A Recorded Conversation

Me: "Here's my problem: I find it difficult to be in a relationship. And I worry. I do."

LC: "You told me before that you can't see yourself in a long-term relationship right now."

"Yes, I did say that. My parents have been married for twenty-six years. Sometimes, during dinner, I find myself staring at them, listening to their conversation, and watching how in sync they are."

"How does that make you feel?"

"Nothing. It makes me feel absolutely nothing. Though it makes me wonder about my future—alone or with somebody. And all of a sudden, I get seasick with rage and frustration."

 "You do feel something."

"Yes, but not towards my parents. I just want to say that I do respect and honor their marriage."

"Towards what then?"

"One of my favorite artists, Marlene Dumas, once said, "At the moment, my art is situated between the pornographic tendency to reveal everything and the erotic inclination to hide what it's all about." That's precisely how I feel."

"..."

"You know about my passed rendezvous." 

"Rendezvous. Interesting choice of word." 

"Well, what do you suggest I call them? They certainly were not relationships."

"Go on."

"When I'm with somebody, I have this notion of wanting to tell him about myself, my life, my secrets, and the unutterable things I've done—it's that pornographic tendency to reveal everything. Then, when I find myself in that situation, I immediately take fifty steps back and build an imaginary wall—it's that erotic inclination to hide what it's all about...what I'm all about."

"Normally when people do that it's because there's something they don't want to let go of. It is not tangible, it's more of an emotion. What happened to these rendezvous or, rather, the guys?"

"They went on with their lives, much like I did. There was no closure and that's what I loved about it. " 

"Your choice or theirs?" 

"I'm not quite sure how to answer that." 

"That's fine." 

 "What is it about not having closure that you love?"

"For me to need and want closure, IT would have to mean something." 

 "Don't you find that ironic? For it to mean something it would have to be more than a quote, unquote rendezvous."

"I disagree. Have you read my piece Three Days?"

"The one about the French-Filipino guy you met on an island in the Philippines?"

"Yes. Three days. Seventy-two hours. And I wrote bout him and our time together, which simply means IT meant something. Do you see my point?"

"It's not about how long you're with somebody. It's about the moments." 

"Exactly."

"Do you ever get lonely?" 

"I wouldn't say lonely. You know, that makes me realize how fortunate I am to be fully acquainted with solitude."

"Solitude. Let's talk about that. Do you think you've let solitude consume you?"

"I don't know. Is that possible?"

"An emotion has that power. Sure." 

"Ah, but solitude is not an emotion, right? It's not like being happy or terrified or angry. It's not something we can make up nor switch on and off."

"What is solitude to you?"

"An invisible companion. It goes where I go. It wanders beside me no matter who I'm with." 

"I read one of your pieces about solitude. It was thought-provoking."

"Thank you. I've thought about this: to be single in a generation where everyone wants to be conjoined, you sort of become like a rare vintage Tiffany lamp preserved within its glass vitrine. Have you seen one of those at the New-York Historical Society?"

"Yes, I have." 

"They're exquisite, aren't they?" 

"They are. Could it be that the thought of being in a relationship terrifies you because you're fearful of abandoning your invisible companion?"

"I've never thought of it that way." 

"Think about that and we'll discuss it when we meet again next week." 

"I will. You go ahead; I'll finish my tea."

Here and There

I went to the Philippines—where I was born and spent seven years of my childhood. I abandoned my life in New York. It was like leaving a lover behind and not knowing whether we’d meet again. Torn between two places. Philippines. You’re my escape. My safe zone—one I know I'd always come back to. You'd welcome me with a suffocating embrace. New York. You challenge me. You frighten me. You excite me. You’re home. Who would I be if I lived elsewhere? No matter where I am, nostalgia consumes me because of you two. To fall asleep above Central Park, enamored by the twinkling lights. To wake up on the white sand, beneath the coconut palm trees. If only I could be here and there simultaneously. Imagine that magic, that catastrophe. What is it about the unattainable that I (or, I suppose, we) find immensely alluring? In places and people. Especially people. I longed for one in New York, but what a traveler he was—chasing after every tender peaks he sees. F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." My day-to-day since I arrived back in New York. But, oh! I'm desperate for newness: touch, taste, hear, see and feel. And soon I'll be acquainted with another. London. What will you be to me?

Note: The Fitzgerald line is from The Great Gatsby. It has become one of the most haunting closing lines in literature. That said, check out some of the best classic literature lines below.

"History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake." — Ulysses, James Joyce. 1992.

"It is a great misfortune to be alone, my friends; and it must be believed that solitude can quickly destroy reason." — The Mysterious Island, Joyce Verne. 1874.

"And meanwhile time goes about its immemorial work of making everyone look and feel like shit." — London Fields, Martin Amis. 1989.

