Out of the Box

I stared at the door for a long time, buying some time for myself and even then considering whether I should do it or not. I felt as if my body’s weight lay on my feet. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t bring myself to lift my hand and knock on the door.

Faintly, I can hear voices inside. His. My heart skipped a beat upon hearing his voice. It sounded like an old song heard after many years. All the nostalgia in my heart surfaced like it has been waiting to be awakened all this time. His voice sounded too familiar. Like it was my own.

But that’s just it. It never was. None of it ever was. And so I held back a tear and willed myself to turn around. It took all my energy to come this far, only to realize at the last minute that it would’ve been worthless either way.

I took a step forward. And another one. And another one. I didn’t bother to look around. Afraid that it will all start again. Because when I do, I know it will.

When you realize that the only thing you need to be free is the same thing stopping you from doing things, it gets so confusing that the seemingly safest thing to do is go inside a box and hide and forget about it all. Until everything eventually, completely goes away, and it’s not confusing anymore.

And you think by the time you’re ready to come out, there will be more choices for you to make–better choices. But then you find out that no one ever waited for you, and now you’re not confused. Just alone.

(original post date: May 2, 2010)


On Being Single

While everyone else was having a date, I was having mine too, with Shakespeare and six of his plays. He always keeps me up all night, stronger than any brewed coffee would. While they were learning how to choose a perfect lip gloss or that perfect eye shadow to compliment their eyes, I was busy learning what “inverted idealism” is and differentiating it from naturalism. While everyone else was attending parties, I was attending Debate Club meetings, discussing about the basic Oregon-Oxford and the more advanced Asian Parliamentary. While they were writing testimonials for their boyfriends, I was defending my paper about the “image of Filipino women in selected short stories.” And lastly, while everyone has boyfriends, I have a book instead, to keep me awake until the wee hours of the night, to keep me company during the dull weekends, to sadden me or please me during rainy days, to confuse me, infuriate me, or to make me fall in love. So tell me, what’s the difference?

(original post date: sometime in 2005)

One Year Later

I wondered how to make this untrue.
I tried in vain.
I cannot.
No, not when the tears
are as fresh as the early morning dew.
Greeting me as I wake up.
I tried to make this not stay.
But it did.
It stayed when nothing else did.
When no one else did.
I tried in vain,
and wondered how
to make these all my past.
But it keeps reminding me.
That nothing stays as past.

Everything is here.

Everything is now.

Everything is still.


(original post date: April 03, 2007)


They ask me why it didn’t work out between the two of us. I quote Churchill, not really having anything else better to say.

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” I take a drag off my smoke and feel the cold December breeze against my sweaty forehead. I sweat whenever I smoke, no matter how cold the weather is. I think it’s partly because of the guilt of smoking, and partly because of the excitement of having to break THE rule again. He never liked my smoking. I never liked his never liking my smoking. Quits.

I feel my friends staring at me from across the table. I look away, lean back in my chair and sigh. I always have to explain everything literally. Well, the night is young, I have my friends for company, booze is everywhere, and a fresh breakup is at hand. I ready myself for a long night of talking and drinking.

But for the first time, I don’t have an answer for their “What for?”

A few months ago, whenever my friends asked me how we are, I always answered, we’re holding on, steady lang. Then a follow-up question of “What for?” from the more frank ones. I was always only too happy to explain to them that what we have been through was something worth saving and waiting for. That all we need is just some time, and eventually everything will fall into place.

They shrug their shoulders; I shrug mine.

Tonight however, I am caught off guard because of the question again. I find myself struggling for an answer, but I realize I don’t have one anymore, so I just keep quiet and look away.

So much had changed. It’s funny because in our attempt to keep everything normal between the two of us, it all went out of control and came crashing down anyway. It really is like holding water in your hands. Everything will spill out, no matter how carefully you try to hold on to it. But of course, I will not tell them this.

“I waited ‘in vain’ for six hours. He stood me up. He preferred to sleep it off.”

Amy suddenly starts singing Waiting in Vain. Everyone begins to sing along with her. I blow a smoke directly on her face and she stops.

“It’s not funny. Not funny at all.” I say. I congratulate myself for not saying the whole story. If I do, they might do a musical in front of me.

“No, but who would’ve thought the resident cynic could be such a hopeless romantic?” she says coyly.

“I am not a hopeless romantic.” So what if I am, you insensitive twerp, I almost blurt out. I gulp down a half-empty (or half-full) glass of light beer and throw my fifth cigarette butt.

“Anyhoo, I waited but he didn’t come. I never told him how long I’ve waited. I just ended it. End of story.”

End of our story. I’m not going to be sentimental about it. I’ll just drink and smoke it off. It will eventually go away, so why bother telling my friends about it.

But it is just so lonely. So fucking lonely.


(original post date: December 02, 2006)

Unsaid, Undone

She held back a tear, watching him leave. She had wanted him to feel that she was not regretful. She couldn’t take back what she said. But now she’s not so sure what she wants. Or where she stands.

She vaguely remembered someone telling her that it was fine if men went after women sometimes after a breakup. It was natural. It doesn’t go against any moral law. Or does it? But then she also remembered someone telling her that when men say it’s over, it is over.

She spent the last week convincing herself that what happened was a bomb just waiting to explode. They always knew it was there, always knew there was something dangerous around them, but they neglected it. Suddenly, they were both taken by surprise by their actions, not considering at all each other’s feelings. And now it is over.

She wished she told him that it didn’t matter if he didn’t go with her that day she said she wanted to watch the sunrise with him. And it didn’t matter if he never got her the flowers she wanted him to give her on their anniversary. The forgotten flowers, neglected lunch dates, times when he promised he would see her but didn’t for some reason, him laughing when she said she thought cats were scary. They were actually unimportant things. Or weren’t they?

There were many things she wished she didn’t say. And things she wished she did say.


He never understood her reasons for leaving him. He thought everything was OK, that he was making her happy. But apparently he wasn’t. And now, he thought, it’s over. He felt ashamed after hearing those things from her. But it made him feel worse when he realized that all of those were true.

He never thought that forgetting to give her flowers would cause this much trouble. Right, it wasn’t just the flowers after all. She said there were too many things left unsaid. And that was the problem. He never realized this before, how unfair.

If only he did, they would still be together. But no, he couldn’t even look at her in the eye after what happened. It took all his effort to even continue walking away and not looking back to beg her for another chance.

He wouldn’t talk to her again. He couldn’t—even if he wanted to. Women, they say, never joke about these things. But he still hoped that she would change her mind.

There were many things he wished he didn’t do. And things he wished he did do.


(original post date: July 12, 2006)