Can we meet tonight? Seisha around 9?
Sure. See you. ( Really, Seisha? Flavored-smoky Seisha. But why there? We never dated there?)
8:30: the now-faulty alarm clock reads on my table. Dresses to impress: haphazardly messed-up on my even messier bed, all Tahitian, all Made in Taytay. Rubber shoes: laces unmatched, one was deep burgundy brown, the other 2014 Pantone color of the year. The better half of our kitschy couple tee: creased to perfection. Charm bracelet: Eiffel tower missing, too-leaned Leaning Tower of Pisa. Half-empty Clinique eau de toilette: left open for days. Faux leather belt: off its hook.
8:35: sweat started to slide down my back like tiny falls falling all at once. Even pressed to no.3, or what my friend called the tempest 3, the swiveling stand fan on one corner, adjacent to shelves with tomes of Pablo Neruda and Rilke and the ubiquitous Nicholas Sparks, failed to cool things up. Overhead, incandescent lights with dainty, snowy cobweb pierced like a molten flame.
I am heading out of the office. You?
I am looking for the Holy Grail (Why did I mention it! He abhors Dan Brown with a passion, Ugh!)
Call Dan Brown for digs.
ROFL (Did I hear a retching sound?)
Spare change: check. Phone: full batt. Moleskine: for bullet journaling about our possible plans. Friction pen: check. I looked outside and the blur of cars whizzed and melted into a neon spectacle. I opened my window, the mid-February air bone-chilled. It was the kind of coldness that crept in and burrowed into your skin, like being prickled by a thousand pins. I smelled the pungent earth. It rained the whole day yesterday, the herbal essences of the breeze wafted in and out of my nostril. The clock insisted 8: 45.
Then, my heart: the drumbeating started. First, staccato, like a slow waltz. Then, hypnotically, broke down into a foxtrot. Hands: cold and clammy. Feet: colder, clammier. I looked at the clock again. 8:46. Eternity cometh. This must have inspired Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence. The noise of the traffic was muffled by my finger’s turning pages of the book nearest to me and the whir of the stand fan. A much dog-eared copy of Fried Green Tomatoes at a Whistle Stop Cafe bought at Biblio. Out of the corner of my eye, a common house gecko tongued a stray fly: wings succumbing to the deliberate need. Still, no telltale sign of his car. Still. Wait. And be still.
I will have to see you there, nalang
Ok. I’m securing locks. (like for real? Didn’t he feel that I waited long enough?)
Don’t get too excited.
I switched off all the lights, including those in the terrace, leaving the house pitch black. The house cast silhouettes from the altar’s electrical candles. The Virgin Mary, happy and contented with the fresh sampaguita flowers wrapped around her neck, seemed to be approving. The plant I dedicated to his name browned in the past days’ heat and sultry. Whoever said that houseplants should be made to be exposed to sun must have never planted before in their pathetic lives. And when did January ever become so sunny? Polar caps are melting for heaven’s sake! Philippines has a really fucked-up climate! Inside my knotty stomach, malevolent butterflies the size of fruit bats had an all-consuming frenzy, trying to outdo one another. I poured down the remaining half of Clinique until Cheche—my sister’s cat snorted in insufferable disgust. I went to the opposite side of the road and tried to flag down a vehicle that will bring me to Seisha pronto! But with my resting bitch face, and my ukay-ukay runway ensemble, not a single cab ever stopped. I tried softening my looks, tucking in my Vice cosmetics lips, putting my corrective glasses on.
The wristwatch read: 8:50. 10 minutes and my life would be changed. The slightly visible crescent moon infused ethereal sheen. For good 3 minutes, I filled my lungs with the earth’s natural ambrosia thinking of our future together. Oh, what delicious thrill!
I’m near Seisha.
I’m near Seisha (lie)
Finally, after flagging down for ages, the tricycle came. The guy driving it, for some weird reasons, was wearing his sunglasses as if the very night blinded his vision. He was whistling to the tune of the latest rap song that swept the charts by storm. I told him to lower down his volume and he just smiled and asked me why. I showed him my 2nd-generation iPod. When I put the earphones, it was Alanis Morisette singing about meeting the man of her dreams and then meeting his beautiful wife (how ironic). The drum rolling deepened again. I heard once of an African ritual involving percussion instruments and it’s a far cry from this heart beating. The night wind roared, seeping into the thin fabric, making the fine hairs stand on end.
I just got in.
Traffic on the intersection.
I am losing the cool.
I am a spit away.
