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brother.father.friend.

warm day in june. i walk into my parents’ room at seven in the morning. i need their opinion on what to wear to church. i know they are up – they wake up every day at 5. mom is pacing on dad’s side of the bed. even though her ‘pissed-off mood’ usually lasts a few minutes, this is not a good sight, especially early this sunday morning. so, here i am watching this woman – well over six feet, dressed in a black nightdress, and muttering words that would make a sailor blush. it’s like watching a vexed bear in an enclosed space.

            “are you ok?”

        “your dad, i’m going to kill that –” then we hear the noise. a loud clatter, coming from their bathroom. one moment mom is talking to me, the next moment she in the bathroom. then i hear them laughing. moments later they appear through the bathroom door, mom has dad in a head-lock with her left arm, and is ruffling his hair with his hair-brush with her right hand. they are both laughing. i leave the room. we’ll learn later at breakfast that he had said he would stay at home and pray like he did last week, mom didn’t want him setting a bad example for us about the need to worship with others, then he said something about the pastor and an argument ensued. he went into the bathroom (just about the time i walked in) and deliberately dropped his hair-brush in the bathtub to make my mom think he had fallen. when she entered the bathroom, he was sitting on the edge of the bathtub laughing. just like that, their fight was over.

dedicated to my dad, Chief M.O. Omoregie, who passed away early this morning. a brother, a father and a friend from whom i learnt many subtle non-violent ways of resolving misunderstandings with your lover. a man who thought me to see life in images and metaphors, and to always see the positive in any situation. a man, to whom laughter was more than medicine. i guess, wherever you are right now, you see the funny side in your own passing. may your soul rest in perfect peace.

fkregie 2017.

mirrors

she sees his reflection in the mirrors that surround the inside of the restaurant. for a moment she thinks she is hallucinating. she turns. her eyes roam the restaurant, she can’t see him. it’s a saturday evening, he wouldn’t be in town, she muses. she remembers he told her that before they met he traveled out of gaborone every weekend because, as he would say, “i cannot stand this city for more than a week.” since they broke up, just over three months ago, every time life threatens to pull her under, she would come to the restaurant and carry out her special ritual. by the time she was done eating, she would feel calm and regenerated. like she was for him, his presence was calming. they have spoken by phone a few times since the break up, but it was nothing, compared to the calmness she felt carrying out her ritual in what was their favorite restaurant.

***

then she sees him again through the mirrors – walking towards her. she turns around and he is standing beside her – smiling his infectious smile. smelling of soul. he hears natalie imbruglia sing, “i’m cold and i am shamed/lying naked on the floor/illusion never changed/into something real/i’m wide awake and i can see/the perfect sky is torn …”[1] the song that was playing the day they broke up. her eyes follow his to the source of the music. she picks up the phone.

      “oh, sorry, didn’t know you were with someone.” he is looking at the jacket draped over the chair opposite her, and the bottle of bruce cost ginger ale original – placed on a serviette as is his habit. he knows they don’t sell it in the restaurant.

      “it was good to see you.” the song still playing in his head. she busies herself with switching off the music, pretending not to hear him.

       “let me go.” he squeezes her shoulder lightly. and starts to walk off.

       “hun, wait!” he stops. “would you like to join me?”

       “and your date.” he looks around the full restaurant.

      “i’m not with anyone. that’s your jacket.” his heart skips a bit, and his hands start to shake. he thrusts them in his pants’ pockets, and hunches his shoulders. his heart is choking him.

