Tag Archive | reminiscence

By the sea

I went out with a friend today. We went out and we sat by the ocean, and somehow the conversation turned to the first one who broke my heart. Suddenly, I found myself talking about you again, after long years of thinking of you too much, then trying to forget, and finally succeeding. I surprised myself with all the little things I remembered — the way your laugh always made me feel like laughing, too, the way your eyes lit up with that irresistible smile, the way our friends always introduced us as childhood sweethearts and I’d protest that we weren’t, while you were quite happy to pretend that I’ve had a crush on you since kindergarten. I haven’t thought about all these things for so long, never even noticed the moment when I grew out of the habit of keeping you in mind. But now, with the gates of memory unlocked, I found myself remembering your hands on a guitar, your hands that could coax the sweetest music from any instrument you touched, your hands that used to hold mine. I could almost feel the thrill of it all again — my hero worship, the slow transition from seeing you as my best friend’s big brother to someone I could fall in love with, the stunned wonder when I realized you felt the same. It was my first time, and it was better than all the stories said it would be.

That day, as I sat watching the waves and allowed the memories to flow out of me, as I sat reminiscing about all that we used to mean to each other, I realized that it didn’t hurt anymore. There wasn’t even the slightest tinge of sadness. The what-ifs and the might-have-beens no longer haunted me. I could think about you, and talk about you, without pain. I could look back at all the wonderful little details that made you who you were, and realize that there is someone else who knows you better now, and be happy for you. I could take pride in the decent, honorable man that I knew you to be, and even though it didn’t work out, at least I know it was worth a try. You were one of the good guys. Not the right one, not meant for me, but worthwhile. And it’s okay.

Getting over you, being able to put you firmly in the past and wish you well for the future, being able to talk about you with fondness — it frees me. Though my heart is broken now for another reason, perhaps I can hope that someday, after the healing passage of time, I will sit by the ocean again, and watch the waves,  and laugh.

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Caffeine Buzz

Coffee shops are made for reminiscing. So I sit here, inhaling the fragrant steam from the cup in my hands, and think about our recent goodbye. About the casual hug and the even more casual “You take care of yourself, okay?” About you disappearing into the crowd, with neither of us knowing when you’d be back.

The intensity of missing you surprises me right now.

It’s the strangest thing. Did you know coffee doesn’t taste the same without you?

And rain doesn’t feel the same. Newly-cut grass smells different, too.

I look around, and you’re everywhere. That book you loved. The pasta we shared. That sidewalk we strolled on one midnight when we seemed to never run out of things to talk about. It’s disorienting, like you’ve reordered my world — and  it keeps you close to me and underscores the distance at the same time.

I miss you already. Think of me where you are.

(I wrote this ages ago, but it felt too raw to post immediately. Don’t bother guessing who it’s for — a little mystery is good for the soul. 😉 )


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The Notebook

I had to tiptoe to find it on the topmost shelf – that old notebook where my highschool friends wrote their farewell messages just before graduation. It’s been a long time since I last opened its covers; but tonight, for some reason, I feel the need to travel back in time.

The notebook is old and worn, and several pages are about to fall off. As I read the messages, I was surprised by how familiar the penmanships still looked. After almost four years, I could still tell that the flowing script belonged to Grace Ann, the neat handwriting was Jane’s, and the tiny letters with numerous exclamation points were written by Karl. The years of borrowing notebooks and checking each other’s test papers must have made their mark.I also recognized the styles easily. Angel was sweet, Deneb was cool, Ian Lloyd was mischievous, Dianne was frank, my Soulmate was upbeat, and Irish Jay was intense. Gino was funny whether or not he tried to be. The contents were revealing, too. Jireh teased me, Kathleen wondered about my lovelife, Cristy offered encouragement, Ken wrote about plans for the future, Ate Jhay gave some advice, and Kuya filled every bit of space in his pages with sweet messages. Others included song lyrics, poems, reminiscences, Bible verses, drawings, and even a list of crushes. There were a lot of thank you’s, some apologies, and several confessions. Throughout 233 pages I was called by numerous nicknames: Begz, Abigail, Benggay, Anak, Miss Pink, Abegs, Gege, Pare, Soulmate, Miss Disney, Apo, EIC (Editor-in-Chief), Little Miss Philippines, Cousin, Gail, Baby, Kapatid, Walking Dictionary, Hobbit, Garnet, Sis, Battery, Partner, Bestfriend, Kaaway, Ka-pink, etc. Each name, no matter now bizarre, is a door that opens to a room filled with images of the past.

