16 January 2013

Letter No. 12

I've drafted several letters in the past few days, but none of them have felt worth posting. It's all been mostly scribbles on ethnic/cultural identity, language, and my own neurosis, with some new thoughts but ultimately the same old dog. Perhaps I can offer you this xkcd comic, or this subnormality comic, so you can get a feel for the best and worst (respectively) of what I've been going through.

I'm not depressed; I've just been anxious about the future. It's one thing when it's New Year's Day, and you make all these plans and resolutions, because the path ahead seems so clear. It's another thing when it's one of the other 364.25 days of the year, when you've climbed down from the trees, the peak, the viewing deck, and you realize how rocky, dusty, muddy, or meandering the path is up close and under your feet, and the undergrowth's so thick you can't really see what you're walking toward, most of the time. Also, you're about to run out of water already and can't remember if the river is east, west, north, or south of you.

So, I'm not really sure I want to write about that, because I've written enough variations here and elsewhere to make it all seem redundant, to make me wonder if there's just something I still can't get over, something holding me back or making me go in these mental (!) circles day after day, week after week. I read some of my old blog posts, as far back as maybe late 2011, and I kept see-sawing between feeling wiser and readier and feeling stuck and doomed. (A few days ago, I resumed plodding through Jorge Luis Borges's "Labyrinths," and "The Immortal," "The Theologians," and "The House of Asterion" felt both disturbing and familiar.)

I probably just need to get out more.

I went to Intramuros on Saturday afternoon (Chinese class, which went surprisingly well, was in the morning). It was Cris's idea, to give his visiting sociologist friend Ken a different look at Manila via a Celdran tour, and I'd never been on a Celdran tour myself. I enjoyed the afternoon out, and I think I have a better appreciation for Manila. But I also felt a little sadness over the lack of similar experiences for Mindanao (frankly, the history of Gensan in particular sounds as ridiculous and watered-down as the American Thanksgiving origin story).

Then, I had to work on Sunday. Sunday afternoon, I went with the guys to the airport to see Ken off, and then Cris and I hung out. I told him what was on my mind, and he gave me some advice — "dapat lagi kang may ibang palaman" — which I guess is best summarized, "expect the worst, but hope for the best."

Making friends with Ken, a Canadian-born Vietnamese guy with Chinese parents, recalled to me a conversation I'd had with Cris much, much earlier, maybe sometime late last year. Cris asked me what the anti-Kat would be like, and I shrugged and said, "I don't know, probably someone super kikay." I actually thought about it some more later, and I decided that there is no anti-Kat; there's only the Kat that would have existed if something, sometime back down the line, had been different — if I'd made a different choice or if different choices had been made for me. It's more difficult to imagine a completely polar opposite Kat than it is to think of the Kat who:

- never moved to the US
- never came back from the US
- went through with the move to Thailand
- made different friends in the US
- made different friends in the PH
- took gymnastics
- didn't stop piano lessons
- wasn't on the spelling team
- stayed on the track team
- cared more about conventional femininity
- prioritized science and math
- was more obnoxious
- didn't laugh when F (not his real initial) told me he liked me
- didn't go home when R (still not his real initial) asked me to stay
- accepted X's (you get the point) invitation to the prom
- didn't dismiss W, and later, G
- took the PHSA exam instead of attending graduation day
- went to UP instead of Ateneo
- went to Silliman instead of Ateneo
- considered foreign schools more seriously
- made different friends in college
- stayed in So. Cot. after college
- didn't live in Merville after graduation
- didn't move out of Merville later
- didn't work for CCF
- didn't resign from CCF
- didn't ask questions about my religion
- didn't go to that Heights reunion in Megamall
- didn't start going to Cris's game nights
- didn't get a job at BusinessWorld
- didn't move to Cubao
- didn't get to take that trip to Singapore

... and so on.

Some of the things on this list are actual regrets, while some just come from a vague, "I wonder if...." Most of them sharpen the picture of who I'd be or what I'd do whatever the branch. Negative experiences stand out specially — I think I'd still have had those kinds of relationships, and I think they still would have ended. I think I'd still make those kinds of friends, and I think we'd still have drifted apart.

It's difficult to imagine positive experiences that may have come about, because they seem more like daydreams than likely results, and because, based on actual experience, I never expect the good things. In the last five years or so, I never expected the good things that have happened to me. Maybe that makes me more of a pessimist than I think, but it somehow also gives me more hope for the future. Just because I don't see good things coming doesn't mean that they won't come at all.

Damn it. I think I've written that before.

No comments:

Post a Comment