basangsisiw

Trails of a wandering soul

Work Hard, Play Harder: A Weekend Like Any Other

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.

I opened up my sound cloud account. I 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.

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Alexis

They all settled in this 90 sq.ft. dwelling of mine. How we do that? Like how sardines are arranged. 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. And 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 the scene of 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.

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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, 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 spent doing nothing but making one nephew happy.

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 shirt 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 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. 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. 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 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. Moments later I saw him again walking past pews nearest the altar, towards my direction. Why he was there, I do not know. I did not wait to meet his gaze. I left.

My friends were there waiting for me at the park. 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 you? 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. As the love that it is, storge isn’t bad after all. :)

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.

Pain and Gain

“If you gave someone your heart and they died, did they take it with them? Did you spend the rest of forever with a hole inside you that couldn’t be filled?”

― Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes

The thought of leaving is a difficult truth we all need to deal with. There is never an easy way to ease the pain than to go through it and hope that in time, acceptance and healing will follow. People leave for various reasons but the saddest of them all is that which makes the parting eternally physically permanent. Death.

Some people are afraid of the notion of dying; while others have already embraced it as a hard truth intertwined in the fabric of our very existence. Not all may have lived long enough to know how it feels like those who were bereft or have lost a loved one in the past but we all have been through all sorts of temporary leave-taking that left our hearts broken at some point. Same truth, but maybe on a different extent of emotional wreckage.

I cannot exactly feel how others may have felt when someone dear to them was lost. Empathy is a different thing when you were the receiver of such pain. And judging on my emotional ability, I dare not think about it for now. I am grateful for the people in my life and they are so precious to me to consider life without any one of them, or the other way around.

There have been times when I lost good people for valid reasons in the past. And that has left holes in my heart that still ache to be filled til now. But we are reminded about how time heals, that pain will vanish with time. The truth is, pain to me never ceases to exist, it just changes form. It’s still very present the moment I close my eyes to reminisce. Like the very day it happened. But because its form changes, it doesn’t hit the heart as terrifyingly as when I first came face to face with its horror. I still ache for what happened but the pain, ripen with time and etched with lasting memories, gives itself the power to alter emotional effect gradually and create a more enlightened tone for past hurtful experience. In the end, pain to me, is no more a Goliath of an emotion that I need to reckon with, given the right amount of time for it to outgrow itself.

And while I bleed as I should, I am hopeful for the time I am already able to meet those pains that haunt me some long ago. I am hopeful that in time it no longer scares me to close my eyes when I think of all that has happened in the past, with all the losses, the partings and all that remains to this day.

Living On A Different Impulse

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. “

—Confucius

courage

Time is all I’ve wished for. So when the holiday sets in, I knew I am the happiest man on earth.

Work has indeed drained me. I wished I had something more clever to say other than affirming how I wished I’ve been in a different place and time— shooting at people and places and writing stories as it unfolds; doing volunteer work; designing my landscape masterpiece or tracing the maps of the galaxy or just lie in a rolling hill somewhere dissolving myself in what I knew beauty was about— embracing whatever a vagabond’s life brings along.

I guess all I needed this time is a break from this life that demands so much of me, to be far from the hustle and demands of a life I am trying to escape from.

I wished I am doing what my soul has called me to do.

Life right now is basically 90 percent reality and 10 percent dreams. Work comprises the major part while I struggle to keep what it is that keeps me going forward—dreams. As a whole, my life is a blow of irony.

I chase after dreams all my life. Four years ago, I believed I’d given up on that. I thought everything that I had wished and hoped for will crumble to pieces, as I got weaker as the months passed, pinning me down like there was no escape anymore. The truth of that reality was harder than I thought. But people don’t just give up that easily. At thirty and striving, I still feel I have not gone far enough or done enough to keep those dreams from just being dreams. I have for many times, thought of pursuing what life is calling me to do, but always, always, I am bombarded with fear. Fear of the unknown life that I and those around me, may find hard to grasp. And given the current circumstance, I do not consider it the best decision to quit what I am doing now. My vision is clear but the opportunity is so vague for me to pursue what I loved doing.

