“Thirty Years Ago at Benign Street”

I was walking in an isolated street outside my favorite bakeshop as a child and saw a mother with her son under a lamppost across the street. Since this area is being avoided because of its shabbiness, it’s only me, the mother and son, a pair of two shadows approaching the street plus a man in worn out clothes. I took a moment to contemplate about people and how they walk the grounds of the earth. I had a sudden black out because my thoughts overflown and overtaken my senses

The only thing that made me realized I was staring blankly to to the wall is the voice of the mother telling his son to “study very well coz if you don’t you’ll end up like him”. I saw the person she was pointing and that was the man in shabby clothing. That gut feeling I felt was inexplicable. I saw the man covered his face with the sack of garbage he was holding because of shame and self pity. The little boy laughs and told his mother “never will I pick someone’s trash for me to live mom.” The mother keep on telling her son what to do with his life until the pair of shadows I saw minutes ago became a pair of human walking towards the man. It was another pair of Mother and son tandem.

I overheard the other son that he’ll give his burger to someone. His mother asked him “Isn’t that your favorite burger?” the son replied “yes mom, but it might be someone’s favorite too if I share it to them and after that, I’ll welcome them to the burger lovers club I founded in school”. Without hesitation, the boy run towards the man and handed the burger to him. He smiled brightly while the man hesitantly reach for the food. “Thank you but you should stay away from me because I smell like a dog” but instead of doing so, the boy smiled at him and said “see you later and enjoy your burger”. I felt warmness in my heart because the boy has a good one. “Johnny, if you want to help those people, you should study hard for you make a better place for them to live in.” With warmness in the mother’s eyes, the son lean in to her and thank his mom for being great.

Both pairs left, leaving me with lessons to live by. I’m in my mid-twenties and yet, the good boy shamed me with his kindness that I, myself don’t even have. I noticed that I’m still standing at the back of the bakeshop. An hour here at Benign Street is very unusual because there’s not a lot of people stays here. They cannot take the eeriness of the place. I walk home alone and ever since that day, I change my ways.

Today, year 1864, thirty years after I saw the two pairs of people who showed different sides of human at Benign St., I walked pass a stall of an old man who sells burger when a girl dressed in rag clothing approached him. Mouthing the words “I’m starving, can I have some?” the man smiled and gave her one with soda. The girl didn’t thanked the man but instead she rushed to the corner to give the food to her little sisters. I told myself, “Am I gonna witnessed another act of kindness at this very street where my life has been turned upside down?” but I didn’t have to answer my question because it shows. The old man left his stall and walked towards the girls. He handed three burgers and three sodas. Those girls told him to stay away from them because they smell like a dead cat but instead of doing so, the man smiled at them and gave them hug. “You should always do good and stand up to people no matter what it costs you”. The girls doesn’t seem to mind because they must really starving that they only pay attention to what they are eating. The man went back to his stall. One thing I noticed is that everything here has changed. From the old shabby bricked walls and trucks of garbage, everything is not what it looks like thirty years ago. The bakeshop is no longer erected there but instead, I saw an orphanage and a restaurant.

A man dressed in formal suit with necktie is holding his seven-year old kid which I presume his daughter. They went out of the resto and the kid asked his dad what are the three kids doing there. She’s referring to the kids in ragged clothes. The father said “Their parents must have not studied well that is why they end up having kids like them. Do you want to be like them Ashely? Mother always told me that if you study hard, you will never be like the people in the streets.” I was disgusted by what the father told his daughter. Suddenly, it was thirty years ago, it all came back to me when I saw two pairs of parents and a man in worn out clothes. Same scenario, same place. It is like I am experiencing Deja Vu. I’m standing on this very ground where I witnessed it all in my mid-twenties. That moment, I thought that what is the root will be the seed and that the mentality of the roots will be the mentality of the seed.

But I was wrong. I prejudged the kid.

“But daddy, my English teacher always told us to study very well to make this world a better place to live in, to make this world a little less harsh for other people who are less fortunate.” Likewise her father, that kid left me in awe. That little voice made a huge impact to me and again, I felt hope.

I saw a man with a kid, I bet he is his son for he has his eyes and his thick hair. Ashley as what her dad called her let out a big smile when she saw the man I saw with his kid. She quickly run towards the man and said “Look daddy he is my teacher. His name is Johnny.” Johnny and Ashley’s dad shook hands and said “we need to go, nice meeting you by the way”. The man left with the girl while Johnny went straight to the burger stall. They smiled at each other as if they knew each other for a long time. Johnny said “This is my son. Jimmy, say hello to my old pal.” The kid quickly reach his hand to shake hands with the old man. Like his dad, he’s a gentle young man with a compassionate heart. Again, I remember me, being astonished with what I have seen thirty years ago. It’s clear to me now, that those people are the ones I have seen thirty years ago. I may have missed their whole lives but at least, I’ve seen a few.

