“Are you always like this?” she asked, taking a jolly bite of her chicken parmigiana sandwich.
I shrugged. My eyes were glued to the sole napkin in front of me, the corners of it threatening to flutter away every time someone entered the restaurant. I can tell you that because my spine had remolded itself into my infamous “C” hunch, bringing my line of vision unbearably close to anything below where my chin used to be. The posture of disinterest and impeding gloom. I wore it like an old pair of shoes that still fit me perfectly.
“You seem bothered.”
“Are you sure?”
“You’re not like this when you go to school.”
Context: This conversation was extremely uninteresting and casual, contrary to how melodramatic I made it seem. My mom knows I get sad. I know I get sad. She continues eats her sandwich with glee. We move on.
Context: I am home for winter break! Three days in, to be specific.
Context: I was born on the 21st of May, barely making me a gemini (although on some other astrological charts, I’m arguably a taurus since my birth date is right on the cut off between the two). I bring this up because maybe it’s the reason why I’m so double sided all the time??
If you ask any of my friends – among all the different circles I’ve managed to insert myself in – what I’m like, their answer would pretty much align with one another. Nice, bubbly, innocent, a hint of savagery, kinda weird. This is starting to sound extremely pretentious but I promise there’s a point I’m getting to soon.
If you ask any of my family what I’m like, they would probably throw a bunch of foul tagalog adjectives around. Masungit (crabby), madamot (selfish), malungkot (sad), mean, lazy, kinda weird. They wouldn’t do it to insult me. They would do it to answer the question accurately.
Both types of me are very true, very real, and very annoying to juggle around.
I am such a fraud. The image in front of my friends, the same one I try to maintain through social media, is not who I am all the time and it makes me feel so groooOOOOosssss. I’m exposing myself now, in case someone else does it in the future.
Something about being home brings out the worst in me. I stay in bed until the afternoon, I yell at anyone who irritates me, I over contemplate unnecessary issues, AND my acne gets really really bad! I’m a useless lump that takes up too much space on the couch. It’s high school me all over again.
There’s a lot more to worry about here. The problems of every member under this roof are suddenly clapped onto my shoulders. (I haven’t even had the chance to stretch yet.) It becomes too unbearable. Maybe that’s why I hunch over so much.
Whoa! Hey! Pause – see what I mean? Do you sense the narcissism? Trying to make myself look good pfft…
This is not about me heroically sweeping in to carry my family’s stress on my back. This is about me being terribly pummeled by it. Patriarchy, mental health, head-splitting fights, chronic lies, lack of love: all of it is a ball of chaos that I hate being immersed in. I can’t do anything to make them disappear (the problems, not the people), so I just shut down.