James Mercer is singing to me. A song about moving away, drinking cheap beer, and listening to rock ‘n roll. It’s New Slang 2.0 but I dig it. It’s an origin song too, I believe. A song about how he got to where he is, to making music, to making a living out of it. Press play, kind stranger.
I wonder what my origin song would be, if I could even write songs. Why did I even start playing music to begin with, if I could even play at all?
Ah, Grade 4! My mom wanted us to learn how to play music but we were too poor to buy a keyboard. One day, though, Ma came home from Cebu with a guitar. It’s worth 900 pesos, she told us, though I was too young to gauge whether that’s mahal or not.
But hey, it’s a guitar. We also had a gospel songbook at home. The first song my mom and I learned was Kung Kamtan Mo. I still know the first words — kung kamtan mo / man ang mundo / kanyang yaman — but I already forgot the chords.
And then Ma started playing a lot of Carpenters so I learned those oldies too. When there’s no getting over that rainbow / when the smallest of dreams won’t come true. Karen Carpenter’s voice is heavenly, man. My favorite Carpenters song at that time was only yesterday / when I was sad / and I was lonely…
But I wasn’t sad and lonely then. This was grade school when life was much simpler. I had my first crush in grade school, too. Oh, puppy love. What a concept.
Let’s call him B. When we were in Grade 3, all the girls in our class had a crush on him — but I didn’t. He was a good-looking dude, I saw that, but I was also a 9-year old who couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of a “crush.” What was it exactly that made my classmates say, “I have a crush on *toot*”? I didn’t get it.
In Grade 6 though, B’s charms finally hit me. One time, when I was walking to the jeepney station with my friends and he was aboard a tricycle with his friends, he yelled at me to say goodbye.
“Bye Jolens!” he shouted from about three metres away. And if my heart could talk, I’m pretty sure it skipped a beat before saying, “…luh?”
B didn’t say bye to our other friends — he only said bye to me. And then later he asked for my number even though he didn’t have a cellphone. He once used his brother’s phone to text me a quote from I’ll Be, a ballad by some white guy with guitar (I forgot who; there’s too many of them; I’m too lazy to Google). I’ll be your crying shoulder / I’ll be love’s suicide.
After that, I crushed hard. Ang kuwento ng pag-ibig / ay kumusta at paalam. B had me at goodbye.
Unfortunately I had to leave town and I lost contact with most of my childhood friends. High school was a disaster for me, man. I loved some parts of it, but I wouldn’t want to live it again. College, though, was different.
Some nights I worry that maybe college is the peak for me, that the best years of my life have gone and passed. Is this it? Have I wasted my youth? What is ‘fun’ anyway?
Hmm. Maybe I’m yet to figure it out.
This is a free writing piece that I wrote just now. I was listening to The Shins’ Mildenhall when I felt oddly sad and lonely. And so I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. I tweaked some phrases, tried to correct the lapses (the operative word is “tried”), and pondered whether this piece was even worth sharing.
It doesn’t matter though. Some nights I just want to talk and pretend that somewhere out there, someone is listening. Or reading, like, you know, gets? #potah