The time has its own stories and it so happens that I’ve been a part of their story. Like a fool, I smiled in the corner and told myself this:

“Not everything is based on what we have seen or what we remember seeing for the first time that made our senses reactivated, shut and reactivated again. As cliche’ as it can be, judging a person based on what the iris of the eyes sent to the cells of our brain is sometimes dysfunctional. We should look at those lives using our soul and heart and never to neglect people just because they are not like you. In order to make this world better, it should start with you.”

I was talking to myself about my reflections today. I put out my journal which contains remarkable life events and not just the everyday journal that has the name of my 5th grade crush or the date my favorite dog died. There, I wrote hundreds of essays about my humdingers in life. This book is my life. I’ve got used to writing while walking or everywhere if I have a chance.

Then…

Someone interrupted Jimmy while reading the notebook. It was Ashley, only 25 years older.

“Jimmy, are you reading same the story again to our kids? You should go out and entertain our customers.” asked Ashley

“worth telling.”

“It is. But the owner of that journal is dead. Isn’t it right to turn over it to her family?”

“It says here,’this is my whispers to the world and whoever heard it, they can have this’ It’s our story, your mothers’ too and our fathers'”

Before they could continue arguing, one of their three kids ask Johnny “So Daddy, what happened next?”

“This is not my story to tell but we are a part of her life, so was she. She died of car accident twenty five years ago. Me and my dad saw everything. I remember her last word was ‘Then…’ while holding her pen. It was a fine day at Benign street, the place where it all started and the place where she found her peace. Remember that our lives are connected with each other and you may not notice it but every single soul is a chance. I am you before I got older, you’ll become me, just better. Our layers will become whole, our limbs will reach others unconsciously.”

1334 Benign Street where everything is just unexpected;everything is coincidence.

Jimmy kept the journal and watched the people walk passed the restaurant he inherited from his father Johnny. He then looked at the signage that hasn’t been changed through the years, it says “1334 Benign Street Turn Left.”

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Memoirs: A Narrative

Hello Anna, how are you? Will you still remember this scenario when I tell you about this? It’s summer of 1978, we were just seven years old when I saw you sitting by the river. It’s freezing but you still manage to remove your coat.

You were so beautiful.

And there you go, listening to the same old tune again. You played it a million times but seems like those lyrics hasn’t sunk in yet to your mind. You just listen to it because it tells a story. Your story to be specific. You only listen to that part where it tells exactly how you feel and what you are today but when it comes to that part where it tells how to get up and survive, you always click the replay button. You are easily susceptible to pain but find it difficult to get up and detached yourself to it.

I watched you as you twist the vinyl and start the song all over.

You found yourself doing it over and over again until unconsciously, you picked up a book from your shelf. Something you remember reading two years ago. T’was entitled “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath. Both your sub-conscious and conscious state was shaken after realizing that the one who penned it died of suicide. It’s a key to someone’s life with a facade of fiction. Esther’s the name of the protagonist and described the feeling of being depressed as something like being trapped in a bell jar. Like all those films you have watched and books you have read, the victim has halfheartedly did some attempts before swimming into serious one.

I saw how you suffered from anxiety of the future.I remember you telling me that Esther would be the name of your future child if it is a girl. “Esther Alicia” because you can’t detach yourself to that book your mother is always reading aloud; it’s Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll and you told yourself that you’ll do anything to raise her to be someone you are not.

You put the book down and noticed the old albums under your coffee table. You grabbed one and let out a huge sigh before opening it. Those smiles your friends gave you are priceless so you ask yourself “where are you now? I’m growing tired and weary.” Without knowing it, a single tear roll down and fell at the picture you were holding. You opened another album which has a note “family” and wonder where are the pictures in it? You turned your house upside down but found only a few. You told me, “at least I’ve found two. One’s taken aduring my christening and the other’s from the Christmas day of 1965” while trying hard to smile and utter the words “I’m fine.”

I saw how you choke on your tears. How your palm sweats and your knees shake.

