Two bottles of light beer, a nice glass of Chivas, and a few sips of some cheap convenience store wine later, and it turned out to be a New Year. Manila, was once again, a dazzling display of fireworks strewn across her polluted sky; the asthmatic cowering inside their homes; karaoke on full-blast; the limbs of the few disillusioned by the YOLO concept stitched or amputated; food overflowing; cheers and pleasantries joining the revelry in welcoming a new day.
For a moment, my senses are lost to the crackle of New Year’s celebration; my eyes transfixed by the controlled explosions of fireworks; my ears bombarded by the noise upon welcoming a new dawn; my nose covered from the toxic traces of the merriment. Against the lights and the noise, an interior swallowed by solitude, a darkness impossible to diffuse no matter how many roman candles lit the night sky; a silence which drowns out the festivities.
Time, to me, has never been cyclical. It has always been a step forward, not a roundabout like the calendar, not the dizzying spiral of clocks and watches. Time, to me, has always been just trudging ahead, and leaving the past behind. And perhaps this is why moving on requires a greater deal of focus in my case. While I am a practical person, you may also assume I get quite sentimental. I’m a young man but I feel old, and I feel like I’m losing my fight against time. And you would be right to assume I am wrong for even choosing a battle with time.
New Year forces one to look back. It’s an activity I love and hate. Love, because as I’ve said, I am sentimental and nostalgia can be quite addictive; hate, because as a practical person who wants control, I understand the past is beyond mine. I look back and I remember but not with clarity. My memory has always been unreliable, perhaps another old man’s affliction I possess. I remember faces, places, seconds and days, but only few stay fresh enough to illicit the captured emotion – a laughter trapped in the recollection of a joke from a friend; a tear stuck in the bewildering chaos of professional disarray; a measured yet invaluable smile which resurfaces upon hearing a voice.
While everyone welcomed the New Year with cheers and hope, I welcomed mine with caution. The year I left behind is gone, one for the history books as they say. There is uncertainty as I take the first steps of a chillier January; a wariness and weariness of the limbs. But there is also joy to be alive, to have a chance not to return to a past but to simply learn from it. And there is also courage to pick up a fight with time as well.
And goddamit will I fight a battle this year.