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I had a dream we could fly. Instead of places, we were able to visit time. In my dream, I visited us when we were 19. Too young and too old, not quite in between, bright-eyed. I tried to stop myself from liking you, we decide on these things, right? No? Oh. I forget. In the dream we could, so I did. What happened then was that I spent my 20s not thinking of you even once, it was bliss. I may have forgotten your face and your smell, your small hands. I flew back, and I was happy.
There's an old castle in the outskirts of town. There's a moat. The drawbridge is suspended mid-raise, in a way that enemies can easily breach what's supposed to be the first line of defense. The castle stands there often obscured by thick fog, and no one's sure if anybody lives inside. Someone must, because the garden is tended, or maybe it's self-sufficient? Gardens can do that. It's like whoever's inside decided to cut off the outside world, which makes sense in a time like this. Or doesn't make sense, depends on what side of the wall you're in.
My mother didn't worry whenever I had a fever. When I was young I thought this was something I should be sad about. Until she explained to me that having fever is a good thing, it means your body is fixing itself. You just have to let it run its course. Starve it. There's a tipping point, sure, but there's no cause for immediate alarm. There's a lot of things I grew to believe when I was young. I'm glad now that I'm an adult I can ask my mother about them. Not to fix anything, but to move on.
I learned that forgiveness isn't an acquired ability, it's a reflex. We've known how to do it ever since we were babies. Forgiveness really is forgetting, it's mostly to do with our own well-being. No sense in carrying around that baggage, no? Observe two toddlers in a fight, minutes later they can be friends again. Observe how easy it can be. Observe how adults have learned to embellish the process and make it difficult. A process, sometimes that can take years and years. When in reality all it takes is taking the first step forward. All we really need.
I've been going about life simplifying the complex. Minimizing, whatever it's called. Diminishing? These words are wrong, we should find better words. Going back to basics, maybe that there's a better way to look at it. You don't want to someday look back and regret that you've spent your best years wasting time on things that are out of your control. I'd like to be quiet for a long, long, long time because it seems I've been foisting my simple ideas on people who have their own way of thinking. Of course they should do what they think is right.
What is it with February, the so-called shortest month, but takes up so much of our year!!! I'm just impatient for newness. I discovered an amazing shawarma place, it makes me so happy just knowing that it exists. February is a special month for Baguio, is it, still? I'm really not sure, I haven't ventured out in months. Groceries and food are delivered, there's no need for new clothes, bills are paid online, is there still a need for face-to-face transactions? Of course not. Of course yes? I'm like a malfunctioning machine sometimes. Rusty, faulty, mostly-askew.
When I was small, I had aunts and uncles who carted me off to places I needed to be. Tutor, dentist, dermatologist, dance lesson. I just needed to get ready and someone would whisk me off to a car and drop me off, get me, feed me, bring me home. My memories are mostly the car air conditioning and how there isn't the same comfort inside my house, how I wanted to stay in motion, how I wanted to be not-home. I have no clear memory of where my parents were, just that they weren't there. Good times? Well...
Hi. We ordered two white pizza slices and ate in silence. Behind you were faint orbs that looked like fireflies. They were lampposts, lined up in the street as if on attention for someone who will never pass by, because it was late night, and the mall has closed. You told me you knew where we could exit. The lady at the counter is eyeing us with such weariness I think she just transcended annoyance and arrived at resignation. Stay all you want. So we stayed. Waiting for someone to say it first. It's over, you finally said. Ok then.
Almost a year ago there was something that started gnawing at us, something new and possibly unknowable. We sank slowly into a rhythm, a way of living that was equal parts shocking and familiar. I say "gnawing" because up to this very moment it's still in motion, whatever it is, tantalizing us into believing that this is how we're supposed to live. Eyes glued to our devices, laughing into a screen, pouring out our hearts into something plugged on a socket. I don't mean to be crass and cold, maybe it's just one of those days. Maybe this will pass.
