Thursday, August 07, 2003

tailor

One of the consequences of being dehydrated is a feeling of general weakness. I now wake up with a sigh, forced out of bed by the demands of my new ameoba overlords. After all that, I drink some liquids to replenish my system and have the first cigarette of the day, watching the sunlight spread over my view of Ortigas Avenue.

The early morning hour, the small small feeling of my body and the addictive smoke combine to produce a pleasant feeling, a high of sorts. My head goes light and I feel almost weightless, almost afraid to shift my weight in the chair I'm sitting on lest I drift away beyond the window, passing through the glass barrier like a wraith.

Ideas come and go, flitting through my head as slow as lightning and as fast as ice, cockteasers in their ephemeral quality, there and not-there, not quite substantial, mere beginnings, nothing more and certainly nothing less - but all nude and unabashed.

I watch their erratic motion. This one spins, a Jenny-May-Care-Less; that one prowls, like a noble jaguar, a mouthful of teeth.

Some of them are familar, the Old Ones, like faces you recognize subconsciously in the back portion of a glossy magazine, not-so-subtlly posturing for attention. Some are new, peculiar configurations, hazy and wordless, intimating brilliance. Others are partially both, half-remembered, perhaps novel, as elusive as the name at the tip of your tongue when you need it the most.

I proceed with caution, a tailor with thread and needle, custodian of my cabinet of fabric. I have been burned before, tempted by the glamour of clothing an idea too-good-to-true, only to be betrayed in execution - which is, of course, my fault and my fault alone (the cut is wrong or my assumptions of color misjudged or the fabric just simply untoward). But sometimes, with the hushed rustle of perfectly falling silk, everything works out, and I dress the idea in cloth-of-words, coaxing the idea's inner beauty to shine through in a recognizable fashion.

I have become a tailor of habit, preferring materials I'm already familiar with. Often, it is enough (sometimes simple is best and sometimes simple materials do the best job). But there are times, out in the world, when I see someone else's fashion beast and I am struck dumb with envious admiration. "I recognize that idea," I say to myself, "but I never would have thought to use that fabric!".

And so I borrow (a much more polite term than "steal") and add the textile to my cabinet of materials, excited for the next opportunity to exert the new fabric's influence on my sense of style. And when it does, I cut and hem and pink and tuck until I know that I have made a version that is never a copy.

That's when the naked ideas squeal in horror or delight, for better or worse. For nothing, nothing we say or write ever comes out unclothed.

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