I saw you today from the other side of my car window. Waiting right below the street lamp where you and I once hailed a taxi together. It was a frigid January evening and the streets were cluttered with drunken flirts and a distant ringing of reggaeton. I’ve doused myself with enough whisky and had thought the night should be over early rather than later; these days I start my mornings before seven, with double pours of coffee, enough to keep me active though hazed, enough to jumpstart the day, enough to help me remember what life was like before you and I and before you and I was no longer.
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I’ve gone through enough breakups in my life to know that it all pans out the same. There’s a period of sadness - that aching, throbbing of pain that jolts you awake in the middle of your sleep, or pushes you to get a tattoo, a haircut, a random trip, a stranger’s kiss, another drink, just anything that could help you from sinking so deep into your conscious melancholy…and then it eventually gets better.
There are days when I miss the old-suede smell of my first car. It was a 2007 Black Honda City which I had bought second hand with all the savings I had at that time. I was 20 and had only learned how to drive.
I couldn't entirely afford buying a car, but badly needed a more comfortable means of transportation since I was already working in TV and hours were odd, bags were heavily stuffed with makeup, clothes, shoes - the works - and I had gotten tired of riding in dizzy, cherry-smelling cabs, or asking my brother to drive me using our old, beat-up, '93 Kia Pregio (which we loved - but like most things we loved - always gave up on us).
I remember asking the car shop owner if it would be alright to pay half of the price (around 150k), get the car so we could already use it, and pay the other half within 2 months. Miraculously, he agreed and made me sign a bunch of papers that basically meant 1) Ive made my first big purchase as an adult and could now travel more comfortably and 2) I would then have to hustle like I never had before so I can pay the remainder on time, as I had promised.
In those 2 months I took more hosting and singing gigs than I ever could, again. Sleeping was not an option, and saying "no" to work was only a suggestion made by my parents whenever they saw me looking like nothing but a dilapidated shadow of a woman.
But we made it — by God's grace and provision, we were able to fulfill our promise; I remember making that final payment with a gust of confidence, drenched in sheer joy. At the time of sowing I was under painful pressure, I was questioning my decision - had I been arrogant in thinking that this plan could work out, that God will provide, that He will make a way? But He was faithful, as He has always been. Reaping came in four wheels and the happiest 20-year-old woman behind the car stuck on EDSA traffic that day.
Today I drive a Toyota Altis, nothing fancy, but on heavy work days of taping, radio, and events I have the privilege of having a driver with me. Life is so different from 4 years ago, yet I still catch myself thinking of my first car. I also remember days through college where I had to walk around UP instead of riding the Ikot / Toki jeeps because I had zero money in my pocket, or days growing up in Tondo when I would walk from our house to T. Paez Elementary School (Batang Maynila, reppin) with just P15 for my baon. Days when I had used my gift of gab on my friends who ended up buying meals for me, days when I had to borrow money, ask for rides, or just cry in complete surrender because I had no idea how I could possibly reach for my dreams or help provide for my family.
Through those difficult times I had peace and joy lying steadily on my everlasting God Who gave me a sense of humor when it was tough, and grace when it started to get better. He has continuously supplied me with an unparalleled hunger for excellence, incomparable grit, and great adventures filled with opportunities to become the woman I am today. Working hard only makes sense because I find my purpose in Him everyday.
I still miss that old-suede smell of my first car because where I found my joy then, is still the same as where I find it, today.
Where do the stories fit? There is a vast space waiting to be filled - in this blankness that yearns for words of adventure and audacity and blinding joy, yet still here I find, a blinking fine line.
I had sought after the love I thought we sowed and ought to reap, for far too long. And maybe I’ve lost grip of my senses; looking over dried land, watering what has withered beyond reprieve, exchanging truths for alternative facts, dancing along rhythmically until we, too, are deceived.
This truth, this particular truth - where you and I are nothing more than familiar, similar, comfortable spaces; waiting to be filled, designed to cater to two very lonely people.
That is all you are to me.
And I’m not even that, to you.
But for whatever reason, we are still here - digging our hands deeper into pockets, reaching for pennies of affection to pay for what might just be the smallest exchange of love or at least, what it sought to be. Clawing upwards on walls we’ve built cemented ten heaps high, watching each other lose breath as we climb and fumble over, only again, to rebuild.
Waiting for the first sign of retreat, waiting as we always have, waiting on each other, as we always will.
Where does our story fit?
I do not know of love that is not of you.