Today, I Turn Twenty-four

My Symphonies: Home / Day Wave

Wasting Time / Day Wave

Semi-rocking the guybun in 2016 (*Not a recent photo, thank god!).

So today, I turn twenty-four. 

I remember typing out almost the exact same words back in May 2013, when I wrote Today, I Turn Twenty. This time is different, though. When I turned 20, I felt a lot of uncertainty and discomfort towards aging. In fact, I used to be a self-proclaimed ageist. The mere thought of being a year older always made me feel nauseous and quite anxious. Every year, when I “celebrated” my birthday, I would always try to hide how upset I was with the fact that humans have to naturally age. I hated the concept of getting old.

But this year is different. For the first time, I actually feel very at peace with turning a year older. And not just that; I also feel very at peace with the fact that every year, everything and everyone else turns a year older. It is finally safe to say that I have come to terms with the way the world works – Things and people age; there’s nothing we can do about it.

I am writing today not just because it’s my birthday, but also because I want to acknowledge change. Change, who comes when it’s time for it to come. Change, who is the master of beauty and tragedy. Change, who is the initiator of bliss and chaos. And Change, who so effortlessly comes with aging.

When I think of my life from the beginning leading up to this point, I see it in chapters. And what’s great about chapters is that they tell us that apart from the end and the beginning of every book, there are tiny little ends and beginnings in between. And these little ends and little beginnings create something beautiful – something worth reading, worth telling and worth living. This has been my life:

The Childhood Years, when I first learned to take life one step at a time (literally); when I played in playgrounds and scratched my knee like every kid did; when I looked at grown-ups around me and wondered if I, one day, was also gonna be as big and as complex and as successful as they were; when life was a never-ending cycle of naps, tantrums, school, lunch boxes and Cartoon Network…

The High School Years, when I tackled so many things for the first time without much knowledge about life and the world I lived in; when I fell in love for the first time, got my heart broken for the first time, failed an exam for the first time, topped the class in something for the first time, made great friends and mortal enemies for the first time, and played in the field of teenage angst, romance, betrayal and overall drama for the first time; The High School Years was that one chapter that gave the first definite shape of my personality…

The University of the Philippines Years, which gets a special chapter due to the silent but steady impact it had on me. This chapter was when I learned that I can handle change (a major change) for the first time. I learned that simplicity doesn’t have to mean boring, and that modesty doesn’t have to mean defeat. I learned to take matters into my own hands, stand up for myself and carry on through the tough days without having to cry for help. This chapter was when I started to really genuinely appreciate sunsets, deep meaningful conversations and the importance of getting to know people outside of my shiny little bubble…

The Great Move, the chapter that tells of my move to Canada with my family. This, more than anything by far, has been the greatest teacher. This chapter was when I found myself in a world so different from where I grew up in. I learned so many things about other cultures especially when I was in Vancouver Film School. I learned so much about the sad realities of life, and how we all have a choice to bounce back from them. This was the chapter when I went through depression triggered by an unrequited love, and later on realized it was all just a lack of love for myself. I would say that without this chapter, I wouldn’t have been able to handle the next…

The Dark Ages, was a chapter that started out so magnificent, and so daring, and so adventure-filled and exciting. But I give it its chapter title due to the overall draining energy that surrounded it from the beginning, and more so towards the end. I fell in love with a guy that was ready to give me the world, but wasn’t ready to love me for who I am. I experienced physical abuse, verbal violence and worst of all, emotional manipulation. I learned that love isn’t enough – a relationship has to have friendship, compromises, acceptance and most importantly, respect. I learned that I am resilient, and that no matter what life was gonna throw my way after this chapter, I can absolutely handle it…

The Renaissance, cheesy, I know, but whoever said “There is light at the end of the tunnel” is hands down a genius. It’s true! Now I find myself in a place happier and brighter than anywhere I have ever been. I can definitely say that I am right where I am supposed to be in life right now, feeling exactly what I am supposed to be feeling at the moment, and being with the people whom I am most precisely supposed to be with at this chapter in my life. I am grateful for the genuine love I’ve found, blissful for the friends and family I have been blessed with, and ecstatic to take on the coming months and years of this journey called life…

I look at where I am today, and I realize that I should be happy about turning a year older. Turning a year older means I am still alive right now. I can still do whatever I want to do with my life, and go places, see new things, meet new people. Turning a year older means I have survived all the years before this; that I have embraced change time and time again, and that I have triumphed over obstacles and challenges that went my way.