     “and the drink.” she doesn’t respond. they stare at each other. both hearts threatening to burst open their chests. she is wondering how he saw her from the reception. he had looked to their favorite table and saw her. he pulls the chair with the jacket draped over it and sits down. he smells soul off the jacket. he says nothing – the lump in his throat, the size of a tennis ball. he looks at her. she smiles awkwardly, her lips and chin start to tremble and she starts to sob gently. he pushes the chair back and gets up, but realizes if he goes to stand beside her the other diners will know something is wrong. he sits back down, takes her hands and squeezes them. she squeezes his hands – her hands are vibrating. he withdraws his right hand and brings out a handkerchief from his pocket. he offers it to her, she takes it and dabs gently at her face. he waits for her to calm down. he takes her phone, looks up at her, she nods. he presses the home button and inputs his year of birth. he types, then presses “your library”. seconds later he taps the screen and they listen as justin timberlake sings, aren’t you somethin’ to admire?/’cause your shine is somethin’ like a mirror/and i can’t help but notice/you reflect in this heart of mine.”[2] just then, the waitress arrives with her order, two dishes – hers and his.

       “you were always here.” she indicates her heart. his heart …

[1] Imbruglia, Natalie. (1997). Torn. Left of the Middle.  RCA/Brightside/Island/Portrait. 

[2] Timberlake, Justin. (2013). Mirrors. The 20/20 Experience. RCA.

fkregie 2017.

deja vu

he has not slept a wink all night trying to block his ears to her snoring. he can’t raise the volume of the tv any louder for fear of annoying the other guests. so, he resorts to a fitful wakeful sleep. every time he nudges her, she adjusts her position and slips into a higher decibel. he is getting worried the other guests may come knocking after all. he recalls reading in high school, how okonkwo’s snoring could be heard by his wife and children in their out-houses. he makes a mental note to get his earphones from the car in the morning. but who would have thought, he muses, a beautiful girl who snores like a warrior. they had met at his friend’s party the week before, like him, she is in-between relationships. he had mentioned that he would be traveling over the weekend and she had joked that he should put her in his suitcase. here they are – for the weekend.

***

         “you look really beautiful, when you are not asleep.” he is staring at her nose-ring and red matt lipstick. god, she has such natural smooth skin, he muses. he is seating across from her at the dining table talking endlessly with food in his mouth. she smiles and picks up a bit of scrambled egg with a prong on her fork.

            “why are you eating like that. it’s like you are scared of hurting the egg.” he laughs raucously, and masticated particles fly in all direction. at 6’3” he didn’t need to shout to make a point. but he speaks in lispy capital letters. she is watching him like you’d watch a comedian telling sex jokes in a seminary. he has an opinion on everything including the fact that she is eating her breakfast with just a fork. who eats eggs and toast with knife and fork, she muses. she tries refocusing as he slurps and smacks his lips chewing and talking endlessly – but she is slipping into a sound-rage.

         “please pass me the salt, tebby.” she slides the white rabbit-shaped salt dispenser across the table to him, and gets up.

             “are you done?” as response, she picks up her hardly touched breakfast and points toward the bedroom of the hotel suite. he nods and laughs raucously. his phone rings for the umpteenth time. she notices he has changed his ring-tone to miguel & j. cole’s “all i want is you.”[1]

              “sure, tebby.”

***

she sits in the bedroom wondering how she got here. he is handsome, a sharp dresser, a successful lawyer, lives in a decent house and drives a beautiful car. she smells her hardly touched breakfast, and the room starts to close in on her. she takes out her gold-plated cigarette case and a lighter from her bag, picks up the plate of food and goes out of the bedroom. he is still on the phone talking politics and doesn’t pay attention to her scraping the food into the dustbin in the kitchenette and dropping the plate into the sink. she walks through the living room and steps out onto the balcony itching for a smoke and fresh air.

***

                  “you smoke?” lost in thoughts, she didn’t hear him join her.

            “yea.” he looks at her, she looks at him. she takes a drag and smiles – smoke streaming through her nostrils. she sees his hand tighten on the phone in his right hand. in his left hand, he is holding a copy of james redfield’s the celestine prophecy.[2] he walks to the end of the balcony and starts to tap the book on the rail. he stares blankly at the slow early morning traffic to avoid saying something. she flicks the unfinished cigarette away and walks up to him. he turns to face her.

