The Heart Of Angst

by jenniferbalboa

 

 

 

 

 

“You remind me of myself when I was younger.” – mangjose

 

 

Might have gotten ‘younger’ wrong there. Mangjose could’ve said ‘a teenager’. It’s either of the two, though, I’m sure. It was said in the midst of the scent of a lit candle, a cool evening breeze blowing at the penthouse terrace where we were, Alvin in front of me, Suzeth at my right, and Mangjose at my left, with his right hand holding my left forearm. It was the last meeting of the council under the love cult.

 

When he was younger –

 

I distinctly remember wanting to wisecrack with something like, “But coach, I am even older than you, so if I remind you of your younger self, does that mean you think I’m actually retarded?” Delivered in just the right tone I knew I could’ve made him laugh. Or maybe he would have hit me on the back of my neck. Or maybe I could’ve just plainly pissed him off.

 

So it was good that I caught myself. I went quickly back to the moment – the scent, sight, sound, and feel of it. It was all too solemn. I wanted it to remain solemn. And despite the naughty pinch of doubt in the form of my aborted question, for the first time after quite a long while, I did not feel awkward to have the need to hide behind a wisecrack. I felt all warm and happy, in fact.

 

Perhaps I should not have any fear that my wisecracks have been rendered obsolete, and that the girl who rages through verse, whose anger was the sustenance of my youth, had deserted me as I turned mushy.

 

I know somehow I still have her in me. It was her wisecrack that I suppressed after all. And vengeful as she is, she had to make me wait for Mangjose, that stranger who showed me kindness, to disappear first before she let me let go of my tears.

 

That is how I combat her these days. She would not allow me to weep before my friends. So I have simply resolved to never again be her mouthpiece, as vengeance.

 

* * *

 

“I am not cool.” – sunswirlies

 

 

For at least four years now, I have been friends with Sunswirlies. She, along with Mangjose and a very few intimate others, have been my counsel, my lifeline during some really dark hours, and the transition that followed.

 

I am not sure though how I would have dealt with a Sunswirlies had I met her when I was in my teens. I might have resented her big time.

 

Of the little that I know about her teens, her college years in UP in particular, the following have made the strongest impression on me: she is a member of several orgs, she had quite a good number of friends, she had a few little bad habits, she had her share of romance, and she wasn’t angsty.

 

Meanwhile, I wasn’t a member of any org (not even the college paper despite the journ degree I was taking), I had one friend – my regular seatmate Maan, I didn’t even smoke (though I learned to drink in my last semester, when some of my classmates finally realized that the only way they could get me to socialize with them is through offering me alcohol – which led me to going to my last few classes drunk), I had no teen or college romance whatsoever, and I was the angstiest girl I knew.

 

And since I have always measured myself as uncool given those said circumstances, it would follow that I would have regarded Sunswirlies as ‘cool’.

 

Except perhaps for the fact that she wasn’t angsty. She might have done rebellious things, but not out of angst. These days she says that her angst then was that she had no angst, and that she simply was lonely. Inversely, if there was one thing that made me feel invincible then, it was that angst. I considered it a virtue. It was my one grip on being cool. It was what kept the bullies away. All the men away. I elected it to be my voice, believing that as my writing would save me, anger would be my co-redeemer.

 

Then sometime after college, I heard (of all people) Alanis Morissette say in her Jagged docu, “Anger, in my estimation, is a cowardly extension of sadness… It is a lot easier to be angry at someone than it is to tell them that you’re sad about something.”

 

Taking what she said, that would basically just classify me as lonely too. Despite my anger which I overrated, therefore, I still was definitely ‘uncool’. And not only that, I was cowardly too, as I refused to admit the sadness, and the being ‘uncool’.

 

By the way, Sunswirlies said that I am not cool bit just around two weeks ago, when we attended the rock book launch of one of her college friends in saGuijo. Apparently, she, her author/musician friend, and her fellow college mates have now become accomplished and recognized writers and editors. And Sunswirlies has that national prize almost every Filipino writer aspires for.

 

Ah, I could already hear her brushing that last one off, she always does, nothing cool about that, she’d say. What is definitely cool is through the good graces of her who let me tag along, and who could have been my enemy in my youth, I have finally met, spoke with, and now possess the autograph of Raymund, the voice behind Alkohol, my favorite Ehead.

 

* * *

 

“Pr0n actor.” – old and grumpy (on being asked what his dream job is)

 

 

How was I to know pr0n is porn?

 

Could he be thinking I’m an idiot?

 

Peon peon why peon?

 

Seven straight years of work, and no vacation?

 

How could he have lived in his grandfather’s store?

 

Where were his folks?

 

Why did he leave their city of golden friendships – home?

 

Is he alone?

 

Is he really grumpy? Is it a front?

 

Does he feel old?

 

Would he think me loony for blurting out all these questions?

 

Does he ever watch Hey Arnold!?

 

Because Helga G. Pataki, who, among others answered “her husband’s sex slave”, is wondering what happened to his leg. And who helped him take care of it, aside from the paid doctor and all the rest of the hospital peons, if he is all alone.

 

Could he be saying, “You idiot, how could I have been alone when somebody took my photos?”

 

Does it still hurt?

 

Hers doesn’t anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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