Friday, April 21, 2017

Not a Love Letter

Dear you,

It's been roughly four months. How are you? I hope you are doing just fine, and I don't mean that sarcastically. I mean it. Period.

Me? I'm good. I am still out of a job but other than that, I'm good. I'm physically healthy, financially okay, and I have better skin than I've had in months. I needed to mention that because I felt that my skin problems were stress-related. Maybe that's because I am no longer as stressed out as I used to be. No need to go into details, you know how it is with my previous job, right? I'm good, as in I'm happy that I got to tick a lot of items in my bucket list. Since I have a lot more time for other things than I used to. Emotionally? It's safe enough to say that I am getting there. I no longer cry whenever I think of you. I am no longer angry at you. I see your name popping up in our group chats and I no longer feel the urge to hurl my phone at the wall. Occasionally, I even smile whenever I remember our adventures. 

An adventure. That's what you are. I guess, in some ways more than one, the people in our lives are like adventures. They bring us different experiences. They make us feel different emotions. Some excite us, some make us happy, some make us sad, and some are simply just adventures that we wish we never took. You are all of those I've mentioned, except for the last one. Don't let this get to your head, but I am glad that I have known you. Yes, you've hurt me but then again, people hurt us all the time, intentionally or otherwise. It's just that the extent of the hurt people have brought into our lives vary. And the length of the healing process varies as well. 

For you, it's roughly four months. It would have taken longer had I wallowed in misery. More importantly, it would have taken longer had it not been for the people who were there for me along the way. Some of them are people I've known for years - I'm grateful for them being a constant in my life. Some of them are people I've met during my travels - I'm hoping that my path would cross with theirs again. And some of them, surprisingly, are people that I have met through you - and that is something that I am extremely thankful to you for. If it hadn't been for you, I wouldn't have met them. And this is why I will never, ever regret knowing you. So thank you.

I guess that's it. I really have nothing more to say, except stay healthy and good luck on your endeavors. 

Sincerely,
Me.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Tales from My Travels: Souvenirs and Room Rentals

I sat on the table eating my breakfast of instant noodles and crackers. I was getting ready to go on my tour. The old woman who owns the house sat with me, watching wistfully. I offered her some food and she politely declined saying that she already had breakfast. I smiled at her.

I asked her how long she has been renting out the rooms in the house. She said that she and her husband have been opening their doors to travelers for a few years now. She said that they started out by making keychain souvenirs and selling them to tourists. But it wasn't enough so they decided to rent out the rooms to travelers so they can make more money. She said that it still barely enough because most tourists would only visit during weekends. Then she told me more.

She told me that she and her husband have six children who are now all grown-ups. She told me about how the eldest one went on a different path and chose to stop studying. He ended up being unemployed for quite some time before ending up with a job at a construction site. She said that he brought her lots of disappointments. She told me about how kids numbers two through five have all completed their studies and are now working in their chosen fields. One of them is a teacher at the nearby public school. One of them works as an engineer in a province south of Luzon and that he only comes home about one to two times a year. She told me that she already has grandchildren. She told me about her youngest being the only one left studying. He only has one more year of education left. She told me about how her eldest regretted not finishing his studies. She told me about he glad she was that he learned from his mistakes.

She told me about their struggles in life. She told me about how she and her husband had to work hard on a very minimal income just to be able to feed their children and put them through school. She said that they had a very difficult life and that it brings her happiness to see her children all grown-up and successful despite everything that their family has been through. She said it with a proud smile on her face and tears in her eyes.

Listening to her stories, I tried to hold back tears. I studied the wrinkles on her face which showed how the years passed and how they molded her into this strong woman in front of me, albeit aged. And I thought to myself how tough and resilient she must be to be able to survive everything that they have been through. Then the tour guide came to pick me up and I felt kind of sorry that our conversation was over. I wanted to hear more of her stories.

