This neighborhood is where you sliced me open with one endless conversation, right there on the rooftop where we could gaze at the Makati skyline outlined by bright yellow lights. You left me with a gaping wound that I let fester with every stoop conversation and covert sidewalk kiss, with every secret shared over cheap beers and chicken skewers, with loose change dropped into empty hands, and sly smiles, and wordless heavy glances that made me burn under my skin. On the fringes of this neighborhood we shared a small room and a small bed, and small cups of coffee sipped in between small puffs of smoke – small things barely filling the enormous silences we both knew the simplest way to fill but both of us were too cowardly to do so, even until the very end. We saved our sentiments for when they could easily be tucked away, a footnote, not a philosophy, there were more important matters we needed to focus on.
The small bar with the narrow passageways was where I closed the wound you gave me, where I purged myself of that infection with liquor and erstwhile flirtations, single-serve affairs so awkward and so brief, they reminded me of the sound of my own laughter – a comfort, even if it's directed towards myself. Wounds close and pain goes away, and places you once loved you can still love – our stoop, our sidewalk, our small room, our rooftop, our skyline – they’re all still there, though we no longer are.
But I guess I still am. I pass by these places often, while away hours there doing as we did, as I always have.
I no longer ache, but I will always remember.
Remembering is tedious and tiring for a scatter-brain like me, thoughts constantly in a tangle – I am always afraid I might forget. But here, in this neighborhood, remembering is knee-jerk, it’s natural. I look at the swell of unfamiliar people, and I can still make out your face.