Because I am the kind of person who likes to acquire things only if I can imagine them to be permanent fixtures in my life, I can’t for the life of me figure out why I’ve spent the last decade of my life moving–from one apartment to another, one country to another, one time zone to another, etc. Or should it be the other way around: because I am the kind of person who, apparently, likes to move, I don’t know why I bother to acquire things that I eventually have to abandon, sell, give away, or put up for adoption (indefinitely).

This comes to mind now that I’m home for the summer and resisting the urge to nest in the apartment I have for three months (now down to two). I’ve learned my lesson well: while I occasionally indulge in the fantasy of caring for plants, no calamansi bush or cactus plant has made its way to my third-floor balcony. I love couches (Curious Couch nga, di ba?) but since I lost my last couch due to a melodramatic life change, I’ve stuck to borrowing chairs that I can easily stack and ship back to their owners once I’m on the move again–a practice that has extended to this summer’s apartment, which is bare and makeshift, with no furniture save for a mix-and-match dining set borrowed from my mother. I have a mattress with no bed frame (very Zen, I tell myself), a fridge on loan from my mom’s friend, and an electric fan, also on loan (though I think it used to be mine, but at this point it’s hard to trace its provenance). The one thing I bought for the place is an induction cooker, and only because no one can lend me an electric stove.

A summer project of mine, aside from reworking and expanding a poetry manuscript and reading a couple of books for avant-garde poetry class next semester (talaga lang, ano?) is to retrieve all my books, which, in the last year, have had to reside in the homes of various loved ones and my office. It’s hard to see my beloved books scattered all over the place, and even harder to see the people who love me give up precious space and endure claustrophobia induced by stacks and stacks of books they have no use for. Now my shelf-less apartment is busy with books, and I’m bracing myself for the next step–to sort them, and in the process, significantly reduce the number of books I can’t live without. The rest should be sold, discarded, and given away. I have no permanent address, and that’s all there is to it.

The things I carry.

More things I carry. What isn’t mine and merely passing through: the guitar, the stereoscope with a gold box filled with antique slides, a few books. I wouldn’t mind having them, but where would I keep them?

This old friend’s for keeps.