Chapters. That word is subtly synonymous to “hope”, to “life”, to “change”. And today, I would like to celebrate turning a year older by thanking everyone in my life (literally EVERYONE, including those who are no longer a part of it in the present) for making me who and what I am today.

Because, girl, I’m slaying. ❤ ❤ ❤

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5 Reasons Why I Do Not Believe In #RelationshipGoals

My Symphony: Despicable Dogs (Washed Out Remix) / Small Black 

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It’s 2016. Now more than ever, our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds are filled with lots and lots of memes ranging from a trivial Leonardo DiCaprio non-Oscar win to the weekly “It’s Monday” comics featuring faces of grumpy cats and less-than-excited beavers who allegedly dread coming back to school/work after a weekend of drunk dancing at the club.

Another thing that has made its way to the social media stardom recently is the hashtag “relationshipgoals” or, as people are typically visually familiar with, #relationshipgoals . And while having goals in life is undeniably essential and even attractive to a degree, relationship goals are a completely different story. In fact, these relationship goals of yours may be the very reason you are still internally unhappy (regardless of your relationship status). I personally think that relationship goals are exponentially nonsensical and downright useless. Here’s why:

Reason #1: A relationship is an experience to partake, not a job to get hired for. 

Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way: at the end of the day, a relationship isn’t exactly something that makes for a palpable goal. It’s not like a job interview that you can train for, prepare for and eventually ace. Relationships are foremost experiences, and they are on-going. You don’t just dream of a holiday in Maldives with your Special Someone and call that your goal. Because that would just be totally short-lived and sad.

What about after your Maldives vacation? What happens next? Does your goal end there? Will you then be super contented with your white sand beach getaway and go, “Wow, my hashtag goals just happened. I knew Dylan’s the right one for me, I just knew it!”?

Being with someone is more than just the vacations you take. There is a fine line between having an actual relationship and having a mere summer fling. So if you feel that crippling sensation of discontentment in your body each time you scroll down Instagram and see the strangers you follow post their 29th photo in Bora Bora, then you should probably reassess the label you and your partner wear around your necks.

relationshipgoals dreams

Reason #2: Your #RelationshipGoals are giving you anxiety, and you don’t even know it. 

Maybe you are already committed to someone at the moment, or maybe you have been single af your whole life. Either way, each time you share that photo of “The Cutest Couple To Ever Walk On Earth”, you are unconsciously allowing yourself to succumb into a severe case of insecurity-induced anxiety.

I’m not here to throw shade at you for admiring other couples out there, but I am here to remind you of your worth. So listen, here’s the thing: so what if you and your lover are not master chefs who go to the gym eight days a week and eat salad instead of popcorn when binge watching Netflix? So what if the man you love doesn’t have six-pack abs or if the lady you are with doesn’t skip bonding with her friends to play DOTA 2 with you? You need to remember that everyone’s different, and there should not be one exclusive model of what a relationship should look like.

It shouldn’t look like anything! Hell, it can even be faceless. Learn to focus more on what it feels like for you, rather than what it should look like for you…

Reason #3: Such goals take you away from the present moment and put you in a pretend place. 

You are with who you are with right now for a reason. You fell in love with that person because that one fateful night (or day), you looked into his eyes and felt like you could get lost in them. You were there, in the present moment, as he held your hand in the cab on your way to grab dessert at your favorite local bakery. You felt every centimeter of his lips as you kissed him goodnight. And then you both broke away from the kiss, stared into each other’s souls, and smiled. And it was magical. You wanna know why it was magical?

Because it was real. And you were both there, right as everything was unfolding. You were the players in your own love story, not mere spectators or some highly-sarcastic romance novel critics.

I don’t know if you’ve already noticed, but relationships are only made possible when two people are present. The minute either one of you goes off into some daydream that highlights a perfect world for yet another perfect love, that’s when your relationship gets taken for granted. You are not obliged to be like other couples. You are not supposed to be where they’ve been, to see what they’ve seen or to hear what they’ve heard. None of us is sitting in our sturdy futons rooting for you and your hubby to look just like Brangelina.

You are who you are. Your relationship is what it is. And you should be very proud of that, because you are writing your own story.

Come back into your own reality ASAP. You belong nowhere else but there. For you and for your lover, it is the only place where magic can happen.

couple travel

Reason #4: RelationshipGoals photos/videos/articles are aggressively deceiving. 

Nothing screams “LIES!” louder than #RelationshipGoals posts all over social media. I’m not saying that these posts aren’t real or didn’t actually happen in real life. What I’m saying here is that these posts do not determine how real or successful anyone’s relationship is.

