Dichotomy

Noun: dichotomy [dI’ko-tu-mee or di’ko-tu-mee]

  1. Being twofold; a classification into two opposed parts or subclasses
  2. Branching repeatedly into two

Recently I got an invitation to attend a gathering of old high school friends. I was downhearted and forlorn, thinking how could I, at my current state of unemployment and almost nonexistent financial sources, bring myself to this take that bus ride and savor the camaraderie and joy of peole who I have come to love as I grow up.

It was very difficult for me.

Here I am,  getting all social with my Twitter and Facebook, and continually posting on my WordPress and Google+, and it has come to my attention that, for all  the reality of poverty, I seem to give off a seemingly well-off character trolling the interwebs constantly. Mainly because I choose to speak in English, with my writing and my so-called social presence online. The music I listen to, the videos I am often fond of posting on my timelines, gives off some sort of content and comfort one sees with the millions of people trying to look larger than life with their selfies and OOTD’s and foodie post. Though I am not prone to doing all these, sadly, I see the analogs.

Whenever I post a finished inked drawing, likes and exclamations of appreciation, to other people look like I have made it. Which is far, really far from the truth. For several months now, I have survived from dole outs and charity from friends. My family is better off within the warmth of the countryside and the people supporting them. I was abandoned by other people, too, though I couldn’t blame them for doing so. Sometimes, in the deep of the night when I feel I deserve something better, my thoughts turn to negative, with anger and rage at the people whom I fairly given my talent and skill and loyalty, only to be treated like rag, too dirty and worn to be of any use. They could be right you, know, in their twisted version of altruism.They have their reasons. But sometimes it rasps like P1330221sandpaper in my soul. But to dwell on it would be courting disaster so I am moving along.

I didn’t care to weigh myself, but I seem to be just a few pounds short of 80. I know I used to be a heavy 120++ and my clothes seem to hang like laundry on hangers.

I got a rousing compliment about my newfound drawing skills with pen,ink and brush.

My  rented room is just a few notches from being too unwholesome and downright  trashy, probably the best description is the setting for “Scorpio Nights”, but without the sex, just the weathered, broken down dwelling.

And the cat smells.

But online, some find it humorous that I comment on my cat housemates as if, it’s a regular thing, and not at all annoying.

So this invitation, try as I might, may not push through, and did not actually, because I have not the the means to do so. I declined without getting into the full details of my absence. If I tell people I only eat two meals a day, they would laugh and dismiss it as just one of my witty quips.

Which is true. The two meals a day, I mean. Most of the time, the only food I get in my system is accompanied by brandy  provided by my Mayor Street Preacher friends here in Makati, one of the few saving graces handed to me: a brother’s unflinching love, a best friend’s undying loyalty, a couple of friends who have gone out of their way to give me something more than what I asked. But there is one other saving grace that wants no part of me whatsoever and just up and went. I suffer in silence. I have never been ungrateful, but some peole tend to be impatient with the returns, given my circumstances. To hear them talk would sound like they don’t care. But they do.

People may talk of not caring what others think, but they do care about what peole think.

But things are looking up.

My gig with Mike is now on for 8 more weeks, with a new show requiring comics/drawing as the show intro in the offing, my komiks portrait seem to be gathering enough interest for people to actually ask about it, hopefully more want theirs too, and my own stories are getting fuller everyday – drawing and adding new aspects of the story by writing a bit more each day – has made me more determined to see this through. Very much like an MMA fighter who is losing with every round, but resolved to finish the whole bout.

For respect.

Now, a new invitation, this time from a bunch of hooligans I went out with, got mugged with, got stoned-faced drunk with in my youth and early adul life is calling. Do I make myself available?

Damn well, I will.

Solitude is something I have learned to live with since my childhood. But sometimes being with friends does wonders to my being. I could get some hard facts slapped in my face, the guys would probably berate me for being too scarce these years, and I may get a lot of flak from stories I haven’t told, but dammit, I miss mingling with real people, not some online community.

So come the 23rd of July, I will be taking the trip back to my hometown…

And I will enjoy myself.

