I made this poem last 2012- back when I felt that I really had to let go of a delusional one sided affair. Now I’m bringing this out from my closet. It’s more like a self reminder now than a resolution.
I could never be your cat.
I once thought that I could be one. That I could replace those Persians that you lost when you were young. Or even those Siameses that you prefer now. But I realize that I can’t. I’m not a cat.
I can’t purr like your cats used to do. Nor can I claw you off with my perfectly filed sharpies. Heck, I don’t even want to do that to you. But a part of me longs to stretch at your lap and cuddle in your arms. A part of me longs to be stroked with your fingers and to be called yours.
A part of me longs for your attention.
And as much as I would try and wear felted cat ears, I know that I’m no match with the real deal. I know that I’m just fooling myself- imitating something impossible for me to grasp; cosplaying someone impossible for me to become.
I could never be she- you know, your cat- who sleeps at the corner of your room. That side where you adorn her with all kinds of toys and plushies. You know that I get awful excited when I’m in your room. And that I can never be your cat who nonchalantly goes to her little pedestal as you croon while watching her lick her shiny fur.
You know that I’m the type who runs straight to your bed and claims half of it as mine. And for that reason, you ousted me out of your apartment.
I’m not holding a grudge though. I know my place. I know that your cat is more important than I am. You feed her Friskies while I’m content with your leftovers. I also know that I’m not the trophy pet that you brag to your colleagues. That I’m nothing more than an insurance- a security. A default when sometimes your cat is cranky and is peeing at your underwear.
I’m not holding these things against you, boss. But please do remember that I was the one who waited for you during those off hours when you beer ponged. I was the one who covered up for all your nasty stuff and I even came to your defense when the neighbors told you how much of a jerk you were.
All I’m asking in return is not to compare me with your cat.
Not because we are genetically different- heck, you should know that by now- but because we are two distinct entities sharing your space of a heart. Though I know that in that aspect I’m your literal underdog, it hurts when you lash at me asking, “Why can’t you be like her?”
I can’t be like her because I am not her.
And I need to reiterate this for so many times because the question pops out even without you asking.
Not only for your sake but for mine as well.
Notes: The reason why I discovered this poem is because my all-time bias, Tom Hiddleston, has posted this in his official facebook fanpage. Of course, coming from no other than Hiddles, I made a quick right-click and selected ‘Save.’ Little did I know how this poem would carve out a niche in my heart.
I don’t know about you, but there are times that I just hate myself for being pathetic. I mean, I know I’m not perfect but I also know I have both good and bad qualities that make me an interesting person. There are just times, though, that I feel so inadequate…so inferior compared to those “true blue beauties” that I know and meet on a regular basis.
I’ve been doing a lot of self analysis on as to why I feel that way and I found out that the answer is really simple: I always think that I’m just the second best. I know because I’ve been hearing this a lot from the people around me: “She’s kinda pretty but she’s fat.”, “She’s nice but (insert friend’s name here) looks more appealing.”, “She’s smart but she’s the only one in her peers who doesn’t have a boyfriend.” and all other things. For years, I grew in an environment where who I am right now is not enough- I have to be something more. I have to be better, to be prettier, to be more charming, to be slimmer…there are tons of things I should be. And it’s frustrating.
Of course, I’m not placing all the blame on the society I am in. I’m chiding at myself too, because instead of confirming my own self-worth FIRST, I’m trying to seek the affirmation of everyone else just to ensure that my identity has a considerable value in wherever I’m in. What’s even more stupid is that as I try to get their affirmation, I lose and drive myself away in the process- I grow up hating the current version and dreaming of a better one in the future: sexier bod, more charming disposition, a higher social status, a boyfriend…the list grows endless.
I am not saying that it’s wrong to dream. There’s nothing wrong about self improvement. What I’m pointing out is just wrong with me is that I’m dreaming because I’m angry and discontented with what I have…with who I am right now. I am trying so hard to become the person that I want to be that I fail to accept myself for who I am right now.