Remember the early days? In 10 years we may look back at 2020 and mostly see the good or the bad, depends. IDK. A grey area maybe. Right now we're in the middle of this new life and much as we want to believe we've gotten the hang of it there's still something everyday that seems to come out of nowhere. Our memories have been so compromised that we often fail to recognize a moment that has already happened in the past. It keeps getting newer and newer, when it truth it's folding into itself, on its way out unannounced.
I've learned how bad of a friend I can be. If before it was a fear, now it's a relief. How easy it is to admit a weakness and lean into it. So much energy saved from trying to prove a point that wasn't there in the first place. I can cut people off just like that and there's nothing fundamentally wrong with it. My father said as long as it's going to do both sides good, then it's okay and necessary, however insensitive and overly pragmatic it appears to be. What's the worst that can happen? Better this way.
Life's too short to live a lie. Blah blah blah. All its permutations. Always a firm believer in clichés because they are the truest and most dependable. I would like if there was something that can prove a cliché wrong, wouldn't it be exciting? Something unprecedented. Something unexpected. Something taken-for-granted never to happen. Time is gold. Who can refute that time is indeed gold? Are rich people happy? Of course they are. Not solely because of the money of course, it's because of something they decide to do. Not to live a lie maybe. Life itself maybe.
Shoehorning a personal entry to speak as myself, no fiction no other-people voice. Just me. Rereading these earlier Feb entries and I cringe. This is the perfect time to stop writing here as I feel like there's nothing left to say for now. There has been so little left to say in the past months as it is. I wanted to be quiet in 2020 and failed quite a bit haha. This site has been a great help in navigating the past year. Maybe this year there's another way to deal aside from spewing out 100 words a day.
The next entry will shift to storytelling mode as I had previously decided this month's batch would carry the fictional Baguio theme. Forgive the first half of this month, I was angry and confused. It happens to everyone, yes? We need to recognize the blackness this newness is breeding in us. Maybe it's a kind of filter I just need to adjust or eliminate altogether. One sunny walk at Greenfield will solve this days-old ennui and annoyance at practically everything. So yeah. Bye everyone. Stories up next. Thank you for being with me on this, sending you good vibes!
The weather has suddenly turned. Sticky afternoon rain showers. Summer is around the corner, sticking its head out to feel for people's moods, are they excited or iffy? She unearthed her folding umbrella from last year's pile of unused objects. This month they start reporting to the office again. Goodbye to working from home. This time last year she was at an airport, wondering when the traveling would stop. Then it did. Almost a year of home base and today she's wondering if her office clothes are proper. There is so much practice she'd need for the new outside world.
She always found airports uncomfortable. The whole structure itself feels like a walkalator, perpetually moving yet stuck in one place. She is uneasy eating at airport restaurants, it's like at any time someone will tell her the plane has left and she has to reschedule or cancel. All that effort just to possibly go home again. She should've never left home. It makes her dizzy and overwhelmed, airports. If she stays still, looks around, everyone is walking, going somewhere, and she feels the need to move, too. It's exhausting being around so much movement. She's glad travel has been restricted.
Baguio today is all fog. She walked to work because she was too afraid to ride an automobile. The thought of a car ramming into her because of poor visibility occurred to her in the middle of her walk, so she had to walk faster, cursing her decision to leave the house. There's a cab, she weighs her options, does she hail it and just go home? She decides to continue walking to the office. It's been two months now since they came back. She misses home, maybe that's it. At the office, she worries about how she'll go home.
Today she's too lazy to work. She's been Googling random questions for the past half hour. Why do some people not lock their doors? Can bullets always be traced back to what gun was used? What's the tallest possible structure height allowed? Who's in charge of urban planning in 1970s Baguio? One of her officemates is a local, knows a lot of nontouristy restaurants that are good. She's not at her desk. Maybe she's on leave? She stops browsing and looks for said officemate, she'd like a food adventure today. Officemate is sick, she learns. She goes back to Google.
Everything's too much, it's coming at her all at once. Today she calls in sick and goes to the nearby museum. It has a tiny space where anyone can set up their exhibit for free. It's an almost-forgotten wing that people seldom visit, windowless and dreary. Art on the walls today, however, are playful and somehow helping to cheer her up. Something about them is buoyant. Someone pokes their head in, ambles toward the far side. After a few minutes he's beside her, "What do you think?" She answers, "I like it, derivative but quite brave." "Derivative of?" "Basquiat."
