“I am afraid things will never be better.” (de Santos, 2011)
That was me a year ago, or close enough. I was a rambling, shambling man seeking oblivion to stop the self doubts and worst-case scenarios playing through my mind despite the alcohol.
Alone, penniless, my family in a shambles. It was enough to drive a man to drink, if not drive drunk for not having a car. In a feeble attempt at risk taking, I volunteered to cover an event in Mindanao despite–precisely because of–the supposed risk. My standard reply to people saying it might be dangerous: “I have no wife, no kids.”
Only one person cried upon finding out I was flying to Maguindanao for the weekend, just enough to make me rethink my whole having nothing to live for drama. It was too late by then, though, the ticket had been booked and I was already packing. And besides, she didn’t ask me not to go (and I will love her forever for that). She did make me promise not to die though, and I will also love her forever for that.
Luckily, I lived through the trip to places the war had touched and that mobile communication had yet to. Things got a little hairy when we loitered in a village longer than we were supposed to and the lieutenant leading our escorts from the 6th Infantry Division got nervous. He offered to lead our convoy back to Cotabato City which we refused (probably unwisely). Things were so tense that I fell asleep, proving with finality that I was not made for soldiery.
The closest I was to death, ironically, was in the Cotabato City hotel room I shared with a veteran tabloid reporter. I had, again probably unwisely, wandered around the city as pompous people from the capital are wont to, and in a supreme act of Manila-centrism had pork barbecue from a sidewalk stall in a predominantly Muslim city. What I got, let’s call it Shariff Kabunsuan’s revenge, was a mouthful of bad pork and a night of weeping, puking, and pooping in the hotel bathroom.*
So many things have happened since then and not just in the field of food poisoning. I have switched jobs, joining the Yahoo! Southeast Asia news room as their newest reporter/producer/lackey after more than a year with Sun.Star.
The work has been difficult so far and I have been spending more time at the office (as opposed to virtually no time at all in previous reporter jobs) but I love it. I’m not sure they love me since I keep making rookie mistakes, but the job is kicking my ass less and less by the day.
Things are slightly better with my family. We’re still apart–my mother in Cebu, my sister in Laguna, my brother in a corporate position–but we’re closer now than we have been since my father died. We might even get through this.
Most relevant (to me): I am no longer alone. I am in love and am loved and it has been wonderful.It requires effort sometimes, being her boyfriend (mostly to be awesome enough to warrant said status), but I am amazed that love can be so easy.
Which is not to say we didn’t fight it. We were against the very idea of relationships from the start, they were too much trouble and the accompanying drama got in the way of other things like life. Looking back, the whole thing could have been the set up for a romantic comedy.
A former editor and present creditor remarked while we were having drinks and a side order of shoptalk: “You look happy. It must be the Petra Magno effect.” And that is true, and he would know, being a reliable drinking buddy since Day 2 of my breakup (Day 1 was spent playing badminton). I’m happy and, for someone who has a permanent furrow on his brow from worry, this is huge.
I don’t even drink as much and, for someone who follows a tumblog that glorifies drinking, this is huge.
I like quoting (and channeling) Jim Morrison saying “I don’t know what’s gonna happen, man. But I’m gonna get my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames (All right! All right!)” but not anymore. This time, I do care what happens, and if things go as I hope, it will not involve anything going up in flames.
*I could also have gotten kidnapped, so I still came out ahead. Though down by a few pounds.