Once, I knew this boy who used to lay his heart next to the man he had slept with. The first he met in Malate. They left the dance floor together at daybreak and ended up in a motel somewhere in Quiapo. The next day, lust had turned into affection. A week later, they elevated their bonds to being partners.
The boy was 21.
The second was a random chat mate on Yahoo Messenger. They exchanged scanned photos, liked each other, and then they decided to meet a few days later. On the evening of their hang out, it rained, drenching both kids, which lead them to making a detour in a motel instead of going home. After the make-out and the fucking, they left the grounds promising to keep in touch. A week later, the guy was introduced to friends as our boy's next lover.
He was barely 6 months out of his first relationship.
Somewhere between that time and today, the rules of engagement had changed. The heart, which he used to expose on the first night of intimate contact, is now the last he reveals to strangers. Boys, who would grow fond of him after spending a day (or night) in his company never gets his attention. He would wonder how others would speak of endearment when little by little, his gestures hint his desire to keep some distance.
I sometimes ask, does he feel pain when he disappoints another, a guy he probably had sex with, in real life, or through digital trade-offs?
"Why should I?" He'd say with ambivalence.
He would then go on telling me the burden of realizing how someone's tenderness is like a poison to his solitude. The last time he coupled with another, he was dumped for reasons unjustified. That, or he would cling to the faintest of hope that a sharing of minds would eventually lead to the oneness of hearts.
Chances are, he would give up after finding another worth exploring, and when things don't work out, he would move on, and begin another cycle.
Looking back through all the days he had closed his eyes and allowed his heart to lead the way, he would end up bruised and limping, with nowhere to go but back to his fort. And all the lessons he learned - from sharing lives with other beings - pile up, like thick stone blocks he use to reinforce his walls, making it more difficult for the next soul to reach him, and pull out that boy who once believed in unconditional attachments.
Still, there are remnants of that childhood, cocooned and waiting to break free for that once chance to soar again; like how he still finds himself under the Weatherman's spell, promising he would look after him even when the kid searches everywhere for that one-of-a-kind attraction; or when he comes across some "bromance" video clip, mistaking it for homemade gay porn on Socialcam, and then spend the rest of the morning lamenting how he once believed in such fairy tales; or when he listens to his Spotify playlists, and shares some of his favorite tunes on social media, hoping someone would actually dig his music.
I would like to believe the boy still wanders within; past the turbulence of new-found and fleeting trysts, beyond the trappings of lust that open the door to longing; and laid beneath this narrative of always looking back, and using past heartbreaks to make someone's attempt to get close as complicated as his thoughts of having relationships.
Once, I knew this boy who used to lay his heart next to the guy he had slept with. And now that this boy had grown into a man, he sleeps with his heart lay hidden, never for the one whose impatience would not even bother to learn the troubles it had gone through, and understand why it takes longer nowadays for that organ to even sound a beat.
*After A, whose troubles and hang-ups rival mine.