                  “i understand. you’re not my type too.”

[1] Miguel & Cole, J. (2010). All I Want is You. All I Want is You. Bystorm/Jive.

[2] Redfield, James. (1993). New York. Grand Central Publishing.

fkregie 2017.

Irreplaceable — by Single in the Suburbs

One of the sadder parts of having a chronic illness is when you question your own self-worth. When you’re in your twenties and chronically ill it’s really hard seeing all of the people around you traveling the world, working towards their dream job, and having fun in whatever way they see fit — whether that […]

via Irreplaceable — Single in the Suburbs

love vs communication vs connection

yesterday, during the opinions’ session after rehearsals, one of the students asked, “what is the most important thing in a relationship?” the first response was, “love. i cannot be with somebody who doesn’t love me. no ways.” this response drew a lot of spirited affirmative responses. then one of the students said, “i think communication is the most important thing in a relationship. you can be in love with someone but if the two of you cannot communicate, love is useless.” everybody agreed with the opinion – me too. i must admit that was a good observation about love being useless without communication. i mean, how do you let someone know you love them if you cannot communicate your feelings. after bandying more ideas about, one of the students turned to me and said, “sir, you’ve been very quiet.” i smiled. and she added, “why are you quiet don’t you have someone special?” my response was, “every relationship is unique in its setup, so what is most important in one may not be important in another relationship. also, what some people think is love is simply just affection. so, i cannot say, love is the most important thing in a relationship. communication is very important, like diana said. but for me though, the most important thing in any relationship is connection.”  i then asked them to check the definition of relationship on their phones, tablets and laptops. this is what they found: “a connection, association, or involvement”; “connection between persons by blood or marriage”; “an emotional or other connection between people.” thanks for checking …

i got up and closed the opinions’ session and the class. i refused to take any after-class questions on what i said. i knew some disagreed. i knew some wanted me to expound on why i think love could only just be affection. i knew some didn’t quite get the difference between communication and connection. but, i wanted them to go back home, and think about it. hopefully, discuss it with their special someone. but, also, i wanted the actors to think about the connections their character has with (each of the) other characters in the play before we convene on wednesday. we shall be dealing with this when the opinions’ session opens after the next rehearsals on wednesday. i wasn’t playing mind games with the students when i said connection is more important than communication – it is.

true, love and communication are important – but they are not (separately) always the most important thing in a relationship. this is my impression, you’re free to disagree. but, when you really think about it, often in relationships, the thing lovers fight about is a lack of connection. brene brown says connection is the “… energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” all of the attributes brown speaks of coalesce in the several types and degrees of interpersonal connections: connections at an emotional, intellectual, physical/chemistry, or lifestyle-based levels. in my experience, for relationships to really work, connections must exist and develop on multiple levels. the strength or depth of any or a combination of these many different types of connections can make all the difference in the quality and duration of a relationship.

if you believe, as some people do, in love at first sight, it is very likely the strongest connection you felt at the onset of any relationship was on the physical level. relationships based on purely physical attraction may not last. dr. george simon says, “an overly-intense physical component to a relationship can often lead to distorted perceptions. for example, one partner might “over-idealize” the other, ascribing attributes to them they don’t have.” he explains further that this is not the only problem that can arise from this. he says, when physical attraction dominates, couples might also overlook potentially problematic attributes as well as the lack of connection at other levels needed for the sustenance of a relationship. mind you, blindness to important dimensions of a relationship doesn’t always come from physical infatuation. it can occur when one partner is so lacking in self-esteem and is so overwhelmed by the apparent recognition and approval he/she gets from his/her partner, he/she allows the intensity of their emotional connection to overrule their better judgment about other aspects of the relationship.