We have to remember that these posts feature the highlights of other people’s lives. What’s sad is that there are lots of people who see these highlights and compare them to their regular day-to-day living. When you do this, you are basically comparing someone else’s annual 2-week vacation to your normal Monday morning at the office. Of course you’re gonna be jealous and of course you’re gonna wanna do what they are doing in those photos and videos! Because I mean, who loves Mondays, really? Nobody. 

You have to remind yourself that you, too, have your own highlight reel. You do have your weekends and you do have your annual 2-week paid leave. You will have weddings to attend, high school reunions to be a part of and concerts to watch, eventually. Needless to say, NOBODY (and I mean nobody) sips on Grey Goose cocktails in a private jet plane on the way to Cancun every single fucking day of his or her life.

Ponder that.

  1. The cocktails are eventually gonna run out.
  2. The person is probably gonna get shit-faced hammered by the end of the day if he doesn’t stop drinking the beverage.
  3. The trip is obviously gonna end as the jet plane reaches the destination (Cancun or whatever).
  4. And, most obviously, nobody in the history of mankind has ever reached Cancun via a private jet plane, and took the flight back to his origin right after, just so he could keep on posting photos and Snaps of him in the plane.

Bottomline: It doesn’t matter how awesome and rich someone is. NOBODY LIVES THE ENTIRETY OF LIFE VIA A HIGHLIGHT REEL.

Even the sun goes down when it’s time for it to go down (i.e., 5:30PM Philippine Time).

The relationship goals posts you see aren’t to be compared to your life. These are people either on vacation or a boredom-induced photoshoot with the help of VSCO filters. It ain’t got nothing to do with you or your love life.

Reason #5: By obsessing over your #RelationshipGoals, you are sabotaging your future with your partner 

It is already bad enough that we live in a society that enjoys constantly dictating how we should act, where we should live, and even what we should wear; now we’re voluntarily dictating our relationships how they should be?! It is pure madness.

I am not a relationship expert, nor am I a life specialist, but I do know this: when you truly love someone, you aren’t gonna need a guideline or an instruction book on how to do your relationship. When it’s real, things should just flow, naturally. Un-premeditated. Un-rehearsed. Unexpected. One of the things I dislike the most about these hashtag relationshipgoals is that they take away from young couples nowadays the spontaneity and the surprise factor that come with every relationship, with every human to human connection. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be in a relationship where I have no fucking clue how it’s gonna end up ten years later, or even how it’s gonna end up five minutes later. I think that it is important to experience the rawness of a genuine relationship. The candidness of every kiss. Those moments when you wake up right next to the person and see his face light up as he sees your face light up. Those moments when you see someone for what he truly is, without any filter, without any inhibitions. Just you and the person, in this crazy mad world that we all live in.

Life, Three Days Later

My Symphony: Ships In A Bottle by Butch Walker

The house

After an unbelievably stressful and gruesome travel, I have finally arrived in Bacolod – safe, but not entirely sound. Eek! I feel like a sore loser already for opening up this blog entry on a slightly negative note. But hey, I just said I’m safe, and that’s one positive thing! But I believe there are always two sides to every story, and this is me refusing to ignore either one. And having had spent at least 72 hours here in my hometown has been very eye-opening. It’s only Day 3, but there’s already a lot to take in.

Let me start with the most obvious one – my old house in Mansilingan, Bacolod City. The pictures above show an honest presentation of how the house looks like today. Six months ago, a bunch of money-hungry freaks (or as most people call them, “professional robbers”) stealthily managed their way into the house, wrecked the ceilings, took all the electrical wires, stole the water tank motors and ruthlessly ravaged several other properties from our washing machine down to our old photographs and my brother’s high school yearbook.

This afternoon was my first visit to that house after almost three years. It was supposed to be a very painful experience, but I have to admit I forced myself to not feel anything. If I were to give credit to where credit was due, I would really offer myself a good pat on the back for at least having the guts to walk into that house without anything but an aching, longing heart filled with story-heavy memories. I mean I could have cried like a fucking baby for all I know. I could have stood there inside my purple room, reminisced, and wept out loud. I could have watched the bitter reality sitting right in front of me and dreamt of ways to make it sweet again. But I didn’t. I didn’t because it’s too hard.

It’s hard to know that the very place I used to call home is now this abandoned concrete structure with remnants not just of bad memories, but of good ones! And that’s what’s so hard about it – that house, despite its being a witness to a couple of heartbreaks and momentary familial discord, had actually seen and heard more love, more laughter and more unity within and around it. And to see it look so old and so tired in spite of its young age is just heartbreaking.

