12: digital smithereens over caffeine conversations

Young lovers seek perfection. Old lovers learn the art of sewing shreds together and of seeing beauty in a multiplicity of patches.

– Finn / How To Make An American Quilt

This is the story of coffee.

This can be a love story too.

This may be a definition of love.

These are dots of hazy blue way above – a splat of green and gold Styrofoam chopped into pieces flying in the air – digital smithereens – and dosages of Starbucks and Costa coffee warming the unseen ghosts of their time in this nuclear year called 2010.

This is, in fact, the time of their lives, Paolo and Jon.  Two mates who mated back in December 2009.  Two old acquaintances who decided to be together after tripping on the endowment of being together.  Towards actual belongingness.

As if tomorrow will dive its way and nurture the past rather than shape the future.  It is both a strategic and lopsided account of a time in an existence.  And this, I might add, can sometimes be just an inmost nature.  Not necessarily a life.  And sometimes, not necessarily both of them.

Or the wide, green screen.

Or the fact that they have been together in this liaison for seven months now.

Or anything that moves encompassing two bodies and two minds holding hands in this hot summer day in Dubai – doing what they can to embrace their reality in the midst of these digital smithereens over caffeine conversations.

For Jon

”Do you feel the aroma of a thousand coffee beans in our love?  I do.

The very first time we both went to Costa Coffee, I became the hot mocha non-fat this past decade called concocted equilibrium to inducement.  You were such a blaze at the time, you know, trying to get my attention away from the doves I was busily taking pictures of.  You were such an attention-seeker, trying to impress me by reciting a poem you wrote back in college and you saying, “. . .  poems are meant to be enlarged by sound and should not be read silently . . .”

In our house in Bulacan, I knife-carved something in my window pane:  Nabuhay para mamatay.  It means in English:  Born to die.  What sort of poetic plangency would that mean to you ten years back?  To the world?  These days it wouldn’t be anything beyond comprehension but did you think I was blessed to have survived my teenage pains and my glowering manhood?  I did not echo my claims and my woes the same way you did with the magic of words you possess, nor did I walk in the rain when I was frustrated but I turned to Jesus Christ and became his dependable servant for as long as I can remember.  When you were writing your strong desires, I was tending mine with the gospel and singing psalms in front of many Christian worshippers – bawling out goodwill and yes, salvation.  Slowly altering into someone who was not born to die but someone who was born to live all over again.  So tell me now, why do you resemble Jesus Christ?  What’s all this comfort?  What’s all this nonconformity in our relationship that many thought would not even last a month?  And why are you my friend more than anything else?  Have I ever told you how thankful I am with the laughter you stimulate even in times when there seems to be just you and me out there?  That there is actually no one who believed in what we have?  When we both had no money, no joy to inscribe to the sky and nothing much to talk about but Dubai’s cold fashion and its unfeeling nature towards émigrés such as ourselves.

I remember the very first time you talked to me.  When you walked towards me, with that introverted but warranted bearing of yours and said, “What is your secret?”  I guess I caught you off-guard when I looked at you straight in the eye and said nothing, unruffled by the rush of unconventionality.  You ricocheted and said about the secret of my clear skin to which I answered stupidly, “Dove.”   You must have puked your guts right there and then.

That same night, when you were probably out with your party friends, I was in my bed wondering what detonation of nature that came knocking to discover me.  And my secret.

It was you.  Just you.  But the whole of you.

I did not love you then because I seemingly thought you were, like the coffee scent, just an enticing condensation of what I actually like in a person.  Little did I realize that like the coffee scent, you were a beaten track I have to walk on fervidly with a little less warning that I have, in fact, walked on my yellow brick road. With my heart intact and like induced by caffeine, ten beating drums to your songs of love. ”

For Paolo

“There is nothing sexier than sliding hot cappuccino down your throat with the flavor of bitter chocolate and sweet caffeine tickling your tongue gradually until it grows into a fraction of eventful awareness of either brain patterns or the tongue itself, and sums up an occurrence that brings you closer to love – to understanding – to freedom.  I may have been anguished quite naturally by my world that day at Costa Coffee when you were busily taking pictures of those birds accompanying our early afternoon coffee, but I wanted you to draw the line and call me your wanton luxury.  The bitch whose fragrance encompassed green screens of life’s elements and the wallflower that learned how to love by loving love itself.

You come in full sexiness.  Even when you’re in your comfy tank top and sweating like a pig in this hot summer afternoon, there’s a lot of you that I have to chew my way in whether it is the way you listen to me with your unknotting eyes or whenever you snap your knuckles like there is no tomorrow.  It always brings me to the way you wait out Fuuuuccckkk either in shock or in perpendicular ecstasy.  Yesterday I was going through your wardrobe and saw your tiny white hankies and I thought, “The last time I had a real kerchief in my pocket was when I was in high school.  All because my mother insisted I store one in my sweaty pants everyday.”  And then there they were, little saviors to your oil reserves with which your sebaceous glands must have happily rocked their mightiest upon each propulsion.  I got singed with the thought of you clean and fresh.  And then one night, I saw you smile under the book that you were reading. I asked you what’s funny.  You did not even look at me and mumbled something that meant, “Nothing.  Read your book, Jon.”  I almost drooled.

And so I feel.  I just do.  No coherency to investigate on.  No dedications of chronicling each move this relationship is taking us. The only actual time when I can put shape to our thing is when I write about it.  And even that happened only thrice and no structured narrative can ever do justice to what’s actually manifesting.  If only I can tell the world the joy that swept me off my feet (not you but joy itself) when you came I would.  In a skeptical feature that would anatomize the anecdote of our love.  How I wish.  How I wish.  But I can’t.  It’s too beautiful and too pious to surrender to the world because the world knew that when you came – you essentially ARRIVED.

When you came, with your in-born notoriety on composure and (sometimes) bolshie’s disdain to anything unfair, you became my easy-access earth.  The earth that has a gravitational pull and somehow, thanks to you, the earth that fed me more than my usual air travels that happens almost all the time.  I must retell herein that my demons have fled my building seven months back when you came with your mapping head against my bouncing perception.  Attested by me and you, we both know that we did not touch each other’s past to begin with because it was completely useless. Ten years ago, I would have bought the last spade on earth to dig up all the dirt that I can accumulate.  Times have changed.  And I am indebted to time for bringing you to me when my head is restrained, my lungs are tougher and my soul is unquestioning.

You have redefined the meaning of happiness to me.  These days, happiness means being in a place, a situation where there is good coffee, courage and a friend who knows you and whom you love with your heart intact.

And,  like caffeine kicking in, with drums beating to the songs of your love.”


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