Saturday, July 31, 2010

The real-life sitcom

I've been watching FRIENDS on loop the past months, jumping episodes, shifting seasons, only to find myself back to the series premiere and ready to go through the whole thing again. It's been keeping me sane and I've developed a certain kind of addiction from the habit where I need to hear their voices or else I wouldn't be able to sleep. During the middle of it all, I always continue to wonder the logic behind the series theme song, 'I'll be there for you', and similarly, as the song's happy beat, why the series was so...happy.

If you come to look at it, all six of them should be miserable. Joey is living on a pretense dream, his whole life is made up of a thousand pathetic auditions and nobody has the heart to tell him he's a bad actor. Phobe never went to High School, she went through a very damaging teenage life and will die knowing nothing but touching people's bodies with oil. Chandler will never get out of his suit, and the monotony that comes with it, and also, people don't like him. Monica has a mother that thinks so little of her, and a whole lifetime of proving that she's more than just a fat girl even if it consumed her. Ross have had three divorces before he was 30, and a career that involved talking about a subject that's been dead and extinct and nobody ever cares anymore. Rachel, the girl who knew nothing about life, ironically enough, found herself in the best place among all of them, if the best place is not where you're even friends with your sisters.

My question is, why are they happy? How can you have a job that's a joke, broke, a DOA lovelife, and be happy? How can you feel like it hasn't been your year, and that you've always been on second gear, and be happy? I've enjoyed the show, I did, it's my happy pill, but for a girl who claims she has a personality disorder, the lack of a tragedy just wouldn't suffice. As I said, I need to find a rational explanation to why they have continued to be happy. And then I met my Friends.

Something comes up, like a Booksale, or the premiere of a new movie, or a Chicken-all-you-can promo, and there's not a second of hesitation who to invite. I believe in soulmates, I do, but I also believe that God's destiny person can be anybody - and I'm glad he gave me ten of them. There's a quote from 'Wedding Crashers' which goes, "True love is your soul's recognition of its counterpart on someone else."

And the counterparts are endless. True Love is found on the way we ask somebody for soft copies of a series we both love, or a book the other person have read which the other wants to badly read. True Love is found on the way we borrow each other's ipod, and we're always bound to find at least 10 common favorite songs. True Love is found on our Facebook statuses, where we didn't need to be there to get it. Where our sarcasm goes beyond its function, but nobody is complaining. True Love is found on the way we all don't like to drink, and we all don't like the Party Scene. True Love is found on the way someone keys in a song in Magic sing, and somebody always says, "Hey I was gonna sing that."

There's this storyline in Season 5, when Ross just got his second divorce, was going through a rough, annoying time, and the rest of them shut up about it, supported him when they didn't even like his ex-wife, and they thought he got married too fast. At times, they didn't even like him. I feel like that Ross now. I'm sure that my friends have something to say about my sadness, I'm sure that they all think that some of it borders into foolishness sometimes. But I get that, I would've thought that about myself too. And I know I'm annoying. But somehow, they've managed to go past their opinions - which would've all been valid any other way - and just drag themselves over at my side, shut up, and just as Monica did, cooked me my favorite dinner. Well, not exactly. But there have been lots of good foods, and guilty pleasures like Football (One time, Angelique even let me have a 50-peso Hardbound Candace Bushnell book if only to make me laugh), and even endured my terribly corny jokes. They have all came and pitched in their share of shoulders for me to cry on (even though what we mostly did was laugh, so hysterically, it blows my mind), and never having to ask why.

But they're most likely to be fed up sometimes. But what's really amazing is that, even when they stopped understanding, even when they stopped bothering, they never stopped being there. Someone can rant endlessly that no one would even care to listen anymore, but at the end of the day, when it's all dried out, they're always there, ready to brilliantly mock you and make you laugh again. I guess we also find True Love in that, in the pauses of affection, and moments of disconnection. What we fail to give in the meantime, we give all out in the end. The hatred we feel towards one's annoying quality, or any kind of pain we inflict on each other because we're all so insanely temperamental, or the times we've passed judgments just because we can, and however things seemed bad at the time, is, just the same, a confession of love because at the end of the day, we choose to forgive, we choose to understand, and we choose to overcome the differences, find true love in spite of it, and eventually, find true love because of it.

