#KuwentongSevs: Of goodbyes and “forever”

By Niña Terol (@ninaterol)

There was a time when Sev’s Café was almost literally “home.” It was where my former household of two had our after-work dinners (every day, for a time); where we’d hang out to just talk and dream of the next crazy, creative adventure; where I’d stretch out on the small couch to read a book while he practiced his music; where we’d welcome and entertain friends because there wasn’t enough space in our unit to make everything and everyone fit.

Sev's Cafe
Discovering Sev’s Cafe, September 2013 (Source: @ninaterol on Instagram)

It was our “unofficial living and dining room,” we’d tell our friends; there were even nights when you’d have to drag or kick him out of there to keep him from turning it into his bedroom.

Sev’s was also the space where we could explore our own art forms—he, music and performance; me, words and painted images. It was the creative sanctuary where we both felt safest to play and experiment—most of the time, on our own, although we both knew that the other was there, too, just a few feet away. We also performed poetry and music together, all the while struggling to make the rhythm and rhyme of our individual lives flow and fit.

Sev's - The Chantress.jpg
“The Chantress,” my first pen and ink creation, which I made at Sev’s while listening to live music, and which was put up for auction to raise funds for the Zamboanga seige, October 2013 (Source: @ninaterol on Instagram)

What we didn’t realize then—although it was already creeping up on us—was that Sev’s Café was the only thing holding up our severely-weighed-down façade of a life. In those last few months of our union, Sev’s became home because “home”—that topsy-turvy box we crawled into at night, in separate rooms—became a cellar of baggage and mistakes and regret and resentment that hurt too much to come home to. We’d rather stay at Sev’s—where we could pretend that everything was okay—for as long as we could, every day, than stay in our own space, where it was evident everywhere that nothing was ever going to be okay.

Sev’s Café became the cocoon for our make-believe world; in there, we were the healthier, happier, more fulfilled, more “together” (and put-together) versions of ourselves. And although harsh, painful reality eventually broke into the fantasy and evicted us into our separate ways, Sev’s was, for a time, the only place where everything was as it should be—the happy bubble of the potential that we never became.

Sevs - Poetry slam
Preparing for a Valentine’s Day spoken word and poetry slam, February 2014 (Source: @ninaterol on Instagram)

* * *

To see Sev’s Café eased out of its current space is a painful reminder of how I was once eased out of a life I once knew. To see Sev’s close its doors is a physical signal of the closing of certain doors in my own life. It says that not everything is meant to stay open—that some doors are meant to be closed, and that you’re supposed to throw away the key (maybe even break it before you do) and never, ever look back. It is also symbolic that the home we once knew will soon be a shell for a generator and a septic tank; it’s telling us that, at some points in life, you’ll really have to make space for fresh energy to enter your life and flush out remnants of the past that you no longer need.

From the poetry and the songs to the people and the space we all knew and loved at Sev’s Café, we know this all too well: walang forever. Not in Sev’s, not in the stories and songs that we had all dared to share while we were there. Certainly not in my own life.

Sev's - Spoken Word
The early days of spoken word #hugot at Sev’s, with Michelle Manese, Angel Cruz, <someone tell me who this is at bottom-left!>, and Jam Pascual, January 2014. (Source: @ninaterol on Instagram)

And you know what? It’s going to be okay. Each goodbye will hurt for a while, but it will also be a great reminder of how each moment is meant to have just a sliver of space in each of our lives. Eventually, we’re all meant to move forward, and those moments are meant to stay just where they are. We can’t let them take up too much space, because we’re meant to experience and welcome in so much more.

That’s how it’s been with Sev’s. It welcomed us all into its warm, nurturing space, but even people have had to come and go. Soon, even the spirit of Sev’s Café will leave Legaspi Towers, but the moments we’ve all shared in it will somehow have a space in each of our lives. The best we can do is make the most of every moment and every memory, and know that every closing is an opportunity to open—and possibly redesign, or even build from scratch—a new and better beginning.

Of all the things that I’ve learned through and from Sev’s. it is this:

There may not be forever, but you can always, always start over.

Sev's - Howie me Ipat
The heart and soul behind Sev’s: the husband-and-wife team of Howie Severino and Ipat Luna, with yours truly, December 28, 2015. To you both, my deepest, eternal gratitude. Love and light to you both and to the Sev’s family, always. (Source: @ninaterol on Instagram)




6 Comments Add yours

  1. jennee says:

    ‘if the old doesn’t go, the new won’t come.’ heard this chinese saying at my tea ceremony recently. so wait for the new 🙂

    also, wow! that chantress artwork is amazing!

    1. ninaterol says:

      Yes, yes, YES! The old must go, definitely!

      And, awwwww, Jen! You’re biased about The Chantress! Hahaha 🙂 But THANK YOU 🙂 I haven’t painted in over a year. Maybe I should do more of it in 2016 😉

  2. kriztalladen says:

    “There may not be forever, but you can always, always start over.”

    Sad to know the closing of Sev’s. My ex-boyfriend and I had planned going there once last year but we never did. And yes. Maybe just like Sev’s, I should also close down all the not-so-good memories I had with the person I thought was the one.

    Thanks again for this post, Ms. Nina! Wishing all of us a beautiful new year!! 🙂

    1. ninaterol says:

      Oh my, sorry to hear that, Kriz! And sorry, too, that you didn’t get to experience Sev’s! But yes, doors close to make space for new ones to be opened 🙂

      Sending you love, light, and prayers, and wishing you ONLY the best! Here’s to even better journeys and memories ahead! 🙂 ❤

      1. kriztalladen says:

        Thanks so much, Ms. Nina! Read your message in FB too! Thanks so much! Wishing you the same wonderful things as well! 😀 ❤

  3. howie says:

    I saw this again shared somewhere and reminded me again of a shooting-star period in our lives, when all of our trails crossed. This morning, I was driving to work alone and listened to the new CD by Kinaiya, a folk rock band that used to play original songs at Sev’s and had a charismatic lead vocalist named David Sicam. One of their gigs featured the live art that produced Bonifacio’s portrait that hung at Sev’s. The new CD is beautiful and so haunting because it has recordings of David shortly before he died in the Florida bus crash in Bontoc. The last cut had a particularly heartfelt guitar riff, so full of energy. And at the end of it he was talking to the audience and saying, until the next time… mabuhay kayong lahat. There was no next time, at least not in this world or lifetime. All of our lives are really just shooting stars.

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