December 31, 2022
If I can describe you in one word, it would be “trainwreck”.
In May, you gave me my first heartbreak in a decade – a political one at that. Never in my life have I expended such energy, faith, and dedication on a campaign. I was unlearned in what Antonio Luna calls “jumping into the abyss” for one’s country until I found myself marching on the streets, sweaty and crying with my daughter for a revitalized, pink-tinged horizon. Hoping against this country’s lost hopes, only to witness it all crashing down in one day, hours after I casted my ballot.
I thought you offered me solace when only weeks after, you brought love to my door again after a decade-long plateau – only to snatch it away in September.
In August, you brought me news that the job that gave me life, centering, financial, stability, and utter contentment for three years is changing its sail – and I’m no longer part of the voyage.
Middle of this month, you brought that person I parted ways with back for a few short sentences only to remind me, in the midst of my grief, that this is not a season for harvest – and perhaps there won’t be a season for us.
But it seems you weren’t finished with me yet. Just now, you handed me my seventh consecutive poetry rejection from a literary magazine to cap off the year (have to hand it to the editor though – takes some discipline to send rejection emails when everyone’s busy getting drunk). I have had zero acceptances these past weeks.
How can you be so brutal in your ways? Do you enjoy watching me fugly crying? Was it too much to ask that you take it slow?
January 23, 2023
Perhaps years don’t take it slow. Or fast. Maybe they move in a certain order as nature does. Unhurried but just. Sometimes unfair, but unbiased. Everybody gets a fair share of fuckups and undeserved goodbyes; promising arrivals and blood rush.
In some (probably sadomasochistic) way, part of me wanted you to stay a bit longer. Recount how it is to be ridiculous enough to hope for this near-unsalvageable country we call home; to stand under the braising heat in Malolos – the seat of our first Republic – campaigning for a genuine public servant for the first time in my life. To sing and weep in Makati Avenue with hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, chanting our long-lost faith for a freer, more stable Philippines.
Stay a few more months at my desk, a dozen more laughter-filled meetings with friends at work and 2 pm company catchups on Fridays that end with a colleague’s guitar solo.
Make my days sweeter, like those nights and days from June till September when he and I would talk for hours, safekeeping each other’s secrets and wounds from two different time zones. Or that night in August when he confessed. Or that one pensive September morn, when he sent me Prateek Kuhad’s cold/mess and Rumi’s love poems after a difficult 8 am conversation, before we obliterated each other’s hopes with a final goodnight.
Oh, 2022. I write this knowing you are gone forever. The days neither tarry nor replay, except in memory. Your seconds escaped from my palm like air. I write this knowing that even if you are the most heartbreaking year I can recall, I love you as much as the breezy ones. Knowing each person you brought to my doorstep, each heartbreak, is a step toward becoming. Being. Living fully – in chaos and in grace; in devastation and in love.
In and through you I turned to ashes, slipping through the tiny eyehole of the universe’s needle, emerging on the other side where all ashes gather. It’s a profound experience to die over and over again, to realize nothing truly ends. Every pain a composite of pleasure, every sorrow of joy, every darkness of sun. Every end becomes a part of a new beginning – just like you are now part of 2023 and all years moving forward.
I look ahead, clutching you in hand, “hand in my stupid heart”(Cameron Awkward-Rich), in tears but grateful. Thank you for breaking my heart. Through you I gave myself freely to experience, to razed feet, to first wonky steps in crutches, to scar tissue wrapping my wounds, to hope blinking its eyes and falling in love again with life’s beautiful contradictions. Where the spirit breaks lies rebirth. Thank you for reminding me how it is to be alive.
Tucking you safely in my letters and poems,
PS – Here’s a poem I wrote for you and your sibling, 2023.
We Too Can Dream Lofty on New Year’s Eve
Look at us, mere specks
under the spangled sky,
separated from the gods
by an uncrossable distance.
Overhead, fireworks – once mere debris –
fortified by time, by fervency
to open oneself to nectaring beginnings,
now sweep the stars,
ignite a dying year,
and dazzle this crestfallen world.