Finding an Old Flame
By Gabriela Lee.
I think I found myself in Dumaguete. I was lost before that, and I think I still am, after a fashion. But with the workshop, I’ve rediscovered my old flame—writing—and I’ve found that he was still as beautiful as ever.
Sometimes, I still wonder if things would have turned out differently had I stayed. That was what the world was asking of me during that time: love or writing. I chose to write. I lost my love. The price we writers have to pay is steep, but somehow I do not regret my choice. Writing will never be indecisive for me, will be faithful and true, and while there will be days when I have to bleed for my words, I will never regret this choice.
I remember the sunsets of Dumaguete, colors chasing each other across the canvas of the sea and sky, mirrors and imitations of the same blueness. I remember walking down the Boulevard at sunrise at our last morning, saying goodbye to my home of three weeks, and wanting to come back. I remember the peeling plaster walls and ceilings of O.K .Pensionne, and Mitzie and Marie drunk as hell, and the angst and the late-night talks and walks and card games with James and non-hugs from John, and Ginny finding me crying at the hallway of Villa Alzhun and hugging me because she knew that I missed my boyfriend then. I remember Ma’am Marj teaching us the names of the constellations and locating the North Star and the Southern Cross. I remember Mom Edith, and the way her face crinkles beautifully when she smiles. I will remember tarot readings and the SuperCat ride and how Myrza can do headstands when she’s bored.
Sometimes I wonder if going back had been a mistake. I would have wanted one more day, one more chance to see if things would go another way. But there’s no such thing as a time machine, and sometimes it is best to let go.
This workshop has renewed my passion for writing, and gave me a gentle push in the direction I needed. It reminded me how much I loved writing, and how ready I was to sacrifice the craft in the name of some other love, and how absolutely stupid that would have been. Writing is as essential to me as breathing, and to rob me of my words is to rob me of life.
Perhaps somewhere down the road, I will be able to experience both at the same time, and keep them both. The universe will never ask to choose one over the other. It just so happens that circumstances happen that will seem that way. But I do not regret Dumaguete, and I will never allow my writing to be compromised ever again.