Transition Girl

I’m the transition girl. The scary little footbridge you’re afraid to cross but do anyway to get to wherever it is you’re going.

We’ll meet under unusual circumstances. It can be at an art fair, or a pottery class, or a dingy bar you went to after a breakup. We’ll smile, exchange witty banter, and you’ll go home thinking you MUST know me more.

I’ll be interesting and funny and cute. I’ll introduce you to a new band each week. We’ll share a soda at some park listening to the new album of City and Colour.

And then you’ll think to yourself how the hell I ever got to be me. And why was I still single?

I’m the transition girl. The one you read in books, who leaves both protagonist and readers a trail of question marks, compelling you all to read another chapter.

You will mistake me for a dream girl, leaving “manic pixie” behind, ignoring the hair color and the disappearing acts, thinking everything I say determines the plot, treating my sadness as some sort of foreshadowing.

I will teach you how to be extraordinary. To try new things. To develop a taste for the wonderful and the crazy. Because sometimes they’re both as sweet as candy.

I’m the transition girl. I have mystery written all over me, and you’re welcome to try and pick me apart to indulge yourself in whatever stage of confusion you’re in.

You’re welcome to turn my words into your gospel while you figure yourself out, decide what it is you really want. Treat every moment we have as an adventure, while some indie folk song plays in the background.

But to tell you honestly, I’m so sick of all of it. People leaving the moment clarity hits them. While I fade along with the song.

People thinking I’m broken but held together by glitter glue so at least I sparkle in parts that hurt me the most.

I’m sick of remaining in people’s what-if lists, of thinking I become stronger anyway every time I’m abandoned. That at least I’ll get a good poem out of it.

I never do things for the story.

But the story always happens to me: the meet-cute, me thinking oh my god he noticed me. And he doesn’t mind that I sometimes get crazy. And he remembers this band I said I liked that nobody else knows. And he doesn’t think it’s weird that I change my hair color every two weeks because I desperately want to crawl out of my skin but this is the least I could do for now to become someone else.

I never do all of this for the story. I never wanted to be written off as a plot point, someone the main character meets to make him realize his worth—and in the end I am never worth it.

Because I’m the transition girl. The manic pixie dream girl. Only a few memorable chapters long but never the happy ending.

And all the time, when it’s over, you’ll remember me only when that indie folk song plays on the radio, which won’t be always. You will look back at the time we had with great nostalgia but not an ounce of regret. I was someone you had to know. A phase before you got your life together.

And while it’s flattering that I helped you get where you were going, I still think you should know. I never thought that you were only visiting.

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Preview

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Track 1: Dodie – Secret for the Mad
Tuesday, 2:30 pm

Dear Jake,

They never tell you how difficult it can be to remember someone’s voice long after they’re gone. You can try to imagine and replay conversations in your head but these memories come out more like hard-subbed silent films rather than talkies.

It’s only been a week, but it feels more like a year had gone by without you. I’ve never been good at grieving. Or timelines. Or keeping track of the days. To be honest, the entire week feels like one long sleepless, staggering night I’m not allowed to see the end of. Like I’ve been waiting for morning to come, but every time I emerge from my sheets to check for sunshine, all I see is more darkness.

I hate everything about this, Jake. I hate that I need to cope with something I didn’t ask to be in. I hate that it happened so suddenly. Although to be fair, how do you prepare for something like it anyway?

It’s in the middle of summer and the heat is killing me. I’m looking outside the bookstore and I’m seeing a traffic jam at the intersection and it’s so weird to see it at 2:30 in the afternoon in the summer. I guess what I’m saying is that everything is an anomaly. You not being here. This unforgiving heat. The terrible traffic.

I will never get used to this routine, so I guess it’s a good thing that starting next week, something will change about how I spend my days. I can’t even remember the entire conversation I had with Dr. Silang about the teaching post, but I somehow ended up accepting a part-time teaching position at the university. Yes, the classes that you were handling.

