Wednesday, December 28, 2011

To Those Who Saw Me In Obar

To whom it may concern:

Let me begin by saying that I was not quite myself when I was in Obar last Sunday.

First, I think it should be pointed out that I had seven bottles of beer that night. That's not a lot for most drinkers, myself included actually, but I had three different brands. I'm pretty sure that's what messed me up. Yes, I'm really sure.

At the start, I was at the back of the club. If you saw me trying to undress the twinky guy standing beside me, then I think you should know that he's just a really good friend. He was complaining that it was too hot inside, so I was trying to do him a favor. It may have looked like I was forcing him, but no, I wasn't. If you looked closely, you would have seen that he was smiling, even when I touched his man-boobs while his head and arms were stuck in his shirt. We were both smiling.

An hour after my friend and I came in, a daddy-looking guy joined us. That was another friend who is actually only twenty-seven. We dated a couple of months ago for five days but it didn't work out. It was a good breakup and no one was bitter even though it was his entire fault. He was there that night in Obar because I invited him, because that's what mature ex-dates do.

A couple of hours later, when I was already on my fifth beer, we transferred to a table near the front door, which was partly occupied by a BBM friend and his friends. After a while, right after my friend introduced me to his friends and I forgot their names, I started singing along to the music at the top of my lungs. That was a bit unsightly, I admit, but I blame it all on Adele. She was clawing at my wounds and that was me screaming in agony.

By the time the last performance of the night had ended, everyone was already drenched in good vibes, myself included. How could we not be when it’s Christmas? We had to spread the joy. I found myself talking to my friend's friends. Then I was talking to the other guys in our table, then the guys on the next table, then to every guy that passed by our group. The mood was just so infectious.

Rocky and Toby, if you're reading this, I want you guys to know that it was a pleasure meeting you, and also that I was already finishing my sixth beer when I came up and introduced myself to you. I think I may have been a bit annoying, asking you over and over if I was already embarassing myself, but it was only because I kept forgetting your answer, which was also the reason why I kept asking your friend his name. We should get together again next time, when I'm still sober, and we can talk fondly about that night. Perhaps that will remind me of the fuzzy parts that my friends won't tell me about.

There was actually one detail that I almost forgot - that I slapped daddy-looking-guy many times. It was all just good fun, of course. Luckily, I remembered it the next day because one of my fingers was swollen. That means my hand hit a hard part in his face, probably his cheekbone. Congratulations, daddy-looking-guy, looks like you've lost weight.

I remember kissing a guy that night. If you happen to be that guy, please don’t be mad if I don’t recognize you when we next bump into each other. The kiss happened when my eyes were already failing me. I couldn't even type on my phone properly anymore. When I checked the last text I sent that night, it said "Ymuwivnqko" which, I'm guessing, was supposed to read "Umuwi nako". I do remember, though, that you were a good kisser. Next time you spot me lurking in the shadows of Obar, just pull me in and kiss me, and I might just remember.

I took the same cab home as BBM guy because we were practically neighbors. I thought I was already too drunk to do anything, but I rose through the challenge. I had enough sense left to tell the cab driver where I lived. And unlike many of my friends who told me they already threw up inside a cab, I still had the sense to tell the driver to pull over so I can throw up on the sidewalk. I don't remember paying, though, so I guess I owe BBM guy some money.

Having said that, I'd like to tell anyone who saw me in Obar or on the sidewalk that I'm really not usually like that. I’m usually a very collected person, the typical shy-type. Nevertheless, I'm going to take a break from going there - no, wait, from drinking altogether. I’ve had enough for the time being and don't plan to go anywhere near liquor until Thursday. Ah yes, that's tomorrow.



Monday, December 5, 2011

Bringing Back The Sparklers

There’s a Christmas Eve from my childhood that I can still remember clearly. I was six or seven years old back then. I was standing on a small chair, looking out the window, and Mama was standing behind me, her arms forming a little fence around me to make sure I didn’t fall off. We were each holding one of those cheap sparklers, the kind that burned out thirty seconds after being lit. I was holding my sparkler up, beaming as I watched the pretty sparks fly every which way into the night.