You experience absence seizures every now and then where you just stop doing something because your neurotransmitters failed to deliver electricity to your cells, causing a slight blanking out of your brain. Know why? You overload yourself with thoughts that you, yourself can’t decipher. Then after that, what will you feel? You’ll have apnea because your lungs can’t get enough oxygen because you block it with bad memories. Mental breakdowns are no longer foreign to your system. They broke your chest but you are bigger than that. I know my friend. You’re not alone in that hell.

See, you need help. But you keep on refusing it because you think that only you can save yourself. Can you hold your hand when you jump off a cliff or be your personal life jacket when you’re drowning? Maybe you can, or cannot. You were shouting and screaming. A euphoric sound that made the entire school burn. I’m so worried about you back then so I called for help never knowing that it was the last time I will be seeing your melancholic eyes. Winter of 1978, they took you away from me, and ever since that day when they let you wear a white gown and promised me that they’ll take care of you, I never saw you again. Only today when they finally let you out to see yourself in the mirror. You found a piece of you and said “I never thought I’m beautiful”. I met your gaze. You were staring blankly at me. You gave me a sly smile and said “It’s you” and that moment, I felt you for the first time after ten years. I said “I’ll come back for you. You’ll never be alone again”. Can you imagine that it’s year 1988 today and your reflection in the mirror is getting clearer as time goes by?

Summer of 1989, I came back again and I can see that you are fully recovered from being a half-glass soul. Your eyes, they are like embers again, you’re no longer pale and you can speak now. I look at you, looking at me, neither one of us wants to speak first but something pushed us to say “It’s you. Welcome back” You promised me that it’s going to be the last time you’ll ever talk to me and that made me happy. You promised yourself to never look at the same mirror ever again. With a loud sigh, I commanded you to smash the mirror and never to pick up those pieces. You did.

You defeated me.

You set yourself free.

See, I’m your demon and I am always here for you. I’m still with you, watching you and haunting you in your dreams. I keep on whispering you the past, but as long as you don’t let me in, you’ll be untouchable.

So long Anna.

Midnight Thoughts 3.0

10/23/17

At 12 Midnight…

“At 4am, I’ll be fine” I said.

Bottles spinning at 12 midnight. I should really pick myself tonight. I’m drowning with salty tears while digging up pieces of yesterday. I never wanted this, never want to see you hurt. This path is dangerous and my tongue’s making out with a flask coz beer bottles are useless when you want to stay calm. Acid’s turning up, world’s spinning ’round, I vomitted a lot even blood and sweat; now I wish I could also vomit bad memories, spill out trash memories.

Bottles stop spinning at 1am. My heart’s pounding not because of the liquor but because of those bottled up emotions I kept for years. Years of agony in silence, inside my room that I kept dark for ages, ever since you turned your back on us. “Am I not worth it to be a daughter? Am I not worthy as a person?” I ask you this in silence, now I have every right to ask you this aloud now that you came back. “Am I not enough?” I’m a daughter and a friend, I hid my depression for years and still hiding it. Are you gonna come and tell me “I’m sorry?” Or come back as if nothing ever happened? I wish I could spill out all those trash memories and reboot my life, but I know I can’t.

At 2am, those pictures are turning into blury faces, if this is a dream then I’d rather wake up feeling pain than feeling nothing at all. Things are shaking like how my world was shaken when you left us. Picture perfect memories are just temporary patches to a bleeding soul. I don’t want this kind of life but this is what you are feeding us. I always close my eyes, wishing you’d come back to the days where my innocence hasn’t been taken away and my silence hasn’t been disturbed. My veins are slightly ruptured for all those loss oxygen you took when you went away when I was just seven. I close my eyes, having this thought of not waking up anymore. I wish I was special.

3am and my friends hate me, they all hate my guts. They are all laughing and asking what is wrong. I passed out at 2:54am, wishing I just passed away. Waking up and feeling the same kind of shit is not what I live for. I’m okay yes I am. But when something triggers me, I often faints and blame the world for letting me grow alone. I’m not alone technically speaking, I have a lot of friends. But emotionally, I’m a travesty.

Minutes passed and I drank coffee, I felt the uneasiness in my veins but I’m fine now. 4am is the time. The waiter says “Closing time ma’am. Finish everything before you run out of time”. That moment I knew that not every hatred should be kept, it should be burried. Chapters are close but seems like you are stuck in the same page, things will get weary but you know that as long as there’s leaf, there will be a next chapter. It’s just that when you were stuck in the saddle, you can choose whether to get back in the game of life or not.

