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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.


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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

entry arrow8:40 PM | Empty Shells on a Crossroad

I'm in KRI having dinner, and there's this woman in the other table that piques my curiosity. Nothing wrong about her. She looks decent in fact, a normal-looking early 50s woman who must have been a kind of beauty in her youth. But there's something about her that repulses me a bit -- an air of surrender to life? a wardrobe straight from government office chic? a weariness that signals she does not know anything else in this city besides the daily commute between office and home? I may be wrong with these kneejerk judgments of who she is, but I get these feelings sometimes...

Sometimes I meet people I used to know, mostly people my own age, and something about them makes me pause and an unasked question comes to my head: "What happened to you?" Sometimes the lines on their face, the coarseness of their skin, or the weary trudge they carry themselves with are the prompts. Sometimes it comes from how they have faded from the blush of whatever it was that used to be them: their present selves are worse than wallflowers, their getup have that bureaucratic nightmare about them, and their small talk contains the silent horrors of nights spent following mind-numbing teleseryes and silly noontime shows. "What happened to you?" But of course I do not ask. Each of us carry the burdens of our existence our own way, and the paths we choose and the decisions we make essentially mold the way we become.

It reminds me of that line Sandra Oh makes to Diane Lane in the wonderful Under the Tuscan Sun [2003], as she counsels the latter about seizing the capsized life she has been having after a bitter divorce: "You know when you come across one of those empty shell people, and you think 'What the hell happened to you?' Well there came a time in each one of those lives where they are standing at a crossroads... someplace where they had to decide whether to turn left or right..." And I wonder, with these people I see, what turn did they take? Left, or right? And were they happy?

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