whereas you don’t purposefully search for a partner that agrees with everything you are and believe in, connection gives you a “same team” spirit. a feeling that you and your partner understand each other. connection is that warm happy feeling of being in love and together. ‘togetherness’ is key to connection. let me rephrase this: relationship is connection, therefore, without connection, there is no relationship; because one defines the other. that is why when two lovers are disconnected fear, insecurity and loneliness set in. when this happens, many lovers often commit the big mistake of over-communicating from a disconnected place by focusing obsessively on the problem. let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how much love you have in your head, it is very difficult to communicate effectively (and with respect) when you are disconnected from your lover. disconnection engenders difficulty, which itself arises when you feel frustrated or threatened. what happens when you are both in this state of disconnect? you forget what you have in (in common) in the wish to maintain your own turfs. subsequently, lack of communication becomes the scapegoat, blame is tossed around, and communication, eventually really breaks down.

let’s face it, it is the desire for connection that makes you want to have an open and honest communication with your partner in the first place. when you’re connected with someone, everything, including your communication, is easy and effortless. if you and your lover find and maintain connection at different levels, it deepens the regard you have for each other and solidifies your relationship. 

fkregie 2017.

emotional intelligence –  a boon or a bane

this week, a close friend of mine wrote, “is emotional intelligence a boon or a bane? i don’t know.” her brief, but insightful, explanation of this concept reminded me of peter salovey and john mayer’s opening question in their ground-breaking journal article “emotional intelligence”. they ask, “is “emotional intelligence” a contradiction in terms?” (185).[1] i promised i will respond to her question – here is my take on this complex concept. this complex concept came into the public space in 1990 when psychologists, john mayer and peter salovey offered the first insights into this concept in the article mentioned above. since then, daniel goleman who popularized the concept in his book “emotional intelligence: why it can matter more than iq,”[2]  writes, the phrase emotional intelligence, or its casual shorthand eq, has become ubiquitous, showing up in settings as unlikely as the cartoon strips dilbert and zippy the pinhead and in roz chast’s sequential art in the new yorker. i’ve seen boxes of toys that claim to boost a child’s eq; lovelorn personal ads sometimes trumpet it in those seeking prospective mates. i once found a quip about eq printed on a shampoo bottle in my hotel room.”  just what is emotional intelligence?

one model defines emotional intelligence as the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. it is generally said to include three skills: emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving; and the ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person. i am not comfortable with the phrase “manage … the emotions of others,” its implications are a bit gray. i prefer the model that defines emotional intelligence as: “… the capacity to reason about emotions, and of emotions to enhance thinking. it includes the abilities to accurately perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth (197).[3]

i prefer the second model because it suggests that emotion is a feeling state, which includes physiological responses and cognitions, that conveys information about relationships. for instance, happiness is a feeling state that conveys information about relationships that you would like to be with others. contrarily, fear is a feeling state that conveys information about relationships the urge to flee from others. intelligence, on the other hand, refers to the capacity to reason validly about information. for example: verbal intelligence concerns your mental ability to reason with and about verbal information, and of verbal knowledge to enhance thought. if you’re interested in knowing more about emotional intelligence, i suggest you read “models of emotional intelligence,”[4] which deals with the four-branch model of emotional intelligence. for now, i return to the question my friend asked – is emotional intelligence a boon or a bane?

though a complex concept, most people know the boon of emotional intelligence: first, it is a skill that anyone can learn, and if you’re willing to put whatever you learn into practice, you’ll be able to find some success; second, when you understand your emotions (self-awareness) and can tap into the emotions of others, you get to feel a little bit of what others feel when they are around you (empathy). this allows you to stay in better control of your own emotions (mood management), while also preventing you from causing harm to others because you’ll feel that harm internally (compassion); third, by understanding the emotions of everyone else around you, you can find ways to relate to others at a core level (sympathy). this improves interpersonal relationships and draw people closer to you in social situations (managing relationships); fourth, if your emotional intelligence skills are enhanced you are less likely to engage in self-destructive behaviors (self-motivation); fifth, a well-developed emotional intelligence makes emotional decisions, which happen faster because only the emotions of the situation are being examined, a lot easier to make than logical decisions. logic dictates that every scenario be evaluated, estimated, and anticipated; lastly, emotional intelligence is a skill that transcends industries, hobbies, and situations because it is always applicable.

