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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