I’ve been writing another post, either for this Tumblr or for PANK, about a few dance scenes in various Asian movies. But now I have to put that aside for a brief reckoning of my own insanity this morning, which came as a result of news from my cousin, in Las Vegas.
Who, along with her boyfriend, unexpectedly ran into members of JABBAWOCKEEZ and SUPERCR3W, the two breakdancing crews most famous for winning the first and second season of AMERICA’S BEST DANCE CREW, respectively.
One of the members of SUPERCR3W being RJ “Rockadile” Puno, the bboy featured in the video embedded above.
This is what my Twitter feed looked like as she told me what was happening:
(My Twitter, which, incidentally, I use almost exclusively for conversation; I love the aphorism and love La Rochefoucauld and love and admire the concentrated observation, but I find I never want to practice it myself, or at least not there; is this also why I cannot write short stories, because brevity terrifies me, because I have always been a claustrophobic person, fuck, I get claustrophobic in a turtleneck, I cannot abide by an enclosed space, did I ever tell the story about how when I was born my mother and I almost died because she bled internally because of too strong a dosage of Pitocin and so I was suffocating in blood and had to be cut out in a matter of minutes——people who believe in birth trauma, and I am one of them, would say this is why I do not like a small space, I am even paranoid about it, if you put your hand over my nose or mouth, any of my breathing passages, I would claw at your face like a cat without realizing it, it has happened before, I have done it to people, it goes that deep, wasn’t I talking about Twitter here?)
Then, from an email, with picture attached:
So I jst got home & norm WENT BACK to go chit chat some more & he told rj that you love him & said “aw where is she? Id love to meet my fans” ahahaha. He’d love to meet you! But norm had to tell him that you’re not in the same continent. Ahahaha how cute.
What would be good here is context. Context for what I love and why I love it. Can I give context? Context is what I am always out of, being an immigrant and a daughter of immigrants, what I am always trying to retrieve, being a writer-critic, and what I am always losing, being one who has survived one or more great deaths.
One or more. Or more.
How can I give all the context for what it means to be an Filipino girl (or possibly more mixed race than Filipinos themselves already are by virtue of trade winds and colonialism; there’s some bitter contention about who my maternal grandfather really was, and I already know that my paternal grandmother was hapa, so——) who grew up in the Bay Area who loves a Filipino breakdancer?
To do that, I would have to write the thing that last October——during the death month series of posts I wrote on this Tumblr——I said I might write. About rear spoilers, opulence, the Bay Area, cars, immigrants and joy.
But I can’t write that here, I’m not ready to write that here.
Perhaps I can only say that I have so much tenderness not only for RJ “Rockadile” Puno’s dancing talent, but also his face and mannerisms, his elasticity, humor, sweetness, toughness (what was the word that we used about our brothers, Jackie? The something-macho? Tender macho? Or did we use the word thug? I don’t remember). All of which is in his dancing. The way at 2:03 he casually-tauntingly ties his shoe. This is style, when style and its plasticity, its spontaneity, is emotional, moral. The best style. Style being how you live your fucking life. How you do you. Be you.
BE YOU, THAT’S WHEN IT SOUNDS BEE-YOU-TIFUL. J. Cole, “Blow Up.”
A song which, despite a reading (listening) of J. Cole which is at once joyful and grateful and critical and deeply troubled, has also been my own secret theme song.
Like Blanchot’s book to come. Le livre à venir.
For a long time I kept saying, or reading, instead of “livre,” “vivre.” The vivre à venir. The living to come. That’s in the book, too. In those words. That word I still hate and love, which comes back to me when I least expect it, like a slap in the face. Surviving.
Still alive like a slap in the face.
Survivre. Sur vivre, like Barthes’ book, SUR RACINE. SUR RACINE, On Racine. Sur vivre. On living. That’s what survivre, surviving, means. Survivre is a word which is also a title, the title of a secret and devastating book. A book that tells you how to do what it’s telling you. A word that both contains and is the lesson of itself. Survivre. Surviving. It’s a book on living.