a lot of people are cognizant of the boon of emotional intelligence, but a lot less people are aware of the bane of emotional intelligence – a lot of people live with it without recognizing it. here is the bane of emotional intelligence:  first, compassion is a big load to carry. the word comes from latin – to “suffer with.” this is what makes it a big load. people confuse compassion with sympathy or empathy, but they mean different things. sympathy/empathy means being concerned about someone else and feeling their emotions. compassion, on the other hand, means being concerned about someone, feeling their emotions and wanting to do something about it. compassion is a big load to carry because it can interfere with your success and happiness. you don’t think so? i may be wrong, but one of the saddest things that can happen to you is being with someone you know you shouldn’t be with because they hinder your ‘progress’, but you feel concerned about them, feel their emotions and want to do something about their situation – risking your own happiness; second, because you’ve made the sacrifice to stay, you are more likely to suffer emotional self-regulation. emotional self-regulation can be nice because you “don’t blow your stack” when you’re angry. i believe in blowing my stack and living longer. bottling up has many health hazards. emotionally, blowing up has benefits. when you lose your cool, and make someone else angry, you get the opportunity to apologize and be forgiven. apologies and forgiveness can enhance relationships. whatever you do though, avoid words that hurt your lover’s sensibility – whatever you have accepted as a flaw, should remain accepted. for instance, you can teach someone to pick up after himself/herself – watch “the karate kid,” and see how the man teaches the young kid to pick up after himself. however, you be the judge between these two reactions: your lover has a habit of leaving things and clothes lying around and this pisses you off one day and you either say, “i am tired of picking up after you. for christ’s sakes, pick up that thing.” or you say, “what kind of home did you grow up that they didn’t teach you to pick up after yourself? what kind of brain do you need to be able to pick up after yourself”; third, when you don’t blow up, you are exercising self-regulation, but also, self-awareness. it may not be bad, but self-awareness can turn you into a control-freak – you eat more healthy foods, you exercise religiously, you get into less fights with strangers, you avoid situations with potential for outbursts and display of true feelings with your lover, you avoid cursing drivers that cut in front of you in traffic. have you ever found yourself waiting patiently behind two drivers in gaborone who are parked side by side and holding a conversation in traffic when the lights go green? self-awareness makes you do and say safe things. you have to admit when you have to watch everything you say and do because some people around you are sensitive, it can frustrate you no end; lastly, whereas, being able to identify and recognize emotions, consciously think about them and use them in a logical manner are the main components of emotional intelligence – they are also it’s dangers when you relate with others. you see, understanding the emotions of others gives you the knowledge to also manipulate them.

some may say the last point is not emotional intelligence. well, you will be right to think that. but raise your hand if you haven’t manipulated anyone in your life – or if you haven’t been manipulated yourself. the problem is that emotional intelligence can be “morally neutral”. while it can be used to help, protect, and promote yourself and others, it can also be used to promote yourself at the cost of others. in its extreme form, emotional intelligence can be sheer machiavellianism – when other people become social tools you use to push yourself forward at the expense of those others. please, let’s not confuse machiavellianism with psychopathy or even social impairment syndromes, like asperger’s syndrome, for instance, sheldon cooper in the tv sitcom the big bang theory. here’s is a brief take on the differences between the three: a person living with asperger syndrome may not know what you feel. a psychopath doesn’t care what you feel. a machiavellian manipulates your feelings for his/her selfish ends. you don’t even have to manipulate others, an over-inflated belief in your own intelligence can be dangerous.  what do you think destroys othello – his pride and his blind belief in his own perceptions and assumptions or jealousy? for instance, if you believe you are right, but you need to say sorry, you are deceiving yourself.