If I could describe how I feel, I think the most accurate word I could think of right now is dread. About living up to everyone’s expectations. About interacting with the students you left behind and who adored you. About seeing you in each one of them. I know that this is a rather pathetic attempt to hold on to your memories and to pretend like I didn’t lose my best friend. But every day, I keep trying to remember your voice and how your laughter sounded like, and it’s getting difficult, Jake. So maybe I could find them in the classrooms that you occupied and in the students whose lives you’ve touched.

I know that it will never be the same, but here’s to hoping I still find you in other people, Jake.

Always,
Matty

Multo

Naririnig ko silang kumakatok lahat
Narininig ko ang mga sigaw nila
At pag tumitingin ako sa salamin
Mas natatakot akong
Hindi nakikita sa mukha ko
Ang pagkarindi sa mga boses
At katok ng mga sarili kong multo

May isa sa kanilang ginagamit ang kanyang kamao
Narininig ko ang dagundong nito kasabay ng tibok ng aking puso
Wala siyang sinasabi
Pero ramdam ko na dala niya ang aking pagkaguho

May mga iba namang bumubulong lang
Banayad ang boses nila pero napakalinaw
Ng nais nilang iparating
Na mas maliit ang tingin nila sa akin
At alam nila na konting pilit pa
Na bibigay rin ako
At pakakawalan ko sila

Pero hindi sila dapat makawala

May isa sa kanila, inuuntog lang ang ulo niya
Habang sinasabi paulit-ulit
Na wala akong kwenta

Naririnig ko siya
Sa pinakaloob na parte ng aking tenga
Yung pakiramdam na nakalubog ang ulo ko sa batya
At wala akong ibang naririnig kahit sarili ko
Pero naririnig ko siya

Naririnig ko silang kumakatok
Na para bang ilang siglo na silang nagpipigil
At oras na nila ngayon para lumaya at kumawala
Para maghasik ng lagim sa lahat ng gumawa ng mali sakin
At una sa listahan nila ang pangalan ko para puntiryahin

Walang ibang nakakarinig ng mga katok nila kundi ako
Mahirap itago ang isang bagay na hindi nakikita ng ibang tao
Hindi ko kayang ipaliwanag ang itsura ng mga multong parating nag-iibang anyo.
Tuwing akala kong nakikilala ko na sila, may panibago silang sorpresa

Silang pumapalakpak kapag nakikita akong balisa
Silang humahalakhak tuwing nawawalan ako ng pag-asa
Silang parating kumakatok sa dibdib ko at
Nagmamakaawang palabasin ko

Kaya paano ko sasabihin sa ibang,
“Sandali lang, kailangan ko lang patahimikin ang utak ko.
Kailangan ko lang maramdaman ulit na kontrolado ko pa rin ang emosyon at mga saloobin ko,
Na ako pa rin itong nakikita mo at kumakausap sayo.”?

Hindi ko sila dapat hayaang makawala
Hindi sila dapat makawala

Marami na akong sinubukan
At mga taong tinakbuhan
Sa pag-asang malunod ng mga
Tawa nila ang alingawngaw
Ng mga multong sa isip ko
Napiling manirahan
Para hindi ko na marinig kumatok ang mga ito

Paulit-ulit, gabi-gabi
At tahimik na akong makatulog

Pero minsan
Magsisimula pa lang ang araw ko
O kaya habang naliligo
O nagpapakain ng aso
Tatahimik panandalian ang mundo ko
At bigla na lang may kakalabog
Dito sa dibdib ko
At mag-uumpisa ulit
Na maririnig ko
Kumakatok sila

Strong Women

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Heartache doesn’t happen in isolation inside a closed bedroom door. All the crying isn’t held in by mere metal and wood. It can cross cities and oceans and reach another person who’s going about their day.

And heartache doesn’t run its course within a single day. I picture swallowing bombs. Grenades inside closed fists. Tiny fireworks in each vein. I picture the sheets as temporary backbone. Your whole being an empty shell. For as long as you let it.

But this will not be a story about defeat. Or even about glorifying it. Of painting the hurt a pretty colour for other people to like it. We will stop calling ourselves heroines for simply loving another person.

