It was eleven o’clock in the evening, my drinking buddies had just left and I was finishing my cigarette as I was about to go home. After a talk with my ex, I was more than eager to get home and go to bed, but I had the greatest urge to walk. You know how, in the movies, when the protagonist prefers to walk after an emotional scene, well that was what I felt at the moment. Walking is always my best way to relieve tension, plus it’s also a great form of exercise. I headed on out to Lopez Avenue, the long dark stretch of road which connected UP Los Baños to the rest of the world. I think it ran about a kilometer, maybe two, but it was a cold night, perfect for a long walk under the moon.
The walk was uneventful enough for the first few meters, and my mind began to wander to the events that had just passed. I still smelled her perfume, I think it was baby cologne. Then I saw three men approaching me. I steadily grasped my umbrella. They seemed to loom over me—this must have been the after effect of alcohol—and I kept moving toward them. Under the lamppost, I saw their faces, they reeked of alcohol and one guy came up to me and asked me for directions with a smile. At that moment I thought that they would stick a knife in my face and rob me of the P10-bill stuffed in my wallet. I looked up and I could see the moon, it was full, maybe a premonition of things to come.
My feet weren’t aching. A surprise. They usually ached after a few moments of walking. I actually seemed to be enjoying myself. Then I got to a dark stretch of road, it was the Lopez elementary school, an infamous haven for drug addicts. I imagined somebody coming out of the dark, from the undergrowth and probably he’d have bloodshot eyes and after that I would be rid of the pain that I was feeling. But nobody came out, maybe at that time I was still thinking of her. “You should go on with your life, I have,” I remember her saying just minutes ago. It was just then that I realized I was alone, there wasn’t a person or car in sight. Baby cologne and beer, they made my head spin, as I saw another person hunched down, farther ahead.
I knew this man. Even if I hadn’t seen his face, I had the feeling that I knew him. I heard his voice, he was alone under the light of the lamppost. It was the madman I always saw throwing rocks at the jeepneys passing by. The scene seemed weird, it was almost ironic. The man standing under the light, wearing his rags and murmuring to himself. He even looked like a saint, haloed in the dim light. I proceeded with caution, I heard his words, he was cursing a man I didn’t know but he seemed lost in his mad thoughts, just like I was.
I remembered how my ex looked under the light in the parking lot. For the four years we were together, I never looked directly into her eyes, those eyes. They were deep brown and it was as if they spoke to me… must have been that last bottle of beer, it’s making my head spin faster.
I was starting to regret not having eaten dinner, my stomach felt like a war zone at the time. I lit a cigarette and forgot my hunger. I looked back at the stretch of cement and asphalt I had walked and I saw headlights coming near. It was a car as it passed me I saw the strange looks on the passengers’ faces. They were a group of rich students, probably came from the campus. I continued walking.
I came up to a restaurant, Consuelo’s. I was amazed it was still open at this hour. As I peeked inside I heard a song, but I couldn’t make out what it was. We had eaten here once, the first and only time I ate at this place. We had ordered kare-kare then, my favorite dish. I took a long drag on my cigarette and it made me feel better. I had set my mind on getting home and having dinner.
The big yellow M—McDonald’s—I was almost there. From there I could ride the tricycle home. My cigarette was almost out as words rang in my head, “we’re now moving in different directions, I have and you must.” And I am, but as I look back down the dark road, I see only one direction. I know now that I have been walking alone all this time, but I wonder where Lopez Avenue has taken me. I looked at my watch, it was 11:30 p.m. and as I got into the tricycle, I smelled baby cologne as I smiled to myself.
—Vincent Ian A. Buera, A Walk Down Lopez Avenue
I shouldn’t be affected anymore but I am. Maybe just a little bit, I don’t know for sure. I’m sure that for a time she was happy being with me and so was I. It just seems that the past was such a big waste of time, effort, and emotion. I know I shouldn’t be regretting whatever happened. After all, I did take the plunge voluntarily. However, if you were in my position I’m sure you would understand.
Oh well, this is probably just another one of those days.
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to pick up the pieces of your life once you’ve found a person to revolve it around? I mean, it can get tough to get through another day without the special someone you had. It’s hard to get out of that fixed routine I used to have when she was around. It’s strangely unfamiliar territory to me this time around because now I’m the one who called it quits—for good.
I’d like to fool myself into thinking that she’s having as hard a time as I am but I’m pretty sure she’s not. She never did have any trouble replacing me. What irks me is the fact that no matter how hard I try I just can’t seem to not think about it. The very fact that I’m writing this now belies the truth that I am affected and that I am still hurting. Why can’t she feel the same way I do right now? I mean, I think she lost a lot more than I did.
I should really get on with my life, I know. The core of the problem is I don’t know how. It’s not like I’m in a totally unique an alien situation. This has sort of happened before. But the surrounding circumstances are different enought that I’m stumped for an answer.
“The heart is an organ of fire,” the movie The English Patient said. It seems that its fire just can’t be put out that easily.