A stack of books, several piles of newly printed reviewers, an unsorted pile of returned exams, and multi-colored highlighters cover the table. Mid-sentence through the second paragraph of the ten-page essay due tomorrow, she stops typing and goes to bed.
She tucks herself in, chuckling, “Sleep is for the strong!”
“Ma’am, we’ll let your hair soak in the treatment. I’ll be back in an hour and a half.” Then off the stylist went, leaving me dangerously alone in front of this huge vanity mirror, forced to observe all my imperfections that she will need to fix.
Usually, I decide not to participate in Discover challenges because:
I don’t think I am good enough to come up with a piece worthy of reading;
I don’t have the luxury of time;
and blogger’s block.
But this recent challenge, One, Two, Three!, mentioned one of the blogs that I absolutely love: Things We Like. In fact, I have my own list of things I like that was published more than a year ago. So in honor of this, I decided to make a series of haikus inspired by the entries in my list (which, by the way, still holds true even after more than a year has passed).
1. The smell of rain
What is this strange scent,
Rain mingling with foliage?
Smells and feels like home.
2. Slow dances
We could have been more.
Your melody, I have loved
But you just don’t dance.
3. Having my hair combed
I nap as I feel
Mother’s fingers through my hair.
Life’s warm and lovely.
4. Handwritten letters and notes
Then, we wrote daily.
Now, we text and chat instead.
Really miss your script.
5. Books that keep me up all night
One last page became
One last chapter until it’s…
Oh, I’ve finished it.
6. Shopping in malls when it’s just a few hours from closing time
Go ahead and stand
On escalator’s left side.
No one’s seeing you.
7. Eating with bare hands
Rice is always best
With fish and Bicol express.
Now licking fingers.
8. Peanut butter cups and cupcakes
Bored but saved by some
Peanut butter fairy cakes.
9. Dresses with poofy skirts
It has been long since
I’ve been pretty and silly,
Twirling in a skirt.
10. Studying in the library when very few people are around
Hi! It’s a tad weird, isn’t it, that I’m writing you this rambling letter when we haven’t seen each other for almost five years and haven’t talked for almost seven years. Even weirder, I just realized that in a way, I miss you.
Today had been a rough day for me. Two of my kids (two of my students, I mean) got into a quite messy relationship squabble and dealing with each, sobbing but unapologetic, drained me so much. Trying to reason with 16-year-olds that some of the things they do now may become their future regrets is a pointless case. They are so in love with love just like almost every teenager out there. Just like I was. Just like you were (probably).
As I was scrolling down my feed earlier this night, trying to distract myself from the issue, I saw you instead. The heartbreak of losing a friend and the gnawing feeling that I did something stupid came back. Then I realized, you are one of my regrets.
Do you remember how I would sneak in your room just so I can talk with you? Do you remember when you calmly tried to teach a panicking me how to twirl the baton only a few days before the demo? Do you remember when you used to teach me physics because I was not ashamed to admit to you that I understood zilch in class? Do you remember that I had my first cup of coffee with you and I pretended that I like it strong because I was too lazy to go back and get sugar and cream?
I look back on these memories with a bittersweet smile. If that thing (you know what I mean) did not happen, who do you think we are today? Maybe we could still be the same as we were when we were fourteen — the inseparable twinsies. Or maybe, not inseparable but still good friends, always catching up on each other with a cup of coffee. I truly regret the friends we could have been.
Maybe someday, when we are women enough to actually face each other, we can meet up for coffee. I miss you, L. I really do. And yes, I have forgiven you.
Note: I have been writing sketches of interesting characters I happen to chance upon during my wanderings. Here is one.
15 July 2016
“Hmph. Trapik na naman. Change is coming daw. Utot nilang mga ha*** sila.“
I had to bite my lower lip to keep myself from laughing as the scruffy old man sitting beside me continued his tirade peppered liberally with Tagalog expletives. Half the jeepney was giving him irked glances, disturbed by his unsolicited commentary about the country’s public transportation woes while half was watching delightfully, definitely pleased to have someone amuse them.
Soon he got tired — I know because he yawned mid-sentence — and took out a tiny portable speaker. White and hot pink. Hello Kitty. Was it really his or, perhaps, his daughter? I wondered.
He stuck a blue flash drive on the mini speaker (it looked weird — the flash drive was as almost as big as the white and hot pink Hello Kitty speaker) and Lady Gaga started singing Poker Face. Then she sang Just Dance. That went on four times — Poker Face and Just Dance on loop. The old guy was rocking his head, his eyes closed. I honestly think he wasn’t stoned, just really eccentric. I wondered if those were the only songs in his flash drive or if he really just liked 2008 Lady Gaga.
He got down at Araneta. Lady Gaga was still singing, “I’ll get him hot, show him what I’ve got.” I wondered if the old guy knew what the song meant.
Most people would cringe upon seeing their Facebook memories from six years ago for it seems that we all dread who we were as younger men and women. I, for example, was cheesy and oftentimes irrelevant. I used to flirt online and posted the most random things about myself, making my present self ask in disgust, Do people really have to know that? I was such a KSP*. Eww.
But one memory from six years ago made me rethink about the judgment I so proudly formed against my fifteen-year-old self. Here it is:
A friend has once joked that the past is past; hence, Facebook has no right to bring back the memories of our embarrassing younger selves. Facebook must let us move on, he said. How I laughed when he told me that. Back then, I shared the same sentiments — I have moved on and my embarrassing past has no space in my life now. Except, not quite, as I realize now after remembering this particular moment.
I cannot say that I recall moment vividly but I do remember the paralyzing fear that gripped me. It was a weekend and I was preparing my school things — five sets of school uniform, underwear and nighties, and some extra clothes. But on this particular night, there are some few extra things in my luggage that I would be bringing with me every week for the rest of the year — dark denim trousers, a military belt, and an intimidating pair of combat boots. Yeahp, against everyone’s better judgment, I enlisted for the Cadet/Cadette Officer Leadership Training (COLT), the training program for aspirant CAT officers.
That night, as I pack my things, I kept asking myself, What were you thinking? The training was rumored to be excruciatingly difficult and it seems to all, including myself, that my physical strength is not enough for what the training calls for. Everybody knows that I was not cut out for it. Hence, just as I said in my six-year-old post, I was scared to death. Now, I look back both amused and proud of myself (that seldom happens). Truthfully, the training was as harsh as it can be and was way beyond what I thought I could handle. But I survived it and lived on to serve as a company commander for the next year. Most importantly, the experience developed in me the emotional strength that got me through college. Indeed, the most wonderful experiences we ever have are the difficult ones.
Usually, such memories brought back by Facebook make me criticize my teenage self. I would often say I was stupid and again, irrelevant. Usually, I am ashamed of my younger self. Now I realize that I have no right to do so for that person that I so openly mock now is the one responsible for the person that I am now. The reason that I now have a relatively happier life is the fact that this foolish and cheesy teenager chose to take risks, made mistakes and learned from them, got up, and moved on. Yes, she did a lot of crazy things that would make this twenty-one-year-old me cringe but I have no right to be ashamed of her because she was brave and strong enough to make this current me possible.
So here is a reminder for everyone: Let us accept our younger selves, no matter how embarrassing they were because whoever we are today, we have them to thank.
* Kulang sa pansin. It literally means, “lacks attention”. It is used to refer to a person who actively seeks attention.