Thursday, May 11, 2006

Narcolepsy: Addiction to Dreams

It was a humid summer night that I once wished for rain. The next afternoon, I was awoken by deep rumbles of thunder followed shortly by sounds of water pelting our roof. In the haze of a sleep reclaiming my consciousness, my heart was, once more, crushed by the sheer weight of the body holding it.

When I was young, I was raised to be a devout believer in the teachings of the Catholic Church. I prayed before and after sleeping and eating. In my life then, I asked for a lot of things. Sometimes, I got what I want but most of the time, I had to haggle, bargain, deal and, often, give up getting what I wanted. Sure I would pout and stomp my feet, following the instinct of uncivilized children but a quick, stern glare would pacify me. I would then turn inward to boil my anger away, sometimes churning milk into vinegar in the process but none of those grudges did last quite long.

At the age of four, I was amazed by the clouds. There were times I'd run, looking at my side to see if I could outrun the clouds. I had no such luck for the clouds always floated by as fast as, if not faster than, me. Finally giving up on the feat, I'd sit by the front door of our house, idly watching the clouds roll by. Some had really frightening shapes, no thanks to my lively imagination, and part of my childhood was spent battling giant imaginary monsters peeking from behind the clouds.

Everytime it rains, I had always been fascinated. Directly in front of the bedroom window, there was a panel of fine wire mesh. The streams of water from the raindrops would always create lovely square patterns as films of water were built and popped. The overall effect was as mesmerizing as Conway's Life.

At the age of nine or so, I, and the rest of the country, had the rare chance to witness a solar eclipse first-hand. Though we'd only see a partial eclipse in our area, I was, nonetheless, thrilled at the prospect of actually seeing a solar eclipse. In my mind, I had buried lunar eclipses as silent, boring events. I had spent the week in excited anticipation. When the day finally came, however, I was dismayed to find the sky dark. By noon, the firmament was completely overcast and a downpour had begun. At one in the afternoon, I had knelt down at the altar, praying fervently to my god, that I may yet witness the moon covering the sun. At two, I have completely given up.

Watching the footages of the eclipse in Cebu and Tawi-tawi aired by a local network, I was really frustrated at having lost my solar eclipse. I could not hold back my tears and I sulked in a dark corner of the living room. I still held my faith back then, consoling myself with the propaganda that everything happens for a reason. Still, the first seed of doubt was planted and I started wondering if God really did exist or, if he did exist, if he really is exactly the way my religion has described him.

There were times that I'd wonder, how clouds are able to hold themselves up. I knew from my science classes that clouds are made up of water. I'd sometimes imagine what would happen if, by chance, an entire cloud fell on top of me, not as gradual rain, but as a sudden, humongous tub of heavy water. By that age, though, I have overcome most of my imaginary fears and I lived life without looking nervously at the sky ever and anon.

Growing up, I learned the joy of playing in the rain. The cold drops would pelt my body and the rivulets that ran in veins across the ground swirled and streamed in a beautifully random manner. At that time, the wire mesh panel had long been gone.

Stepping into college, I retained much of my immaturity but I never played in the rain again, or at least, not conspicuously. Hands in my pockets, I'd walk under a drizzle in my jacket, consciously catching the drops in my hair. I don't know why but, for some reason, I liked the feel of rainwater on my hair. To me, then, the rain was a source of inspiration, something abstract and romantic, something to write about.

I often fell into writing everytime it rains. Alone in my room, burning sticks of cinnamon incense, the rain and I shared something intimate in crafting my dreams into paper.

This romance, I soon found out, was to lead me into a downward spiral. It was with a heavy rain that I fired some shells into a relationship I once had. It was the same rain that made me wonder, if I really am in love or just in love with falling in love. The paranoia of thinking grew to be too much for me as I broke the relationship.

Things started going downhill from there. During the first few months, I would sometimes rush into the washroom to break into an uncontrollable fit of sniffs, sobs and stifled tears. The sky was as gray as I felt and when it rains, I feel an urge to throw up, bang my head into the wall or just give up and cry again. There was, in my life, a great hollow space; so integrated was that person to my life that to break away meant breaking some fragments from my everyday living.

In months, I began to heal by numbing myself. No longer was I afraid to interact with other people, although I became more cautious. I have been careful not to be involved with their lives and to keep them out of mine. The phrase, "I feel something for you," had been reconstructed into, "I am attracted to your looks." The words, "nice", "friendly" and "lovable" were conveniently replaced with "cute", "attractive" and "interesting." I vowed never to fall again, unless I was sure of what I was falling into.

