her eyes. You will look at her and want to place your fingers on anything you can call yours. You will learn that to keep yourself from drowning, the trick is not to flail, but to tread lightly. Tread lightly.
7. Your sister will become your pillar of strength. The dock you will need to find yourself tethered to in case the current pushes you away. She will hold you, nothing but a flickering flame on her palm - her hands cupped to keep you from fading away. This is the year you learn that people will surprise you in the most beautiful ways possible.
8. A reassurance that some things never change: your best friend will finish your thoughts the moment before you think it. When one look is all it takes, you find that for some people, there will never be a need for words. Because she is right there and you are right there, and there is all the two of you will ever need.
9. Your grandfather’s house will still and always feel like home. When you are tired, pick up the phone and tell him you are coming over. When you arrive, there will be hot soup and blankets and his bed made just for you. Nothing will ever come close.
10. For many times over, you will put yourself first. Never regret the conscious decision to love yourself above others. To put your happiness first. Some good will come out of it. You will be home earlier than 9pm. You will find a hand to hold and a shoulder to lean on whenever you are weary. You will have time for people and for things you never had the luxury to pursue. You will see your little brother on weekdays and every night when you tell him good night, I love you, he will say I love you more and that will be enough.
For 2014, a note:
People will come and go. Allow them. If they stay, allow them. Embrace change. Open yourself up to the wounds and the baggage they carry. Carry it with them. You will find that the heavier the load, the easier to carry when you aren’t doing it alone. Do not close yourself off from the world. It is beautiful. Be a part of it. Tell your mother she looks beautiful and hug your dad whenever you can. Sadness is temporary. Fight it. When you start to panic, and your chest begins its struggle for air, pick up the phone. Call. Someone will be on the other line. Trust that they will not leave you. Stop being afraid to love. Some people are worth it.
Here is a list of things I wish I didn’t own but can’t seem to get rid off:
1. A box of things that once belonged to people I used to love. A couple of notebooks. Letters. Photographs. Sketches. A girl’s naked back, her arms wrapped around her legs, wings sprouting at the tip, spine arched so carefully. Sweaters and shirts worn too many times. More letters. The ones that open up to read: how many times have you kissed someone for the first time and meant it? When they pressed their lips against yours, did they feel like flying? The count on my end is four. And still, now, I wouldn’t know if they would count me in.
2. My blog.
3. I was seventeen. The sun was high. It was my Filipino-American cousin’s first time in Boracay and we were trying to show her around. My trigger-happy uncle had just purchased a new zoom lens and wanted to test it out, capturing step after step after step, every moment saved on a memory card. He got a candid shot of me, a portrait - brows furrowed, eyes squinting, hair all over my face. I was seventeen and I was at my heaviest. My mom had the photograph blown up on a canvas, she tells people it captures everything about me. That photo now hangs against my bedroom wall. When I look at it, I wish I could say my face was flushed red from the heat. That my eyes glistened because of the sunlight. That my hair was windblown but not too messy, cheeks sun kissed with sea salt. I wish I could say that when I look at that photo, I can recognize myself.
4. A Tiffany & Co. chain bracelet I have never worn. Its silver, heart-shaped pendant engraved with my name in cursive letters: Lara. On the back, 18th, 6-9-10. It was a gift from my grandmother on my “big day”. A cold piece of jewelry to solidify our imagined relationship. She would not hold me the day that I was born. Would not look at me when I was a baby. I don’t wear accessories.
5. Sports equipment. A used softball, four mitts, two leather pigskins; one from an ex-boyfriend, a post-break-up birthday gift - on its belly the words: DAD (for things to fall into place), carefully written with a marker. Boxing gloves. A breastplate and a fencing mask. Things that used to fit so perfectly, almost like second skin, stashed away in a box labeled: Old Costumes.
6. Yellow, paper roses.
7. 100 pages of words in a collection entitled One for Each Day. The first line reads: Let me write something new for a change, let me write something happy. I breeze through it, and not even halfway through I realize that there was a boy and I could’ve loved him, but he held me too tight, he left marks where his hands used to be.
