Getting that fix(ed)!

By Krip Yuson


When I learned that this magazine’s theme for the February issue would be fixation, I immediately joked my S.O. that I’d be writing about her — appropriately enough, on and for the love month.

She fired back by SMS that I probably didn’t mean her, as that would then be obsession. Hmmm. Got me there.

I just had to check out my laptop dictionary to ascertain the distinction. Here “fixation” is defined as “an obsessive interest in or feeling about someone or something.” Examples of usage provided are: “his fixation on the details of other people’s erotic lives | our fixation with diet and fitness.”

On the other hand, “obsession” is “the state of being obsessed with someone or something,” as in “she cared for him with a devotion bordering on obsession.” Or “an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind,” to wit, “he was in the grip of an obsession he was powerless to resist.”

As a verb, “obsess” (usually “be obsessed”) is to “preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent.” An example: “her husband, who is obsessing about the wrong she has done him.”

Clearly, a fixation then seems to be an obsession however mild or milder, while the latter is of a more grievous sort, to partake of which suggests being beholden to a dark or darker side. “To a troubling extent,” the definition qualifies.

To be fixated is to be unduly interested in or fascinated with someone or something. To be obsessed seems to imply crossing a line in terms of this degree of fixation, a perilous one beyond which is unhealthy territory.

We get fixated on schedules, or certain lifestyle habits. Apart from the song’s “Route 66,” we get our fixes elsewhere, as in nicotine, coffee, or sugar fix. Oops, did I say not crossing that defining line is to stay healthy? Let’s make that perilous on both counts. But it’s still being obsessed that needs to be fixed.

Or does it? At 16 when I started playing around with poetry, an early verse I wrote had the line: “Love is not love if it’s not obsession.”

Ha ha. How presumido, as my grandma might have said. Still, little did I know, at that sweet age, that I would, in fact, precociously presage that future state when romantic devotion goes beyond fixation and lands one in the grip of confusing exhilaration.

Okay, so may I now go ahead with one bolder step and depart from ambiguity, own up as to whether I have indeed, at some time, been gripped that way, or was even just fixated on a romantic interest?

Own up I will. My S.O. and I are both mature single parents, with kids that still stay with us, respectively (in my case, even a granddaughter). Our relationship is ruled for the most part by two ribbons of highway, C-5 and SLEX, or a total of 23 kilometers of road that separate our residences from Valle Verde in Pasig to Alabang Village in Muntinlupa.

The mutual attraction and caring have gone on for over four years, albeit there have been many sorry patches of contention, largely owing to my mercurial temper and, despite or because of my age, a severe want of patience. My beef has generally been her lack of time for me, given her devotion to her kids (in college and high school) and the nature of her work as a free-lancing food stylist, who can be on call any time.

This has resulted in broken concert dates, island jaunts, important socials (important for me) when I’ve had to suddenly go solo. I try to understand, but my frequent loneliness leads to other issues. We’ve been on and off, on again, ever on a roller-coaster ride from euphoria to sadness and back.

We’ve traveled considerably together, among our islands, to many foreign cities, collecting a myriad of terrific memories. But we’ve quarreled in Tehran, and she’s walked out on me amid the ruins of Persepolis and at a hotel in Kuta, Bali.

In brief, we’ve been like cats and dogs, until we can’t stand the separation and start purring anew rather than snarling at one another. Maybe it doesn’t help that we’re both Pisceans, with midnight alone separating our birthdays in this love month.

Recently, medical episodes on my part have whispered intimations of mortality, and convinced me just as much that she truly cares for this old and yet ageing geezer. She does, as manifested with clarity and strength when I landed in the hospital and all throughout my recuperation at home.

I have since tried to persuade her to let all bygones be bygones, and for us to establish an even keel with permanence. It seems we’re both coming around to this wonderful idea.

Now here is where we split ways — on this page, that is. I can only speak for myself when I say I need her for a daily fix, although I’m aware and can understand that we can’t yet live together. Similarly, I can only speak for myself when I declare that I may be obsessed, all right, with that eventual possibility.

For now, it’s already a formidable challenge just getting over Valentine’s Day (with the likelihood that we might not have an evening date because her oldest boy still has no girlfriend to go out with), the start of the Chinese Lunar Year (would she be free from family and work for us to enjoy the pyrotechnic displays off Mall of Asia?), and a planned weekend on a resort island on the eve of our natal days (here’s hoping no work call comes for her).

Yes, that serial hopefulness already poses quite a challenge. And we’ve only just begun this month of fixation and obsession.

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