We've all reached the point where any conflicts that may arise is not considered a criticism of anyone in any way, but instead an acknowledgment that we are different, but yet, we're all the same. We've reached a point where we no longer feel the threat of befriending somebody outside the group, or letting people inside once in a while, or having the group split to sub-groups because it feels more safe that way sometimes. We've reached a level of confidence in our friendship, the kind of level which we're sure to be friends forever - no matter how many times more in the future that someone's bound to hate somebody. I guess, after 4 years, this is kind of it. Whoever we are now, whatever we are now, this is it - this is a product of puberty, hormones, testosterone, insecurity, competition, frustration and flaws that we've managed to overcome to be able to come out as happy, as contented, and as loved as we are now. This is it, whatever The Rembrandts was talking about, this is it. Our season premiere just started rolling.

There's so much more I like to say; like when I'm with them, I never feel inferior, nor superior, or like I never have to explain why I am the way I am nor do I feel the need to shut up when I can't help but do it anyway. Like, how I can just be myself, and belong, even if I'm not from Manila and thus, don't know a thing about the pop trivias the rest of them enjoys discussing. Like how much we all came from different backgrounds, and still ended up living and liking the same life. Like when I visualize my dream apartment in New York, I see Cha, Monica, and Jicky living with me, Nachi, Apol, Sam and Dharel living just across the hall, and Chiara, Candice and Karchelle living just across the street. Like when I visualize my dream coming true, the ones I want standing next to me are the same people who have stood by me when it didn't.

Like, how everytime I watch Friends, I understand why they're happy because I am too, and because they made me.

So much more other things that I need to stay but can't, because I feel like whatever I will write will never come up to par to how truly amazing they are.

But the last thing I'll say is this: when I'm with them, I don't have to ask why I'm happy, I just am.

And that's Friendship. When, as the Rembrandts puts it, even at my worst, I'm at my best with you.
I love you so much, it's retarded, #The Jeep.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Skipping Stone

"She's more like a skipping stone. I usually hang on for the ride, see where it takes me. But when the stone stops to skip, it begins to sink. And that's where she is, she's sinking."

I randomly clicked a page on Facebook yesterday, and it reminded me of everything that has happened wrong in the past 4 months. Things that I've been really trying hard to get over, things that I'm letting go, things that shouldn't affect me anymore right now, but it did. It still did. I texted my best friend who I knew was going to have a different opinion than the rest. Not that I'm not grateful, I am, but I needed someone who's likely to tell me something different. Because God knows nothing has been working for me lately. He told me that it was a phase, and I shouldn't rush it, that it was gonna go away. We recalled about the time I'd started college. I quit the Choir, I'd failed the Flame exams, I still didn't have any real friends, I had a conflicting schedule with my roommate - the one person from home I had constantly with me - and every morning before I wait and go to class, I would just lie inside my little dorm room and drown in my own sweat and bitterness. I remember wanting to desperately go home every weekend, just like I do now, to lock myself up in the bedroom and replay High School. The time in my life that I didn't have to work to be happy, I just was. He told me that I always get that kind of phase, that beginnings are supposed to be really hard. And just as things worked out perfectly for me in college, this phase is going to turn out for the best too. I wanted to believe him, I really, really did.

But I couldn't look past anything anymore. Back in college, I always had weekends to look forward to, or the next month, or the next sem, or the next year. I remember I'd hit rock bottom when I was a sophomore. For reasons that were entirely my own, I was buried in deep shit but I've always had tomorrow to look forward to. Now, it feels like there's no tomorrow. It feels like it's always just today, and what I have today is what I'll forever have. And today, I have nothing. And even if I go home, even when I went to Baguio, even when I went back to my High School, desperately seeking for happiness in familiar places and faces, I felt really, really lost. That even if I go to London, I would only just come back with no places left to run away to. It's this sick lump in my heart that I constantly feel throughout the day - the feeling of being stuck with no emergency exit. And that's what I badly need right now, an emergency exit. Something that'd whisk me away from this terrible sadness and make me effortlessly happy, and make it last longer, make it constant, make it so big that no downfall would ever be bigger.

