Monday, April 4, 2011

There and Back

When I opened my eyes, I was suddenly fifty. Blurred sight comes with age, and the velvet sky offered no visual comfort that autumn evening. Inhaling the cold misty air, I thought of the twenty-five years I have missed, of the strangers I could have possibly met, and of the worries that gave birth to the wrinkles on my aging face. From where I was, the earth seemed to momentarily stop spinning on its own axis just to be able to grasp the reason why it even had to revolve around the sun. The sallow grassy knoll received the moonlight; it somehow sparkled in the distance with the rest of the stars in the backdrop. I closed my eyes and tried to retrace all the lost years, as if I was about to make a fool of Nietzsche when he said this: if you stare into the abyss long enough, the abyss stares back at you. I scoured the recesses of my frail memory and found nothing. It was a vessel that was as empty as a meaningless word. Nothing stared back, and then I knew Nietzsche was right.

I opened my eyes the second time; I was thirty, all poised in the middle of a church wedding inside a grand Gothic structure, blessed perhaps by all the known saints in the world. It was ten in the morning when the bells rang, and from where I stood the bride was as lovely as a mystic apparition, the kind that exceeds beauty more than anything else I can recall. Many times in my life have I seen faces, but hers was entirely something that can mend and break any tensile heart. I thought she was looking straight in my direction, and so my heart skipped two beats: one for her and one for my soul, and the subsequent chain of events transpired like movie stills flashing before the entourage one frame at a given time.

The first frame was nothing picturesque as it was austere. I simply braved my way through the crowd, pushing against the walls of warm bodies pressed together tightly they refuse light from passing through. By the second frame, I was standing in front of her, meek but slightly undaunted by her divine presence. My knees were about to jerk off from their sockets, sending a childish tremor down a floor tiled with two inches of clay slabs so as to hide the earth that, from time to time, also had its own moments of trembling. Had I known the name of my bride, I would have called it out.

To say the least, it was the first time I met her. Of all the strange occasions that I found enchanting, it was by far the most captivating. I was immediately drawn to her for a reason that is yet to be given a name by the dictionary. I felt all the emotions in my being suddenly finding their way to the pores of my skin, so I kissed her by the third frame with as much passion as a man seeing the love of his life for the first time in a very long time. All the while, I was perfectly aware that I would be spending the rest of my life with her. Our lips met. But I suddenly felt her iron fist land on my left cheek by the fourth frame, at which moment things became crystal clear, similar in many ways to the clarity of the devastation after the dust has settled down.

I was not her groom. Then and there, I closed my eyes, partly because of the searing pain and partly because of the misery I felt. I had to escape to another phase in my life.

The warm afternoon breeze was rather kind. I opened my eyes and saw myself riding the bicycle for the first time. I was ten and, under the aegis of my father, I pedaled my way on a narrow street flanked by fields of amber on both shoulders, fearless of the gentle slopes that invite a mishap on the slightest miscalculation of balance. It was one of those Sundays of summer and my father was a happy man at thirty-three. In spite of how his hands and body have aged faster than most husbands his generation, he had the spirit of perpetual youth. I tried to drive the thing faster but my father would run after me and would tell me to slow down. The pleasures of riding a simple bicycle, like life, are not always to be found in speed. So I closed my eyes again, slowing down at the same time while still hearing the voice of my dear father. I thought of how much I miss my childhood days when the world was still big enough to worry about its own problems. In that brief moment of inspired darkness, I was free again.

I opened my eyes and I was back at twenty-four, never too old to dream but never too young to keep my feet planted on the ground.


Désolé Boy said...

I used to believe in this massive hour glass where the tick-tock itself is an alarm. No more!
We all have the time in the world. And that bride whose "beauty exceeds more than anything you can recall," she's just waiting for that right opportune moment to step forward. So, ready your flying carpet! ;D

sub said...

is this a dream? dun sa last part malamang hindi..galing mo ahh, that's how vivid you remember them if indeed this was a dream...

SPLICE said...

@Désolé Boy
I hope she's not yet taken by the time I get to meet her :D

Most of what I have written in this piece are culled from my imagination :D