A few days ago, I went with my folks to see the house behind my current house—or whatever finished structure had been standing there. They had been building an extension in the strangely elongated lot, with sizable rooms carved out for each of their three children. I am 27 years old, and I still live with my parents. I do have a job, but I imagine it would be difficult to strike out on my own on my current salary (though, it’s possible—I just wouldn’t have any money left).
Anyway, I was the kind of asshole that wanted to immediately leave my parents’ house. Right after graduation, a naive Carina—the same Carina who had asked a few years back if it was okay if she didn’t finish her bachelor’s degree, as college felt “unnecessary”—asked if she could move out and was met with a resounding “no.” I stopped bringing it up at some point, because it made my mom very upset. But I guess a part of me—the part that needs her space 70% of the time and has shared a room with her sister for 25-ish years—just wanted to see what it would be like to be independent, by myself. Some type of necessary initiation into adulthood or something. Not to play any blame games, at all, but I do think that comparatively, we had been coddled. Possibly because we three seem so helpless, haha. Most of the time, I really don’t feel like I’m 27, but that’s another story.
So, my point is that it used to give me so much grief that I lived at home, but I’m realizing that it’s not even an issue… It’s not one that should matter very much, at least. I think it’s partly because I feel too monitored—even though I’m usually never really up to no good—and like, I don’t want to get a tattoo or a nose ring or whatever when I’m still leeching off my parents. Sometimes affection and attention can feel a little suffocating, too, but I think I’ve come to terms with it… Or at least, I know how to deal with it a little better.
The next half of my point is that I do realize how lucky I am that my parents are my parents, even though we don’t always agree. I think the challenge is really to be able to assert my autonomy—in a respectful way, both to them (as my parents, who I love) and myself (as my own individual person who is a fairly responsible adult). I don’t really like to stir the pot, but if I ever do in the future (let’s be real—I won’t), at least I know that I’ll always have a home to return to.
Little rejections and big plans
As I was about to turn in for the night last night, I decided to make one last round of email checking. (Of course.) I found out that I had been rejected for the sole residency I applied to, which isn’t very surprising and I’ll tell you why. I applied and felt reasonably optimistic about it for one reason or another, only to find out that it was the same residency that Nona Garcia had applied to a while back and didn’t get. From then, I kind of figured that I wouldn’t get it, so actually, the email I read today didn’t hit me very hard… But I guess I still had a small bit of hope left in some part of me, and the email was the final nail in the coffin, the hand that crushed the last dying part of my spirit, etc. etc.
I’m okay. And, I guess my heading for this section is not very accurate—I feel like this is actually the second biggest rejection of my life, but I suppose that’s only because, at some point between me sending in my application and waiting for the response, I had actually thought I would get it. In any case, that’s a closed chapter for now, and I have to look in some other direction, but I’m glad I sent it in. Despite all the odds! Which were, to be fair, kind of really insurmountable! How’s that for bravery?
Fiction, writing, and Luis
My relationship with fiction and writing it has been the quiet sort of push and pull, where I’m really the only one who feels the tension. I was always a writer (or, I always thought of myself as one, and that’s always what I had “planned” for myself), and before that, I was a reader. I didn’t really graduate from my favored young adult titles until high school when Petra lent me a copy of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, inspiring me to explore the meager Fiction shelves in National Book Store Quezon Avenue. She gifted me Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart when I turned 16, and essentially was the first to open that post-YA portal.
One of the people she introduced to me was Luis Katigbak, by way of his short story collection, Happy Endings. Inside its pages, she slipped a little note. “Enjoy,” it said. And as a parenthetical afterthought that seemed more important, “Read Every Thing.” Happy Endings, much like the rest of his work, made the most mundane a little magical. I feel very lucky to have been able to view the world through the lenses through which he saw it.
I didn’t know Luis the Person very well; usually we would just see each other at gigs or some other event, and I would shyly raise my hand to wave a hello from a fairly far away distance, which he would always return. We exchanged the most innocuous emails—usually just about work, the first one being a series of commissioned reworked book covers for Esquire—and I don’t remember ever exchanging anything particularly meaningful or memorable. He just wrote and I read, and through his words, I feel like I got to know him, a little bit. Sometimes I keep people I admire at an arm’s length, because I don’t want to get to know them, but it’s different with Luis. Secondhand information from mutual friends is always good because, I suppose, he was just really unspeakably kind.
Luis’ writing stays with you, and from his words, you can tell that he was a beautiful person. I suppose you could say that I regret never saying so, and like Chard wrote (much more eloquently), maybe it wouldn’t have mattered much, but I’d have liked to say thank you anyway.
Thank you, Luis. You deserve every happy ending.