REPORT A PROBLEM
Hi, 41-year-old self. I will attempt to chronicle June 2016 with as much detail as possible so that when you read this, you will, IDK, be glad or something. This is your 34-year-old self speaking and right now she is still in love with Dave Matthews Band's "41," so there's that. Anyway! Hi! Today you are on an early flight to LA via Shanghai. Tito Oye is taking you to the airport. It's strange and you will understand later on, but right now you are somehow sad and anxious about leaving home for quite a while.
June 2 in Manila but I will write a bit about June 1 in California when Ma and Kuya (and family) were waiting for my plane to land on LAX. I like going back in time. So Kuya drove 2+ hours from airport to Redlands with two sleepy kids in tow and three adult women silently giddy, I guess. Ate Joy and Peter welcomed us with a hearty lunch and comfy beds then we ate at In n Out around 10 pm then ate ham around midnight. On June 2 we went to Big Bear Lake! Sang karaoke by nighttime.
Everyone got up early today to prepare for a 9 am appointment at Disneyland. Anaheim's around 2 hours from Redlands so Ate Joy packed a cooler with drinks and food and we had lumberjack breakfast. Said our goodbyes to Peter and Ate Joy, navigated a bit of traffic towards Disneyland but got there on time. Tool some photos at the entrance then said goodbye for the day to the Guam contingent as they headed towards the happiest place on Earth. Me and Ma ate leftover salad near the gates, caught a bus to Laguna Hills, ate at Subway, spent time.
Last night we had dinner at Olive Garden where the garlic bread is unbelievable. Today we went to San Diego to meet Mike and a colleague. There was a pretty county fair and sun was shining and today was just all smiles and lucky coincidences. Mike treated us to dinner later on, there was ginataang kalabasa if I remember right, and that was awesome. Watched a bit of Wish Ko Lang while Kuya and Mike caught up with each other. Headed back north to Buena Park to spend the night at a motel. First time sleeping in a US motel!
Sleep was quite good, tyvm. Free coffee, check. Caught some early morning fog saying hi to perky palm trees. Still couldn't quite comprehend that it's already Day 5 of this long-awaited trip. In the room next to mine and Ma's is Brysen, this little person who everyone is in love with. I like that what I look forward to every day these days is when he awakens and starts bugging us with his cuteness. I like watching Ma being all giggly around him. Big brunch at Denny's then 12-hour trip to Daly City. Kuya is the best driver.
Tita Vicky and Tito Danny's house last night and the best dinner spread ever, there was sinigang, or was it nilaga? Auntie and kids hooked us up with generous hosts and we couldn't be more thankful. A bit of shopping today at the outlet store, and a filling lunch care of new-graduate Trixie. One-hour drive to Baker Beach to get a glimpse of Golden Gate Bridge. Too foggy and too cold but Kuya supplied warmth by proposing to Ate by the bridge! They got pizza before going home, and another incredible dinner spread was waiting at Tita Vicky's.
Alameda to visit, Lola Emmy, Lola Rosie, and Lola Liling, then Mediterranean buffet at Berkeley, then back to SF for Lombard Street and Pier 39. Earlier today, learned we had to cut our SF stay a day short. There was a small pocket of time wherein I mourned internally about the other stuff we wouldn't be able to do in this city that I love so much. But had to get back up and running to panic-look for a place to stay the night in. Successfully booked two rooms in Oakley. Airbnb is helpful, yah? Kind of missing home.
Our host, Angel, recommended nearby Black Bear Diner, and it was awesome. Filled up for another long drive, this time to Las Vegas. Took us 10 hours, I think. Kuya's gotten the hang of it and the two-lane road helped him relax a bit. Freeways are scary. So, so, so proud of how Kuya has been calm throughout this whole week so far with all the long drive. Navigated a bit and looked out for Primm so we know we are already in Nevada. The last two hours towards Las Vegas were so long. Forgot where we had dinner.
Today we had ChowKing and Jollibee. Best meal I've had in days. Siomai was so good and ChickenJoy felt like an old friend come to take the blues away. Brysen ate rice and gravy, best meal, if you ask me. Best meal is also what I would call bbq at Ida's where I saw the kids, Butch. Las Vegas is like an old acquaintance I didn't expect to meet again, it's kind of jarring sometimes. After Ida's we went to Bellagio for the fountain show. Brysen went wow, wow, wow at the indoor garden aquarium display. Highlight of my day.
Left the Airbnb house with a hint of hesitation as we headed to Harrahs to prepare for the wedding at 6:30. Feeling bit under the weather so instead of getting ready I crashed on the bed and didn't get up until 4-ish? Ate and Kuya and kids dressed up real nice. Limo pulled up after 5 and all of us with Auntie and kids squeezed inside what looked like a moving disco. Ceremony and after-meal were lovely. Spent the after-party with a grumpy Brysen. Glad to have gotten help from Hailey and Ma. Today's nice overall.
