basangsisiw

Trails of a wandering soul

Yeses, Noes and In-Betweens

My first job after college was as exhausting and mentally-draining as the one I have today. Whereas I am thankful for every single gift I have, I also do not lie about getting in the phase of burnout. People knew about that.

Having health issues has not had escaped my life since I could remember. Up to this day, I still have not lived past these struggles. Yes, I fight every single day to keep my body well but despite the effort, I fail. If efforts aren’t enough then what is?

I honestly do not know.

This kind of rundown that has plagued me lately drove me to reconsider several options which I may have to dig seriously. I have learned to like my job but I am pulled at the other end of the string by seemingly forgotten dreams that still make its way to rekindle my love for another art, for another universe besides the fast-paced corporate world. In a time when it is my body that now demands this issue to be addressed, I cannot anymore for any reason validate an alibi why I can’t make up my mind.

Nine years ago, I was in the same dilemma. I was made to choose between career and health. I choose to stay alive. The months following that decision was the hardest to reckon while the reality of being jobless slowly kicked in. Barely three months later, I settled into another nook doing not what my profession demands of me but something I loved doing. It was a work that incorporates my love for reading and books and still be able to earn for myself a decent sum.

Had I said yes and not left that first job, I probably wouldn’t be here today showcasing my incompetence in decision-making. Had I acquiesced to the persuasion of my kind boss, I probably would have been dead by now. And I am not exaggerating.

That incident in November of 2006 that left my roommates panic-stricken for a few hours, it could have ended a true tragedy. Until today, I apologize for what I have made them to feel. If only I knew how exhaustion should be dealt at that time, I could have prevented that remarkably hilarious and shameful incident. But it was a serious call that neither my mind nor body was able to contain… Over-fatigued for a few months already and I ended up forgetting I was still alive.

That feel of a warm hand touching my forehead while everyone was screaming my name which I did not hear, was the only evidence that I was still alive. While I was unconscious, that touch made me realize one thing. You are only alive as long as you are able to feel. Whilst in that state, I didn’t hear anything despite all the chaos, the screaming and the crying, the ramming on the wall, on the door by everyone who were able to witness my apparent downfall. It was the only tangible thing that told me I was not dead yet.

I am thankful I made the right choice of setting my physical body free at that time. Today, I am bound to set another freedom-fight. No to being a Hitler to your own health.

Perhaps, I need another sabbatical to reconsider the path I may have to lead from here on…

Until That Day

As you may notice, I had been writing about various people I met throughout my lifetime—family and kin, friends and acquaintances, virtual friends, colleagues at work, even total strangers.

I realize this drive has been going on since I could remember, noting how each experience helped me become the person that I am today. Tracing back on the early days I started out blogging, I unconsciously had been writing about several people already. And I intend to keep it going. I could not thank them all individually with every thing, big or small that they have shared with me so I am writing about them instead. Who knows they might stumble upon this post one day and will remember me once again as well.

Today, I especially remember Ate Berny. We met through Men of Light, a Catholic Facebook Page in 2010 of which she was an avid member and commenter. She was very motherly in our interactions online. One time, she added me up. I confirmed her request, we became officially friends in October and the rest was Facebook’s virtual friendship history.

Over the years, we exchanged private messages. She lives in California and I am in Cebu. She doesn’t have a family of her own besides her siblings, nephews and nieces. But she has a great life, I suppose. She knew my mobile number so she sometimes called me up to ask how my life was, especially when she sensed something was not right. Her advices and sometimes funny antics especially when I tend to become over dramatic were often enough to keep me going. She was my virtual Nanay (mother) and she would most of the times call me, anak (child). I remember how she reacted the first time I called her Ate as she was more accustomed to people calling her Nanay. She laughed at the thought that I am calling someone who is obviously older than my biological mother herself, Ate instead of Nanay. I never changed how I address her. It was never brought up again.

In early 2011, she mentioned about having problems with gall stones. And it seemed to have progressed over time. Until early last year, she would talk about her deteriorating health and how she embraced every suffering and pain she was going through. I envy her courage to face life with a positive outlook despite her physical battle. Indeed, she was a woman of unbelievable strength.

On the 1st of June 2014, we lost Ate Berny. She was 67.

“Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.

I only knew about her passing 3 days after her death from a common friend who posted about it. I have not had any news about her after that January message she sent me so I thought she was already in full recovery. I regret I have not given her the support she deserved but then knowing her, I knew her immediate family had been there in her journey.