And what's really killing me is that I feel lonely, but I feel stupid. I feel like the people I once thought as shallow, those I've encountered over the years, found out about their problems, rolled my eyes, and wished for their sake that they'd just get over it. I wish it was that easy, and I wish I hadn't been all that judgmental. You never really know what's going on with a person's life even if she appears to be completely fine, or superficial for that matter. I've been saying that I feel like I could use a shrink. Someone to just lift the heavy cloud above my head, and make me see the silver lining here. Because I know there's one. In fact, I know that there's more than just a lining, there's a whole field of gold in front of me and I can't even see it. Even if I know it, I can't feel it.

For the past 4 months, a lot of things had been finding me, from songs to books, to podcasts, to people, to old blogs - a lot of things had been doing for temporary relief. But I feel that I should be permanently well by now. I think it's my fault, in some way, that I've thought too far ahead, and too much, of my life that the litteness of it now is nothing but depressing.

I just wish that I wasn't led on, that's all. I just wish that when I was 16, someone had told me, brutally and honestly, that life was going to be this difficult. I just wish I'd known, so I could've prepared for the rainy days. I just wish someone had given me the nifty umbrella, because right now, I feel like a big thunderstorm had soaked me with all of its fury, reduced everything useful I have to watery trash, left me neck-deep in flood, and everywhere else I can run to for shelter had either been clobbered by water, or too far away. Yes, that's exactly how I feel, like someone had left me in the middle of nowhere, amid a pouring rain, and there's nobody to call.

I've come to respect many people along the way, though. If there's a silver lining, that would be it. That I got to see life and realized it isn't a fairy tale, and that it never was a fairy tale, but there were still people who have came out of this tragic story alive and that they're extremely brave and everyone who's still going through it is just as brave. I just wish I could find the same inspiration. Or maybe I have the same inspiration, or maybe everyone is as sad as me, and I'm just dealing with this more openly - like through this blog. Or maybe I'm brave as well. Maybe I'm even braver. Because I know I've been torn apart in the past 19 years in ways worse than anybody could ever believe. I know because I still hadn't recover, or maybe I won't ever recover. But I know I'm broken, that's the one thing right now that I'm sure of. I'm broken and I don't know what it's gonna take to repair me. At the end of the day, I just wish I had a clue. Because this uncertainty that everyone had raved about being exciting, and had told me to face head-on, is nothing like the thrill they say it is. It's just an old, murky, beat up track, and my both my foot are are locked to the ground. It's a bad dream, that's what it is, and I wish I could wake up. It sounds like a sappy cliche, I know, but I wish I knew better.

My life has been a painful skipping trip, I've sunk a lot of times, but I've also been to the high part of it, but all of this is just making me think how my life could've been more solid, more steady. I wish I could just stop skipping and be strong enough to resist sinking, because a girl like me could use the peace. I could cry my heart out, withdraw from all these anger and bitterness, and I'd still sink. Because iI think if I let go of the weight, I'd be left with nothing. And I know anything is better than nothing. I just wish I have something.

So you know why I want the shrink. The girl they always say who knew, she doesn't know, the girl they always say who comes through, she's stuck. She doesn't know how to skip anymore, because she doesn't know where to go.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Of Bed Sheets, Cherries, and Old Friends

I decided to stay in today. I figured it was gonna rain in the afternoon, like it did yesterday and the day before. And I haven't got any money left, so my trip would've consisted of pityful window shopping and pathetic sidetrips to pizza chains, waiting for miracle emergency money to suddenly appear in one of my wallet pockets so I could finally eat mozarella pizza. I woke up feeling extremely lazy anyway, with my book conveniently tucked in the corner one armstretch away from my bed. My cousin slash tour guide and today, slash house arrest buddy was cool to just hang out at home, and I think we both needed the rest. The boarders have all gone to school, including her brother, who only delighted us with one round of tong-its before he went back to his Uni. Her mother went to work - leaving the two of us to do whatever the hell we wanted to do with the house. We could've thrown a party - seriously, we just had to roam around the subdivision, knock on people's doors, invite them to snip into a little snack, force them to stay over for a movie marathon, and then get them to chip in money so we could buy more food. Chili pancit canton, I'd prefer, and iced Coca Cola.