Kind of a late start again today, forgot where we had lunch? Anyway we had dinner at Ate's Ninang then went to Fremont St. It was crowded as there was a 3 Doors Down concert. Bit of downer as I was looking forward to the kids seeing the overhead lights show. Left in a hurry and headed to Treasure Island where we wanted to see the pirates but turned out they were gone and only ships are left. Went to bed early. Looking back, we had a lot of time for Hoover Dam, I think? And other tourist-y stuff.
Day 4 in Vegas. Too long here already and missing California. Went shopping a bit then Kuya and Ate got Jollibee and ChowKing again. Yum. Had dinner with Ida and Butch, we ate a lot of shrimp. Kuya and family went to M&M world while Ma spent time with Sam and Tita Ime. On my way home Kuya called to ask for "chips and drinks other than water." Went crazy at Walgreens and filled my basket with iced tea. I feel so out of place in Vegas always, like, this place is so lively and yet I feel empty.
Late lunch at Yardhouse near the Linq. Heading to Orange, California today yay. Three- to four-hour drive and we're somewhere cold-ish eating sushi, 3 minutes away from another Airbnb host. Got to the house at 7-ish? Rooms are cozy and there's a pond in the backyard. Two more days and Guam contingent will be heading home. Feeling like sleep will be good, finally calm and content that we're back in CA. Tomorrow's going to be quite busy. Lake Forest to drop off Auntie's baggage then Wilshire then Hollywood then last-minute shopping. Hope we can start early.
Full day today. Dropped off Ma at Wilshire so she can renew her passport. Randomly Googled LACMA address and it's just a few blocks away. Don't know now why I hesitated to ask Kuya to at least drive past so I can see Urban Light. Maybe cause it wasn't nighttime yet and as usual, I believed I had more time. Headed to Hollywood Blvd, saw the Hollywood sign, saw the Walk of Fame, saw two Chewbaccas and a couple of Spider-Mans but didn't have photo taken with them. I get stupefied by sheer awe and cluelessness sometimes. Brysen's happy!
Guam contingent heading home today. Had nice lunch with Tita Gigi and Auntie and kids at El Pollo Loco before going to LAX. Heavy traffic made Kuya a bit sleepy. Quite rough checking in as Brysen was in a mood. After that we had pizza and leftover chicken at a nook in the airport. When Kuya and family got in to board, I used Uber for the first time for the almost-hour-long journey home. Send-off was easier and less sad than expected. Got home at Lake Forest around 7 and immediately fell asleep. This trip is *NoWords*
Ma asked if I wanted to tag along with her and Auntie and I said I plan to sleep and stay in. Finally a day with no plan. Well, I planned to get reacquainted with Lake Forest a bit later when it's not so hot out anymore. Remembered I had some online shopping to do, did that, and went back to bed. Our host, Dipika, is wondering why I'm lolling around in bed on my vacation and I wanted to say isn't that what people do on vacation but what's the point and I understand where she's coming from, really.
Woke up to the voice of Dipika wondering again what time I will get out of bed. It was 7 am. Ma and Auntie had plans and I told them I was going to Laguna Beach. Got out of the house at 11 am. Went to Walmart first. I love Walmart. Then Old Navy then 99 cent store then Laguna Hills Mall to wait for time. 3 pm and it looks like 12 pm. Too hot. Arrived at the beach around 5 pm. Waited for around 7 pm and sunset looked a couple of hours away. Glad to be back.
Slept in again and just waited for dinnertime with Auntie and family. They're flying home tomorrow. You know, for all the days I've been here so far, this is the first time I felt truly out of place. Las Vegas is a different story, I expected feeling weird there. But to feel this in Lake Forest is strange. Doesn't have anything to do with anyone, I'm guessing. Just...I want to be home, too, even though I like being with my loved ones here. Someday I wish to understand this. But right now, I want to remember this gorgeous sunset.
Stayed in today as Ma and Tita Gigi sent Auntie and family off. Had salad for lunch. What else did I do? Sleep. Oh, vacuumed Dipika's carpet and mopped her kitchen. I'm counting the days until I'm home. Texted a bit with Ma about the cleaning situation at the house and she said she was bringing home Subway for me. Turkey sandwich, was it. It's almost 100F outside. Tomorrow and Tuesday are looking much worse. I'm going to whine a bit and say I miss SF right now. Or even Baguio. Just the cold and fog in general. One week.