"She stared at her reflection in the glossed shop windows as if to make sure, moment by moment, that she continued to exist." — The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath. 1963. 

"Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change." — Frankenstein, Mary Shelley. 1818.

"Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life." — The Sound And The Fury, William Faulkner. 1929.

Blood on White

I have thought about it far more than I can even keep track of. Sometimes it isn't there, but more of than not, it lingers, like a feral disease circulating faster than the strongest form of vaccine. My first thought of suicide came as I stood in my shower, feeling the slick water travel from my head to my clavicle, watching it glide to my breasts and navel. Like vines on a fine built masonry, the water gradually skates on my legs—stripping me of yesterday's doings, pooling at my feet, and then slithering to the drain.
I remember ogling the water so intensely while I pictured myself sitting on the edge of my bathtub with my father's sharpest knife cutting along my radial artery and down to my wrist. My blood gushes desperately. I wince as I repeat it on my other forearm. The knife, once hidden in my father's Traum Safe, sits on the white tile floors. Nothing is as vivid as blood, pour it on white and it's a work of art.
(As you may or may not know, you never cut across, but rather straight down. You start from the rigid part of your forearm and all the way down to the rigid part of your hand. You certainly mustn't use a scissor; sharpness is crucial.)
Waiting to drift into unconsciousness, I lie in my bathtub with my hair in a high, messy bun—my long and silky hair often complimented (and sometimes stroked) by everyone and their mother. Inhaling, exhaling, rolling my head from side to side. Hey, just because I'm dying doesn't mean I shouldn't de-stress. No, the irony is not lost on me.
My veins begin to plump and my blood escapes like a raging bull. Water fights to enter my wound but my flirtatious blood tames it. Inevitably, the two become one. I stare at the candle on the bathroom counter near the sink. Its flame sway from side to side, skirted by air, like a woman dancing the rumba.
All the while, I listen to the sound of silence. Have you ever sat alone? Just you and the chair or whatever your ass was propped up on. No? Try this. Find a place. Sit, stand or lie down. Breathe slowly. And as my yoga instructor says during relaxation, "Try to think of a place where you feel free. It's just you, your mind, your body, and your soul." Focus on your breathing. You may shut your eyes, if you'd like. You'll have thoughts—incredible and horrendous thoughts. Amidst this, silence will creep up on you; you'll discover that it has nothing to do with the sound of a car engine starting, a door shutting from the hands of an angry person, and music blasting out of speakers. Those are sounds protruded from tangible things, meaning to distract us. Silence is abstract; it has everything to do with your mental and emotional state. If you practice this on a daily basis, you'll find silence amidst any clamor. You'll become familiar with it and vice versa. You'll travel together like newlyweds on their honeymoon, one never without the other. Voila! That is the sound of silence.
My blood dominates my bathtub. My surroundings blur. The stinging pain eases. The candle is now a melted pot of wax—its earthy fragrance of bergamot, tea and lemon grass tantalizes what's left of my senses. Silence turns into a roaring cry. Fog closes in. My eyelids become heavy. Oblivion beckons. I am gone.
Sure, this is an arduous process. Why not swallow, say, a couple of sleeping pills, right? I find that too dull and easy. One thing I learned from having two older brothers is that taking risks and seeing the consequences of my actions unfold thrills me.
A lot of people find it unhealthy to have suicidal thoughts, but, here's the thing, I never actually took the knife. Perhaps there's the fear of being caught. From then on I'd be known as the golden child who ends up in a mental health ward. My days would consist of sitting with a therapist at least an hour every day. I'd be hunkered with the other suicide attempters, discussing our progress and counting down the days we are free again. So, I guess not attempting it places me in the realm of normality? (Is there even such thing as normality anymore?)
Recently, as I was cleaning my room, I came across one of my many journals. This one, purchased four years ago, is a distressed brown leather with a tie fastener. My fingers roamed over each page as though the words were written in braille. I felt like I was invading someone's privacy, tracing their memories and wanting every detail of their life. The first two lines on the last page struck me most, "In a few days, I'll be 17-years-old. Should I be excited? I feel as if I've died years ago." Did I write this? I asked myself, analyzing the entry: black ink, all 's' written in cursive, time and date emblazoned in the upper-right hand corner and my initials 'RC' inscribed underneath the last sentence. I wrote this.
I closed my journal and hid it on the top shelf of my closet after writing NTS to cache it in storage or burn it. It's been a month. The journal is still there. Not then, not now, maybe never.
It's a delicate topic, but we all think about it: How will I die? When will I die? What will kill me? The thought of suicide and death gives you that rush of movement towards consciousness. It's ironic but it's also fucking comforting. You're breathing and you're here, those are something to hold on to.
I once read an article about a girl who was found hanging in her family's bathroom. The girl was declared dead in the hospital. Her death was ruled suicide. She was 14-years-old.