But I'm not exactly the party-throwing, door-knocking, simultaenous-befriending kind of person. What I am is the kind of girl who takes liberty in having the house all to herself, cozy up in bed, and play Jack Johnson on loop. It's better when you're in Baguio, the weather makes perfect company for a hot coffee and idleness. I was slipping under the bed sheet - because when I'm short of a blanket, the bedsheet does it - when I realized it was the same bedsheet from 3 years ago.

I just came from London that month. I was back from Chiara's 18th birthday party in Manila and my High School friends and I planned to go to Baguio just cos. The house was empty, just as it was today, we'd came back early from town and we decided to just hang out inside, slip under the same bedsheet, put the camera on multiple-shots mode, and waste the rest of the day away doing nothing but that.

I remember being completely happy. I just got bangs - for the first time ever in my entire life- I had this face moisturizer that did wonders for my face, I'd just started wearing skirts, I had a princess headband that I've been meaning to get for forever, I'd just began learning my camera settings, and I know it was kind of shallow to find happiness in those, but I did. I thought it was the Universe's way of putting the kind of cherry I wanted on my kind of cake. I was just done with Freshman year, and there I was, opening up my Sophomore year in Baguio with good friends from home who'd chosen to spend those days with me doing completely nothing.

I've had my bangs for three years now, I have not just a moisturizer but also a -would you believe it- a face foundation that can do more than just wonders, I have a whole set of headband whose pieces I keep losing but kept replacing, I have a new camera that has better macro, but there was no cherry, there was just the crummy cake. I was just done with college, and here I am, opening up my Adulthood stage in Baguio, tucked under the same Bed Sheet, and missing my old friends, my old life, and my old headband.

There was a time in my life where I'd shamelessly depended upon material things for my happiness. Months ago, my route had been blocked because of a major fire, and I spent 2 hours on a jeep getting somewhere which would've normally taken 10 minutes, for a job confirmation I didn't even like. I figured that getting back would take as long, and that I didn't want to go home as sad as I'd left it, so I figured I'd just go to the mall at the far end of the road. Bench carried a shirt that I immediately fell in love with, and bought it. I remember feeling suddenly relieved, knowing that whatever emptiness I had of me at the time would be filled with a new, purple shirt.

It did - for a little while. And things just went down on a spiral from thereon, the void kept getting bigger, until it began materializing into a sickening pit, and I figured that I could reverse the pull if I bought more purple shirts. I started with a book, then shoes, then a hair cream, then DVD's, then a handy comb (finally), then a haircut, then a white shirt, then scarves, then another book, and another, and another, and then I just stopped. Nothing was making any difference, I still felt pretty empty, the void is still there, and I just knew that I can only buy so much purple shirts. There'd be a time when I needed to fill it with something real, and that time was now.

I remember doubting how some people used to tell me, "everything would turn out fine in your life, look at mine." And I'd look at those people and see sadness in their eyes. I don't know if I was judging, or I don't really know them all that well to really know. I just know that what they told me didn't do much
difference. I look at them and noticed that their career hadn't gone all that perfectly, which I thought was, at the time, the most important thing. I look at them and I see their 19-year-old selves and how their younger versions wouldn't even believe what they have to say now. I look at them and realize there's no cherry, too.

But there I was under the bed sheet, and all I could do was reminisce about the time in High School, my Baguio Vacation when I was 10 with my older cousins, the fiestas we spent over at my Grandparents, that Tagaytay trip in College, that Scotland trip with Mama and Ate, and the memories keep filling up my nostalgia until I realized I've been looking at life terribly wrongly.

