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Lines and Lines
by Luis Joaquin M. Katigbak

Evenings can be intolerable when you’re alone. Sometimes you’re lucky and the voices comfort you: the strangers’ voices on the radio or TV, the voices of old friends you’ve called in the quiet ache of night, the soundless voices trailing words across your computer screen. Sometimes the voices can carry you over into sleep or the morning, whichever comes first, and the only price you’ll have to pay is a dry throat or watery eyes or a weary neck. There are nights, though, when nothing works, and you know these nights well and wish you didn’t. Tonight is one of those nights, when there are no satisfying decisions to be made, when the hours are your enemies, marching single file against you.

Leave this room, then, leave this house: this overly-familiar street, incapable of startling you out of yourself. Go somewhere, follow the threads of lights strung across the sky, from pole to pole and building to building, now beckoning, now blinking. Anything is better, tell yourself that. The gray of the pavement, the rush of the people, the cars, the buses, the vendors, the illusion of illuminated activity. Perhaps you hail a cab, perhaps you walk, it doesn’t matter; all you are hoping for is for the city to become strange.

You think about the way light trails form in photographic images: dot after discrete dot joined by simple motion, forming an arc or path admirable in its seeming purpose. You think about the voices that failed you tonight; the voices of reason or banality—what was the difference again?—blending into each other like the lights, perhaps forming arcs and paths as well. You want to ride those lines, of light or words, ride them towards something you always thought you should have: certainty, maybe, or happiness. (What was the difference again?)

Where will you end up? You are in a bazaar of sorts, makeshift stalls huddled together and fluorescent-lit, you look at shirts and shoes and watches and pirated discs, the salespeople urge you and reassure you. You are in an almost-empty theater watching a movie that has been showing for two weeks; it will not last a third. You are in a 24-hour convenience store where the food is unspectacular but filling, and your fellow customers have a lost look you recognize, but you will never talk to them.

You are in the city, the city that will house your dreams and break your heart. You will never understand it fully, all its large and little corruptions, all its glimmers and crannies. This is where you live, you and your sadness—for that is what it is, do not fear calling it by its true name—you and your recurring and confused sadness. Take comfort in the possibility of opposites and the secret joy of dissatisfaction. Know that you will have more nights like this and tell yourself that there is a purpose, somehow, or at least some kind of meaningful pattern to it all, that the lines may gently curve around you until you are led spiralling into somewhere, a place where the secrets are not so intractable and your instincts will not lead you astray.

Photo by Wawi Navarroza

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Best described as a Murakami detox support group, we're all fans of the quirkily brilliant Japanese author, Haruki Murakami, and writing about such things as films we've seen recently and books we're reading (not to mention meandering musings on the man's work, of course) helps us to pass time while waiting for the next book from Haruki-baby.

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