In all the strangeness of human connection, we can’t be outraged with what we understand. When we’ve always understood that we are built to endure and survive a storm, we don’t question when it finally comes crashing in. We don’t call it the devil for testing us. The best thing we can do is find warmth in the comfort of people we call our home.

And to the lovers who are left without a lover, this will not undo what you’ve given and what you’ve become. Strong women.

Strong

I see you.

You with the heavy heart, and even heavier feet. I know there are times when you can’t decide which one is harder to carry, so you stay in one corner, not moving instead. I know you watch the days change outside through your curtain, praying for rain during summer days.

I know that it’s easier to brace yourself for disappointment than happiness. That it’s something you could bite your teeth into. It’s the thing you breathe in every morning, along with the smell of toast and coffee. I know you drag it around the house like an old teddy bear you can’t get rid of because then, what do you do with your empty hands?

I know people see you like the time bomb in movies where they can just cut the obvious red wire and the bomb stops ticking and everyone is safe. I know you feel that you are more like fireworks. Beautiful only from a distance but could burn anyone when they get closer.

I know that you have days when you can’t recognize anything good. That the only sound you hear are fire alarms going off in your head, telling you it’s time to run far, far away. But I wish you wouldn’t.

You’re so used to writing about your struggle and calling it creative names that in the rare moments you choose to be strong, you don’t understand it. In the moments that you get to be strong, it feels like someone else is wearing your skin.

But I’m here to tell you that strong doesn’t always mean comfortable. Sometimes it’s cutting your hair instead of something else. Ugly haircut be damned. Strong doesn’t always mean beautiful. Sometimes it’s spending 10 minutes of your 15-minute break crying in the dirty bathroom stall, but at least showing up for work. Strong doesn’t always mean hard. Sometimes it’s sinking into a tight hug from a loved one and letting yourself be taken care of.

I see you.

You can’t live inside your bedroom, let alone inside your head. You won’t get a star stamped on your hand every time you get through the week without crumbling. Most days, no one will even notice that you have your Courage badge digging through your skin. Most days, no one will congratulate you for trying.

And I know strong sometimes feels like turning your bruised heart inside out, almost dying in the process, and then entrusting it to another person. But strong has never been easy. Or painless.

But sometimes, someone notices. Someone tells you your hair looks smart. That your skin is glowing. Takes your heart and carefully tucks it in their jean pocket. You look in the mirror and you really see yourself.

And I see you. I know it’s been hard and I can’t promise it will get easier in the next few days or weeks. But sometimes during the hottest days, we get rain.

Even on the hottest days, it rains.

Stay

I’m not an important person. People never get my name right. Baristas never know how to spell or pronounce it correctly. Strangers who see my name but have never met me always think I’m a boy. But this never really bothered me. Because we are never too mindful about things that are not important.

Oblivion has always been a most comforting promise. I could disappear and it wouldn’t make a difference. The world would stay as it is, not budging in its greatness. And this doesn’t break my heart. I’m comforted in the fact that my being gone wouldn’t make things worse.

I’ve never been scared of being forgotten. Friends and lovers have lost me way too many times and yet they’re happy and I’m still me and we’re all still here. I’m okay with people leaving without blaming them because in this lifetime, there are too many people to get to know and places to go and we can’t keep everyone.

And I have left people. Because sometimes caring gets too heavy for my already shaking hands. And sometimes, I don’t even care about myself so I can’t imagine how I can be good enough for somebody else. Like I said, I’m not an important person. It’s the most selfish thing–accepting too soon that nothing is wrong with being temporary.

But this is what I’m used to and this is what’s comfortable. But let me tell you something:

He kept saying my name. He kept saying my name and I felt my heart grow bigger. It looked so much like a smile when his lips curved to mouth my name. And I couldn’t help but think that maybe it isn’t so bad that someone chooses to remember it.

And he always remembers. I’ve gotten so used to repeating everything and people forgetting that my words nearly turned into a stutter. But he remembers, and now I’m slowly saying goodbye to repetition.

And I swear I’m not important. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t matter, and we will keep on letting people go and believe me, I’m not important.

But when he says my name, my god it sounds like a prayer.

When he says my name, it sounds so much like “stay.”