Tabulas is my platform for voyeurism, a place tucked away in a unsearchable corner of the internet, that nonetheless enterprising online scamps can find, providing door ajar and the thrill of being caught in foreplay or a slip in the curtain where the world can salaciously peer in when the lampshade is on. Yet, we are for the salaciousness, aren't we? --to bare the dark corners of our lives to the public, whilst pretending anonymity. But I digress. I have done more voyeur acts than writing semi-anonymously over the internet.
This is a long handed way of saying good bye. I've been here for 10yrs. But I suppose.. The reason I write has changed. And honestly, let's give our host a break. I would have stayed longer if this is a paid service, just to drive the voyeurism idea home. (that's probably not a bad business model)
And so on.
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I met her about two or three years ago at the company at my previous company. She looks like the girl to always be cast as Mama Mary on school plays, mestiza, hazel eyes, light brunette hair, almost caramel when the light hits her right. She has a natural scorn to her kind face, brought by her serious demeanor, as if always going to the next meeting with a drive and purpose. She was/is young, about 9yrs younger than me. My first meeting of her didn't phase me. I'm from a well known school -- we are awash of beautiful people.
Beautiful people have a natural skittishness to them, especially the ones born with it. You can always feel them defensive, trying not to be judged by their looks but by their ability and natural value. Most people don't realize this as they stare down beautiful people -- they are completely transfixed with what they are seeing and often fail to look past. Thus, my training provided me with this immunity. I happy to say that I have an adjunct attitude that I can be myself with anyone -- irregardless of how beautiful they are.
We didn't talk too much though we shared the office. I relate this to said skittishness. Whereas other people are lively and will be happy to interact, we're the nod-at-the-water-station kind of workmates. She had friends who were also temps at the company at the time; one, eventually I would go to Bali with, and the other, I would sleep with. So Mary and I didn't really talk, although I can feel myself mirrored in her in a some ways. She was reserved in meeting but speaks concisely and impact -- a question from her turns a meeting around. She didn't really participate in the shenanigans.
Later on, I would find that because Mary is quite a rich kid, graduate from one of the top schools, and heir to her father's company. She works to learn, and technically, she doesn't really need to work. Now, here's where the mirror ends. I was raised poor, though eventually the family had money later on. I still am at step on both social classes. I still know what GG means, what mamshie refers to, and call my female friends beh in the office. On the other hand, I write like this.
I have two distinct memories of her that we were able to talk. The first was a heavy night of drinking. I forget at this point how how we (Mary, the two fellow temps, a couple, and I) got to her condo. That's sort of where we figured out, and by 'we', I mean I, what her life was like. She talked about her family and the work, and her aspirations why she wanted to work. The conversation felt like talking to a mirror, and I suppose that's for both of us. We were both skittish towards each other. I guess because we knew what it felt like to not be judged by what people see, but rather what we think about. And here, I was talking to someone knows that she is being understood.
We talked about forming goals and I listened. I wanted to hear what she thought will happen -- I felt like she knew where the pitfalls of her plan where. She said she was working this so she can learn operation and accounting and finance, because her family business is operations heavy. She didn't expect to be in finance and sort of landed here and landed in this troop of crazies. I asked how well she thinks she's going and how she thinks this is going to go. I gave my opinion based on what I've seen on the possibilities of the path she's taking now. Suddenly, I was invested in a state of discovery with her. Although, like I said, I was busy trying to sleep with another girl, so that conversation eventually stopped and I waved it off to alcohol in both my and Mary's systems.
I saw myself in her in the beginning of a journey. I definitely will not be surprised if she becomes my boss one day.  It was a case of stumbling across someone of the same language as in a foreign country. It's like suddenly hearing Tagalog in Japan -- you know these people are around but you're not quite sure which one can understand and when to come across them. Yet, here we were in understanding.