So it’s not just hard; it is also heartbreaking.

It’s heartbreaking to remember the things that took place inside that orange house; those big and little moments that were all filled with a captivating magic. It’s heartbreaking to learn that the living room in which my brother Clayton and I spent hours and hours talking and playing with our cat is now empty and essentially covered with dust. It’s heartbreaking to look at my mom’s walk-in closet and no longer see the wide mirror which used to be always there. It’s heartbreaking to set my ears wide open and no longer hear the sound of home, but the sound of desperation, of this ten-year old place screaming for help.

And my room! Oh, my room.

It hurts to walk inside my room and see nothing but a violent darkness, because I know that that is where I technically grew up. That room was where I spent a lot of time being honest to myself. That room had seen me smile over texts from my crushes; it had seen me wrestle with History and Chemistry textbooks and with endless homework and projects; it had seen me fall in and out of love time after time, and it had seen me move on and start over. It had also seen me dance to Backstreet Boys songs and emotionally sing to Taking Back Sunday’s music and lyrics. It had seen me as I formed my alter egos inside my head, and it had seen me talk to myself – literally. Simply put, that room had seen the best and worst of me. And it hurts to come back to it and find that there is almost nothing left to come back to. I am now surrounded by the fact that indeed, nothing is as long-lasting as we’d like to believe it is.

Every living and non-living thing is constantly deteriorating. People grow old, things change. Nothing new or surprising.

I’m sure I will keep on coming back to our old house over the next two months. I’m sure that next time or the time after that, I will no longer be able to successfully block the feelings that I’m supposed to feel. I had lived in that house for ten years; I know that pain will become inevitable at one point. But I’m ready for that. I’m ready to feel pain for the nth time.

Then there’s this thing with the city itself, Bacolod. Being back here still feels surreal. I’ve only met three of my friends here so far, and I have to say I’m quite happy – happy to see them, happy to be with them, happy to feel like the high school version of myself again, to a degree. But there is this dizzy state of disbelief that’s somehow creeping in. I don’t know if it’s the jet lag or just the extreme and sudden change of weather, but the whole being back in Bacolod thing hasn’t sunk in yet. All I know is that this afternoon, at around 4PM while I was walking to my grandma’s house, I saw and felt something I’ve been wanting to see and feel again. It’s the sight of my neighbourhood’s narrow roads and the feeling of being free. And maybe this is just an illusion of mine, but it feels very real. Life isn’t always like this for most people, but I’m glad to say that for now, this is the way it is for me.

I’m liking this.

I like taking cold showers without feeling like I’m being murdered in the middle of Antarctica. I like walking around our neighbourhood in just board shorts, a tank top and an old pair of slippers. I like waking up to the sound of roosters and maya birds declaring that it’s morning. I like to hear the sound of loud public jeepneys and tricycles coming in and out of my silence spectrum. And I like the possibility that the home might still be around even though the house has turned to ruins.

Because maybe, just maybe, it’s true. Maybe home isn’t a place but a feeling. Maybe after all, home is never between the walls and the corners of a man-made structure, but within the confines of the heart.

Maybe it’s anywhere and everywhere in which you feel not necessarily sound, but safe.

I don’t really know. I guess I’m about to find out.

I’m Going Home

My Symphony: Home by Daughtry
I don’t regret this life I chose for me,
But these places and these faces are getting old…

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Maybe that’s the best part of going away for a vacation – coming home again. ― Madeleine L’Engle, Meet the Austins

This is it. In less than 24 hours, I’ll be on a plane back home. 

Damn. Typing that out just literally sent chills down my spine. There is something about the word “home” that is very powerful in a comforting way. And that’s what I am feeling right now – this almost indescribable feeling of danger and safety. It’s been a long time coming, and now here I am. My bags are all packed, and I am more than ready to go.

The weeks and the months that have led me to this moment hadn’t been smooth-sailing, though. There was a lot of stress, a lot of anxiety, a lot of reckless daydreaming and a lot of uphill battles with the people around me and with myself. But I have to say it was all worth it. We take every experience, big or small, and learn from it tremendously.

When I left the Philippines two and a half years ago, I left with one goal in mind: to find whatever it was that I was always looking for. Halfway through high school, I developed this irrepressible longing to leave – leave the city I’m in, leave the people I’m with, leave the life I live. My “past life” (for a lack of a better term) was byzantine, to say the least. I made a lot of mistakes, disappointed loved ones, broke my friends’ trust, caused a lot of emotional trouble and took for granted all the things and moments I now wish I could have back. And instead of facing the world and trying to repair the damaged, I decided to walk away and leave everything behind. And I did that because that’s what I had been wanting to do all along; I wanted to start over, strongly believing that there was another place out there for me which I could call home.

