25 June 2007
It hasn’t been an easy two months. I cried a few times in the span of the eight weeks, not out of anything else but of pain. This throbbing ache haunts me tonight, and persists, because on this island, I have no endless mountains and plain fields as distraction, nor loud relatives or harsh cold night winds. On this island, as I drive slowly across the highway alone, I am home. I am at where I have to finally face everything I have fled from for the past eight weeks. Not confrontation, but reconciliation. Like lost scars on my body, finally finding their way back onto my skin, they burn, leaving their mark again and again. What have I done? What have I done? There are no tears tonight – only an inexplicable bitterness. The crickets are not singing tonight – only the sound of lizards making love. It was dark outside the car on our way back to Taichung from south of Taiwan. I was squeezed in the middle of the back car seat and my lower limbs were aching a little from the lack of leg room. I remember the phone-call you received with me at the wheel in my car and the way you cried and how I consoled you. It was 7pm, my favorite time of the day. It was 7pm on the highway too. The sky was slightly darker than Singapore’s reddish hues. I nodded off to sleep. When I woke up, I was already on the peak of the snow capped mountains. The altitude registered at 5600. I opened my can of Coke, saved from dinner last night and savored the rich caramel texture of this American beverage. My mother held my hand, and she says, “Boy, your hands are cold.” I was shivering from the wind that was bellowing from the highlands and was silently hoping that her hands would warm my hardened fingers, but her hands, too, were cold. A red can in the midst of a snowy white mountain made me think of the bars of Snickers I stuffed in my SBO when we were scheduled to trek through the night. You left midway and I made up my mind I would save these bars for the next trip I was prepared to take with you. We never did trek together, we needn’t have to. I took my first cigarette right after sundown. It was a Japanese brand (Wind) and we were taking packed suppers back to where we lived for the horrible ten days. We sat on the staircase and we shared a can of hot tea from the vending machine. I scolded you in the day for being too whiny, and I hoaxed you out of your wrapped blanket at night with this promised supper. When you smile, your eyes fold into a slit. Like a bow in a prince’s fairytale. Its arc is uneven, your teeth white and oblong in equal proportions. On the swing near your place, my beer foamed from its green glass bottle. I am afraid of how perhaps in a few hours we’d have exhausted the only possible conversations we’d have in our lifetime. Your headlights turn off on their own, long after your engine’s been switched off. Right after sundown, the three of us took a walk away from the house ‘to explore the area’. The houses were quaint, and the dogs were friendly. We arrived at a playground and we took turns to fly on the swing, trying to reach the sky. I used to shiver at the idea of a 360 degree turn. But at that moment, I was wishing would it happen. Of course it didn’t. The air was so fresh on the cable car and we were so high up on the mountains that I was so glad to be taking in all that had freshly emerged from the surroundings but also shuddering at the thought of a technical failure or immediate drop. It was then that I realized that I had the choice to focus on what I really wanted to think about and to place my bets on the makings of the future. Life wasn’t that deterministic after all if it were all in the mind. But then at that moment, I thought about how I had always wished I could fly. Don’t we all dream of flying? But I don’t think I would fly, even if I had the ability to, anymore. I was afraid of falling. At that moment, I wanted to land. In the four hours to touchdown, I was a little claustrophobic. What if we were stuck above ground on this silly plane which had just found a way to self-sustain? I tried to sleep so I would lose any concept of time, which, at that moment seemed really to inch. I am home, and as I drive down the highway at half my usual speed, impatient cars behind speed past me, glancing in my direction. The night shields a little of my appearance; the street lamps illuminates only the curvatures. The outline of my face: the ruffled messy hair, the eyebrows, my lashes, the nose, my lips clasped tightly together, the stubble on my chin growing out. I was praying for a roadblock, so that if the policeman asks where I’d been, I’d say’ drinking’, when I really hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol. My hands held on to the lower half of the steering wheel, balancing a bottle of cooling tonic. I took a little sip just to wet my lips. Yes, enough.
D woke up at 6/25/2007 03:36:00 AM [comment]
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