The second time we talked was a lot longer, and a lot more surprising, and a lot more aggressive. By this point, I've already slept with friend and things were awkward for me (I got ghosted if that mattered). So I stayed away from the three girls altogether. Although, this setting was an office thing. The boss took the managers out so this is managers only affair. There was another girl, whom I also met in the office, whom I wasn't interested in at the time, and who studied in a different well known school. So girl-2 and Mary got along a lot better because they're closer to the same feather. I asked girl-2 to come along, and she dragged Mary with her. So now, I'm in the  same vicinity with Mary without girl-1.
I got pretty far with my alcohol that night and I'm pretty sure girl-2 was there to see me, but I'm thinking Mary found it most comfortable to sit and talk with me, being we've done this before, and it's either me or speak with a boss in this table. So we talked. I felt cornered. You know, I also want to reciprocate to girl-2 -- she made an effort. But no.
This time Mary talked further about the business itself -- ideas on the problems that they have right now. I am an MBA candidate, and these things are not new to me. So we talked about HR, operations, sales, marketing -- just about this business and the way things could have been handled better; a tenured employee stealing money, arguments about the stay-in arrangement of the workers, the shit we had to go through for government biddings. I'm not saying the conversation was dull, but at this point I was a good three to four months in into therapy, and I was calibrating myself on how to speak and listen. I planned to hold back until my head was screwed on straight again.
So as far as my drunk ass memory can remember, I talked so little. I would ask.. like a sentence, and it'll be ten minutes of her on a monologue. Everyone in the table was surprised that she could talk. They've never seen her talk this long, and with speak with so much power. Power instead of enthusiasm because her sentences were trying to drive home a point, the same way she walked, you can hear the same attitude in her voice. People would make a joke to kind of break up the intense conversation, mostly of her at me, but she'd shrug it out then go back in. I found it so funny actually back then and now that I recall that night. And she wasn't drunk. She got there I was already drunk -- then trying to think about the parts of a contract, and how they can back track terms of employees benefits. By the way, girl-2 is an MBA graduate.
That was one of the most exhausting drinking sessions of my life but for so completely different reasons. I remember I dropped her off at one of her different condo's on the way to drop girl-2 off. I felt like I had a panel exam. Her passion was contagious because she really reminded me of the same drive I had at that age, and building the skills to feed the passion. I rather felt aloof though, because that's a road I've already passed. It's a nice reminder of the feeling of the road, but coming back everything is a lot smaller than I remember.
We separate ways when I left the company. That said, we'd intermittently see each other because of girl-2.
Now girl-2: girl-2 is a bit ditzy, a lot ditzy if people will not take that in a wrong way. She works in a different department, and by the way that we were both taking MBA at the time we met hence we got a lot more connected. She didn't think heavily of the future, or gave weight to the existential world. She existed on her own terms  and her relationship with her world is defined coasting through it. She is also a daughter of a businessman. She didn't graduate in the same level of school as Mary and I did, but she had the acumen of one and the taglish accent to boot.
I hung out a lot with her because she took me off of myself, same reason I still keep contact. Whenever I feel stressed, two words out of her brings me out of my fugue. I'm suddenly back to earth with everyone; Netflix-ing, Lazada-ing, Marks and Spencer-ing, etc. I reveled in her company. She is exactly like a drug I use to run away -- to forget that the world existed. Her presence made me feel calm.
Now, I don't think I ever had a really deep conversation with her, at least not to the depth that I've had conversation. She would ask me what color of curtains to get, what she should get for take out, where'd we want to go to dinner. Things that I've honestly never though to myself before. Remember this is post-therapy me. Prior to this, I'd pick a place to impress the people around me, whereas now, nothing. I was learning to pick a place because the Aperol was nice, or that there was a discount card, or that the wine selection was better, or because this is Japanese but slightly fusion. This is a very confusing time and she was my guide.
But then, did I miss the deep conversations? Yes. Yes, deeply. The deepest conversations I had were in college with other artist friends, painters, poets, writers, photographers. I remember that time in my life that I can rail it! just put the pedal to the metal in the fastest strangest thoughts we can think of: why do Polish poets understand so much about pain, why Japanese writers write with so much space, why did Despair die and why she carved her skin with the hook on her ring, why does passion and violence stand back to back, why is sex an act of violence and power and of tenderness and passion but rarely of love in the act -- why does love come before and after but not during.
