I wrote to you because there’s no other person I could tell this to, and I know you wouldn’t mind reading a letter from someone anonymous. I won’t include my address here so you may not be able to track me. Don’t get me wrong, I know you’re a good person; it’s just that I think there’s no point in letting you know who I am. Why am I explaining this to you when you’re already reading it?
You see, I was with C yesterday at Powerbooks when I saw this book, “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky. And since I have been wanting to read the book for a long time already, I bought it. Luckily, the cover isn’t that “movie cover” where the poster of the movie adaptation is featured. I hate those book covers. They think they would sell the book because it’s “Now A Major Motion Picture?” Such business-minded people. Anyway, the book is very moving that I was able to read half of it in merely three hours. I have this connection to coming-of-age stories, you know. I even chose it as my genre/topic for my Creative Writing thesis in college.
I like Charlie’s character, whose quirkiness has transposed into something beautiful. What has happened in his first year in high school is an extraordinary experience. Finding true friends amid a sea of insensitive and judgmental people is like striking gold in a coal mine. He’s exceptional, and honestly, if he were a real person, I’d be glad to be friends with him. I’d love his mix tapes and poems and we’ll spend time at the bleachers just sitting and letting each other feel that we are understood. I would love to drive him inside the tunnel, and we’ll feel infinite. You would also want a friend like that, right? I also liked how the author’s poetics gradually changes as Charlie “learns how to write better” with his teacher, Bill.
But I wasn’t able to finish the book because J and I had to fetch C who was taking her NMAT examination at the UST. While waiting inside UST, I tried to resume reading, but the place was so beautiful that I ended up taking photos from here and there. Then C arrived (she said she almost fell asleep while having the exam), and we three went straight to Binondo for an afternoon snack. I had asado ramen and raddish cake; C has her roasted duck and hakaw; J ordered lemon chicken, vegetable dumplings, and steamed spareribs. On the way home, we called H and asked if he could come with us at TriNoMa, which he approved of. Two hours later, he arrived and handed us the pasalubong he brought from his vacation weeks ago at Boracay. Why am I relating this to you, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that I missed these people terribly.
Then we all rode a cab to Maginhawa to spend more time. But Zentea and Infinitea tea shops were filled with customers, and we didn’t want Moonleaf because it’s noisy there. We ended up looking for this new coffee nook inside Teacher’s Village. At first we had a hard time looking for it because we couldn’t remember if it was Mapagkawanggawa or Mapagkumbaba Street the shop was located, but eventually we found it at Mapagkawanggawa. It’s called The Midnight Owl Snack Cafe, and its market are mostly studying students from UP and Ateneo. The operative word here is ‘studying,’ because they encourage everyone to minimize noise while inside the shop while everyone is really, really studying. Which is fine for us, really, because we four brought our stuff to read: I resumed Perks, J read his Preview magazine and “Catch a Falling Star” by Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, C read the “Bakit Masayang Tumambay sa UP?” anthology (I have entries there), and H studied for his final exams in an engineering subject. C and H ordered chocolate-banana shake, J had red iced tea, and I ordered jasmine tea.
What was supposed to be catching up slash chitchatting turned to two hours of reading and studying. We almost didn’t speak much; everyone was doing something, but we didn’t feel bored or incomplete. While everytime we’re together, we usually tell stories and news about anything, this time was different. We just read and sipped on our drinks and felt each other’s presence, and I knew, and I was sure, we were infinite.
We walked back home before midnight, and the three of them smoked and we told jokes and we sang silly songs by the pavements. Then we ate the leftover Italian spaghetti and seared chicken we had last night, and we made butter and garlic toast from the leftover baguette. J and C slept earlier, and H watched The Silver Linings playbook and I resumed reading. I finished the book at 1:30AM, H was done watching by 2AM. He wanted to go home but decided to sleep in my house instead.
As I was preparing to sleep, I still couldn’t get over with The Perks of Being A Wallflower. I know it’s a simple young adult novel, but I felt that there was more to that. I felt like Charlie’s real, like he was speaking to me, like I was the real recipient of the letters, that I had to reply and tell him everything is going to be alright. It haunted me, and almost left me teary-eyed. As I closed the book, I felt like there was really something into it like an unfinished business. I couldn’t sleep. Maybe it was the caffeine in my jasmine tea or maybe it was the raddish cake I had at Chinatown. Maybe it was because I wanted to watch the book’s film adaptation in my laptop right away. Or maybe just because Charlie was still speaking to me, relating what really happened with Aunt Helen.
I got up and thought of things that might distract me from thinking about Charlie. Incidentally, I opened another book I bought yesterday, Eliza Victoria’s “A Bottle of Storm Clouds” anthology of speculative fiction and fantasy, but after reading a few pages, I got really frightened by the story. The writer was one hell of a storyteller. I decided to reserve it for tomorrow, and felt excited about it.
I went back to bed, and prayed. I thanked God for giving me my family and friends, and for not making me a socially-awkward high schooler back then. In my next letter, I’ll send you some photos, but I hope you won’t get to know who I really am. My letter ends here. I wrote because I really really had a good time, and I hope you had a good day too.