Later that day as I was leaving and bidding my host goodbye, I felt kind of sad. Her home was my home for one night and she showed me nothing but sincere hospitality. She handed me something and when I looked at it, I saw that it was a keychain. I tried to refuse it because I know that these keychains are her source of income, apart from the room rentals. She insisted and told me that it was something for me to remember them by. So that the next time I visit, I will still choose to stay at their home. I smiled, and tried to hold back tears as I attached the keychain to my wallet. Upon leaving, I vowed that I will definitely come back.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Tales from My Travels: Perfect Stranger

I met you at the dimly lit common area of the hostel that we were both staying in. I was in conversation with my friend and a fellow traveler that we both just met. I was chugging a bottle of beer and you approached us holding a cup half-filled with hard liquor. You said "hi" to the traveler as you already knew each other. You introduced yourself and we did the same. Then you joined us in our conversation.

After a few minutes into it, you challenged us to a game of Jenga. And so we played, all four of us. It was my second time to play Jenga. That tipsy feeling and a game where one needed steady hands - it wasn't a good combination. Yet for some reason, I was actually doing pretty well. We were having lots of laughs. The game ended with my friend losing. She then excused herself to go somewhere. The other guy excused himself to go to the restroom. Then you left to who-knows-where. I was suddenly left alone.

I tried to busy myself by shuffling some playing cards. Then you came back shortly holding a bottle of rum. You asked me if I wanted to play a drinking game, and I said yes. But I didn't know any drinking games and neither did you. You suggested playing some card games instead, but you only knew Poker. So I ended up teaching you how to play a different card game. As expected, I won the first round. We then played another round. In the middle of it, you suddenly leaned in and kissed me on the lips. It was light and quick. I was taken by surprise. We then stared into each other's eyes and then your face drew closer. Then you kissed me again, this time longer. It was slow, sweet, and gentle. Your lips were soft and they tasted sweet. I kissed you back. And then we stopped playing cards.

You lied down on one of the bean bags and pulled me in to lie beside you. You snuggled closer and wrapped your arms around me. Then we started talking. You talked about your life, your job, your trips with your mom. I told you about how I quit my job and how I went on a backpacking trip. You saw my tattoos and I told you what they meant. You listened. I loved how you hung on to my every word with pure interest and how you look deep into my eyes while I was talking.

Shortly, your friends came over to join us. They were drunk. They were laughing and dancing and acting crazy. They were a hoot. We continued to talk, as if we had our own little world. But they eventually interrupted us and we joined the party downstairs. We grabbed a spot on one of the woven mats with cushions and we sat with several people. It was a fun crowd and it seemed like you were the center of it. Everybody kept approaching you and trying talk to you. They kept giving you drinks. A couple of girls had their eyes on you, and they were touching your arm and trying to get your attention. It was obvious that you were used to the attention that people were showering you. What can I say? You draw the crowd the way honey drew bees in. Yet  not once did you make me feel left out. You kept your arms wrapped around me the whole time. Even when girls were trying to flirt with you. You would touch my hair, kiss my shoulders, and entwine your fingers with mine. It made me feel special. You told me that everything about that night was magic.

Eventually the party ended. People started leaving. Fellow hostel guests were going to the dormitories, the hosts began to clean up, and once again, you entrapped me in our own world. The night was over but it wasn't, at least not for us. We talked more. We told each other more stories. We kissed and cuddled some more. And I found myself wishing that the Earth would stop turning, and that the clocks would stop ticking. I found myself wishing that the night would never end. I found myself wishing that tomorrow would never come. Because tomorrow I'd have to leave. I found myself wishing to never have to bid you goodbye.

But a girl can only wish. And not all wishes come true. We fell asleep in each other's arms, lost in our own little world with reality just a few hours away. We woke up to the day that I was dreading - the day that I would have to leave paradise. Hour passed. Finally, we said our farewells. And I left with a heavy heart not knowing if I would ever see you again. But more importantly, I left with memories of a magical night that will forever last. A night that will never be tarnished with bad memories because everything about it made me smile. It was bittersweet.

Thank you for that night. 'Til the day our paths cross again, stranger.