On the way home this morning, I suddenly remembered why I stopped walking home. The journey felt seemingly far too long alone and I can’t bear to be in the company of just myself. And I called to talk to you along the way home.
We didn’t talk much, all I heard were words and the sounds of you breathing. “Are you drinking?” I asked.
"Yes. It’s empty in the house without you."
"I try not to drink now."
"That’s what you always say. I bet you were shit-faced at least once early this week."
I laughed. It was thrice. But it’s getting better. At least my hands don’t shake at work now.
"Why are you calling me?"
I contemplated telling the truth, but I figured you didn’t need to know all of it. “Just felt like it.” Just a little bit will do.
It was really cool that night, and even though it felt like my limbs were made of water and my lids were heavy after a really long week, my mind was sober for what felt like a long while. And I know what I was feeling and thinking. And the cool night made me realise that I hadn’t been out at night in a while. It seems like summer is waning, and so have all my loves.
"I like you enough, you know? And you should too."
"What do you mean?"
"You know what I mean. You always call when you feel a certain way about yourself."
That night, I drank myself to sleep and dreamt that my family had died in the waters. When I woke up, I half-expected you to hold me and tell me it’s okay. But I realised I was back in my bed alone. For a long while, I stopped crying in my hands, but waking up often feels like death recently and that’s the only thing that I can do to start the day right. I take the tears to be the restlessness and helplessness being squeezed out of every cell. If I can’t change anything, then I sure as fuck better make sure feelings don’t manifest.
I forgot why we stopped loving each other — something along the lines of not wanting the same things or going down the same path or you deserving better. I imagined you last night on your couch with a beer. If life went our way, I would be reading next to you on our couch and you would be working on your sums. None of us would be drinking heavily. None of us would be on the other side of the phone.
For a thousand what-ifs that hang in the air, there is a definitive reality. I opened my eyes and I see you seated across me having breakfast at the table. You smiled. And that’s the last I remember.
On a good day, especially when the weather permutations are right — when the air is cool, the wind is blowing and the sun shines right into my eye — I often see a future that I daren’t hold too close in my heart for fear the devil might see through the deepest desires in my wicked heart and take in away. And at that specific time, it’s a fleeting image right at the back of my eyelids - a quick glimpse in a blink - before reality snaps back and I sit back slightly pleased that no one probably saw that. On a really good day.
(On a bad day, the devil covers my eyes.)
That early morning, I woke up in a fit and you were still sleeping. And while trying to wrestle out of our tangled bodies, I decided that if I left that secret in an unsuspecting heart, the devil could never take it away. Because how can the devil take away something that you never knew was there? So in between gulps of whiskey, I managed to whisper something — softly, quietly, so neither of you would hear it.
And when I woke up, there was a sinking feeling and I knew for sure that I had left that secret in the wrong heart. For suddenly the future seemed too close to disintegrating on itself and I had been too stupid to know that the devil himself came to collect it personally.
Some nights, I really want to scream. And it’s mostly about the things I cannot change. Those that I can, I have. Those that I haven’t, I will. But those that I can’t, I haven’t accepted. It’s this dissatisfaction that causes this dull ache and these phantom tears and I will never understand why it’s hard to be.
Yet it’s this dissatisfaction which taunts me from behind that makes me want to look back and spit in its face. That does nothing to push me forward in life, but all I want to do is to finally embrace it so I may roll off a cliff with it.
I think of all my lovers — past, present and potential — and I wonder if the threads of fate are real, and if reality is could be a figment of my imagination. Or if I’m still sleeping in a drunken stupor, or if I’m a life-sized digital render of a another lifeform that couldn’t move in their universe?
I have watched multiple lifetimes and outcomes go by in a dream, only to wake up disappointed that I haven’t died yet.
A gap between shooting, usually there’s a crack. It wedges into the other dimension, splits a moment and spreads whole different vision which looks exactly same as where I am at, in and on but strangely the shadow never seems to get caught by my lens and so its weight and size disappears. What I’m saying is, I guess, there’s my moment created by not me when I’m not with a camera.
I like looking at things through a camera lens, love the feeling of being blocked, totally and simply alone. Although sometimes the subject make eye contact with me, still I feel alone and get aroused, which doesn’t necessarily relate to voyeurism I would say, then what, something else, perhaps a selfishness? independent spirit? Would it be sexual anyway?
Back to the crack, it gives me such a pleasure. It’s most likely a bag of Margaret (Cookies) on a location tea table. That pleasure, however, I’d like to just stare at it rather than shooting. I see and enjoy the crack and close my eyes to memorize it instead of leaving one memorable photograph.
We, several photographers talked about this crack a few times recently and I guess it’s a common issue to people whether they should hold a camera or not for a immortal moment to CAPTURE what they see. I’ve always thought that a man make the moment immortal but since I run into the crack, things are different and undefinable.
"It’s too warm to move," you said. But you still pushed the hair out of my face. "It’s blocking your face."
"I know. This is my third popsicle. Stop touching."
Time blurs whenever I’m over at yours. I can never tell if it’s morning or night simply because you’re all curtains and no windows, and time seems to both speed up and slow down. Before I know it, hours fly by - yet when I look over at your clock, the hour hand still hasn’t moved and time is crawling. Is the heat draining away my sensibilities? I don’t know. Summer is a shiny sheen of slick that befuddles me and I can’t trust my own eyes.
I don’t want to do anything during the summer — not to work, to talk, to have sex, to eat, to run, to go out, to talk, to lie, to think, or to write. So during our break from work, all we did was to whine about the heat, to indulge in fantasies and whims, to read our own books, to roll a cold beer down arms before drinking it so fast it runs down our necks, to understand how the intricacies of the wretched weather affect the human condition (and us). “Did you know people are more prone to lying in hot weathers?” you turned to tell me. “That’s bullshit,” I said. “Of course, you gullible idiot,” you said. “That was the heat talking.”
But you were right. It had been too hot to think things through, and hot enough to have to lie so that I wouldn’t have dig up some sort of explanation to other people for my behaviours. The sweat soaks through the clothes, and seeps back into the machinery, rusting up the mechanisms and in return, nothing ever works during the summer.
"Let’s move to where it’s colder," you murmured. I sucked up the last of the popsicle and left the sticky, wooden stick on top of your singlet. I turned to look at you and it was a funny sight. Your eyes were half-closed, a languid hand wiping away the ceaseless sweat, the furrowed brows — the heat has left you in a state of laughable helplessness and it’s funny. This situation is funny. And laughable.
I don’t recall last summer to be this warm, but this time round, it’s unbearable.
"Yes, let’s." I whispered.
THIS MODERN LOVE // a love story for the new age, for late night hand-holding under neon skies that light up your face, for digital heartbeats and synthesized sighs and electric eyes cast towards your sweetheart who shimmers like kaleidoscopic stars in the midnight sky.
I scooted into a seat at the back of church, not in my usual place. And it took me a while to realise that I was standing behind you - I forgot that the mole on your neck existed. And while there was still a faint wrenching pain somewhere in my chest, I think I’m glad that my memory of you has turned out better than real life.