it’s a pitfall of intelligent people to assume they are intelligent in every situation. this is my belief, when you think and learn fast, you learn to learn in a certain way. otherwise, when the world does not give you the results you expect, you may find it hard to adapt. so, be emotionally intelligent, but learn to adapt. as far as intelligence is concerned, i have personally concluded that the ability to adapt, to change your mind, is the highest form of human intelligence. let me rephrase that, the ability to recognize that you can be wrong is what i call intelligence. in everything you do, therefore, keep an open mind.

[1] Salovey, Peter & Mayer, D. John. (1990). Emotional Intelligence. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality. 9, 185-211.

[2] Goleman, Daniel. (1995). Emotional Intelligence: why it can matter more than IQ. Bantam Books.

[3] Mayer, D. John, Salovey, Peter & Caruso, R, David. (2004). Emotional Intelligence: Theory, Findings and Implications in Psychological Inquiry. Vol. 15, No. 3. 197-215. Lawrence Earlbaum Associates Inc.

[4] Mayer, D. John, Salovey, Peter & Caruso, R. David. (2000). Models of Emotional Intelligence In R. Stenberg. Hanbook on Intelligence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapter eighteen.

fkregie 2017.

love is organic – instalment xix

it is an irony of romance that the more interesting and intimate a relationship, the more tempestuous it is. after all, a relationship involves two blood-red human beings with emotions to burn. so, you’re bound to have misunderstandings – and apologies and forgivenesses. however, this post isn’t about how you say ‘i’m sorry,’ because saying it should come spontaneously, naturally and in the most creative way you think. saying ‘sorry’, in some ways, is like proposing. you know what you want to say, but how you say it and how the ring appears depends on your creativity. like proposing also, when you utter the words, you always consider the options of a first refusal or several refusals (by the person), but you always have hope in your heart for the best. only you have spent moments before the fall out with this person, only you know the gravity of your offense, so, recommending how you apologize by someone else can be awkward. for instance, when i first heard ruben studdard’s “sorry 2004,” i wondered if this was like jesus dying on the cross for our sins, and sincerely hoped he meant it as a joke. so, this post is about the reason you say ‘sorry,’ not how or through what medium you express it. but whatever you do, when you say ‘sorry’, be sincere, do not place blame, do not patronize your lover/friend, or make assumptions – because most arguments start with someone making assumptions.

some people are shy – of words, and saying “i’m sorry,” is a phrase you’re unlikely to hear from them. i don’t blame this kind, and here’s my take on this. you see, the phrase “i’m sorry”, which is supposed to make its recipient feel better, for some, has the assumption of guilt and admittance of wrongdoing.  so, such people feel when they say the words to a person, it implies that they are in some way responsible for the situation. also, ‘i’m sorry’ has suffered a social death of some sort by misuse. very often, you hear it uttered in a range of circumstances, from condolences, i’m so sorry for your loss, to insulting someone, “you sorry excuse for a human being,” to asking a speaker to repeat a sentence, sorry, what did you say?”  to the playful (depending on the occasion) “get your sorry ass out of my face.” so, these people have learnt to let their actions be their atonement. i agree, letting your actions do the talking is commendable, however, not verbally (or via a message) telling someone you care for that you are sorry can come across as being arrogant. to great benefits, the two go together – the words/messages and the actions. besides, the ability to genuinely say you are sorry, for me, is one of the highs of emotional intelligence. it doesn’t only show an assessment of your behavior/action but how that action/behavior has negatively affected someone you care for. it’s a point in any situation when your ego takes a backseat for the betterment of what the both of you share.