Every day, still being saved by books, like a child who doesn’t yet know not to believe.
One of the things I will never know.
Why I love and hate——the way Catullus loves and hates——books and survival, too.
Breakdancing, RJ Puno, Asian America.
What can I say here about class schizophrenia, race schizophrenia, about being divided from what I love because of what I am and cannot stop being, about being told from a very early age that because I was so strange and scholarly I could not also love breakdancing or a suped-up Honda or a way of wearing one’s pants, a way of wearing one’s parka, despite all these ways and knowledges being in my family, in my early friendships and indeed——if I am going to be lazy with my writing, which I will be today, I didn’t mean to write any of this and some kinds of laziness are so pleasurable, especially when the thing I am going to write out of laziness is true, so true, very, very true——in my blood?
No, it was not for me, all of it was not for me, not for me, deep reader, Young Knight best friends with her father Older Melancholy Dying Knight, sickly one too often possessed by dwende, queer adolescent stealing her relatives’ Playboys because only girls could get me off back then, mysterious and imperious but not cool, not casual the way cool requires; erotic but not sexual, all wrong, too intense, too early, how can one be too scary-studious to touch (but not think about touching, as I was whispered, and once, in the sixth grade, written, by some classmates) and at the same time assumed to be a total slut despite one’s obvious forbearance, only because one had been taught at an early age that there was no shame in talking or thinking about sex or the body, even if one didn’t know much about either, taught this by enlightened and evolved parents who were also part of the medical industry and therefore had much less false piety about the flesh.
And so I never had false piety about the flesh, but rather, real piety, and real interest, the way I had real piety, and real interest, about everything, but this is enough to make you strange, this is enough for people to know to give you a wide berth, this is enough for people not to fuck with you, for better or for worse, I know it now, this is enough, all this is enough.
And could therefore never be truly part of another way, a certain way, a way I loved and observed from afar——but then, not so far, it was in my family, and it was in my early friendships——of being Asian American in the Bay Area——and usually Southeast Asian American, usually working-class, but not always; increasingly, as the culture became assimilated into the mainstream, not always.
And although I knew very well that this way carried with it damaging conventions, especially damaging gender conventions and expectations, damaging aspirational capitalist values——I still loved so many of its signs, meanings and wonders. Knowing that though I understood those signs, meanings and wonders, they would in all likelihood not be willing to understand me, or mine.
There’s a word for this, but the only word I can think of right now is sadness.
Gossip about a twelve-year-old:
Why do you read so much, why don’t you shave your legs, but her face is so hot fuuuuck those lips those tits can you imagine.
Jackie Wang, from her zine “On Being Hard Femme”: “I like being unconventionally femme, unconventionally Asian, unconventionally tough, and stirring it all up, overturning expectations while laying claim to these categories. But without allegiance. With movement.”
And from her clarification about the zine, on her blog:
“In my zine I devote a section specifically to talking about the interplay between race, gender, and sexuality, about how people tend to “heterosexualize” me because I am both Asian and femme. Both of these identities are often read as heterosexual because of the “model minority” stereotype associated with Asians (read: in-the-lines, obedient, normal, traditional, meek, and not sexually “deviant”) and because people assume queer/lesbian women are all masculine and therefore register feminine women as hetero. I’ve been noticing this a lot lately when people call me a “muggle” (term radicals use for “normal” people) even when I am wearing punky ripped dresses and boots. It seems as if I can’t escape being perceived by radicals as normal or not-queer-enough because of my femmeness and race. But I’ve heard absolutely no comments about the discussion of the racialization of gender and sexual identity in my zine. It’s no surprise that hard femme is much more popular than my writings about race even though race strongly affects hows we conceptualize of queerness. I am curious about this “silence” in discussions about queer-related topics.”
