It’s November 16. It is my birthday today. I am writing this around midnight.
I saw you tonight, you remained while everyone else was gone. You were holding on to your skimboard watching the sea, or maybe the sunset. I didn’t notice. I was watching you. I was watching your face intently trying to understand where the sad eyes are coming from.
I already decided not to come near you, or even say hello. That would be too dangerous for me. I was afraid that when I come near, I might fall in love.
And I do have the tendency to fall in love with surfers and skimmers with sad eyes.
And I already have decided that there is no more room for love in my life at this point.
Last year Dwayne, I said goodbye to love. It’s a wonderful experience, I must agree. And yes, I have been in love, perhaps too many times. But as the song goes, “when somebody’s heart gets broken, usually it’s mine.”
I have broken some too, maybe one too many. And tragedy is the price I had to pay.
For one year, I was living with surfers and skimmers, I did it the hard way. There was no room for romance in their lives, only orgasm. Sometimes amidst the sounds of reggae drums and guitar while everyone else was drinking and kissing and rolling in the sand, when the moon is bright, I looked up and try to count how many hearts were broken that night. And mostly I heard just one, the one that beats inside me.
I am not cut out for sentimentality, not now, not before. I am never sentimental nor romantic. So I usually let a tear drop, sometimes two, then briskly wiped them away with the back of my hand. I pasted on a smile, grabbed a pack of condom, and scavenged the beach, looking for scraps of human engagement and morsels of intimacy. Maybe someone out there was waiting for me, another lonely soul probably. I cannot count with my fingers the number of surfers and skimmers I went to bed with. I don’t even know their names.
I know I am meant to be a single soul. Solitude is written in my destiny. “And I implore those who love me to love my solitude.” The poet Rilke heard in the wind the first lines of his elegies when he was walking on the rocks above the sea –
“Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels’ / hierarchies?”
No one. I should say, someone may hear, but no one listens. I have tried it several times. I throw a cry of anguish and pain in the air, hoping that someone would hear it and console my troubled heart. But they came back unnoticed.
Perhaps, the wave riders are tired of agony; they become deaf to a lover’s woes. I don’t know.
But perhaps that’s what surfers and skimmers do – ignore the pains in their lives and turn to the waves for consolation.
I know you have fantasies of beautiful waves coming to shore.
I have fantasies about the beauty of loving; they will never come true. Not here in Bayabas. Not to me.
Like other mortals I have dreamed of love to last a lifetime in the same way that you looked forward to the time when the break is too strong to give you the wave ride of your life. I was looking for someone to grow old with, someone to watch the sea with as we wait for the waves to come.
I dreamed of someone to watch over me, as I count the sea shells on the shore. I collected a thousand sea shells, and I found my shore, but he never came. So, I threw my sea shells back to the sea, hoping that some lucky lovers found a good use for them. The last time I checked, my sea shells are still there waiting.
I have every reason and every right to give up on love. Yet, love is not about rights or reasons. It just is.
If I had my way , I want love to happen here and now…but love always dictates the course of events in my life, not I. If love commands me to wait. Then, wait shall I. But love commands that I should let go. And so I did.
He died Dwayne. That is the tragedy of my life with wave riders. I loved him. He loved me. I swam. He surfed. We were a perfect pair. We planned to spend the rest of our lives hanging out in the beach. I work and earn my income my writing while he planned to put up a beach bar. We had the perfect plan.
But the sea claimed him one stormy afternoon when he was too hard headed to listen to my plea. The waves brought back the surfboard. The sea retained his body. We never found him. The lease was cut unceremoniously by the force of the wind.
I called for him again and again, even in my sleep.
When I was small, Ate Gie worked somewhere far and I always wanted her to come home for Christmas. There were no telephones and internet then, so what my mother taught me was to place a piece of Ate’s clothing or her picture inside an old earthen jar, and whisper to the jar: Ate Gie, uwi ka na….and she always did.
Today, there are internets and cellphones to communicate our desire for our loved ones to hurry up and come home to us, to our lives.
But I don’t use them. I placed a picture of my love inside an earthen jar…because I believe that hope travels faster than text messages. And maybe under the sea there in Ilocos Norte, he could hear me.
Years ago, I made up my mind. If ever I have to choose, love is my decision. But love wanted me to let go. So I did.
And yes Dwayne, he had sad eyes too, just like you. So, I have to let go of you even before you know my name.