I was wrong. 

I think everybody should leave his or her hometown and go somewhere far at least once in his or her life. Not only is there a myriad of things and life lessons to learn Out There, Out There also makes you appreciate In Here, in a way no other place can. And to me, it’s been an exhilarating ride so far.

Everytime a friend or a family member asks me ,”So when are you visiting the Philippines?” or “Hey Kenn, are you going back here in Bacolod for a vacation soon?”, there’s always this part of me that cringes for some reason. It’s like my heart turns gray and my entire upper body shrinks, and all I want to do is run away screaming like a lunatic. I don’t know, I guess up until now I’ve never really accommodated “visiting the Philippines” as an acceptable oxymoron. Phrases like visit home and vacation in Bacolod sound disturbingly self-contradictory to me. So let us make one thing clear:

I’m not “going on a vacation”; I’m going home.

It’s as simple and as truthful and as accurate as that.

I look at Vancouver and the world that I’ve somehow built here for myself. I look at the bed I’ve been sleeping in for many months; I can see its edges and its weight take up a portion of the wooden floor. I look at our kitchen and then I look inside the refrigerator; I see a dozen eggs with one that’s broken, along with my brother’s sliced cheese which he always reminds us is expensive. I look at the living room; I look at the ceiling, my mom’s new carpet, the big red cushions and the television, which has started to look noticeably old despite its newness. I look inside my closet; I look at the big black bag in which I carefully stuffed all of my notes and physical memories from college. I look at my cat, Dunkley; I see him in the biggest and fattest he’s ever been; I see him groggily walk towards his favorite spot on one of our red-and-white dining chairs, and I see him yawn, stretch, stare devilishly into the air and lull himself back to sleep. And then I look at my pile of luggage sitting tall and proud in one corner of my room. For the first time in a long time, I feel like myself again.

This is why this chapter is very important to me. The farther I’ve been from home, the closer I’ve felt to it. And at these times when I often feel lost and unsure of who I’ve become, I find it crucial to go back to my roots and refresh things a little bit. The people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had here have all been climactic, and I can never be grateful enough for the opportunity to get to know life and the world around me from such a different perspective. But the time has come. For at least the next two months, I will be in my hometown, the small city of Bacolod. For at least the next two months, I will be breathing a familiar air under a familiar sky. For at least the next two months, I will be storing my clothes and my books in a room inside a house which my feet and my heart have known since I was little. And for at least the next two months, I will be not here, but there.

And there is waiting.

See you soon. 

15 Films That Made Me Who I am Today

Fifteen Films

“You are the movies you watch.” There is a lot of truth in this cliche. Although we are still the ones who make our own decisions, choose our own paths and live our own lives, the motion pictures we’ve looked at in our past greatly define who we are as individuals today. Which is why I decided to think about the fifteen films that profoundly impacted me in so many ways.

Now this isn’t the complete list, but most of these captured my heart at one point in my life and put me in another world where I had gotten to know myself on a soul level. These are the films that have similar themes and characters I feel a deep empathy with. The connection that I have with these films is much stronger than I would like to believe, and there is this strange yet beautiful comfort that comes with it.

So yes. In every move I make, every cup of coffee I drink on Sunday mornings, every discoloring strand of hair on my head, every joke I crack, every thought I think, every idea I get, in every breath and in every molecule present in every part of my body, there is a Richard, an Edward Bloom – an energy that causes me to venture the depths of excitement and fear, of stories that are larger than life. There is a John Keating, burning candles of passion and freedom, a Christopher McCandless wanting to break free from society and the community that only eats me up alive. In all of my stupid-impulsive decisions and in all of my seemingly idiotic attempts at escaping the so-called labyrinth, there is a George Zinavoy that screams of identity and honesty, loneliness and pain; there is a Ben Tyler managing a smirk, knowing that the best things in this life are not things, but people. Moments, nature, even death. There is a Keith Zetterstrom in me – depressed, sick and cynical. But capable of love; a lot of it. There is a Jack Twist in all of my love stories – the one who speaks the most, feels the most and sees the most, but also the one who’s gone the soonest.

There is every bit of story, every bit of character in me, that is palpable. I can see it, I can feel it… until such time I am it.

Such is the power of the fascinating art that is audiovisual storytelling.