Postscript on Father’s Day

I could be coming home to a home with my daughters scrambling for a hug or a kiss, or my wife smiling with promises of a delicious dinner waiting at the table. It’s what fathers, stereotyped providers that we are, were led to believe, the whole happy family trip our teachers and catechist seem to have hammered into our innocent minds back then – the unmoving, immovable, strong pillar that keeps the house standing through fire and rain. Well, maybe not fire, but rain, flood and storms.

The rock.

The superhero.

Instead, I open the door into my third floor apartment, what nowadays get categorized as studio-type, dark, with a hint of stale cigarette smoke, leftover clothes from the weekend washing that didn’t make it to the estimated time and detergent considerations, and here I am, 400 kilometers from my wife and daughters, renting space, no one to welcome me home but a small mouse stealing bits and morsels from my trash bin.

The things we endure to make a living.

Postscript on Father's Day

Most of the time I spent thinking is when I come back to this matchbox of mine, after I put the water to boil, and linger by the kitchen sink while I read the days text messages on my mobile phone. But I had to smile, from the greetings my three angels sent, greeting me Happy Father’s Day last Sunday.

I am a father.

But how can that be? How can I be a father to my daughters if  my works keeps me in the city, and they are growing, fast and furious, beautiful and intelligent, while I’m away. How can I be a husband  when I don’t get to kiss them goodnight? Is that what a father has come to? Earning barely enough to pay for the bills, for new shoes, school supplies, food on the table. This is very much like going abroad and just work till my back breaks so I can send some home.

Is this what a father is supposed to be?

I never knew my father. That is, literally I don’t know him. Oh. I know his name and how my mother and father met, and why I have this music bug ringing in my ear. But that is all. I often look at his portrait when I was young, a tall, handsome man in starched white uniform, holding a trombone. I may even imagined him as Rogelio Dela Rosa, suave in his slick, swept back hair with a cowlick neatly dangling on his forehead, carving and shaping wooden blocks into jumping horses and “last suppers”, madonna and child, football figures and trophies. I secretly thought, well maybe my dad is that good-looking, maybe also had girls swooning, you know, stuff you thought up as a teenager.

Mythos. Stories. Maybe even fiction.

But my father died of  liver cirrhosis when I was two years old, hence what I know about him is really just third hand information, from my brothers, from my mother, from relatives. I have never seen him in the full light of day. Never spent some time playing around with the trombone. We have never had an argument. He never had the chance of hitting me low on the gut If I ever did something that might have roused his anger. I will never know how he would have handled any of the bad things I’ve done, the triumph of having been to the  provincial meet at Quiz Bee, or maybe we could have shared a beer or two for some man to man talk.

I’m chasing a ghost.

I do not, for the life of me, know what or how it is to be a father. I do not know my father.

No behavioral pattern to follow. No discipline measures to emulate. Nothing to copy.

Sipping my coffee, I often wondered what could be if my Ama and Ina were still alive today. I could use  some thoughts on raising a family. Not that I’m bungling all the time, but sure could use some  info. Of course, I could be entirely off the mark. An uncle once hinted that he knew my father to be short of temper. Maybe that liver gave out because, well, usually it was from too much alcohol.

Too many maybes. Too many nevers. A whole lot of  guessing.

And as I try to relax a bit and sit in front of my laptop, I’m still guessing at what to do next. Draw some more? Maybe. Write? Guess so.  Will it rain hard tomorrow? Hope the kids get to school dry and on time. Will I find some quick solution to this financial rut I’m in? I hope so.

But then again, when I feel a bit unnerved by what’s happening, there’s this vestigial hand that often slaps me sober and asks –

‘What would Father do?”

Transplantation

This has been running in my mind for quite sometime now.

Trying to keep my feet firmly on the ground, my mind is running amok with thoughts of  keeping my current employment and passion more  competitive, living alone in the city, with occasional welcome intrusions from a brother whose pursuits has turned to networking and his  DeMolay standing, a very beautiful niece whom I fondly see a bright future despite her stopping school for the moment, and maintaining our small farm in Bicol, where my family has been living for 10 years now, give or take a few.

Thinking deep, I do not really want to end up whining about upper class problems, just living within my means is enough. Given the experiences of being up there with the in crowd, I know I will always be an outsider, Heavy Metal in a world of Pop, in a society where being IN is so much the requisite for every Social Climber bent on having his 15 minutes of  infamy, and a lot of social media overreaction.

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