I Build a Home (excerpt)

One day I joined a writing class recommended by my friend. 

I knew I can write, but something else was missing—

I had no voice. 

I was stuck in a rut, I couldn’t fully embrace the gift of words I was given.

Old fears came creeping back to haunt me—I wasn’t good enough because nobody told me I was.

Nobody told me I was loved.

But within this circle of phenomenal women, I felt alive.

I clustered, I doubted myself, I pushed my right brain to its limits, and I put pen to paper—

word after word filling up with conviction, with confidence, with clarity.

I found my voice. 

I felt myself grow in Ms. Tweetums’ writing class, in this warm cocoon of wise women who welcomed me. 

What does the future hold for me?

I don’t know what to expect, but I’ll let every day surprise me.

I know now that I don’t have to pretend to be someone I am not.

For years, I’ve been trying to repress myself, not realizing that the best version of me

is just allowing space to be myself, to feel more snug in my own skin.

That it’s my birthright to shine and create magic out of the ordinary.

Not everyone is meant to go on the same road.

I have the power to choose, be at the helm of my own ship.

I will follow my heart wherever it leads me to.

I want to make my own rules and follow or break them at will.  

I don’t want to feel embarrassed that I haven’t been kissed yet nor kissed a lover back. 

I want to share my life with someone worthy—who can handle my passions, accept me quirks and all, and makes space for my brilliance beside their own.

I want to laugh with abandon more often and smile at strangers.

I want to twilight and gaze at sunsets familiar and foreign. 

I want a small, bright house filled with books and a garden.

I want a simple, quiet life brimming with love and light.

I am a cat, the color yellow, dreams of raspberries, a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, a Vestal virgin, a constant pilgrim, the Star in tarot, a modern Bildungsroman, a writer.

I am a phenomenal woman.

And I continue to build a home for myself.                    

🌻

You need to be made of sterner stuff, dear, before you can be ready to build a life with someone you love.

Love is not always lounging on a queen-sized bed during the weekends and making coffee the way she likes it. There will be days when the coffee spills and she’s late for work, and nights when you refuse to sleep on the same bed, just to prove a point. There will be times when you’ll do the opposite of what she tells you not to, just to get a rise out of her, and times you’ll be so frustrated with her stoic silence, you’d want to wring her neck.

No one ever said love was easy, but it’s also a rarity to find someone willing to dive into the darkness with you, and glide through the thoughts that cripple, and the words that ruin if you let them. All the things you sweep under the rug and never talk about unless the rug is bunching up already, you can’t hide the dust mound any longer.

I am telling you now, it would be the stormiest night before our dawn
And hardships would be twice the load of normal
I know all these things before they even come
What I want to know now is am I made of sterner stuff?
And are you?
I would need unlimited supply of patience and compassion to make room for you,
To reassure you every day that my love doesn’t end in the words I write,
It fights to live in moments when to trust is to risk everything we’ve known
And meet the aftermath, hands clasped together
But I’m your poison apple, your weakness, they’d whisper into your ear,
The one thing that’ll ruin your ambition
And with little thought you’d drop me like a hot potato on asphalt
I wouldn’t know what hit me before I got up

If you can’t be strong on your own, might as well be content to tell yourself, yes I love her, but I’m not brave enough to build my love a home. Then let go. Release it to the wind. Instead of fumbling around in a playhouse of sticks that crumbles at the slightest pull.

Gypsy girl turned Queen of the night

For a kid who secretly enjoyed being scared out of her wits and playing “dress up”, Halloween presented a whole new world full of possibilities.

Obviously, it isn’t a local tradition, but little me during the 1990s looked forward to watching Magandang Gabi Bayan’s Halloween special and horror movie marathons, egging classmates and friends to tell ghost stories, and re-reading my Edgar Allan Poe collection. I was particularly thrilled with Fall of the House of Usher (What was the cause of Madeline’s mysterious illness? Why did Roderick feel as though his fate was entwined with that of his sister’s and their ancestral house?), The Cask of Amontillado (Fortunato being buried alive was really morbid!), and The Tell-tale Heart (the narrator/murderer and the old man with the “vulture eye” was REALLY CREEPY).

It was Halloween on my tenth year that I remember wanting to be a beautiful gypsy girl. To have smoky hypnotic eyes, dance as though in a trance, read tarot cards, and pronounce fortunes. That was around the same time I read Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits and was very much fixated with Clara Trueba and her mystical prowess. Clara was also a diligent writer and keeper of notebooks which she painstakingly organized and kept bound with ribbons. In fact, she inspired me to do the same–to keep track of my life and thoughts by writing it out in journals and notebooks. From the moment I read the first line in The House of the Spirits: “Barabas came to us by sea”, I was instantly mesmerized. It was also the same year my sisters gave me an illustrated children’s classic edition of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which I read before the happy ending Disney version came out). The image of Esmeralda, the gypsy girl, was so exotic and mysterious, I couldn’t help but be drawn to her character. (Spoiler alert!) I remember crying at the end when Quasimodo’s and Esmeralda’s remains were uncovered years later. Of course, they died tragically.

