6:29 pm

Dear J,

Let me tell you a secret. I’m beginning to see cracks on my friendship with this place. And this could only mean one thing: my friendship with it is getting old.

Visible, invisible,
A fluctuating charm,

January 6, 2021. The night before my arrival at LB I reached Calamba around dusk after around five hours of travel. About two long hours of that trip was spent with my eyes wide open going back and forth between the driver’s steering wheel and the road ahead while he typed on his phone. Why I trusted the idiot with my life I do not know. If I have to guess, a year of being stuck at home desensitizes us. We forgive the driver’s little gamble with death because what is it compared to everything we’ve been through.

Since the earliest jeep to LB will not arrive until after three hours, I tried to get whatever sleep I could get at my girlfriend’s house.

An amber-colored amethyst
Inhabits it; your arm

In the morning, we rode the jeep, dropped off at Demarces, and walked toward Rosemary Street. A friend was staying on a compound owned by a retired UP employee named Edna. People, even those who seem as old as she was, called her Tita Ed.

Tita Ed owned almost everything you would see at Rosemary Street. She bought most of the real estate there, built several apartment complexes, and opened most of them for renting except her three-floored house.

I told her I’ll be renting one of her rooms for just a few days while I look for a more permanent place to stay in. She said she hopes I don’t look further and just stay with her.

Approaches, and
It opens and
It closes;

We would often see Tita Ed doing her rounds in the morning on her unassuming duster. Truth be told, she is poor. After only three days of talking to her, I already learned that all her money goes to her youngest son, who was about my age and almost died of cancer a few years ago. A few months after our conversation, he died of Covid.

You have meant
To catch it,
And it shrivels;

Those were days of strict lockdowns. I had to fake I was from inside the campus to get pass the guards. The trick was to wear nothing that would arouse suspicion (i.e., slippers, shorts, and shirts you would wear at home).

I would love to show you what the campus looked like at that time. You must have a better recollection of what it was before 2020 and, therefore, would make better comparisons. Perhaps you would say: Side walks that once quivered by the amount of feet walking were all silent and still and dorm windows that once sheened were invisible in the night.

You abandon
Your intent—

He was ready to gave me what he said was his lowest rate in his entire career in business: a mere 3k for a room. He showed me where the room was. It was on a three-floor building with not a single person currently occupying. I’ll let you hook into my internet, he said. Just add 1k.

Financially, it was a good deal. But c’mon. In a three-floor building by myself?

I left Pangasinan because of loneliness. I can’t have more of that here.

Seeing that Tita Ed’s deal was almost similar but that I would be surrounded by other occupants, I decided to stay with her for two months before finally finding the apartment I’ve been living in for almost three years now.

It opens, and it
Closes and you
Reach for it—

That first week, that first month, I met friends I first made online. I got invited to events and tried the many restaurants. This was saying hello to LB.

Next year would mark my third year here. I’m almost like a junior, which interestingly reminds me of being old.

The walks have been repetitive as well as the sights. Even if I pride myself of being constantly appreciative of the ordinary and the familiar, I cannot escape this human tendency to get used to place.

While writing this I had to stop because a woman asked for directions on how to get out of UP, something which I easily gave away.

This is another sign that this place has grown old in me. Therefore, the need to look for new reasons to stay.

The blue
Surrounding it
Grows cloudy, and
It floats away
From you.