I never got the chance to see Ate Berny in person.  And never would I get any chance at all. But I am not saddened by the fact that she is gone because I know she is in a good place now. To me she was heaven-sent and I know she is watching over her anaks from somewhere at this moment. I hope she knows how I missed her.

ate berny

Ate Berny’s last message. After being away from FB for quite a while, she gave some updates on her health on FB and managed to hit my inbox with what now become the last message from the beloved Nanay. 

And yes, I love you too, Ate Berny. Til the day we meet again.

The Epiphany

Some things are predominantly bound to happen, either by mere coincidence or by some sort of, fate? Okay, I’ll bet on the first.

Overheard this song being played on the bus tonight… As always, “With a smile” brings in a positive view of things. Being a fan of the original E-heads (Eraserheads) before the band disbanded, I firmly believe this and a lot other masterpieces are a legacy of the OPM. I was in high school then when the band’s success became phenomenal and I could still remember how “Ang Huling Il Bimbo” toppled down international hits in the local music charts for several months: a sign of a booming OPM industry in the 90s’.

©Google images

The Eraserheads is a legend. No true-blue Pinoy would ever doubt that. They are the Beatles of Philippine Music. However, like everything else, music is continuously changing its course overtime. While it’s good to hear the familiar sounds we often indulge in for so many years, the chance of having to listen to new and upcoming artists who give new themes and colors to these classics is also worth the try… This cover in particular.

Lift your head, baby don’t be scared
of the things that could go wrong along the way.
You’ll get by ‘with a smile’.
You can’t win at everything but you can try.

 

The truth is, I won’t be blogging about this song for no reason. I love the artists who wrote, sung and partook in the creation of this piece but regardless, I just love this song, even the lyrics alone, without the melody. This song hits so close to home.

At a time when I am in want of something that reminds me how to take care of my current circumstance, this song came out of nowhere. It’s not unusual, I suppose. But when I opened my computer and got notified of a +1d on a previous post and discovering what that post was about? Well, what else to say? This song was clearly meant for someone… at least for today.

So cheer up, you Grinch!

The Plight of the Summer Grinch

When I skipped the two-day rest day last week, I knew something is already brewing up that I must address sooner. The exhaustion of the past week has reached its pinnacle and I was no less than a weakling unable to perform even the small chores at home.

The heat of the summer sun has started to manifest its loathsome glory for several weeks now. Summer has indeed began, to the delight of many beach bummers and summer enthusiasts. Even when you’re under shade, the humidity of the March breeze is unbearable and unhealthy. So while others take pleasure in the burning summer heat, I slump at a corner like grinch waiting and wishing for rain. Don’t get me wrong though, I do love summer but this kind of extreme weather makes me realize how I love the rainy days even more. I do wish for rain to come. The thought of summer rain, of the sound of raindrops dancing on the roof and pelting my own hoodie, to a pluviophile will always be a source of wonder and delight.

Inspite of my occasional hypothermia attack, it does not bother me if I have to fight the cold because of rain. Every night as I head home from work, I’d looked up at the dark canopy of the night sky and try to find if I could get a shooting star grant my fervent wish for rain. Crazy how I do that every night. Well unfortunately, no one seems to hear me.
sad-feeling-girl-alone-cute-sunset

©Google images

The scorching heat of summer adds up to the week-long stress that took its toll on me which started last Friday. Skipping rest days in an effort to beat deadlines is no way helping me get the result I needed. The more I drag myself into exerting more than what my body is only capable of doing, the more I put my work at a higher probability of being undone whilst putting my health at risk.

It’s been two days since that Friday mega headache. Other than an hour or two tilling my little garden at home and washing some clothes, I did nothing but sleep the day away. I should be okay by now. Normally, I should have been okay by this time. But to my dismay, I still feel I am far from recovering my lost energy. The momentum had collapsed and still I could feel my back and my whole body ache. Yes, I am in a run-down. Catching up on sleep has done little to make me feel better… I know this is insane.

All I want at this time is to go back to sleep and wish the moment I wake up the following morning, I am able to feel a renewed spirit ready to face the new set of days that awaits me in the office. That despite not being able to glance at the sight of rainshowers drowning the burning sidewalk, I would still have that spirit within me that reminds me always that everything, even the weather and the struggles I have, are all temporary. I wish to find that inspiration again as I face the new morn just a few hours from now.

I wish it would rain tonight.

Work Hard, Play Harder

My idea of a perfect weekend is very simple— a quiet meh time on a rainy and lazy Saturday alone, if not with the noisy and messy siblings, nephews and niece in this tiny nestling place that is called my room.

