May 21, 2008

the art of parting

Or, alternatively, further meditations on the continental drift theory

Come to think of it, it’s easier trying to explain why some romantic connections are suddenly severed – these are the stuff break-ups between lovers are made of. Sadly, they are sometimes over the minutest of things. In other situations, they could also be over the insurmountable consequences of certain events that transpire through the years. Sometimes they could have been avoided; sometimes, it was how the natural flow of things would have gone. It’s sad to note also that some relationships have been doomed to end even before they really began.

There are third parties, and impossible parents and in-laws; there are racial boundaries, sexual norms; there are religion-related limits. There are power hierarchies even, for those who are involved with their own superiors or their own employees. In some cases, there are social dispositions to be taken into consideration. For lovers in separate continents, the mere existence of the distance between is sometimes reason enough to end it.

There are a lot of reasons why marriages are broken, why couples file for divorce where they could or why younger lovers have to part. But that’s not the point of this at all.

What I’m curious about is how and why platonic relationships fall apart.

The truth is that it’s a lot harder to explain how connections are severed gradually. Sadly, this is what happens among friends or family members. Sadder still, sometimes the affair seems like out of and beyond their control.

Maybe it’s the time spent apart – the batch graduates and promptly disperses, and the next thing you know it’s been ten years since that; or, maybe you move out of your parents’ house and never make it back on weekends and before you know it, a couple of years had already passed.

Either way, it’s gradual. You make it to the reunion clutching nothing but memories of prom nights and graduation balls that happened a decade or so ago, and when you get there you barely know the people in attendance. Yes, this is the other side of that otherwise nostalgic assessment, “It’s as if the years between had not been there at all.” Because sometimes, they are there, all right – all them solid years. Sometimes, they change people enough to make them unrecognizable.

Sometimes, it all feels like you’re not really together when you are together because it’s so rare there’s pressure to make it pleasant. This often happens to people who get together occasionally and try their best to avoid argument, and sometimes the best way to do that is to not talk at all. So much for getting together over meals and silences.

Personally I could attest that I had chosen carefully the strings I had kept attached to me after all these years, and that thankfully when I tug at them they’re quite still sturdy like I’d just had them on yesterday.

I would even go on to note that certain strings had endured some severe turbulence and what-not, but now, though I could not really say they’re good as new, I must say they are certainly among the strongest.

But right now, I could not quite put it, how I feel like I’m standing amidst a field of strings being worn so thin I fear them breaking. Strings connecting people to other people, strings that are not technically my own, but you know how it all feels like everything’s connected anyway, at some point? Browse any social network and you’ll know this for sure, how I am connected to you and you are connected to me, and how this is true for my friends and your friends and their friends, and you know where this is going right?

A couple of weeks ago, an old friend pointed to a celebration called World Pangaea Day, which hopes to inspire a sort of “reunion” in the world – a coming together of cultures and races and countries and people, in general. I thought the message was nice, but I never thought it would hit very close to home.

We used to say in jest, to refer to committed crushes in college: ‘If continents could part, so could they.’ The standard reply would be, ‘Yeah, of course, if I could wait for a million years.’

I read somewhere that the plates are continuously moving, and that some continents could be farther than they are now in a million years more. I imagined standing at the edge of South America and another person standing at the facing edge of India and how time could pass and we would stand farther and farther apart and it would be beyond our control.

Somewhere, there’s a profound sadness I could not explain.