I had to be part of the studious Asians group and not the working-class breakdancing/car culture Asians group, while being utterly alien to both. What was I, I wonder. I was a closeted queer in a Catholic high school, for one——by high school this had gone from child-lesbian to “bisexual,” but even that was an impoverished word, and was really pushing it, since really my sexuality was “Asexual For Anyone Not In The Films I Love Like Chang Chen in HAPPY TOGETHER or Shannyn Sossamon in A KNIGHT’S TALE And Fuck The Rest Of Y’all, Or Not Fuck As The Case May Be And Is” and I’ve only recently learned about demisexuality, which is perhaps closer, but doesn’t include being a total unreformed perv for fictional characters and imaginary people.
I wanted the Prince de Clèves (NOT the duc de Nemours, I hated the duc de Nemours), wanted Eos, wanted Patroclus, badly wanted every girl Sappho ever mentioned in a poem and badly wanted Sappho, too.
Dressed somewhere between dandybutch and hard femme everyday. But none of these words or markers meant anything to anyone. No one knew how to read clothes. If anything, I was a “unique dresser.” But as I said: style is emotional, moral; political. Style is how you live your fucking life. Also: a book, like the word “survivre.” A readable thing. But there are many painful forms of illiteracy.
Faye Wong in CHUNGKING EXPRESS secretly putting sleeping pills in my coffee to help me-as-Tony-Leung sleep——where were you? Why didn’t you come for me? I was waiting for you. I was looking for you. I was waiting to be loved by you.
Zhang Ziyi as Jiaolong in CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, so possessed, so electric and sad, so alive in her frustration and will and desire, so inside herself, dressing like a man and destroying everyone in that tavern with that way she had of being prideful, so determined with her glee, the performance of which was so erotic I dreamed of her for months, devouring meat with starving passion, diving off a mountain balcony, where were you? Why didn’t you come for me? I was looking for you. I was waiting to love you.
Thinking about it, I wonder why I was closeted to my friends, and not my family, which is the reverse of how it usually goes, for people. Because my family was evolved, is the easy answer. There were queer people in my group of friends——but always boys. Among my Catholic, conservative, anti-feminist, waiting-for-marriage girlfriends——all of whom, I can only admit now, today, here, I hated so much it nearly killed me, and thank god I left the country because that hate alone is enough to exhaust me, to make me stop writing this, and I can’t stop writing this——
——it was perfectly fine, to this group of friends, for boys to be gay; not even fine, but quaint, how cute, how enlightened of us to keep a gay boy pet, like that Sassy Gay Friend series that floats around the Internet.
This is the first time I’ve ever admitted that in high school I was closeted. Not just alien, different, needing to get out of California for vague reasons related to that alien difference. But closeted. That I hated my friends because they made me feel like I had to be closeted. That I trusted no one except my family because they were the only ones with whom I did not have to be closeted. To this group of well-behaved Asian American girls. I would have fucked all that up.
What Jackie says about the racialization of queer identity. Who I was assumed to be, even when I said what I was—-because to be fair, I wasn’t closeted, exactly, I did say very clearly what I was open to, what I would always be open to, but all this was taken as part and parcel of what was perceived as my naturally contrary, extreme, “radical” (where “radical” to them meant, “she always has to be different”) nature. Not something that needed to really be taken to heart. That I ran away from everyone and practically eloped with a man at twenty probably confirmed those thoughts.
Well-behaved Asian American girls. Why didn’t I fuck all that up?
I should have fucked all that up. I have now, but too late. Abandoned and spurned everyone, but way too late. Way too late to not regret everything. I should have fucked it all up then.
What did I say about enclosed spaces, and clawing out.
Oh, I’m tired. Writing this is making me tired. Making my heart hurt. What’s all this water. Keep going.