8. A Polaroid picture taken right after my last show for blueREP. We were at a friend’s condo unit along Katipunan. There was too much alcohol and not enough food. And there was a girl. And there was her girlfriend. Every time I see it sandwiched between receipts in my wallet, I think: Here, remember what happened that night - don’t blame the alcohol.
9. The Povedan: 2010.
10. A grey and white Siberian Husky stuffed toy that has made my bookshelf its permanent residence, the one that once belonged to my ex-boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend, but now for some weird reason belongs to me.
11. Three pairs of four-inch high heels I’ve only worn within the comforts of my own bedroom.
12. An unfinished letter on my desktop, filed under: the things I should send before graduation. Five pages worth of apologies - every word of it nothing but the truth. I only wish I were brave enough to hand it to her; to admit that I was not better than that. That I didn’t ask to be picked, but when I was, I couldn’t keep myself from being happy.
13. A broken DVD player that came with the TV set. Also broken.
14. A note taped on one of the pages of my favorite book, written with light blue ink. It reads: ““I want to absorb her and walk around for the rest of my days with her encased in my skin.” I want you and no one else.”
15. A book about tattoos. Inside it, a piece of paper folded, unfolded, the creases on the page giving it away. On it: a sketch of a bedroom, a girl’s back facing the wall, her hair long and loose, angel wings unfurled. When I was younger, I used to dream I could fly.
I was once told that the way you love a person says so much about who you are. If that is the case, then here, a disclaimer: I cannot touch without hurting. I’ve tried but every time I reach out to grasp something, their flesh turns into gold. So beautiful to look at, but lifeless (loveless). Maybe Midas wanted a castle, with shimmering gardens, glistening like the sun. All I want is to be able to place my hand against your skin without the fear that the longer I stay, the more broken you become. I want to be able to trace the arc of your spine and know that you will not lay paralyzed the next day, your rib cage the only thing that moves. When Midas looked at his garden, maybe he saw stardust and maybe that was enough but I want to be able to touch you. Without ever having to think about whether or not you might survive the next blow. To touch you. Leaving fingerprints instead of wounds. Instead of scars. Instead of knives. Midas can make all the riches in the world with one hand, I just want to be able to touch.
There is always going to be a fire.
Extinguish it. Do not
allow it to burn
the nightlight that
keeps you tossing and
turning until the sun reappears.
If you feel it
creating a hole in
the pit of your gut, allow it
to sear through your skin.
Then douse it out. With the pain,
place gaps in your memory
where his image should be.
Do not linger on moments.
They will destroy you.
Do not pin them on the wall
Like pages of that book
you’ve read one too many times,
you know this story by heart.
Memorized every plot line.
Take the crumbling corners,
the pages crumpled from too much
With red and blue and
orange and yellow
Light it up
Fuel it with the could’ve, should’ve
as the embers
make cinders of
everything you swore
once belonged to you.
Some nights, I wake up reaching for you. Imagining fingers on lips, eyelashes on cheeks, your arms around my body and never enough space in between. I want to wake to your breathing, until the rise and fall of my ear against your heart is enough to make me want to stay. To drown myself in you. To want it.
You make me forget the economics of words. I want to write about you, instead, I reach for a dictionary and stitch together what I can. Paragraphs. Paragraphs. Paragraphs. (Poetry). Paragraphs. Maybe the problem is I can’t seem to wrap you around my fingers the way sand holds and surrounds, but never really stays - always sifting through holes and finding a way out. I think I’ve forgotten what it was like to hold someone’s hand. To look someone in the eye. To exchange smiles. And secrets. In shady corners and stairwells and bedrooms and cars. I want to write about you. (And let the figuring out come after.) Like - let’s fall together, jump now and think about the rest during the free fall. Like - steal two glasses and run as fast as you can, we won’t get caught (and does it really matter if we do?). Like - I’m difficult/I’ll figure you out. Like - why me? Why not her? Like - nothing makes sense, but you do. You make me forget the economics of words: once, there was always too much and never enough, maybe this time we can say, who’s counting?