So yesterday was like any Saturday I had. I woke up before Mr. Sun pepped out of the horizon. This was despite my effort to steal some more minutes before I could officially declare I am now ready to face the day. The body clock has gotten used to wake me at these hours for more than a couple of years already. It’s a significant aid if it happens on weekdays but an entirely different thing on weekends. Knowing me, I dread getting out of bed early on the days I consider sacred. Of course, who wouldn’t want to re-energize your body after a week-long battle with stress and exhaustion? Recharging my body’s energy is a must, else I suffer the consequence.

But since I was already awake, I made use of what I can do at early mornings. Still groggy, I peeked outside. The garden does not look so alive like it used to. At this early hour, I figured out what better way to welcome the day than show some love to my dying garden. I got out, watered the plants. Did a little digging, singing and trimming on my now fully-grown snowball. An hour later, I was back in the room checking emails. After what happened at work that week, I desperately needed to do anything to help get that money back, after how our foreign longtime partner in business screwed us that cost the company millions, I think I should do whatever help I could extend. Surprisingly, no new mails was received.

Opened up sound cloud and was humming and swaying to “Work Hard, Play Hard” by David Guetta while getting rid of some stuffs in my room. Halfway through, I heard a baby’s voice calling me from behind. I saw Francois, my three-year old nephew smiling from ear to ear, Jorge, the younger brother and my Kuya (older brother) and his wife. I knew right then that nothing productive would result from here on. Minutes later, came my younger brother and his wife, who lives just meters away, with our only baby girl, Alexis and my oldest nephew, Xian. 10904073_876237905754998_8244833509827577988_o

SAM_2762

Alexis

They all settled in this 90 sq.ft. dwelling of mine. How we do that? Like sardines. It’s what we do when everyone is around—sneak into this little mecca akin to a hobbit’s and spend the day talking, eating, chatting like we’ve never seen each other in a long time. I guess we just miss being around with each other.

After my brothers got married, I was left alone with mother and father at home. As much as I like silence most of the times, a part of me will always wish no one has to leave home to start a family somewhere. I grew up with only the two brothers around me so it was a blow when they started drifting away from my life whilst the chance of seeing them becomes occasional. It’s sadder now that I needed to schedule a weekend every month just to spend a day with the nephews who live farthest from us, while the other begs me not to. I am torn between nephews. I love how these angels seem to compete to get my attention but it’s emotionally draining how I always have to explain to them why auntie can’t be with them all the time. To a competing seven and three year old, making both understand your point, is harder than explaining to my boss why we weren’t able to detect we were already in big trouble.

Francois and Xian

Francois and Xian

So as I earlier prophesied, my Saturday went on with me doing nothing exceptional— besides taking care of nephews, bathing them, changing diapers, preparing milk, and answering perennial questions that did not seem to have had any answer in the first place.

It was an exhausting day.

The visiting brother left home past six in the evening. Despite how physically burnt I was that day, I wished they could still spend some more time before leaving for their new home. A couple of years ago, this place was what they refer to as home but now, it refers to another. 10937727_824724827566537_1982943162_n My heart ached when Franz bid goodbye and said “I love you so much”. I kissed his and Jorge’s forehead and cheeks before proceeding to go away. I smiled at the thought of my growing nephews and niece, again.

Jorge

Jorge

Yesterday was like any Saturday, until a good thing happened and changed it.

And tonight, before I could even hit the publish button so I could retire to my bed early, Xian rushed into my room and insisted that we play Scrabble. I said no. Okay, I wish I could say no.

He was happy he won. I mean, we won, as I played on his behalf. I told him he has to work hard to win because I won’t be playing for him anymore. Next time, he has to do it on his own.

Another thirty minutes of my life spent doing nothing but making one nephew happy.

And because tomorrow is first day of work, I know I am doomed. Well okay, there’s always coffee when you need it.

For the Love of Zebra

I said I’m not going to write about love on V-day. I did; I didn’t. As much as I would want to pour out my thoughts, it does not seem fit to me to discuss love or being loveless on a day when almost anyone is expecting you to be happy, even when you are clinging on to an unromantic love to keep your solitary life alive.

lonely_zebra_by_micwits101-d4jemadI will not talk about him now. I will write about Zebra, instead. It was a codename I used to retain his identity. Zebra, because he loves shirts with stripes. Not that he is anyone of much importance now as how he seemed some years back, some fourteen years ago to be exact. I just feel he deserves some space in one chapter of my life.