Back to being a gypsy girl wannabe, I had aspirations of going trick-or-treating. I raided my mom’s and sisters’ closets and found a peasant blouse, a long flowing skirt, a kitsch scarf that became a turban, bangles, and hoops. For my “bolang kristal”, my sister’s heavy angel snow globe served me well. I decided that I would go barefoot, for lack of matching footwear. But there wasn’t any costume party or trick-or-treat to go to. Still, I managed to entertain them at home with my resourceful prowess in putting up a costume from scratch.

It was only the following year when my friend Jens invited me to their village Halloween party that I was able to go all out on the trick-or-treat experience. And the best surprise of all: I won consolation prize for my costume! It wasn’t the gypsy costume, though. I was a queen in a scarlet dress robe with faux fur and gold trimmings. I had a crown of gold cloth with cheap plastic jewels stitched on it. My mom didn’t have as much imagination. She bought it ready-made from SM Department Store. For extra horrific make-up, my sister painted my eyelids with black and grey eyeshadow. Despite the costume not going my way, it didn’t stop me from having such fun! We were chaperoned by one of Jens’s older sisters while we went door-to-door around the neighborhood, expecting treats more than tricks. My plastic pumpkin pail was filled to the brim with candies and sweets of all kinds. But I also remember there was this older guy in a corpse costume we kept bumping into every now and then, which I thought was weird, and he would always mock me with a “Good evening, your Highness”, while letting me pass first with him making a bow. I just chalked it up to creepy-attentive vibes and hoped I never had to encounter him again for the rest of the night.

My friend Jens was Wednesday Adams of the night and won second prize. She did look the part with her fair skin, enormous beady eyes, and long and sleek black hair in pigtail braids. She even had a headless doll sticking out of her chest pocket! Knowing Jens back then, she was the more charming, nicer version of Wednesday Adams for sure.

I had such a lovely time being Queen of the night. And being the only one who wasn’t in a typical scary/monster Halloween costume. I took in every happy moment I could and committed them to memory. And as for my treats, well, they didn’t stand a chance against my sweet tooth. They ran out in a week or so. 🙂

Originally written: November 6, 2008

An exercise in honesty, part 2

If ever I get to see you again, I will not hesitate. I will hug you twice, for as long as I can, even when eyes are on us, and feel every second I’m close to you. Because I love you but I don’t know if you love me too. And I don’t know if I’d get to see you again after. So many uncertainties and the unknown scares me too, but there’s one thing I am sure of: as long as I’m alive and feel the love, I will never pass up an opportunity to let you know how I feel. I will brave storms, ego, and thoughts of what others would think and say, just for a slim chance to be with you if you want me too. ❤

Feels Like Home

I am the lighthouse guiding you home.

I am the moon illuminating your buried desires, the star healing all your fears.

I am the Queen of Swords, the speaker of truths. I am the one person you couldn’t lie to.

I am the oasis in your desert of denial.

I am your secret source of sunshine, the wish fulfilling your dreams.

I am the last drop to make your cup runneth over.

I am the one you long to embrace at the end of the day.

I am your forever soulmate, the reason you will always find home. 💗🌻💗

Keepsake

Without saying anything, you knew what I meant with what I gave you.

I wanted you to keep it, tucked away somewhere safe–a precious keepsake to savor in secret, only you would know where to find it.

I wanted you to have a piece of me telling you how I feel–that I am grateful for you, that I care for you, that I do love you though you may have doubts because I have never shown you my feelings before–a time when I was so confused trying to be a good girl–to make the grade of norm, but now I know.

And I am defying everything I’ve known until now just for a chance to tell you what’s been sleeping in my heart for years.

And if we never see each other again, I just want you to know–I gave you my love in a handwritten letter. ❤

Songs from my playlist: Power of Two

Power of Two (1995) :: Indigo Girls

My favorite Indigo Girls song since grade school. Since then, I’ve discovered their other songs and I’m always drawn to the philosophical ones like Closer to Fine and Galileo. But Power of Two will always be my first love. The lyrics are so simple, but deep, beautiful, honest, and full of soul. 💗

You know the things that I am afraid of
I’m not afraid to tell
And if we ever leave a legacy
It’s that we loved each other well…

And this particular line reminds me of a soulmate kind of love:

The closer I’m bound in love to you
The closer I am to free