Then I went back to really, really look at those people I mistook, when they talked about their family, their circle of friends, their choir practices, the dinners they have to go to, or that joke a friend told them the other day, I saw happiness. I looked at them and saw a home that's been filled with love, photo albums courtesy of wound-up film cameras, variety of cutleries from different friends, a full ref with foods from neighbors, and I just knew, all I need is the same kind of wealth. All I needed was to slip under the same bedsheet with the kind of love I had with my friends 3 years ago.

I've made peace with the fact that life isn't a fairy tale. That I might never be able to end up the kind of writer I've always wanted to be, that I might find myself in an office 10 years from now with no car and a bank account that couldn't afford any more purple shirts, that I might have to settle with a less abundant life that my mother gave me, that I might never be able to buy another one of those face creams. I'm starting to accept that we're not cut out for perfection. And that it's okay to go down that bleak road, as long as we keep it under the bedsheet with friends that makes you feel at ease with wasting the rest of the day doing nothing.

At the end of the day, they say, what matters is not the purchases you've made or the assets you've invested on and benefited from, what matters is the love you were able to get and receive. At the end of the day, your life will not be counted by the number of our purple shirts, but by the number of people who have came and gone under our bedsheet, and cherished it.

The Beatles got it right all this time. All you need is love. And today, I dedicate my life to just that. To fixing broken love, to rekindling some, to find new lots, to get back lost ones, and to strenghtening those that are of most importance. All I need is love, the kind that will stay the same, even under a different bedsheet.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The spectrum of a bus ride

Today, I owe my life to Peyton Sawyer. The fictional character who had saved me time and time again, with her words, her music recommendations, and the way Lucas loved her. I sit inside the bus, and I play her podcasts for the thousandth time. Each time meaning different things from the last time. She started off with a Nada Surf reference - I knew full well how she was going to end it. I knew she was going to utter those phrases twice, the second time more heartfelt and intense, the second time she bores the words into your soul you can almost feel a scalpel taking out a tumor. "The weight is a gift," she said, I replayed it, the weight it a gift. I replay it a couple more times until I started really believing that the struggle is all of life's meaning, that you were supposed to be hurt that way, that pain is a requisite. Thing is, I already knew this. All of what she said on all her 14 podcast tracks, I already knew them. I already knew the concepts exist, and I knew how exactly she was gonna tell them. Thing is, those could've been my words, those could've been my wisdom, If I had only been more focused, more positive, I could've found those words long ago. Only I needed to find them in somebody else. It makes more sense that way - I find comfort in knowing I'm not in this alone. That someone in the 8 billion people, there was a person who seemed as if he (asumming it was Mark Schwann who wrote it) had been inside my head and verbalized what went on inside there.

It had always been like that for me. I've always felt the constant need to look for answers outside of me - and it can be everywhere. I remember days ago when I found it in the eyes of my 6-year-old cousin, how he reminded me of how happiness can be pure and untainted, how 3 minutes of undisrupted playing with a child have so much beauty in it. How I've been so distracted by so much materialism that I've forgotten about the simple things in life. The simple things I used to enjoy myself. I have to always look for answers somewhere else.

Today it was also Paulo Coelho. The Zahir narrator cited to Einstein and how he said that God doesn't play dice with the universe, everything is interconnected and everything has meaning. I made some mistakes in the last months, some of them was easy to let go, some of them has haunted me until today, and it got me regretting doing things that felt so right at the time. And I thought about how foolish I was to believe in myself in a way that I allowed myself to commit such. In some way, it was the same thing he wrote in The Alchemist. That if you want something, the universe will conspire for you to get it. I believe in fate, if there's anything I've ever truly trusted, it was that destiny is on the works with your life. On that, I thought, maybe I had to make my mistakes, maybe they aren't even mistakes in the first place. Maybe they're just factors, variables of a whole, long equation. And where do I find myself in that equation? That, i still have to see. I'm 19, just out of college, jobless, coping with momentary depression, and making blogs to save my sanity. I'm just through the first mile on the road to Santiago - and the time hasn't come for me to sew. My Zahir is still up for grabs.