These rooms are not always easy to enter. As Julie Delpy’s character said in the movie Before Sunset, “Memories are wonderful things if you don’t have to deal with the past.” Reading the notebook again is a bittersweet experience for me. Sweet because the memories are wonderful, and sad because they are only memories now – I can never recapture the magic of those times again. No one can go back to being seventeen years old.

A lot has changed since highschool graduation. As I turn the pages of the notebook, I remember the passion with which we believed in ourselves and in each other. I remember having so much faith in the future that no dream was too big or too impossible for us. We felt unstoppable, untouchable, destined for immortality. We dreamed boldly, trusted willingly, and loved fearlessly. I can no longer say that with all confidence now.

Life has a way of making sure that nobody stays in highschool. Even the most naive among us has not escaped being touched by reality, being confronted with life. I, for one, slowly woke up to the fact that the world was not as safe as I thought, and that the path to my dreams was a lot harder and longer than I imagined. There was no choice but to grow up. And in growing up, I had to change. The vulnerability, the openness of my highschool years changed into something more careful, more aware of the fact that the heart can so easily be broken. The courage of dreaming faded into something more grounded, less bold. Only a few years have passed, but the seventeen-year-old girl inside me has slowly retreated into a memory, an image between the covers of an old notebook, a secret place in the heart.

Once in a while, however, that girl comes out to remind me that the fire is still alive, just as the friendships have remained an indelible part of who I am. No matter how much more growing up I need to do, there will always be a part of me that refuses to let go of the big, outrageous dreams I shared with my friends in highschool. Knowing this, I put the notebook back on the shelf. Some other night, perhaps, when I take it down again, I will not only laugh and cry and remember, but also give justice to the faith of the friends who believed in me.

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Aftermath

There is stillness here
after the storm
has spent its strength
and its casualties
of fallen frangipani flowers
pervade the night air
with fragrance.

There is silence here
not even a whisper
or a breath of wind
disturbs the mist
and the grass,
soaked with diamonds,
muffles the sound
of dripping branches.

And there is solitude
in the empty streets
as the pavement gleams
in the glow
of the light posts.

But not for me.

I hear echoes of laughter
as the frangipani scent
intoxicates

and voices
reveling
in the glitter
of rainwashed stars;

I sense footsteps
on the pavement,
but I know –

I am alone.

I am most alone
after it rains.

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Frangipani Evening

Midnight
after a storm
the world was asleep
It was just us
in the stillness
in the scented air
and the hundreds
of frangipani blossoms
fallen on the grass.

The cold air, the fragrance
the rainkissed white flowers
the mischievous laughter
the empty streets
the starry, starry night –

they were ours for a time
they were ours for forever;
and I will never forget
the scented softness
the playful smiles
the trail of dreams
we built with what we found

And even though
morning came
and claimed the world again,

I still smell the sweetness
I still hear the silence
I still walk that trail

I always will

as I did that night with you.


* Alassëa nosta, Legolas-y!


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Reminiscence and Regret

She sits
alone in the silence
of the city’s most opulent room
In her aged hands,
a bouquet of weeds
Dry, brittle
As fragile as memory itself
and she remembers…

Youth, in the countryside
A young girl
with the lure of neon lights
in her eyes
And a boy
who offered her the stars instead.

She remembered
how she chose the unknown
knowing it would break his heart
not knowing
it would also break hers.

But as the train rolled away,
her tears fell on his final gift
Fragrant, familiar
the final offering
of a broken heart.

In one moment
a frozen teardrop of time
all she knew
was the urge to cry out –

Stop! Wait –
I have made a mistake…

But the impulse is silenced

So the train rushed on
And life rushed on

And the musty sweet scent
of dried wildflowers

is all that is left
of the dream.

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The Saddest Lines

by Pablo Neruda*

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, ‘The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.’

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another’s. She will be another’s. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

translated by W.S. Merwin

*definitely one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets

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