Addressing Ares and Constantine

My Symphonies: Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It by Stars 
Open by Rhye

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“You smile and the world goes away.” –  Cliff, The Woolgatherer 

For those of you who do not know (which I guess is pretty much everybody), I have two imaginary friends. Well, they aren’t exactly my friends, but they’re more like my alter egos. And in line of my being a Gemini, I’ve always treated these two as twins, mainly because they look very alike in my head anyway. One is basically the evil twin, and the other one is the cherub. And as I went through all those processes of self-search and self-creation, I found that I am in fact the sum of both characters. It is almost like I am both Ares (the abrasive, vindictive twin) and Constantine (the gentle, more open twin), and as I keep on reading the two of them, it’s starting to sound like I am talking to myself – my full self; my conscious self. We are looking at two very dissimilar beings here. One, the dreamer who has chosen to make love to his imagination and fantasy, in what is non-existent, because he has lost faith in reality, and the other, the realist who acts tough but also knows in his guts that he is lonely and is also in need of love—a real one. However, in all their differences comes this one thing I am sure is common about the two of them: they’ve both been hurt big time. It’s just that one grew miserable and desperate and the other grew cold and bitter. I find it very interesting, how these two characters within me throw sentiments of love and grief at each other but at the same time conceal what it is that they both seem to really want. It is undeniable, the dramatic amount of intellectual tension and emotional desire between them throughout this entire existence so far. And today, I have decided to actually talk to the twins in my head in a form of a letter.

First, for my old friend Ares…

Dear Ares,

I dream. I know it’s probably quite bizarre. Kenn has dreams? Yes, I can feel the skepticism from you right there. But seriously, I do have dreams. I have always dreamed of actually being in university (specifically Yale), getting a degree in Literature, getting a job as a junior editor for a Lifestyle magazine right after graduation while working on my first novel, and then working my way up the social ladder, finally achieving my secret dream of becoming a best-selling author. You know, the “right path”, as they say. But everything turned out very differently now. None of those things were even close to happening on the first place. And so I guess it’s safe to say that those “dreams” have drastically turned into fantasies—the hardcore ones—the ones I know deep in my guts I will never ever get the chance to experience in reality. However, this hasn’t stopped me from dreaming once and for all. No, I haven’t achieved any of those things in the “right path”, but I don’t blame anybody for that. It was a choice—my choice. And so I continue to dream every time I travel for long hours across the country. As the sun’s warm rays hit the train’s glass windows every morning, and as the fresh breeze of air brush through my hair and into every corner of the vehicle’s interior, and as flocks of birds grace the skies in all their free glory as they disappear from my point of view, I begin to fantasize about having the most romantic dinner date of my life—the one I’ve been dreaming of since I started admiring people, which was probably when I was nine or ten. See, I dream of an epic moment on a yacht on a warm Saturday afternoon, just as the sun begins to set. And I have organized everything for this perfect moment to actually turn out perfect. There is a dinner table set for two, an ice sculpture that says “Kenn+whatever the lucky guy’s name is”, an acoustic local band I hired to play songs by Angus Stone, Radiohead and Edwin McCain, and a cute little kitten that wears a locket that contains a picture of me and ‘the lucky guy’ around its neck. And the only dominant colors are white and red, except for my suit, which is black, and except for the kitten which is beach blond, and except for the guy who plays the harmonica, who wears a beige sort of vest and a blue tie, and except for the sun, whose orangeness has touched the ocean’s innocent shade of gray and dark blue, as its rays caress the still water, creating an illusion of glittering, shining bubbles and sparkles which, after a moment, begin to appear like countless of golden floating lanterns spread generously all over the massive body of water upon which the yacht floats. And then there’s this familiar sound: the sound of Calvin Klein leather shoes nearing, and then a blurry image of a guy in a red-and-white suit appears. And then I look away for a second and a half to see the sunset at its most colourful, and then I look at the image again and it is now clear: the boy I love, in his most beautiful, and me, in my most romantic. The two of us sit beside each other, looking into the sea, as dinner is being prepared and as the band serenades us. I sit right next to him, with my hand on his knee, as we fall in love all over again.