And class. And class. Was I poor? Was I rich? I was middle class, the middle class that Eileen Myles says can go either up or down. It did go either up or down. My father the aristocrat and surgeon went down and my mother the peasant and nurse went up. I don’t know what class I am, I’ve never known, every day I feel like I’m passing, do you know the pain of passing? I’ve said before that growing up I felt like the secret royal daughter of poor parents, but the other coin side of that is that I also always feel like the secret peasant dressed up in her mistress’ clothing for some great scheme only her noble employers are privy to. The great scheme being my life. The great scheme of how I could live the places I’ve lived, gone the places I’ve gone, how I could even live here, now, in this extremely posh city in England, where my beloved Wittgenstein is buried five minutes from my home, where I have even a new Duke and Duchess to call my adopted city’s own.
I’m already revealing too much, why not that, too.
What class are you when you once had mansions and were almost the ambassador to Indonesia but now work as a security guard for computer chip companies, what class are you when you have to live in one city and go to school in another, what class are you when listening to hip-hop and knowing how to dance to it is a marker, a letter on your chest, like any scarlet letter, but this one isn’t scarlet, it’s brown, the letter is brown and it’s your skin, or the letter is green, and it’s your money, the money you have, the money you don’t, how you made it, whether you can go on nice family vacations to Hawaii, or whether your family has never heard of nice family vacations and instead uses all their time off——which is two weeks, we live in America so fuck us and fuck our leisure——to visit immediate relatives in far-flung places, because everyone who shares your blood is scattered over the entire earth, just like the people who made you: running away from their bloody and shameful past, looking for a job, looking for someone that needs a house cleaned, someone who needs their ass wiped, someone who needs their dinner cooked——what class are you when, with the money from the sixteen-hour shifts she works daily, your mother sends you to the most expensive Catholic schools in cities you do not live in, could not afford to live in——
——and thereby divorcing you forevermore from the kids you grew up with, one of whom was your first love, your beautiful first love whom you resembled, with whom you were like a twin, who later became quite petty and dangerous and nihilistic, but who, in those first years of childhood, you were determined to have and be had by, to love forever, to be loved by forever, and you were had, and you were loved——all those telephone calls for hours, all those Halloweens, my face on yours, my body on yours——so I guess it wasn’t entirely true that only girls could get me off back then, because I did want this one sweet boy, the only one, although the sexuality was strange, I still dreamed of girls though I also responded to this love, perhaps that should have taught me something about the fluidity of sexuality, or are all children promiscuous in their dreams and yearning and miserable and horny as hell?
This love who was more like my brother than my brothers, like LOVERS OF THE ARCTIC CIRCLE, this first love who was the most feminine of his friends, which were also my friends, back when I had shared friends; this first love who also looked like Lloyd Dobler in SAY ANYTHING even though he was Filipino, but doesn’t John Cusack look kind of hapa, kind of Asian, in that movie?
This love, which was love——but upward mobility destroyed that, I was sent to the better school, and then there was a cleft between us, a cleft I never fixed, and that’s how first love dies, money comes in and kills it——
——your mother who also constantly buys you clothes from Neiman Marcus, all because of her constant (still ongoing, circa 2011) secret competition with your father’s wealthy family and your half-siblings who grew up in unbelievable opulence, her determination that even though their mother is but a poor nurse and country girl, her children will never have to feel inferior or inadequate, never have to feel longing for the life their half-siblings had during their (your) father’s previous life, waited on hand and foot by maids all over Southeast Asia——and so here, another lace dress, another patent-leather Mary Jane; of course, you’ll never see your mother growing up, she’ll be working all the time to pay for those patent-leather Mary Janes——
——in fact you will often think of your sensitive and present father as your mother and your bread-winning mother as your father——
——your mother tells you you never have to work, she’ll work hard so you never have to work, never in your life, just read, and write, and be happy, and stay alive for fuck’s sake, because you’re so fucking sick all the time it’ll be a miracle you make it past ten anyway, and if you die both of your parents are going to kill themselves and probably your little brother out of their fierce love for you, so stay the fuck alive.
I’ve been meaning to write something much smarter on affective labor and immaterial labor and migrant labor and immune-related illness, sorry. Sorry. I just have to write, very poorly and quickly, about my life.