Seisha is a local coffee shop which is a cross between a bar and smoking lounge. It prides itself on hookah that later downplayed by the proliferation of vapes sold in large quantities for half the price for a flavored smoke and for lifetime use. Antipolo’s pretty young things are on full display tonight with infectious laughter and laidback youthful vibe. I tried looking for a familiar face. Meeting some droopy eyes, I tried concentrating on what he’s wearing. He might have worn the other half of our couple tee shirt. Then, for what seemed like an hour, I saw his back: well defined from years of working out. He tried enrolling me once for a gym class but I often teased him that true love doesn’t need to come in with a limited size. Phone on his left ear, speaking to whomever on the line. I could not make out some of the words. But he was smiling the whole time, making way for the boyish grin that drives me crazy. He could impregnate a woman with that grin!
We planned to have it in The Netherland, just in time for tulips on their prime. We ditched New York; these whole Trump shenanigans are making America not great again. We’d rather have it in Europe where you can just run naked and people will ask you which TV reality shows you were in. The plane tickets that I have saved up for years to buy are tucked inside my passport. He air kissed to whomever on the line. He turned and sat down, checking his phone for my message probably. His face was clearly showing impatience.
Wait. I am paying the guy
Slowly, I inched towards him. His virility seemed to be in full show tonight. I furtively touched his shoulder. He didn’t turn. I went around, picking a piece of the sweet potato fries and oppositely, seated. His eyes: not a patina of luster. I haven’t seen this version of his eyes before. He’s always had this passionately smoldering eyes whenever we make love. Or when he’s upset, he has this blaze that can singe metals. He didn’t move at all. There was fear in his eyes and in passing, regret. His gaze turned to the door where a cloud of smoke blanketed the entrance making it look like a Kpop concert where impossibly good-looking men will appear amidst screaming multicultural fans. I followed him where his eyes are leading me all along. A lady went in. I sort of expected that he would cut down this nonsense, for it was slowly freaking me out. The woman wearing Audrey Hepburn-ish little black dress, some pearls that might have inspired Dorothy Parker when she uttered the immortal line ‘ Pearls before swine’. She looked like she came out of fashion editorial, and fronted us, or at least me, with a smile so fake, Louis Vuitton enterprises sold at Divisoria will crawl. My boyfriend stood up and met her in the middle. It was already 10 and the group of people milling about suddenly grew thin. They held hands. I was too shocked to even give a proper demeanor. He turned to me. The brooding eyes: empty, distant, expressionless.
Him: “I want you to meet Audrey”
Mine:“Not, Niffenegger, you know Time Traveler’s Wife”
Him: “We plan to get married tomorrow. And you will be our wedding singer?
The hag in steroids and couture:” But dahlin, he’s gay. Or she. Damn, my third person pronoun failed me. He’s cursed! And look at that extra flab. He’s ready for roasting.
Him:” I know, but he’s a mean singer”
THSC: “No way dahlin. I won’t let a transvestite ruin my most magical day. I planned this for 3 years!
Him: “ He won’t. He will be sedated”
THSC: “OK, as long as no Adele will be sung. She’s a lonesome, loathsome songstress”
Him: “No Adele. (our eyes met) If you love me you will do it. You can go. We’re having a date. Save the ticket for your illusions.
Wait? How did he know about the tickets? Arrrgggh!
Pearls before swine.
I made way to the door slowly. Trying to hold onto chairs and tables lest I fell down. I calculated mentally how long did that woman plan for her wedding. 3 years. About the same time that we started seeing each other. There were no tears, just a squashed pride and pounding stupidity. The stupidity of epic proportion.
Few meters away from Seisha, a gay couple devoured each other with kisses that will shock the couth and the prayerful. When they noticed that someone’s infiltrating their privacy as if they were not in a very public place, they stopped in between taking breaths.
Mine: “I have tickets here to Netherland”
Them: “Huh, what’s that for?”
Mine: “You can kiss there without the fear of someone throwing up.
Two plane tickets. 3 years of saving up. And the realization all came together. The lanky man about my age snatched them from my hands and I didn’t even bother getting it back.
Them: “Thanks, Finally, we can go to Africa”
I should have shouted that Netherland is in friggin Europe, but tears welted and under the light of the moon, I broke down on the road.I shouted his name again and again until my very voice grew tired of it. Shoulder’s hunched, a martyr defeated again; I walked the miles and went home. I plugged the iPod on my ear. Adele burst into tearful tirade. Someone Like You. Great. G