Page 1. Vanity.
“How does it feel, being young?”
Smoking menthols beside a column outside work, I glanced at my reflection on a tinted establishment and wondered if I did the black knitted zip-up draped haphazardly around my shoulders justice. It’s 2013 and the rain just started pouring. If anything, the aviators I wore made nonchalance and grief look sleek and in season.
For some reason, I keep coming back to that moment, curious why it haunts me to this day. Maybe it qualifies as an establishing shot on a montage about my years. Then again, maybe it’s conceit.
It reminds me of a line Ellis had on one of his books. Disappear Here. Let me save you a google search and paint the scene for you. Clay, the protagonist, was driving on a freeway as he returns to LA when he sees a billboard sign. Disappear Here. To commuters, he mused, a harmless city slogan, to him and I imagine to readers, it was something else. The book also had a whole tirade on how people are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles and I vaguely remember it being crushingly poetic but since I don’t have the book with me, we’ll just go on and move to my next incoherent thought.
The whole point of being intuitive is learning how to listen to signs. The advent of the lo-fi genre and the cracked noise betamax aesthetic tells you that nostalgia is forever relevant. People will keep looking for reminders of their past, a time of innocence, just as I am.
Page 2. Profanity.
“Shit, do I have something in my eye?”
I catch you staring, secretly hoping you saw the anguish I hid, the second-guessing signature brooding I’ve had years to perfect. You brushed it aside and in that moment I knew you had fallen for my mystery. You shouldn’t have.
As I raised my drink for a toast, on a dingy bar set on a famed cul de sac on one of the edgier parts of town, you paused, a story, why people have to look each other in the eye in the after-cheers sip. It amused me as hell when I saw your dismay the moment I took a swig without letting you finish.
“Fuck, is this a test you put people through?,” yes, it was, don’t lie. “Oh boy, and I failed it,” I said grinning. I know a well-rehearsed move when I see one. As the dryness of beer and its vulgar caress bloomed in my throat, I knew I had command.
Page 3. Insanity.
“This can’t be real, my dear.”
You know you’re fucked when eternity sends you signs flavored with the harshness of testosterone regrets. I, for one, wasted my youth drifting from one ache to another.
You were a sign, and just like any other literary trope, I tried my hardest to make you mine. But you were other things to other people, too. Never mind the mess of our past entanglements, what made it final was the fact that I am never in the right headspace for these things. I am a living testament to the actuality that you will fall in and out of yourself more times than you do other people. At times, there’s not much left of me, other than my precious contradictions.
I can tolerate boredom but I completely abhor silence. I could not last with just the crickets and humdrum of machinery. So talk to me, don’t disappear, put on some music. You know how I love confessing with my most primal sighs.
Like the time a boy and I lay entwined, the scenic Pagudpud beachfront glistening dimly, boat lights sparkling far in the evening horizon. The waves crash as he leaned in for a kiss. “Whisper me something, anything to pass the time,” his heady breath slithered, sending sparks like sand on my skin, forcing me to look up, an endless nothingness, black velvet embroidered, the most exquisite of pearls.
Somehow, my lips found his ear. And in the sweet breeze of October, a secret, surrendered in a whisper.
“Embrace the void like it’s your own, like it’s me.”