So what is it, with RJ Puno? With his face, which I love? With breakdancing, which I love? With breaking, and with dancing. With dancing until I break. With trying to figure out how to live, still.
I can say only that there is an imaginary film I want to make.
Yes, another one, a different one from the Madalina one I talked about before.
This one is about a young woman whose name right now is Ariel. She’s a young Filipina-American nurse in the Bay Area, working in the hospital where my mother now works. Or in the convalescent home for the wealthy, where my mother also works.
(Before Clinton, it was illegal for my mother to have two jobs, because one of her jobs was for the Veterans Hospital, a government job. That Clinton made it legal for her to work sixteen hours a day is why she will love Clinton forever. This destroys me from top to bottom, flays me from hair to bone.)
Ten years before the film starts, both of Ariel’s parents killed themselves, along with her older brother, having been unable to pay off their debt. Drove themselves off a cliff. Ariel was in the car, too. But she survived.
I can’t write this if I can’t see or move.
I didn’t know I was going to write this today.
The film takes place over the course of one long day. At the start of the film, Ariel has already worked the graveshift and now has to work a dayshift, too.
Ariel has a ten-year-old daughter, conceived in the year of the deaths, when she was seventeen. The daughter’s name right now is Mel, short for Melchora. My paternal grandmother’s name and my cousin’s name. I’ve talked about both of them, I think, back in that Marcello Mastroianni post.
Yes, the daughter’s name is Mel. The daughter is queer, knows she is queer. Is in love with a girl in her class, who loves her back, though only as a friend, for now. (Does future heartbreak lurk here? We don’t yet know.) The daughter also wants to be a breakdancer. Not “when she grows up”: but now, already, and forever.
Ariel and her daughter have a relation so close as to be almost like lovers; like fellow knights; like comrades. Ariel will never drive her daughter off a cliff. Ariel would die infinite deaths for this little girl, who hasn’t decided yet whether or not she identifies as a girl but is okay with the word “girl” for now, who wears puffy jackets and keeps her hair short, who is teased but knows her way around a fist, and no one fucks with her. No one fucks with Ariel’s daughter.
In the middle of the day, Mel comes into her workplace after the end of the school day, as she sometimes does, because she does not like to stay at her aunt’s house, where Ariel sometimes leaves her despite not having a very good relationship with this aunt——who, incidentally, also works at the hospital, and who has a scene with Ariel in which she is at once deeply concerned and loving, but also deeply condescending and myopic, towards Ariel and her dead parents——and because Ariel cannot afford daycare.
Mel comes and has to stay in the breakroom, hiding from Ariel’s supervisor, because obviously the workplace is not a daycare center. Mel already knows very well how to hide from this supervisor, who has nearly fired her mother several times, but the mother works too hard and well to be fired without really thinking about it. But the supervisor has been really thinking about it.
On the day the film takes place, Mel has received her school photos, so she shows them to her mother. Ariel compliments her photograph. Mel shows the group class photo, says the uniform makes them all look dorky, makes them all look the same.
Ariel say something like, You don’t look dorky. You look like you. You look perfect.
Then Ariel squints at the photo, points to a girl we cannot see, and says, That’s her, right? Her being Mel’s love. Mel nods, puts her chin on her arms, on the table where they are sitting. Bashful lover.
Ariel says, She’s so beautiful. Mel says even though they were not allowed to wear anything but their uniform, the girl she loves snuck in her signature scarf, and got in trouble for it later.
Mel doesn’t say, but it is obvious, that she could love that girl for this gesture alone. Ariel would love someone for that alone, too. Or would have, before.
At the hospital/convalescent home where Ariel works, many of her friends from childhood and high school also work, too, having all become nurses together.
The way nearly all of my cousins are becoming nurses. But not me. Though I still get asked.
Ariel has a brittle relationship with these friends, which sometimes flashes into affection or even love, a love near kinship, love from proximity. The hard, heavy and sometimes bitter love that comes from the sentence: “We grew up with each other.”
