Matchbox Maladies

Catastrophic uncertainty of the self.

Month: November, 2011

Match Struck, Unlit

by Sine Qua Non

I knew it was real. That it was possible to fall so suddenly, so vulnerably. To be overcome by a sense of attraction so strong there’s no way to rationalize it. Nor is there any reason for one to rationalize how or why it even happens. It just does.

When he stood beside me by the veranda. When he shook my hand from across the table when we met. When he took me by the waist to save me from the swinging door. When he looked up at me from his book. When she pinned me against the wall beside the sink. When he handed me a bottle of iced tea. When he handed me a glass of wine. When she mispronounced my last name written on the index card. When he said my name out loud, finally. When he took the empty seat next to mine.

Nobody needed to be introduced. Names were not important in that moment when the emotions cut across without need for words. We were made this way originally anyway. Without the aid of speech, knowing it with just one look. How could I have lost that? How is my self now unable to recognize and commit to the magic of knowing an attraction at first glance? I want to know it again. To be able to feel it again. Somebody, show me. Please.


The First Match

by Sine Qua Non

I remember falling in love.

That moment when time freezes and you think fate seems to be up to something strange because you feel yourself giving in to a sense of vulnerability you actually know you shouldn’t give in to. The jump barely requires assurance of a safety net, the falling teaches you to watch out the next time you decide to plunge. Fate toughens you up, hopefully there will be less bruises and broken pieces the next time. It is inevitable because the hurl before the fall is kind of required. Otherwise, things just don’t pan out. Staying put at the edge of a cliff gives you nothing but a gust of wind, nothing but the movement of air.

The afternoon before the incident, my friend and I played a childish game of picking up and burning Java cotton (locally known as kapok). We set the soft pieces of cotton the size of clenched fists to fire. The substance which looked like little clouds in our hands burst into flames, consumed itself quickly, and went up in smoke. We did it several times, mesmerized by the intensity of the image of quickly burning things. That entire exercise preceding our meeting, I realize now, is a clue. That game’s long been over but there’s a reason we find these pieces of evidences later than we expect to. There is still some use for it. Maybe for the succeeding games that will occur.

I remember not knowing him and wanting to know him. Attracted by something not merely physical, we were random strangers who found each other and were pulled by inexplicable force towards the other’s direction. It was a perfect moment, seemingly, for destiny to pull a trick. We were fooled into thinking that destiny had sincere intentions. The action was beyond kinetic, the speed of potential movement due to attractions inertly magnetic.

I recall now and wonder: how were we so drawn and so willing? I recall the pursuit in my head. Or the lack of it. We were so mesmerized, so taken. At that moment, it was as if no one else would have been perfect for either. The hypnosis of romance tricked us into believing the rest of the world did not exist. Only the self, the other and everything else in-between

And now, none of that is left. It has dissipated. The attraction gone, extinguished. Did somebody better come along? Did we grow apart? Did we lose that love?

Really, now, it doesn’t matter. Because it points me back to the point of the memory. I remember falling in love. The only thing I have to recall to restore my faith in the possibility. Because, with that last question, it’s confirmed: so, we do fall in love. It is possible to find the self in a moment of sudden amorous seizure. To fall helpless to the dictates of perfect timing and fate. What we can never tell is how long it could last. Because definitely, nothing lasts forever. Especially not passionately burning flames.

But that should suffice. To know that it happens, it should be enough.