Where does Derek Walcott’s poem fall in this?
“Love After Love” tells that wholeness only comes when I will look back and see that, hey, I wasn’t inadequate after all. I was already made complete. And so do I am right now. I don’t need to use references- those love letters from the bookshelves, the photographs and the images of models posted on my mirror. I don’t need to try so hard to earn their love. Instead, I just have to feast on my life, on my own image that God has given me, and everything will close to a full circle.
Adequacy comes when I’ve forgiven the mistakes I did in the past and when I’ve loved my past self- all its glory and all its flaws. Who I am right now is not a failure neither who I was years back.
Ito ang turo sa akin:
Dalawang dimensyong mag-asawa;
Pag nakuha na ang isa,
Ay susunod na rin daw ang pangalawa.
Sa bawat pagbuka ng aking mga hita,
Nagtatago ang aking diwa
Sa isang bukod at kakaibang langit.
Doon, ako’y iisa.
Malayo sa halik ng katawang umaangkin sa akin.
Malaya sa pag-ibig ng kaluluwang ipinipilit ang sarili sa akin.
Ito ang nakikita ko sa iyong mga mata
Sa tuwing sinasabog mo ang iyong tamod
Sa aking laman.
Ako ay sa iyo, kaya mahal mo ako.
Ako ay sa iyo, kaya kinikilala mo ako.
Ang pinapaalala ng aking isip
Sa pagpasok ko
sa isa nanamang madilim na idlip.
Kalahati lamang ang nasa iyo.
Kalahati lamang ang kilala mo.
Never seek me inside secluded coffee shops. It’s a place where I cry my heart out.
Just wait for me outside with an umbrella at hand. It might still be raining.
Look for me around bookstores and libraries- the attendants already know me by name but you’ll only find me if you know me by my favorite titles.
Just in case I’m not there, a short text would cover the distance between you and me.
Send me quotes of your favorite paragraphs. I’ll reply with poems where the verses serve as little landmarks of where I’ve been.
It’s one of the reasons why I always complete the letters in my SMS. I don’t do so often with my sentences.
You see, sentences are like the gaps in between my fingers. It’s there for you to fill them.
Remember that I’m not into postscripts. But when I do, know that they are more important than the actual body of my text.
Don’t panic when I don’t answer my messages. Attempt to call.
Because sometimes, my body is just too slow to pace with my feelings; but oftentimes, I’m just plain broke.
Don’t be self-assured though. There are times when I decide not to answer your calls. If that happens, just put your phone on stand-by. Remember that I’m no Superwoman. But I’ll return in good time.
While I’m away, don’t use my profile picture as your cellphone’s wallpaper. Don’t even print it as a poster to wallpaper that gaping hole in your room. You’re only shortchanging yourself for the real deal.
It’s better that I vanish into thin air than leave you a concrete memento of my existence. For when I do, you know that I’m not coming back- I’m already off to somewhere more magical. Follow my scent like how you tell me to follow my heart. We’ll see each other again.
And when you finally find me, don’t double-check by trying to fit into me those glass slippers. I’ve thrown them away for a good reason.
Know that the real me is always barefooted.
Open the car door for me even if my feet are muddied. For I am not made of steel and concrete.
Actually, there are more places that we can go to without that fast car of yours.
You can take me to the seaside, for example, and we can build and repair sandcastles for us to live in. It wouldn’t last long though. But it will be enough for what a moment requires.
During that time, I’d let you buy for me presents- NOT from luxury stores but from animal charities.
For like stray cats and street dogs, we have both been bruised and battered. And once upon a time we also dared to dream for a place we would like to call home.
I’d name the pets after our forgotten childhood nicknames- an attempt to redeem the things we have lost back then.
And when they die- for we will surely outlive them- send me paper cranes folded from old newspapers, reminding me that I’m still dreaming in this present reality.