It's unfair impose this to women should I decide that they are possible partners. I mean, I'd be bone dry forever. I had to at least lower that depth of conversation to a minimum level. A level that when I speak at least she hears me, not necessarily understand me, at least hears me. That's a bag in itself, isn't it? It was like a being understood because crying like a child is a language human kind understands. It's incredibly frustrating but I was trying to grasp at the tethers the world is trying to throw at me.
So we kept in touch and we spoke. I'd send her things I bake. We'd speak every night. And I considered, but nothing there made me want to cross that line, nothing made me wonder what crossing the line felt like. I was encouraged... I was told that somethings about love is a decision. That love is something to step into and discover. In falling in love is exactly what the name implies, you have to fall, to go off the edge and let gravity take your weight, an acceleration to the bottom irregardless to what the bottom is. Falling in love is to take the step forward into uncertainty and discover.
I thought about it everyday for this past lockdown. If we were not in lockdown, I may have taken that step. I would closed my eyes and went to discover. But we are apart. And honestly, my curiosity didn't feel reciprocated. That may say that may be I'm reading into it wrong, or I am not giving it enough effort, or may be say it out loud to make it real. No. I know when I have something. I know when I'm holding on to something. I've played the game so many times before -- I know when I have a chance. I'd be the first to text, but that said, I'd fall asleep into the conversation then I'll have to be the first to text the following night. We'd have calls and conversation will hover around Dalgona and the sale and etc. Yes, this is small talk, and she has not changed one bit from when I met her.  I adore her for that and her presence.
Last week, I baked. It was my staff's birthday. So I sent my staff some and I went to drop off some to girl-2. Girl-2 told me she's meeting Mary, and that I should drop off the brownies along where they are meeting. I did. We sort of had to chase each other around which part of High Street we should meet. Girl-2 is a get things done kind of person, like 'this is the thing that is front of me, so this is the thing that I will do". In the same manner, 'you overshot where we are, let me come to you' but rather it'll be faster if I just drove round.
Finally we meet. I saw Mary for the first time in so long. She lost weight, her demeanor is still the same. Her smile was wide behind her mask and her eyes smiled. She gave a wave. Then I was off. I didn't get down from the car.
I was suddenly reminded of moving forward with hope, with what my intentions are in my own journey, the will to seek and not to settle. I was reminded of the definition of surrender, to accept non-ideal circumstances because hope has been lost. This past few months I've been writing about being at peace with the universe around and gaining the ability to listen to my universe. I was trying to learn how to trust the unknown, to put it to my higher power, to have the ability to say that this is alright. But! the definition of that is vague, isn't it?! Who or what is to say that something is alright? I've been racking my head around this, and when I saw Mary I remembered that this is a journey. This is a step at a time off from one edge to another, that maybe, the cliff I'm falling of from is about accepting that I should be alone for now and not settle because this is the tether of the universe managed to grab onto.
I do not know if I can get any better than girl-2. I know that I am already reaching here, she's beautiful, smart, overwhelmingly positive, but it's not there. I would be miserable and it would be unfair to her. I'm not that big an asshole, at least not anymore.
This is alright, being in limbo, being in the unknown.
This seems trivial to fluster over my love life when it occupies 5% of my attention, but this reverberates through the other parts of my life. What will happen to my career now that I am stuck in PH? And a recession, and possibly depression coming? What do I do with my life? Am I stuck to doing this 9-5? This endless meeting and conference calls and escalations and one-on-ones? This all feels so inconsequential. That's okay.
I feel... I feel I am moving forward at a pace that is acceptable. To the 'if I should die tomorrow test', will I pass? No, and that's a reason to keep moving forward. I want to know where this cliff I just jump off from is taking me, because I was built this way -- to know, discover the future with my own will, powered by nothing but curiosity, a heart, a hope, a love, a desire for the whole world and nothing less. I expect to fail and that's okay. I hope Mary stays the same.
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BYEEEEeeeeee.... I'll probably post where I'm going to. I'll come back to visit. Promise.
Posted by big.mati on September 9, 2020 at 01:03 PM | dance with me
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