I will write about him because I saw him today.

We went to the same school in college. We took up engineering courses but with different fields. I do not know him personally until now. And I doubt if he knew something about me either—apart from the fact that we were just school and ridemates.

I was never the kind who opens up about my life to others, except to a few good people I know would understand and tolerate me, regardless of how stupid I may have looked and acted at times. To most, I am a heavily-guarded fortress—strong, unyielding to the clamors of my own soul. I don’t let anyone crush my wall that easily. But to those who knew me by heart, I am far from being the strong woman I portray I am. I wore a mask that often sends people the idea that I am an island that can stand on her own, who can live on her own means without others. To me, it doesn’t take that much effort to show a facade that has long driven people away, especially men. But at the end of each day, I wished I ain’t that good at pretending. If I weren’t, perhaps, something good could have blossomed during those years and the years that followed.

I first saw Zebra in 2001—first year of the five years into the era of pretending and acting as a grown-up. He was not someone anyone might wronged for Mr. Campus Crush but he was to me, in silence, the most beautiful guy I had laid eyes on. Downright simple. Silent. Smart.

Through the years, I would glance at him whenever he’s not looking, during fateful moments when we would see each other anywhere. Once caught, I’d pretend I’m looking blankly at the open space, inexpressive. He was shy as me. We rode on the same bus and jeepneys going home and to school and talked about some trivial things everytime we are caught in heavy traffic. He would locked up stares at me and I would look away. If it did beacon something negative, that I will never know.

For the most part, I wished of seeing him everyday. But surprisingly, a part of me wants another. We became acquainted. He would shyly smile when we bumped into each other in the campus. I do the same most of the times, until that fateful day.

College life was taxing. Thesis, projects, reports, exams and the thought of where to lend money from for my tuition fees wrecked havoc and left my mind in clutter. I laugh when I need to but most of the times, I am engrossed into studying. How could you not be? Seeing my parents break their back to sustain my education was enough reason to keep up with my goal—finish my college degree and figure out what to do after.

To be honest, I didn’t have a life outside school and home. For five college years, I knew nothing other than the routine of getting-out-of-bed-and-prepare-for-school and going-home-from-school-and-do-your-assignments-then-sleep. The cycle was emotionally exhausting. I longed to vent out my frustrations. Three years into college, I did what was appropriate.

One time while I was hurrying along the corridor, I noticed someone looking at me at a distance. I tried to ignore and went on my way until accidentally my eyes locked on his sight. He smiled that familiar shy smile. It was Zebra in his stripe shirt—the simple man I have adored since the time I stepped my feet on that university. I looked at him with the usual inexpressive tone on my face, staring blankly but straight at him. He knew at that instant I saw him clear as day. Time seemed to stop… I looked away in haste and proceeded to jog the remaining distance towards the EE department. I acted like I did not recognize him at all. It hurt so much to have done that, especially that the act resulted on a spur of the moment. But then perhaps, it did us both good.

Much to my dismay and regret was what that moment seemed to transpire how he became distant and alienated days after. We would still see each other in the library, in the corridors, in the grounds, passed each other on the school’s gate and rode on the same bus. He would offer seat to mother on several occasions during peak hours and commuters swarmed the bus like bees. We only looked at each other but he no longer paint that familiar smile inherent to him alone. In a way like telling me, “I no longer know you, lady”. To a young romantic heart, that was a blow I needed years to fix.

Still, I accepted the challenge.

I went on with my life keeping both his presence and absence irrelevant. Months passed and we did not see each other any longer. Up to now, I do not know how it happened.

A month before their 2005 graduation, I saw him walking alone in the school ground towards the opposite side of the campus where their department is situated. We were having our bazaar in compliance to our Marketing subject. That usual shade of hue that told me it was him; the familiar sight of his backpack that have carried loads of books for many years; the sight of love fading into nothingness— bleak and veiled in the rays of the hot afternoon sun… it was totally heartbreaking.

I saw him. But he never saw me. That was sadly my last sight of Zebra.

With the hullabaloo about the year’s honor students, I came to know that he was indeed one of the cum laude graduates for the year. I was genuinely happy for him. But deep inside, my feelings told me to not let go of it yet. The thought of  living a year more without Zebra strucked me as hard. I wasn’t ready yet. I could not let go of the love of my life.

Much as I would want to, I never tried to do anything to see him on his graduation. I reckoned with the truth that no matter what I do, nothing changes the fact that Zebra is leaving for good.