Then I looked up at Mama and, with all the excitement and silliness of the little child that I was, greeted her, “Merry Christmas Ma!” Mama smiled and answered, “Merry Christmas, anak.” Her arms closed around me and hugged me tight and she bent down to kiss me on the head.

Almost twenty years have passed since then, but it is still one of the moments in my life that I cherish the most. That was the time when my relationship with Mama was still built firmly on unblemished trust. The small space within her arms was my sanctuary. I knew she wouldn’t let me fall off the chair no matter how much I jumped around while pretending that my sparklers were a rocket ship zooming around in space. Back then, she was all that I needed.

But I grew up and, as I’ve found out too many times, growing up complicates a lot of things. I’m not really sure how it started, but I became more and more distant from Mama as I grew up. I was determined to explore life on my own. This is my life and I will live it the way I want it to, I always said to myself.

Mama has this idea of what success is:  I have to graduate from school (it doesn’t matter which school as long as I graduate on time), I have to find a job and stay there for at least five years because it’s difficult to find a job, I have to work abroad so that I can earn more, and finally, I have to find a wife and start my own family. It’s her life mission to help me do all of those, she said it’s the only way she can leave this world with peace of mind.

So far, I have not followed any of her plans. It took me six and a half years to graduate from college because I absolutely refused to study at any other school. I quit my first job after two years and I have told Mama that my new job isn’t going to be forever either, much to her dismay. I do not feel the need to work abroad yet because I’d much rather go back to school and take up masters. As for the wife and family thing, well, I’m gay so that’s not going to happen.

The fact that I have lived my life differently from how she had planned scares Mama. She thinks I’m wasting away and that I’ll be one of those has-beens left penniless and alone when they grow old. She tries desperately to steer me back on track, which I see as a slap at my character because I see myself as neither aimless nor as a failure. My plans may not be as clear-cut as hers but they do exist, and I think I’ve been doing pretty well on my own.

I can no longer count how many times Mama and I fought about my decisions, my life in general actually. It’s no longer the same as when we were still on that window, when what she wanted for me was also what I wanted. I know that she only wants me to be safe, but the walls that she built to protect me already feel like a prison. I’m different now, I’m no longer the frail, naïve, innocent little boy I used to be. I need Mama in my life and I will always consider her advices, but I have to make my own decisions now. Even if I don’t do what she wants me to do, it doesn’t mean that I don’t need her anymore.

I guess it’s hard for Mama to trust me simply because it’s hard to trust someone you barely know. I’ve been living away from home for twelve years now and, looking back, I realize that I’ve been doing my best to stay out of Mama’s reach. It’s not her fault that she doesn’t know me anymore, I brought this on us. I have made sure that she had as little involvement in my life as possible. I guess you can call it part of my teenage rebellion years or whatever. I’ve never been able to catch with her since, even until now. Honestly, readers of this blog probably know more about me than Mama does.

This Christmas eve, I’m buying Mama and me a box of those sparklers. As we light those sparklers, I’ll tell her about how the queue for the jeepney going home gets insanely long during rush hour, which is why I prefer to go home late. I’ll brag that I have every bit of alcohol tolerance that she has. I’ll show her that I already eat patatas, munggo and upo. I’ll take her to Starbucks and tell her how I sometimes imagine what it would be like to drink pa-sosyal coffee with her. I will tell her about how I went to Baguio for a boy, fell in love and got my heart broken after a few weeks, though I’ll probably leave out that I drank for a week after the breakup. Then I’ll tell her about my new boyfriend, this amazing guy who gave me chocolates and vitamins for my birthday.

Hopefully, that will do as a first step towards catching up. In spite of all the fights that we’ve been in, and no matter how it may seem otherwise, I love her with all my heart. I want to go back to those times when we had unquestioning trust for each other. I don’t know how many years of life either of us still has, and I don’t want to waste one more moment of it. She is my mother and I am her son. I don’t want us to be strangers anymore.