as such, saying ‘sorry’ should not arise from your lover/friend making you aware of what you have done wrong, or a third party making you see sense. to be genuine, it must come from your own assessment of your actions. imagine walking to your lover and saying, “i was provoked. but after you spoke to me, i realized i was wrong. i am sorry.”  or “i was speaking to (insert name) and he/she made me realize i reacted wrongly. i am sorry.” when your saying ‘sorry’ is based on either of these two interventions, you are making decisions based on the current circumstances – you’ve had a fight, you’ve been made aware you were wrong, the situation will not get better except you apologize, so you say ‘sorry’. reacting this way could mean you wouldn’t have realized your mistake if someone hadn’t brought it to your attention. reacting this way could mean you have taken the circumstances as being beyond your ability to change – for me, this limits your options and solutions. you don’t think so? if you are used to taking this approach (of considering the circumstances), it is very likely, next time your lover is hurt, for you to say, “sorry” and think “at least it worked last time.” sometimes, you may have noticed he/she remains hurt, and then you wonder why ‘sorry’ didn’t work this time. however, when you take time to reflect and examine why you decided to say “sorry”, your conscious intentions determine your words and actions, rather them being determined by circumstances alone. 

earlier in this post i said it would be wrong for me to suggest how you say ‘sorry,’ because saying it should be spontaneous, and should come naturally out of what you share with someone. in the past several weeks, a close friend of mine and i had a misunderstanding. but through it all, she taught me a heartening dimension of friendship by not giving up on my sorry ass. i considered sending prince’s “the arms of orion.” i didn’t, because, like most songs, one line in the song was not applicable … instead, last week, to apologize, i wrote a short story and hoped she will read it and understand my intentions. she did. to you, wherever you are right now, i dedicate this post.

to be continued.

fkregie 2017.

other lives matter

they are sat in front of the lighting booth at the back of the dimly-lit theatre – it’s opening night of his latest play. she looks exquisite in a green dress and pale yellow cardigan. she smells nicely different – jasmine. he is dressed casually in a roll-neck sweater, chinos, and ankle-length sneakers – all black. his hair, she notices, is growing into a well-groomed afro. he smells his usual self – cool water. she is going through the program note with the light from the lighting booth. he is playing the opening line repeatedly in his head. both are quiet. nervous. they are not lovers, they are more than lovers. recently though, they’ve been jousting by texts …

          “glad you could come”

          “i almost couldn’t come.”

silence.

the theatre has filled up quite suddenly while they sat in silence. there is a sudden flurry of activity back-stage. it’s three minutes before the play begins. the incidental music floats in and they hear sting sing, “if blood will flow when flesh and steel are one/drying in the color of the evening sun/tomorrow’s rain will wash the stains away/but something in our minds will always stay.”[1]

          “i –”

          “why –”

the lights in the auditorium dip, and the curtains come apart.

        “why did you do it?” she looks around to make sure no one heard her above the music.

          “do what?”

          “thought you said you’ll always be there for me.”

          “did i say or do otherwise?”

          “i read the preview of your play – you were literally slaughtering me.”

          “i didn’t know this play is about you.”

          “don’t play games with me, damn you!”

silence as sting sings:

          perhaps this final act was meant

          to clinch a lifetime’s argument

          that nothing comes from violence …

         “everything doesn’t have to be about you, you know.” he turns away from her, “slaughtering! more like laughtering.” he smiles.

            “are you mocking me?”

         “no. just reminding you there’s a difference between writing to teach, and mockery. life isn’t always about negatives.”

           “i am leaving.” she gets up and starts tapping the program note against the theatre seat in front of her – non-rhythmically. he touches her hand and she sits back down.

          “i had thought we’d be what we are tonight.” he sits looking straight ahead at nothing specifically – responding the only way he knows how to deal with her moods. some things will never change, she muses.

silence as the incidental music fades out and lights come on on stage.

his words roll around in her head. she looks at him with the misunderstanding of a text message recipient who lacks information about the sender. in that moment, she realizes all the while that they have been friends, she has relied on stereotypes to fill in the gaps when she couldn’t read his emotions.

silence. the play begins:

                “are you saying you still care?”