What’s clear is that there is a distance between her and the rest of them. It is not just grief that has made that distance, but where that grief comes from. The experience. What she has seen, and what she knows. What has been lost to her. The life she has, which she is not supposed to have.
The life which, it becomes apparent, it is not entirely certain that she wants to have. She is not suicidal, exactly, not with Mel around, never. Rather, she has that quality which Robbie Williams sings about, in a great lyric from “Feel”——strangely, Robbie Williams has a lot of songs with very moving lyrics——“I don’t want to die / but I’m not keen on living either.”
There is distance also because of these friends’ subtle (and not so subtle) conservatisms, heteronormal values, aspirational values, religious values, tiny (and not so tiny) judgmentalisms. And most of all, because of these friends’ reactions to Mel, to Mel’s way of dressing, to Mel’s hair, to Mel’s way of being, which all range from dismissive to condescendingly sweet and infantilizing, and neither Ariel or Mel will have any of that. But Mel is more polite than Ariel, and tolerates what her mother would swear vengeance against. Because of her courtesy, Mel is often disappointed. Because of her sensitivity, she is often hurt.
One of these friends/co-workers is the boyfriend Ariel had in childhood and in high school, the boyfriend she had at the time of her family’s death. The boyfriend she quickly left, as she left nearly everyone at that time: cut off, cut out.
The boyfriend is not Mel’s father. That’s someone else, who is not part of Ariel’s life, not part of Mel’s life.
The old boyfriend’s name is probably Jun, I haven’t decided yet.
What’s clear is that there is still love between Ariel and Jun, and especially from Jun to Ariel. That Ariel will have none of this love is also clear. That Ariel will have none of love at all is even clearer. She fucks indiscriminately, that is clearest of all. Often, and anyone but Jun. But love; not for her, romantic love. She is in love with her daughter, and that is more than enough, or at least she needs it to be.
One of the friends is getting married, and so on this one long day, the nurses are throwing her a bridal shower. There is cake from Goldilocks. There is pancit, the famous Filipino noodle dish. You eat noodle dishes for long life, traditionally. Someone offers Ariel pancit. She declines.
Jun overhears and explains to the person offering the pancit: “Ariel doesn’t like pancit.”
A look passes between them. The look from Ariel to Jun is sharp, annoyed. The look from Jun to Ariel: I know you, and I know also that you do not want me to know you.
People are in disbelief. How can someone, a Filipina, not like pancit? They ask her. Ariel, with discomfort, discomfort at being known, says it’s not that she doesn’t like it, she’s just picky, there are some kinds of pancit she likes and doesn’t like, it depends on the noodle, pancit bihon, pancit canton, etc., etc.
Jun has a look on his face which indicates that he knows this is not a lie, but it is not a truth, either.
Later, some of the young women are looking for songs for a wedding playlist. They are looking for “old school” songs, R&B songs from the 90s, songs they all grew up listening to, songs that would be meaningful for the bride-to-be, who is marrying her high-school sweetheart, so romaaaaaantiiiiccc!!!
Which reminds Jun that he has found a remix of a song that her parents used to make the two of them listen to when they were kids. Jun is the only one in her life who still talks about her parents without pity or fake condolence, everyone else tiptoeing around the subject as if it were a bomb. Which it is, but Jun is not afraid of it. He loved Ariel’s parents, and was loved by them, knew them and was known by them, and so he does not silence himself on the subject of their lives, or their death.
He gives her the earphones of his iPod and lets her listen to the remix. She hears only a few seconds——and we only hear the tinny sound of it through the earphones——before she stops, immediately, removing the buds from her ears. She swallows, smiles a bit fakely to hide her distress, then asks him to put it on her iPod, she’ll listen to it later, it’s too loud here.
Then someone puts on Ghosttown DJs’ “My Boo,” and Jun and Ariel look at each other abruptly, without thinking; and then never look at each other again for the rest of the scene.