If I was braver enough to sail the unknown and defy the uncertainties that awaits me for what I am called for, maybe, just maybe, I am out there saving and creating the very best of what I am called to be. Perhaps I am a bit happier and more fulfilled now, even without really achieving anything.

It’s true, life does not guarantee anything. We don’t get happy ever after lives even if we are doing what our heart desires. But there’s the big difference about doing what you love and loving what you do. The first will empower you. Those who were brave enough to live out their passion can attest how it’s a totally different feeling when you are doing what your heart has called you for. That empowerment will work its way up to give you a sense of purpose for your life, inspiration and enthusiasm to move you to do better. And be a genuinely happy and contented soul in the end. So, it is no longer work you are doing; it is life you are living.

Nonetheless, I have learnt to love my profession as an engineer, tediously working in the corporate world, but being ‘it‘ was never my first choice of career. I wasn’t drawn to love mathematical equations and formulas and analyzing figures and applying those concepts to use. I am mystified by arts and earth sciences, by designs, of writing and photography, of people. These and those that frequented my thoughts even when I am busy pounding numbers on my PC at work. I could love what I do but then again, that vision of a life away from where I am will find its way back to haunt me and my life at present.

For now, I will wait until such time that my inner voice chokes me up and the outcries of my soul becomes too apparent to ignore or when the urge becomes unbelievably appalling for me to even disregard. Perhaps, by that time, I could go on living and follow that different impulse that has long baffled my warring mind, and soul. By that time, I’d be braver enough to escape.

Much Ado About Nothing

For two years, I kept them in a separate folder, read them from time to time—when I’m sad but more so  when I feel good.

 

The holiday has been a great help. It made me do things which I wouldn’t be able to do during working days—spend enough time with the family, especially with the nephews; update my blog; work on a project in the house and get rid of thousands of unwanted emails in my inbox.

The fulfillment was overwhelming until I was reminded of those two-year old emails I’ve kept in that personal folder. So I thought, perhaps, those too need some fix. I was planning on moving it into a more organized space, when…voila! So out of disbelief, I tried to open eeevvery single folder in my inbox to see where those emails went, until reality struck. Everything in that inbox was emptied, no trace of even one remained. It would have not resulted in more panic had I known that the trash bin was spared. Or I could only dream.

Unfortunately, everything in it, is now just a piece of memory to reminisce. Because of an honest mistake out of carelessness, I found out that the best way to counteract fear is to face it head on, until it leaves you with  no choice.

Perhaps, from now on, I should start keeping important emails in the trash bin instead of keeping them in designated folders. So all the choices will be reduced from the ‘many’ to only two—’ok’ or ‘cancel’.

delete

Less the hassle.

Keeping mementos of any sort shows how emotionally-attached a person is to certain memories of people and situations. I restrict one part of my closet from people to disclose on that same ground.

But what happened yesterday made me think: perhaps, my closet too, is in dire need of some fix.


When you depart from me sorrow abides and happiness takes his leave.”
― William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

Transition

My soul may have indeed died that moment I stopped writing, almost two years ago.

This journal is not just about my journey, it’s about a lot of other people that I met throughout my life. Too often I would lay thoughts and recollect experiences and scribble them here, but seldom did I give the effort to know the ones I met in the blogosphere.

I do know a handful of them. Especially those whom I followed years ago, back to the early years when I was just starting out blogging, and eventually disappeared. And returned.

Time flew past. I am here again. But sadly, a lot others have left.

Not one, or two, but several bloggers have left, heading on a different path. While I’m catching up on doing what my soul tells me to pursue, others have already bid goodbye long before my unexpected return. The blogs where I used to draw inspiration and ideas from have been abandoned. The blogs that used to tickle my heart and made me laugh like crazy are nowhere getting any new post again.

To say that I feel bad about it is an understatement.

A writer cannot just stop writing. It’s a calling; like wanderlust, one cannot just get rid of that from their system. That is what I know.

But perhaps, they know better.

Twenty minutes after midnight and I’m about to go to bed. Dang! I smell onions in my room.

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