Continue
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Midnight Thoughts 2.0

10/22/17

at 2:48am

I wanna kiss a cigarette filter tonight or maybe just make out with 12 bottles of beer.
Hug a pillow or wraparound the only cold sheet I have in my room.
The concrete ceiling’s starting to crush, make up’s starting to wipe out.
But I’m still here, not In the zone, preparing for a clash.
Still, I’m waiting for the war between my conscious and unconscious state; I never wanted this but ‘this’ chose me.
Those numbered balls I hit during our game is not enough for a person who digs good time and thinks about ending ones suffering.
At this moment, I’m making out with the wind;
So stupid that I even try to grasp it.

Midnight Thoughts

10/22/17

At 2am…

I had a dream. I saw a piece of heaven. I was running far away to a place where nobody knows. I felt so hard but I can’t even complain. Each time I fall in love, I feel unsafe. Never knowing that the unmasked emotions can cause ruptured veins. It’s clear that it is only superficial. They’ll just take you for a ride and leave you in an accident that turns out as assisted suicide. I saw a piece of heaven that night you push me in the waters and put an anchor on my feet. That moment, I felt so alive; leaving you was the best thing I did; that moment, I knew that it’s not a dream.

It’s Late; Tell Me I Can Keep Up

I’ll tell you a secret, but this is not a bedtime story nor one of your so-called telltales, tied by unzipped mouths and fancy mind trick. This is not a practice drill that you could repeat whenever you did something wrong.

Depression is not just feeling sad or lonely.
It’s the feeling of not having to feel anything, not wanting to wake up and get up every morning, not having to lose something, you’re just breathing and barely surviving.

It’s the force that keeps us pinned to our beds all day thinking what can we do with our lives, what else do we need to experience for us to be seen and what else do we need to say to make them believe that this is not just acting up nor something they can call “story telling time”.

This is not a bed time story that we could share to all people willing to be entertained and willing to get paid for. This a story from a different view, a story within a story. It has roots and causes that we don’t even know where it occurred; that we don’t even know where it ends.

This is not a tangible feeling that we can easily spill to other people. An unexplainable thought that goes deep down to our core, making us hollow. You think you feel something but can’t decipher which is which.

I’ll tell you a secret, but this is not a bedtime story nor one of your so-called telltales, tied by unzipped mouths and fancy mind trick. This is not a drill.

I wake up feeling this heavy thing in my chest, my mind is bloated with words and finding some good reasons to do something today. Yes, I found one. A very reliable thing when everything is just not right. In the corner of my mind, I found sleep. I slept for two hours more and more hours… and yes finally I found something terribly good to spend the rest of my remaining hours today; to sleep.

While writing, a lot of things blow my mind as if they are not familiar with the term ‘One at a time’. I don’t know if I’m sad because I can’t remember why am I sad in the first place. Suck. I’m having chest pain, migraine, and overwhelming numbness. Adding fuel to fire is the fact that I am not doing anything but there’s body pain.

The next morning, I still feel the same and when I finally have the guts to get up and talk to people, they told me “Get over yourself, I’ve been sad too”.  That’s really unfortunate, having this profound hate with everyone who suffers existential crisis, telling them to stop romanticizing things that are far from the everyday mantra of people. I hate people too. Fair enough.

Minutes became hours and hours to days. Sunlight to moonlight until moonlight becomes weak. It’s not all about me and what’s inside my head but also it is what people thinks of me. I’m not all cracked up; my brain is fine until something triggers me. I know that they are waiting for me to spill the beans for them to make controversy out of it but sorry because this time I won’t. I won’t give them the credit to see how vulnerable I am on the inside.

It’s not like the movies where I’ll take a picture of those piled up medicines I will intake; not like I’ll have this perfectly knotted rope and post it on my sites; not like I’ll have a melodramatic turnaround and say “I’ll kill myself tonight”. If I’m going to do it, I’ll do it in silence, I’ll leave no trace. I won’t be gone with puzzles still unsolved, still scattered for you to decode. That’s the last thing I wanna do to the ones I love, to leave them hanging.

Hush coz this world will never hear you out unless you’re pretty or dying.

But if I really want to die, I did it long before this stigma about mental health become mainstream. I’m still alive, barely breathing. I know that my demons are a part of me; pushing and pulling me but what living is for if you don’t strive to live? I’m in gray space where I want to just vanish and where I want to get a grip of something I could call mine. My inner demons, they just won’t go away but heaven can’t get me now, I’ll fight it. Those angels who left me and taught me to fight alone will be smiling at the end of my journey and say “you made it!”

But in the end, it’s always a matter of choice.