See? I dream. And I know that I told you before that I don’t believe in commitment? Well, that hasn’t changed. I just said I dream of that perfect date, with someone I love. And it can last longer or it can end the very second after the band played Creep by Radiohead. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I love. And even if I lose, so what? It’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

And now, for the loving Constantine – the less of the two evils…

Dear Constantine,

You’ve always been there. Even on those times when I built walls around my heart, you were there. You chose to sit against those brick walls and patiently wait for them to crumble. You’ve just always wanted to be free, to just get everything over with so you can dance in the air like you dreamed of. But dear, what does being free mean? What does it really mean? I live in a world where there are limits, boundaries, rules. How can I ever be free? No matter how hipster-ass I try to be, there will always be that stinging gut feeling that I haven’t done everything I wanted to do in life. That something is lacking. And then I realize: it’s love. It’s the factor that’s lacking in all of my freedom-filled life. I think that love is what will set me free. And I know that I’ve been quite skeptical about the notion of true love, but that’s only because I’ve been hurt too! I’ve had my heart broken just like everybody else. I just can’t believe he wouldn’t stop bitching about how he could bleed to death if he got cut. Hell, I’ve been cut and I’m still living. Because I still have hope that someday, somehow, someone out there will find me. And we will find each other. And the moment we do, we won’t lose each other ever again. And we don’t have to possess each other. We just have to love. Freely. The way that you love birds, and his sweaters, and the way we love the sunset, and the long drive along the coast, and the way we love the sky, and the ocean, and the breeze of fresh air. And we don’t even have to be together forever. Forever doesn’t exist. But this moment does. This very second. And that’s what matters. A reason to trust in love again.

Hugs, kisses and axe kicks to you both,
From your master

Twelve Things I Need From You

My Symphonies: Heartbeats by José González | The Rock and the Tide by Joshua Radin

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1. I need you to have a traveler’s heart. I need you to have an affinity towards places you’ve never been to and characters you’ve only met for the first time. I need you to be a wondering wanderer like I am, so that we’re always asking, always searching and always finding. I need you to be my tour guide on this life escapade, and I need you to take me to a secret corner and tell me that we are lost, because I need to feel lost with you. You are my home away from home, and I need you to light that bonfire so that together we can stare into it and smile.

2. I need you to greatly appreciate ephemeral episodes of nature like the sunset, or the sound of thunder that breaks the nice silence we share just before saying goodnight, or the sight of a cumulus cloud moving ever so slightly to create a form of what looks to us like a giraffe with a neck that’s a little shorter than normal. I need you to be ecstatic about the idea of sneaking out of your house at 1AM to meet with me, and resting our heads on the windshield of my bestfriend’s car (you also need to know that I don’t drive, and I need you to know the many reasons why). And there, lying down, we will be gazing at the stars. No, we’re not going to be just staring at them; we will be watching them as if they were the venerable Greek gods, simply majestic, simply astounding. We will soon realize, for the millionth time, that the universe is this large, large place; we will be reminded that this oblate spheroid we call Earth dwells amidst many other planets, all suspended as lonely specks in a vast cosmic arena of an enveloping darkness. All of our problems will once again vanish just like that, because we both know that we are nothing but pawns in our galaxy’s game. We will come to see that this moment is all we have, and that this, too, is ephemeral. Just like the ray of sun that kisses my cheeks on a gloomy Autumn day. Just like that shooting star I saw in December of 2008. Just like the stretching of the skin just beside your lips when I crack my lousy jokes. But I need you to be okay with that. I need you to be okay with that. 

3. I need you to be an artist. Even the messiest, most chaotic thoughts and drawings shouldn’t bother you at all. I need you to be creatively passionate about a life without direction, a life of endless mistakes, sadness and anger. I need you to embrace the overall emotionality of our existence, the reality of the human condition and the yin and yang of being alive. I need you to be positive, yes. But I also need your pessimism. When happiness yawns at us, I need you to trust me enough to cry on my shoulder, or maybe even my chest. I need you to not be ashamed or guilty of your own pain and weaknesses. We will both be burned, wounded and trashed. But I need you to cooperate with me; I need us to laugh and cry at everything at the same time.

4. I need you to know that I am a cat person. I will probably insist on buying a British Shorthair and adopting two more kittens from the animal shelter. On days when you are drowning in your job workload, family crisis and financial stress, I will most likely bombard you with Youtube videos of tiger cubs, snuggling jaguars and sleeping lynxes. And I need you to patiently watch them until it hits you that the feline creatures are undeniably admirable. I don’t need you to be a cat person if you’re not, but I need you to look at me in the eyes and, without saying a word, admit that those videos have taken your mind off of your worries even just for a few minutes.

5. I need you to know when to lie and when to tell the truth. I need it to be clear to you that I know the cliche “We’re in a relationship; we tell each other everything”.  Well, it doesn’t work in real life and with real people. Honesty doesn’t always guarantee a healthy partnership. I need you to be warned that I might not react in a usual way when I find out you cheated on me. I need you to understand my familiarity with the complexity of human relationships. I personally think it’s never just black and white. Every lip-lock with a stranger, every decision to not text back, every shot of tequila, every shattered marriage in this world, has a very convoluted story behind it. So when the time comes that you tell me you kissed someone else and my initial reaction is “Oh, how was it?”, I need you to know that that’s the way you can tell I really like you.