She's not sure why she said that. These are nowhere near a Basquiat. Her face is now red she's sure. She does this to put walls up, only sometimes she speaks too soon and says something untrue and stupid, hoping the recipient won't notice and just leave her alone. She wanted to be alone today. Why is this man still standing next to her, chuckling. "Really? You think so?" For some reason she wants to set the record straight, "No, I didn't mean that, I just wanted the conversation to stop." The man nods his head, then shakes it, smiles.
He's still not leaving. "Wrong timing, I see." He's not making sense to her, she worries this might lead to a fight? "I'm really not in the mood to talk." He nods his head again, reaches for something in his jacket pocket, and hands her a card. "I understand, some other day maybe? Let's talk about Basquiat." The man leaves the room. She looks at the card and on it is a photo of one of the paintings. It's an invite for another exhibit in a week. At the back is a photo of the man she just drove away.
At the opening the following week she approaches the artist. This is new to her, normally she would just ignore their previous encounter and move on. But there's something about this man that's making her soften, probably build lower walls. Why was she excited about today? Why was she so honest with him when they met? Why was she not worried about being judged? What was up with that??? Maybe these were her reasons for going today. Maybe she needs answers. But now facing him, she also remembers he has kind eyes. There's a warmth about him that's puzzling her.
At work the following day she Googles her new friend. He's from Manila, quite successful there it seems. She notices a lightness about her today. No, it can't be a crush, she's too old for that. They are going out for coffee on the weekend and she tells herself to stop overthinking, just survive this day and see what happens. Her boss motions for her to come in his office. She walks in a daze, smiling, and catches herself. She discovers it's hard to wipe off a genuine smile just like that. "What's up with your face?" her boss asks.
The ozone layer has had a hole since 1985. Is this the truth? Sometimes Google can be wrong. Today she's on Google for actual work. Well, work that her boss made her do for a fifth grader. She's sick of these extra tasks and reminds herself that there's only half a year remaining before she can truly leave this job. She's almost sure that at the end of that half year she will again decide to wait for another half year until she's not able anymore to...she stops catastrophizing and makes a deal with herself. This is it. Really.
She considers leaving Baguio. It's too comfortable here, she'd tell herself, you need to experience a new place. Then she thinks of anywhere that is not Baguio and how hot it must be there, and she reconsiders her consideration. It's these stops and starts that hinders her, she knows it, and convinces herself that acknowledging her imperfections and hemming and hawing is enough. It's enough to know she's being indecisive to the point of futility. It's enough to admit it, at least that way she knows she can do something about it someday. Probably soon she'll actually decide and move.
It's the weekend. It's been raining since Thursday. Today it's not showing any sign of letting up. She waits for her new friend to cancel, or should she cancel? It makes perfect sense to just stay in. Or should she invite him to her house? Would that be alright with him? She'd really like to see him and chat. She paces and wills her phone to make a sound. She gets tired of that and forces herself to sleep, maybe when she wakes up there would be a message and everything will be settled. Do something! She should do something.
She's having the nicest dream. Her parents are still alive and her brothers are still speaking with each other. They're on a picnic in the province, somewhere in her grandparents' farm. There are strawberries and mango, honey, freshly baked bread, orange juice, cheese, wine. It seems that every time she looks away a new type of food appears on the spread when she looks back. Her mother's laughing about something her brother must have said. Her father's talking about the horses and how they are loyal and strong and black. She hears a phone sound, it's getting nearer and nearer.
So what happened was he asked for her address and drove to her. They had coffee, sandwiches, and amazing conversations about the weather, dreams (the asleep and awake versions), sincerity, friendship, the pandemic, vestibules, a different-colored sky, and some other topics she's forgotten. The specifics are blurred now, but what's vivid is how he made her feel. Happy. Not the flimsy or fleeting kind, but happy in a way that she looks forward to the next moment, not dreading it. She's gotten used to being anxious about what's coming next, that this feeling of hope is new and welcome,
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