Mani-pedi, bit of shopping, buffet, and movie with Ma today. We watched different movies. In n Out for me, grapes for her at dinner. 110F today, I think. Wonder why we went out at all. Anyway, we talked with Guam contingent later on. Watched a bit of Eat Bulaga. Tomorrow is another day of staying in as today sapped all energy from me. Ma's going back to work tomorrow, and I have three whole days on my own. Minutes after lying down me and Ma had small talk about life in general. I missed this, realized it just now.
Ma got me kare kare, menudo, and dinuguan from Pam's while Tita Gigi cooked me rice good for three days. One thing I'm always in awe about being in the states is how kind people can be, there is a certain generosity in people here that is absent in some people back home. It's like, there is an assurance that when something goes wrong or when you suddenly need help, someone, somewhere is going to pop up and assist you. I feel good having Ma around, and I hope to not have taken this for granted the past few days.
Hello, Wednesday! Went to Foothill Ranch, home for lunch (awesome kare kare from Pam's OMG), laundry. Went out again to re-explore El Toro and its familiar shops. There is a Daiso here! Saw Panda Express, my love, didn't go in alone as it might remind me of that lunch at The Venetian with Guam contingent. Missing them terribly today. Got some stuff for relatives and friends. You know, being far away with no personal transport and few money can make someone a bit sad, a good kind of sad, if there is such a thing. Laguna Beach at sunset!
This will get boring now. Walmart again and Laguna Beach today. Had some photos printed. I love that there's a film drop box at Walmart! Over at Laguna Beach, I found this photo shop manned by a tall European man who's a mixture of grumpy and nice. It was fun dancing around his different personalities and not getting flustered. Yesterday I met a kabayan, Kuya Arthur, at The Candy Baron. He offered me a discount so I went back today but a Mexican girl rang me up and didn't give me a discount, Kuya gave me a ride home instead.
Today was spent packing the box and luggage. There were attempts at weighing them but I knew I needed help so just decided to wait for Ma to come home before sealing the box. What did I eat today? Bagel and cream cheese, I think, some grapes, some tuna, chips and cookies. Counting down the days before I head home. Wondering what Ma plans for Saturday and Sunday. Thinking of David driving to and from Costa Mesa and trying to understand how to achieve the perfect combination of nonchalance and necessary-attention. When I return I want to tackle freeways.
Late lunch at a Mexican restaurant with David and Dipika. Had loads of chips and salsa before meal actually came. Dipika is like a little girl in her mannerisms and inquisitiveness. David is kind of the same but with much assured quietness. I like watching Ma interact with them: this spunky, direct, and quite-stubborn Filipina and this laid-back, patient, and quite-spirited Indian couple. I got lost with the contrast there, but it's something you should see in person. My mother is full of energy and it drains me sometimes: I'm too selfish with my time and attention.
Ma used Uber for the first time today! Forgot to use a promo code so ride wasn't free hehe. Yesterday after lunch with the Kadakias, we saw Independence Day: Resurgence at Foothill Ranch (after a bit of Walmart). This is me as a tourist, I go back to the same places again and again, hoping I will see a different side to them. Even here I try to philosophize. It's funny to me, I wonder if it's funny to someone else. You know, it's all there is really, me making fun of myself. Church at Saddleback and lunch with Titas.
This is it. 8:30 am drive to LAX with Ma and the Kadakias. Got there at 10-ish. Quite a long line checking in but finished by 10:30 and had time to have coffee and pastry with Ma. Talked a bit about the future. Was trying hard to think of things to keep me from crying because for all I know, it might be another four years or more before I see her again and human beings are notoriously known for taking things for granted and not savouring the moment and...so we hugged and cried. Good times.
What do I write here? I guess the plane ride huh? Truth is I didn't have a real June 28 this year. From what I could see in the plane, it was constantly light out the whole 13-hour trip to Shanghai. Sat beside Wen, a Chinese student who was trying to be friendly. Filipina who checked me in was loads of nice. I have to remember her face. Wen slept 70% of the flight while I watched a total of five films. No sleep. This would punish me later during the 6-hour layover. Turbulence 40% of the time.
Home! Flight from Shanghai was delayed for two hours. Couldn't find a way to contact Pa who was picking me up and I know he'd be on time. I could've asked a stranger to let me send a Facebook message but I didn't. Napped for 2 hours at the far end of the airport. Went to the gate 15 minutes before supposed boarding time. Tried to nap again because by this time my brain was mush. Got woken up by a kid singing. Curly and Mexican and loads of cute. Irene is her name, wish I could've taken a photograph.
Month-end at last. Looking back, I had lots of regrets during this trip because I wasn't brave enough most of the time. But I will move past that now and look forward to another trip of this kind, hopefully with more family members (!) and more money and more time to lounge around and
. Hi, 41-year-old self, how are you today? When you look back to June 2016, I wish you can smile somehow and know that you did your best and please know that love is communicated in different ways, be thankful always, love.
The Tip Jar