Writings are photographs of the emotional state of the mind. For some of us who are not really writers but who write to communicate with ourselves, our compositions from the past gauge how we’ve grown so far. Like photographs, the poems or essays freeze those thoughts and longings of a much younger, less experienced version of ourselves.
In 2004, I wrote this poem/essay hybrid inspired by Alanis Morissette’s Unsent, a song from the Junkie album. Unsent was framed as love letters to the guys whom the persona had relationships with. To this day, Unsent remains to be one of my favorite Alanis songs. The writing was about eyeballs i.e. meeting chat friends in person and not the body parts. I revisited the writing posted in the first blog I created. I was amused hence this push to share it. While naïve, I thought the younger me seemed kind of cute. LOL.
Back in early 2000s, there were no Android and apps yet. But we already had chatrooms and some of those online conversations with strangers would eventually prosper into eyeball meetings. Fresh from college with no idea whatsoever how dating transpires, those eyeballs were usually nerve-wracking affairs. What must I wear to look good, what fragrance must I splash myself with to create an impression, what topics would make me come out smart and interesting? I don’t know why at that age I was fixated with the urgency of having a relationship. It was as if my balance depended on it.
I masked the names of the people I eyeballed, adjusted the rhythmic structure, and corrected some grammatical glitches. Other than these liberties, the entire text is the same. Funny that I still had to search my brain for the names and faces that spurred these words. I thought that since they were pivotal to my awakening, my memory will preserve them. Overnight I identified them and for whatever insane part they played, they are remembered in the kindest way possible-with fondness.
Dear X1, It was you that I’ve known longest.
On and off, for over two years,
we’ve sent each other’s anguish and hope –
in the middle of the day,
sometime in the evening,
or early in the morning.
It doesn’t matter.
We never hesitated to let our feelings flow,
probably because it was just easy
to be unbiased and subjective to
the single person who could almost destroy you,
almost, but just couldn’t.
Because we don’t know each other.
We don’t know each others face.
And then we met, and for some unknown reason we grew apart.
A few times, I still long for our earlier mystery.
Our lives, maybe, are less complicated now
and there’s less of that immature anguish,
perhaps no more glamorized version of our pain.
Still, it was you that I’ve known longest,
it was you that I am supposed to know best.
Dear X2, You were the more perfect one,
the flawed survivor, the good listener,
and the two hours I spent with you
over a cup of coffee at some gas station
somewhere here in our city
was an honest and mature moment
any person should hope for.
In your 31 years,
you’ve proceeded to a different ground,
and days after our introduction,
I wore your skin and stepped into your shoe,
thinking that maybe nine years from now
I would finally understand the flawed
but eternally forgivable constancies of living.
You spoke of calm acceptance of life as it is
whereas I fiercely embrace it
like sands that break away
from the strength of my grip.
But then I am just too young
not to take everything seriously,
too young to be pulled back
from flying dangerously,
too stubborn to follow
your calm acceptance to all things
that could no longer be changed within our lifetime.
You were the one that I hope I could love.
Dear X3, You were synonymous with my failure.
I jumped into you without grace,
and I swam carelessly almost to my death
the moment that I touched your surface.
You were that turbulent undercurrent,
that brief kiss, that warm embrace,
but before all that I believed
that you could be that soft place where I could fall.
Yet you were also the fellow
who don’t usually look at me in the eye
and I always felt the need
to press both my palms against your cheeks
so I would have at least ten seconds
of pure honesty with you,
risking the thought of knowing
from your eyes the depressing facts
of the honesty that I crave for
while I have you for a company.
When I was at the edge of my childish insanity,
softly you told me that what matters most in life
are how well I’ve lived,
how deeply I’ve loved,
and how well should I let go
of the things that I simply cannot have.
You were the single person
that I passionately loved, and obsessively,
it amazes me how I can’t also be the water
deep enough for you to also jump into.
Dear X4, You would be the one nearest to me as a friend.
We’ve met only twice and managed to communicate
in between and after.
After I gave you a lift,
after you stepped off my taxi,
you left me alone with my wits
though with a knowing smile in it.
Traveling the evening road,
I asked the thin air why should your calling
come in before whoever, or you, or me, or us.
This is such a dark thought, I know,
but I know too that you wouldn’t be
this good person that you are now
if not because of your unconditional answer to that call.
And you wouldn’t be that greater human
that certainly you would become
if not because of that mighty assurance
that you will be taking your vows soon.
I see it all in your eyes,
despite the barrier of the glasses,
despite the dimness of the bar.
although you were someone that I couldn’t possibly have,
had given me peace.
Dear X5, You are most beautiful inside and out.
You arrived last when I was at the edge of my sadness,
and it was either I’d finally fall,
or I’d pull back my wits to once again assume
the painless, ordinary existence
that was indeed my comfort zone for years.
It was past 2 then,
and the early morning was too drunk
for our sobriety.
Still you’ve proceeded with your story
which made me want to love you,
though in all its pain and beauty,
it’s most dangerous for me to be in love with you.
Yeah, I want to love you
but I just can’t be in love with you.
I’d say these same words to you now if I could,
but I wouldn’t, for sure you’d understand me differently.
Not that I would mind you knowing,
but you would, and I wouldn’t want that to happen to us.
Several evenings and weeks had passed by –
evenings spent over food and beer and nice little talks,
and during these times it’s really quite sad
that this comfort with each other
also had its defenses that came straight from your mouth.
If only those defenses
had rooted from your heart.
But I wouldn’t like to know
more than what your mouth had to say –
not even if I read you differently
through your eyes,
not even if your tenderness is killing me sweetly.
That parting handshake during our first night out
was the most that I would like to remember of you.
You arrived last,
and I am still knowing you now.
You were most beautiful then,
you are just beautiful now,
and we could very well become good friends.
Let’s keep it at that.