Occasionally, I receive random Facebook friend requests; Instagram and Twitter DMs
from strangers. Filipino, American, Australian, African, Indian, Korean. Men who call me pretty
at my ugliest. One called me dearie. Another honey. Plenty of dicks.
Even though my cunt craves one, I leave them all unattended.
On Instagram and Twitter: 1,418 and 927 followers. Facebook profile: 1.1K friends.
I only keep up regularly with seven. At most. Half inching to tin anniversary, half silver,
but even we sometimes don’t speak for weeks.
Because I like talking to myself in the bathroom or engaging in made-up conversations
with people I can no longer access. Because I listen to Spotify 99% more
than the average Filipino, says my Spotify Wrapped, and my daughter is cool
with me keeping my headphones on. Because she feeds four times a day
and my cats shit without abandon. Because I have two jobs and meetings drain me.
Because I have bills, a mortgage, and too many mouths to feed, and every second I talk
to a stranger takes away money my mouths need.
Because on weekends, a long list: laundry, clean the toilet, fold clothes, scrub
the floors, bathe the dogs. Because I only have Friday and Saturday nights free.
On Sundays my daughter returns from her dad’s and we do a movie night.
Because alone time tops Maslow’s hierarchy. When neighbors invite me to their parties,
my head spins. Because a married neighbor hit on me. Another time a neighbor’s married in-law came over, ordered me to buy him a beer, and hit on me, too. Because I am mad
at myself for not putting them in their fucking places out of politeness.
Because one time a man in a trial separation and I texted every day for months as friends
and peeled each other over hours-long video calls like almost lovers. Because we like honesty
as a present and every day it was Christmas when we unwrapped hidden bruises, his sadness
and mine, his kids and mine, love songs and Rumi’s poems, my rape, dreams he regrets
not pursuing, and shit he can’t share in therapy. Because in the end, he told me he wants
to reconcile with her but we could still be friends despite our feelings. Because when heartbreak eats away at you, you turn to poetry. Because poetry and silence feel safer than most people. Sometimes I count myself as most people, and when I said I was angry with him, I actually meant me, tone-deaf whenever he repeated he is not sure – slash – he really wants to but – slash – if only –
Because they weren’t loved properly, so they didn’t know how to love me properly.
Because I didn’t know how to love myself properly either, I let them be clouds, raining
on my spongy earth in cycles while evaporating to fill them.
Because sometimes my heart is mute and dripping soft, dampened by this world’s horrors including those I created. Because my veins brim with love and I transfused so much
that I am still wobbling from anemia. Because I am lonely and loneliness is one part stinger,
one part comfort when you are not harming anyone just sitting with it on your own.
Because my world feels swollen and tight with bodies warm and cold.
Because I love my friends so much and they love me oh so much — I can claim
space to speak, leave, and return, as they are free to speak, leave, and return.
Because they know all these broken pieces and never packed their bags.
I know theirs too and my bags will always remain unpacked.
Because if I confirm a friend request, first I will say, Listen,
these are the kind of friends I have and the only kind I will accept from now on.
So are you someone like them? If not, take your penis with you.