The look of unbidden memory. The look of: “That was our song.”
Jun is not dismissive or condescending to Mel. Jun loves Mel, loves who Mel is, and Mel loves Jun. And Ariel loves none of this; but, in spite of herself, is grateful for all of it. Every gesture of love that Jun gives to her daughter.
When Ariel returns to the breakroom with a piece of cake for Mel, Mel has already half-finished the piece of cake that Jun has given her.
Jun is also a pretty good breakdancer, and often teaches Mel certain choice moves, in the parking lot, while Ariel watches, smoking (not in a sexy or romantic way, not in the way of beautiful women in European cinema, but in a way of a tired nurse who has a five-minute smoke break), with a look on her face between total joy and pride——and total, keening grief and denial.
How gentleness can be unbearable.
IF YOUR LOVE IS STRONG / GONNA GIVE MY ALL TO YOU
There are other parts to the film, but I won’t give everything away. Well, I will, I would, but I don’t know all the parts, so I can only give these ones.
Parts about how precarious Ariel’s situation is, how close she is to being fired, how she is still carrying the debt her parents killed themselves and her brother for, how much she works, how tired she is, how she is trying to raise her beautiful, sensitive daughter with love, with freedom, with responsibility——there where responsibility still means honor, fidelity, vigilance——and how trying to do that, when she is beset by so much carelessness, meanness, destruction and opposition, is an impossibility whose impossibility she has to reject every day.
And the face that I imagine Jun to have is RJ Puno’s face.
So that’s the explanation. The face and the mannerisms. Style. The way he dances. So that’s why the little news, my cousin’s little sighting, little sign of life about me to RJ Puno, moved me so much, this morning.
At the end of the film, Jun gets off work first, so he offers to drive Mel home. Mel is enthusiastic, so Ariel agrees, more than a little reluctantly. But they live near each other, anyway.
The hard, heavy and sometimes bitter love of the sentence: “We grew up together.”
In the car, driving home, Ariel listens to the remix Jun gave her. The remix of a song her parents often played in the house, when Jun would be there, too, before death would cancel everything, when he could sit in her house like another brother, another brother who was almost certainly going to become a husband, but in any case: family. Deep in that word whose rubble she is still trying to get out of: “family.”
Ariel listens. We are outside of the car, we can’t hear it ourselves. As she’s listening, she nearly gets into a car accident, which was minor, but given another turn, could have been major. But she doesn’t. The other car honks and speeds away. Ariel freezes, is shaken, but shakes the shakenness from her face and continues driving home.
When she arrives home, the START screen of a video game is flickering on the television. Jun and Mel are both asleep on the sofa, though its back is turned to her so she can only see the back of their heads.
On the small foldable dining table in front of her are several plastic-wrap-covered paper plates, brought by Jun, from the bridal shower. She adds to them her own plastic-wrap covered paper plates. But Jun has brought pancit, she hasn’t.
Ariel looks at the sofa. At the back of Jun and Mel’s heads. She sits down at the table. She removes the plastic wrap from a plate of pancit. She doesn’t bother with a fork. She starts to eat a little bit with her hands.
We cut to Jun on the couch, who is awake, unseen by Ariel. Awake, and listening. Thinking.
The remix she listened to in the car, the remix Jun gave her, starts to play:
The song plays. Ariel is still eating. She begins to take larger and larger mouthfuls. She is starting to cry. Larger and larger mouthfuls of pancit. The crying is turning to sobbing.
Cut to Jun. Jun, who is still listening. Listening to her crying and eating. Listening and thinking. What is on his face can only be described as that place where love is knowing, and knowing is love. He does not move. He does not go to her. He stays, and listens.
More and more noodles. More and more. She cannot swallow what she has put in her mouth, but still she adds more. More noodles. More and more. She could choke on it. She does not choke on it. She sobs and she eats. Sobs and eats. Sobs and eats. More noodles. More sobbing. More eating. Noodles for long life. Noodles for long life.