an ode to the voyager who broke my heart three years ago.
(a repost of a published essay three years back)
every morning when I was about seven or eight years old, my parents would take us all to rizal boulevard for early morning walks.
as they would briskly walk along the endless stretch of cemented pavement, my siblings and I would try, with little success, to keep up with their pace while pointing out the differences of those who also take refuge in the boulevard’s allure – we would see old people who barely move an inch every time they walk, athletes with earphones who breeze past everyone else, dog-walkers who are wary of those who are afraid of dogs, and lovers who seem oblivious to everyone else around them.
back then, this was the early morning ritual which jumpstarted the day and, young as I was, I did not complain each time my father had to shrug us off from slumber and make us prepare for our early morning itinerary. i remember that as a young boy, I was enthralled and totally captivated by the beauty of the first few streaks of light of the breaking sunrise and the cool gusts of wind which greeted us each time.
the rizal boulevard beckoned everyone to momentarily escape from the trappings of a stress-filled day and bask in the soothing monotony of rural living. the chilling morning breeze, which permeated with the raw scent of early morning dew, was always relaxing to my senses, making me face the new day with much zest and optimism.
when I had my first girlfriend in high school, I remember that the boulevard was the first place that we went to for our first date. no matter how young we were during that time, we were convinced that what we had was for keeps – that no matter how cheesy or cliché, we would inevitably spend the rest of our lives together.
the boulevard then, provided for the most picturesque setting to a love story that was slowly unfolding. I remember the golden silhouette of dusk hovering over our heads while we talked about how our life together would be. she would be a doctor and I would be a lawyer in paris or new zealand perhaps and, back then, we sincerely believed that this was our absolute destiny. perhaps it was the unraveling of newfound emotion which led us to believe in the folly of a perfect relationship, or probably, it was the boulevard’s touch which made us hopeless romantics and believe that our love would transcend the physical plane – that what we had was ethereal and, more than that, magical.
it did not, however, take a long time for me to realize that we were just blinded by the rawness of our emotions. we were broken, as sooner or later we would have been, to the simplistic truth that the ideal partner does not exist. after successive bouts of petty quarreling and endless disputes over the most trivial things, we finally decided to end our relationship.
fresh from the bitter pangs of my first heart break, I invited my close friends to a drinking spree in the boulevard. save for the momentary euphoria of alcohol intoxication, the boulevard then, was cold and lifeless for me. it conformed to my cluttered state of mind, and the dizzying sodium lights only exacerbated the dreadful feeling of desperation that brewed inside me.
the solace of our young dreams and unadulterated love was also where I learned that life and love are never constant – and that we are oftentimes broken rather than complete.
just november of last year, the boulevard was where I spent most of my pensive moments with only my thoughts and a couple of marlboro lights. much has happened since that fateful night of heavy drinking when a group of young boys foolishly believed that tanduay 65 was a comforting respite from the onslaught of solitary pain.
this time, i had been broken to the world and to the reality that life is what you make of it.
as I basked in the poetic allure of the last few traces of light giving in to darkness, I was contemplating on what I had done with my life: i had squandered three years of it in a university which taught me that although academic and personal freedom are essential, too much of the latter can actually make you lose your focus and direction in life.
the boulevard was my place of consolation when I felt that my life had lost all semblance of meaning; it was where I chose to collect the fragments of my broken self and consolidate my resolve to start anew; it was where I realized that change is never too late, and that yes, failures exist to solidify our perception of how our lives ought to be.
the boulevard for me, as with everyone else who grew up in this city, has been a constant source of comfort. people come here to take a breather from the intricacies of everyday living, they celebrate happy occasions with family members and friends, and at times, it is where love stories unfold.
but more than anything else, it taught me that although life is a constant struggle, the turbulence is never permanent – that although we occasionally succumb to the complexities of living, it merely serves to redefine our perspectives and make us see the grander scheme of things.
that although life and love are besieged with constant torment, we can, through our own ways, make ourselves complete – because life, as with everything else, goes on.