A decade later, I rejoiced at the truth that finally, for the longest time, he is no other than but a distant memory. What could have had been was no longer an interest to me. I have joy in my heart that whether I bleed in search of my own happiness, my soul will always be grateful for what I have been through and the people I met on the road.

However last year, after thirteen years, I think I saw him again. I do not want to believe it was my eyes playing a trick as I knew in my heart, it was the lost Zebra.

Like some sort of fate, I get off at the usual place where I waited for jeepneys bound for Liloan. Hurriedly tried to get on the first one in the distance, as I was already almost late for work when I noticed someone smiling at me, standing right at the same spot where I stood some moments ago. That familiar smile that has etched some bittersweet memories of what love has been.

I took on my mask and pretended I didn’t notice. He was wearing  dark sunglasses so I hesitated to repay that smile. Seconds later, he was sitting next to me in the jeepney. Still, I could not figure out 100 percent his identity because of the sunglasses. But the whole time that we were in the jeepney, he was genuinely smiling at me. Perhaps, I blushed at that moment or maybe I did what I am used of doing—ignoring people. Idk.

Minutes later, he called on the driver to stop. He got off and stand at the side of the road before proceeding to walk away. He was still smiling as the jeepney started. I looked at him knowing that it will officially be my last sight of Zebra. I smiled in silent thinking how God allowed me to burn for many years just so he could give me the freedom to let go of the one I have tied my heart for the longest time. I smiled at the chance of a fresher start to explore new horizons where true love could be waiting for me from a distance.

That to me, was the last blot of ink of my chapter with Zebra. It ended in a good way. I am happy for him whatever he is up to at this moment. I am happy for the life he is making as I could sense that he was happy deep within.

I have freed Zebra and myself for the bondage that that poor love created years ago but I could not possibly unloved him. I still love him till now. But in a different way. The love for him is the kind that does not hold captive of emotions, of memories, of chances but one that liberates souls. I have loved him enough to not give myself the freedom to savor and experience love in the different lane, on a different bus or perhaps in a different setting.

So why am I writing this? I do not know for sure. The last time I did I said I am not writing about love again—or being unloved to be exact. But perhaps something more powerful is driving me into doing this.

I don’t know how it happened but I saw him again last night— in the same school where we first met. He seemed so real that I could still remember how he smelled that night.

The IE department of the school has sponsored a post- graduate seminar. Some college friends were there, so were some of my college professors whom I’ve never seen in a long time. Knowing myself, I could not grasp the reason why I relented to attend such an event. The college auditorium where the event was held is nowhere far from what it looked like almost a decade ago since graduation.

Apart from former colleagues, Zebra was there as well. I have no idea why he was. I knew I did not want him to see me again. Unfortunately, he did. As soon as the event ended, I started slipping away from my colleague’s sight on purpose. I entered the church and sat there alone, talking to myself and God. Why in that church? I don’t know. Moments later, I saw him again walking past pews nearest the altar towards my direction. Why he was there, I do not know still. I did not wait to meet his gaze. I left.

My friends were there waiting for me at the park across the old church. Perhaps, they knew about why I left school early. Tired and exhausted, I stretched on a bench while friends were busy chatting and laughing a few feet away when out of nowhere, someone whispered at the far side of the bench where my head rested, “why are you running?”. Surprised as I was, I said, “I wasn’t”, in an instant. He put his hand atop my head like big brothers would with their younger siblings. That touch was a sigh of relief. He said something to me while beaming his wide smile and patting my head and caressing my hair gently. His gaze was so deep I could get drowned in it once again. But then in a beautiful way. Suddenly, the words became rumbled among words that it was impossible to hear exactly what he said.

I got awaken to a beautiful dream. When I opened my eyes, I could still feel the lightness that dream has brought me. While I struggle to keep sane about work, it’s good fun to know that our subconscious mind will do wonders for you when you least expect it. I do not know what that dream means, nor would I delve into it in detail. Because no matter how good that dream is, it holds no value at all in the end.

Will I always love him? Yes, of course. Like how that touch on my head moved and affected me, I could love you on that same level of unromantic love.

One day I would look back again at these chapters and laugh for the mess I have made because of love. :)

A Sidenote

“I promise no more of these heartbreaking moments of trying to wait at those familiar places wishing he would show up any moment, but never did. How he seemed to disappear in thin air should no longer be of value to me. It breaks me to pieces… but let’s leave it like that. “

I’ll write about you again when V-day is over. Or maybe never again. Ever.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 124 other followers

%d bloggers like this: