I Think I Am Trying

Young Man at His Window (1875) – Gustave Caillebotte

Young Man at His Window (1875) – Gustave Caillebotte

16 November 2013
10:35 PM
Manila

M.–

The thing is, I don’t think I really know how to be brave. You know me–I would be the first to admit how terribly scared I am of a lot of things.

I’ve been through several situations where I think, if within the pages of a novel, it would be classified as opportunities to be brave. You have heard this before:

That time I got held up on my way home from school, and a man was pointing a gun to my forehead. I didn’t even think about being a hero. I simply opened my bag and let him take what he wanted. When he and his partner got off the jeepney, I rode for a few more stops before I asked the driver to let me off. My knees shaking, I walked the long way home, trying to calm myself. I had nightmares after that.

That time I got held up again, this time on my way to work. It was just a kid. He was really scrawny. I think I could’ve overtaken him. But he held a knife to my neck, and I thought, it would be terribly inconvenient to die today.

That time I walked through the flood. I was trying to focus on just staying on the middle of the road, on following the exodus of commuters. I was trying not to fall into an open manhole. I was trying not to think about the things floating by me as I walked, if it’s garbage or dog shit. Once past the flood, I was totally disoriented and have no idea where I was supposed to go. I had to rely on the kindness of strangers, who tapped my arm when it was my stop, who helped me down the steps because my glasses were all foggy and I couldn’t see where I was going, who gave me a few coins to call my family over a payphone, who shared their umbrella as I stood shivering by the side of the road.

That time when the machines flatlined, and my grandfather was pronounced dead, and my father was on his knees on the floor, crying. Somebody had to process the forms, had to facilitate moving his body to the morgue, the whole goddamn shebang. I walked from building to building, sobbing, my face wet. I went from doctor to doctor with snot running down my nose.

Yes, I don’t think I was very brave during these times. Not at all. However–

I think, every time I write a letter, every time I open my mouth and my hands to say and to write something that means a lot to me, every time I dare to say I love you, every time I share a facet of myself that I normally wouldn’t, every time I trust–I think I am trying to be brave.

Goodnight,
T.

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