I'm just about to close the book when my mom called. It looks like I can go to London on August after all. At first, I got really excited. Images of stevenage and our house came flashing on my mind, and in a matter of seconds, I've drawn up a whole itinerary of what I was going to do while I'm there. Then she said she'd be gone for the U.S for most of the time and I'd only get to see her for a week tops. My itinerary involved a majority of her. It dawned on me that my answers aren't in London, they were in my mom, and I need to be with her to get those. It just so happened that for me to get to her, I had to travel that far. But I've always said that I could do with being with her for one more day. She was offering a week. I had to take it, for my peace and hers. Mitch Albom once wrote that times not spent with your mother is a lifetime in itself. And I don't wanna lose another lifetime - I'd take one week.

When I put down the phone, the thing more fitting to do was to listen to some feel-good music. Something that didn't remind me of my conscious efforts to be happy - so I steered clear of my "Be happy" playlist. But then again, a song from that playlist came up on the shuffle. It was Wakey Wakey's Dance so Good. "Sometimes I wonder why you don't go mad," the lyric said. And I wondered why I don't go mad. I've been told quite a lot of times that I overthink, that my rationalization was getting bad for my health, and that I need to stop thinking and But I can't do that. The only thing that'd make me crazier is that If I don't think. I have to, it's a coping mechanism. It gets too much at times, sometimes I create my own monster and be eaten by it alive, but I get out from it by thinking as well. By creating a way out of it. As Peyton said, "it's a self-fulfilling prophecy", and I know it needs to stop sometimes, but not completely. Like her, I, too, am a pathological skeptic, but I have my Lucas Scott.

My Lucas Scott is in many forms. The past few weeks, it had been in the form of The Jeep. My awesome friends who had been on the edge of the cliff, their arms surely tired from holding me up so I don't fall out, but they're still there - patiently waiting for the time I help myself up. Because it's the only time I can really get back and release them from the chore I've been putting them through. But I'm thankful. The most important thing I learned from Chiara is the beauty of gratuity. How to always remember the things I should be thankful for. Today, and forever, The Jeep tops my list. Followed by my family, who I've reconnected to after four college years of being so occupied. I've finally made time for family and learned for myself that blood is indeed thicker than water.

It was getting late and I can no longer see anything through the bus window except the darkness. It was a cliche to think of the David Sedaris quote, but I found it the perfect time to really contemplate on what it truly meant. "You look at life as if through the window of a bus, hopping off at that instant you instinctively recognized as your own." The things I let go of, those I've moved on from, those I've passed up - those places were not my own. And I believe that now, I live my life by gut-feel. I left London by gut, I chose to study at Bayanihan by gut, I took the USTET by gut, I confirmed for the Journalism program by gut - and look where it has taken me. Every decisions I made had brought immense happiness and I wouldn't have done it other way. Whatever I did, or did not do, I did them by gut, and it's time to believe that whatever hole I've managed to dug myself into because of them - it's all just a phase and I was just taken aback for a while. I need to trust myself, trust my faith, and trust in time. It will all get better one day - and "everyday is another day to turn it all around."

Today I decided to look for answers in Baguio. On Saturday, I'll try to look for them again back home. I can look everywhere. But life is looking through a window of a bus - I will look and I will find answers everywhere but I'll get there someday. I may hop back up and continue searching - and I'd hate to end this in a Glee reference - but 'who cares what happens when we get there when getting there has been so much fun?"

Today I finally see the subtext behind the saying that the "journey is the destination." Today I owe my life to Peyton Sawyer, to Paulo Coelho, to Mitch Albom, to David Sedaris, to Nada Surf, to Wakey Wakey, to my friends, to my family, to my mom, and to Baguio. Today, I owe my life to that bus ride. Today, I owe my life to me, trusting that I hop out at the right moment, at the perfect place, at the perfect time.