         “i never stopped caring. i gave you a promise of friendship, that won’t change. but i didn’t ask you here today to ask you to stay, that’s your decision to make. i just need you to see – if all i write about is you, my writing will lose its essence. i’m a writer – i have many inspirations. other lives, that matter.

fkregie 2017.

[1] Sting. Fragile. … Nothing Like the Sun. A&M. 1988.

love is organic – instalment xviii

some relationships can be blissful others frustrating – in either case, nobody ever gets what he/she desires from a relationship, but no relationship is useless. so, it is unfortunate that some lovers take to public fora (human or virtual) to blast their lovers from the past – talking about things the ex-lover is deficient in or trashing the qualities that attracted them to him/her. i was at a gathering last saturday when a lady said of her ex-lover, “he is a very educated man. that’s the only reason i went out with him.” this is all well – shows she has standards. but it also shows she may be deficient herself – that she hasn’t reached a stage where another person’s achievement shouldn’t be a core attraction. also, it may indicate she does not realize an attraction for what someone is has its limits. it’s like saying “he/she is rich. that’s the only reason i went out with him/her.” so what happens when you become rich yourself – do you feel superior and find the person inadequate, and then (maybe) look for someone richer? it is an irony of relationships that, in the main, we fall for the same type of lover. the question is, do you need someone else’s achievement to be fulfilled. if you like someone because he/she is intelligent – help to nurture that intelligence. if you go out with someone because he/she is beautiful – help to nurture that beauty from within and without. if you go out with someone who is traumatized by previous relationships, help that person believe in love again. let your appreciation/attraction enhance the person, and vicariously you. two words come to mind – pride and admiration. you take pride in something you helped to achieve. you admire what was achieved without you. if you helped your lover achieve a proficiency, then take pride in it. in my experience, the process of achieving a proficiency together endears both of you to each other. if your lover is already accomplished, and you admire him/her for that, you may admire his/her doggedness in achieving that or the variables that were pertinent to that achievement. there’s nothing wrong in admiration, but somehow, i feel admiration is transient when it only has to do with something external. because the moment someone with that external feature that is more interesting comes along – you may leave. or the moment you reach a stage in your own development – usually through associating with this person, you begin to think you’re better and don’t need the person. i am not saying those who admire cannot be genuine, but admiration for admiration’s sakes is a marker of insufficiency. if you find your lover deficient, selflessly help him/her become proficient in that area. if you leave him/her after that, you would’ve done your part. the one thing some lovers forget is, if someone else comes to admire you for a quality that was lacking before your current lover came into your life, it should be something that endears you to him/her rather than something that makes you feel superior to him/her – even if you find reason to leave. i feel nobody is too good to lose, but rather, that every lover leaves me with something that makes me a better lover for the next lover. even pain is a good lesson – you don’t think so? listen to rascal flatt’s “bless the broken road.” while you are at it, listen to barry white’s “whatever we had, we had,” and you’ll see there’s really no need for bitterness or hatred when things don’t work out. coretta scott king says, “hate is too great a burden to bear. it injures the hater more than it injures the hated.” i read recently, “lovers used him as a pick-up line.” the irony in these words made me smilei thought to myself, this isn’t bad. it shows he has been able to help the woman now trashing that quality to develop – before she moved on. but for him, she wouldn’t have found a sufficiency, a “knowledge” that now makes her feel superior or confident enough to leave. relationships should never be about “what do i get out of it,” or whether you are better than your lover. a relationship is about building or leaving a memory or memories the person will always appreciate – even long after you’re gone. no matter how bad a lover someone is, he/she always leaves you with something to appreciate. but more important, whatever attracted you to a person should remain sacrosanct – just as a person’s insufficiency – when you have broken up with that person, because, while it lasted, it did give you some satisfaction.

fkregie 2017.

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