6. I need you to understand that underneath this lively exterior, I am an introvert. Most of the time, I will rather drink cheap wine and eat really unhealthy microwavable ramen with you on a Friday night than go drunk-dancing in the club with semi-friends and acquaintances. I might blurt out some passive-aggressive sentiments regarding any subject here and there, and I might talk to you endlessly about a single little incident that bothers me. So I need you to be an extroverted soul. I need you to keep on showing me the world outside of my precious bubble and tell me that it’s going to be okay; that it’s perfectly fine to try and trust other people because even if it turns out badly, you will still be there for me.

7. I need you to be as obsessed with music as I am, if not more. I need you to love seeing live bands, even the ones that play on the streets asking for ‘donations’. We will be walking in the rain one monotonous Sunday night and begin hearing a gentle yet husky singing voice getting louder with every strum on his acoustic guitar as we slowly recognize the lyrics. “Back beat, the word was on the street/ That the fire in your heart is out/ I’m sure you’ve heard it all before/ But you never really had a doubt/ I don’t believe that anybody/ Feels the way I do about you now”. We will then head back to your apartment and immediately listen to the same song on your iPod, and I’ll need you to sit still on your bare mattress as I carefully plug the left earphone onto your left ear. And in that moment, when your left ear and my right ear are introspectively listening to that song, I need your heart to beat faster. Because mine will. It always will.

8. I need you to get used to hugs that are at least 70 seconds long each. And when I say 70 seconds, I really mean 70 seconds. I need for you to understand the power of a long, sincere embrace. Within those 70 seconds, I need you to tell me the things you never can using words, and show me the images you never can using photographs. I need for you to be completely open, like a fisherman’s view of the wide sea from his almost-stationary vessel. I need you to be a blank page right in the middle of a thick mystery book so I can scribble my love for you the way a kindergartner scribbles – liberally and colorfully.

9. I need you to read books, watch films, visit art galleries and slow dance to Radiohead songs because that’s what I am about. I need you to feel how much these things matter to me, and I need for them to eventually matter to you, too. I need you to be influenced  by me, and I need for me to be influenced by you.

10. I need you to be able to freely communicate with my unadulterated physicality. I need you to lay me down ever so delicately and feel the rush of air from my mouth on your neck as I whisper distorted sounds of devotion and satisfaction. I need you to have a fairly long hair so I can brush through it with my fingers when our lips meet. I need your breath to smell like a combination of cigarette smoke and diet Pepsi. And when I finally break from the kiss, I will only be about an inch away from you because I’ll still need you to recognize the heat coming from my lips. It is the same heat that brought me to where you were, and to where we are right now. And I need you to fill in that inch of distance with another kiss. But I need you to stop halfway an inch because I’ll meet you there.

11. I need you to be aware of my self-destructiveness and my existential crisis. I am one of those unlucky ones who were born to ask infinite questions about themselves and the world that they live in. You will find that I sometimes burst out crying mid-way down my coffee mug, but I need you to understand that it has nothing to do with you, me or us, but the simple fact of my morning coffee reminding me of life’s bitterness and atrocities. And I’m not saying that I’m blaming my coffee for my momentary melancholia. It’s in the sight of that mug with my peripheral view of the city skyscrapers; it’s in the sound of the dogs barking outside somehow blending with the sound of my heavy breathing; it’s in the texture of the dining table which reminds me of the sturdy desks when I was in college; it’s in the way that your actual presence and the mere idea of you collide. It is in those little occurrences that a breakfast sends me to tears. And I need you to pay close attention to that.

12. Most importantly, I need you to realize that I have waited a very long time for this; for you. And I need you to know that no, you don’t meet all of my needs. No, you’re not the one who hits eleven out of eleven from my list. And no, you’re not perfect. You probably don’t give a single shit about books, or sunsets, or cats, or my self-diagnosed mental illness, and maybe your life plan doesn’t really include going on long walks in the rain because you catch cold and fever very quickly, so maybe it’s safe to say that you are underqualified for a place in my heart. But come closer. I have something to tell you. Lean in. Yes, and a little bit more. Now let me tell you a secret: when I fall for you, I fall for you. And there’s nothing that you, me, or this stupid list can do about that. I love you, just because.

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