That was my mistake. In ensuring that I'd fall into something soft, I, myself, had gone soft. What began as an inspiring attraction evolved into a deadly, lethargic infatuation, or something worse. I began blinding myself to everything else as long as I was close to that person.

I could clearly remember the night I crossed the line. It was raining then, no surprise in that. The two of use wore jackets, which, to the best of our knowledge, had limited water-absorption capacity. As the downpour really poured down, we soon got drenched, soaked to the skin and cold in the frosty night.

Climbing aboard our ride, I came in close proximity to the other that I could inhale their scent. Curiously, that person smelled a lot like crisp, white, sun-dried linen. Pressing slightly closer, I felt the same solar warmth radiating from their body. Turning my head, it was pure coincidence that the other also turned their head and smiled at me. It was in that smile that I saw sunshine.

Alright, this is beginning to get too mushy, even for my taste so I'd spare you the gory details. However, one thought remained in my mind that night: how the sharp contrast between the cold and wet environment and the warm and friendly person highlighted the very same warmth and friendliness. Since then, I was totally captured. Many times I strugled to break free but another part of me struggles to remain in the comfortable cage. Looking through the bars, I could see a quagmire slowly eating the metal stand. If I remained, I would also be swallowed alive.

In desperation, I tried something I had been planning for a long time. Tetrahydroziline Hydrochloride, also known commercially as Visine is an eyedrop manufactured by pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer. So long as it was used topically, it remains harmless. Ingested, however, it could induce diarrhea, drastically lower body temperature, raise, then suddenly lower blood pressure and cause someone to lapse into a coma. I was counting on the last one so wishing for luck, I downed a dose, along with some soda.

I had not the will to kill myself; I only wanted to sleep. Maybe if I did sleep for a long time, everything will be alright when I wake up. Maybe if I thoroughly submerged myself in dreams, I'd have the clarity of vision to realize them. Too bad, wakefulness came sooner that I had wished. As I was drawn from the other world, the first sounds I heard was the splashes of water landing on the trees. My mind conjured a vivid image of a single drop, falling down from the sky, hopping from branch to branch and gliding as surface runoff before finally returning to Mother Earth, beginning the cycle anew. It was in the darkness of the ground that realization hit me; it's tomorrow already and I'm still alive.

There were lessons I have learned from this. One is that suicidal people should not drink a glass of milk a day. Neither should they also regularly drink fruit juice. As a matter of fact, they should just quit taking vitamin pills or other nutritional supplements. One should also not go on a spending spree, splurging, shopping or food tripping before the attempt because if it fails, there will be more problems. Lastly, a failed attempt should not discourage you. As they say, "Try and try until you die."

While it was not quite suicide, I did learn those lessons well. Quite unfortunately, I was too weak-hearted to repeat the attempted poisoning. Maybe things did happen for a reason. With a heavy sigh, I went out of the house and faced the world once more, only to be swallowed by the mire. Bogged down, I found it hard to get out. The practice of subterfuge I had applied on my guardians began to backfire. The death of one lie led to the birth of two more. Still, there remained in me enough sanity to fight getting bogged down. As a dying star screams it death near the event horizon, I made one last move to gather up enough courage.

The sun was hot when we met, a stark contrast to the frigid cinema. After precious minutes of beating around the bush, walking from one end of the mall to the other and back again, I finally blurted out how I felt. Granted, the panic and pressure of dispelling a stack of lies dulled me but what came out was a lot less eloquent than I would have preferred. What resulted was the polite rejection I had been expecting.

As I walked out, the rain had just stopped, although the drizzling persisted for a while. Looking up, I could see no stars in the light-polluted night sky. Looking down at my feet, there were zeveral dazzling points of light reflected from the wet asphalt below. Eyesight blurring, I hurriedly got myself a ride home before I lashed out to the innocent world. I knew it was not love because I was more than ready to let go. Yet, I knew it was not just plain attraction because it hurt all the same.

As the King once said to Robin i' Hood, "Just because you are downtrodden does not mean you have the right to take the law in your hands," or something along those lines. I will do well to remember that, everytime I feel like lashing out.

The rain still pours in different parts of the world. Despite the events that had transpired, I still retained the love I had for the rain. Maybe now, it was time that I actually write about it once more.

The rain has always brought me grief.
The pain is eternal, the pleasure, brief.
Yet, frigid drops that fell before
I seek, that they may fall once more.

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