My Brave Heart

MagnoliaSpring

I am taking it all in. I am trying to make everything count just in case I never manage to go back. Every wave, every smile, every simple conversation, every quick joke thrown here and there, all are enjoyed, all are cherished. I don’t know when I will get the opportunity to do these again. With them. Here. Maybe soon. Maybe later. Maybe never.

The decision did not come easy. It was a series of long tossing and turning in bed, of writing in my journal, of seeking counsel, of meditating, of praying. When I made the decision, I did not feel happy. I felt scared and very sad. How can I do this? How can I just walk away from something so beautiful? How can I ever think of leaving?

I have no answers. Even now, when it is almost here, I am still battling with the self. I am so scared. Only a stupid person will do this, I say. But I guess being scared is good. Being scared means another opportunity to know the capacity of the self, to befriend the self, to take the self by the hand, to walk through it with the self until everything becomes alright.

I know I have been in this situation many times. Leaving. Sometimes I think there is something wrong with the self. Most of the time I think there is. Why can’t I just stay, be still, grow roots, settle? It will make my life easier once and for all.

But I know I will be doing a disservice to the self.

I cannot discount the voice within. The one that is saying just close your eyes and jump.

And all the time I am led. I always believe. I always follow that tiny voice in my head saying, “Get up. Come. Let’s start a new adventure.”

I am one emotional mess right now. There has been a permanent block in my throat the past few days. Everything makes my eyes well. I love this place, God, I love everything in this place. The birds in the morning, the many faces of the lake, the perfect weather, and the unbelievable kindness of people. What else am I looking for?

I don’t know.

Everywhere I look is begging me to stay. Heck, even the animal towels I always find shaped on my bed. I know I would also want to stay. The tears won’t be there if it is not very painful. I am breaking my own heart.

But I am one crazy person.

Because just when the roots are beginning to dig deep and anchor themselves to the earth, I surprised it by uprooting it and subjecting it to blinding brightness again.

I am trying to be brave to leave everything and walk away.

For what? I don’t know.

To where? To wherever life leads me.

I am so scared.

But I am ready.

On Saying Goodbye

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I have seen it several times the past few months I have been here in Indonesia and though I can say that I have learned how to hold back tears and control emotions, it doesn’t make it any easier. Today, I said goodbye to one of my best staff. She was crying and I was just hugging her telling her everything is going to be alright.

I almost joined in her tears but it doesn’t look good losing my composure especially when I already look terrible to begin with. It is my day off and I was lazily enjoying my bed in my pajamas and messy hair reading blogs when my phone rang. An unknown number popped out. I answered and it is her. She said she wants to say goodbye. I don’t have time to take a shower or dress up as she is outside my door. I pulled my hair in a ponytail or a semblance of it and did a quick physical check if I am wearing undergarments. No time even to wash my face. When I opened my door there she is, tears welling up in her eyes. I hugged her tightly thanking her for the wonderful service she has done and that I wish her success in all her plans in life.

As I look at her and hug her again and again, there was a slight pinch in the heart. In as much as I want to compartmentalize my life treating work as work and personal as personal, there comes a time when the merging happens without us knowing. I cannot claim that all those people who have said goodbye to try something new or to welcome new experiences are very close to my heart, but those few who were able to transcend the imaginary professional block that I have created occupy a very special space within me because they found a way to touch me dearly.

I am trying to hold back tears now as I type this but I am also joyously aware and thankful that I am allowed to feel this kind of emotion.

I know the coming and going will always be a part of life. That’s what makes it interesting. That’s what makes it worth living.

To all those ex colleagues who became special to me in one way or another, thank you for touching my heart. Thank you for allowing me to play a part in the story of your life the same way you played yours in mine.

*image credit

Blackberry, Brazilian, Bucket List, Beautiful Memories

Rewind to two weeks ago.

I got a Ping in my BBM.

It was 7 AM. I was sprawled in bed covered in the usual white duvet that is a standard in most hotels. It was a day off. I was meaning to sleep in because hello, it is a day off so I was firing expletives in my head for that person who pinged me at such an hour.

I checked the phone.

Fernanda: Are you awake?
Me: Barely. Only one eye is open.
Fernanda: Wake up! Go online in Skype.

Silence.

I think I fell asleep for a good few seconds.

Fernanda: Where are you?! My students want to talk to you!
Me: Bekle! (It means wait in Turkish.)
Me: I am still in bed crazy woman! (Some people don’t know the concept of time difference. Omaygad!)

fe and me

And that was it. I went online and saw gawking sixteenish to eighteenish Brazilian students who look older than the 30 year-old, barely awake, clad in my pajamas me asking questions like why do Asians love to eat rice and is it really true that I am 30 because honestly I look like 12. Ok, I made that up. I don’t remember anymore what we talked about. As I said, I was barely awake.

I don’t even know why I agreed to talk to them with my unwashed face, unkempt hair, and barely functioning neurons. Maybe that was it. The brain was still booting. Oh, one thing I remember though, they wanted to see how my pajamas look like or if I am really wearing pajamas. These Brazilians.

Anyway…

I miss Fernanda.

It has been almost two years since we were physically together. The last time I saw her was when my Turkish host family hosted a farewell dinner for me in their home. She came over together with other dear international and Turkish friends to bid me goodbye as I pack and fly back to the Philippines the following day.

There were no tears that night. I think. But we know that it could possibly be the last time we will see each other in this lifetime. What are the chances of meeting again? We live in the opposite sides of the world. I am from the Philippines. She is from Brazil. A few days after I left Turkey it was time also for her to go. We will be crafting our real lives back home and will be busy to make sense of the years that we are blessed with.

Today, as I lie again in my bed covered with the white duvet, I came across this blog on Bucket List. Inspired to make mine too, though I know I have done it several times in the past but have lost the paper where I wrote my stuff, I grabbed my red journal and started scribbling.

I divided it into two groups, Bucket List for 2013 and the Ultimate Bucket List. My concept and titles were not really original. I just copied it from the blog. And I found myself writing in the Ultimate List, Meet up with Fernanda again.

We know we always lament that we want to see each other. Being the Latina that she is, she is so sappy and melodramatic every time we talk about it. It sounds gayish to a point.

Photo courtesy of Ercan Kurt, a good friend we met in Turkey. I stole this pic from his Instagram.  Friends who lived with me in this city knows exactly where this shot was taken.
Photo courtesy of Ercan Kurt, a good friend we met in Turkey. I stole this pic from his Instagram. Friends who lived with me in this city knows exactly where this shot was taken.

But I guess that’s how it really is. I guess we represent one beautiful part of each other’s lives. And it is with having each other, reminiscing all those good things again and again, that we keep those memories alive. Those memories that we are clinging to and we hope will never escape us ever in this life.

So yeah, that’s one of the ultimate things I hope to strike out from my list before the time expires. Good luck to us.

Unusual Calmness

Where do I begin?

Silence.

Quiet acceptance.

There are things in life that shock us to our core and make us ask difficult questions which have no answers.

But then there are things in life that we graciously accept, not because we admitted defeat, but because deep within we know that that’s just the way it is.

Eventually for everybody, that’s just the way it is.

I have been trying to converse with the self. The I and the Me. Nobody wants to do the talking. Both are very quiet, pensive, brooding.

It is still a loss, says this person who has the front row seat now in my life.

I know. It is a loss. But I am surprised with the self. Instead of wailing and crying and questioning and bargaining, the self was still.

I can even say peaceful.

I don’t know where this foreboding feeling is coming from. There is sadness of course. But more than that, what is overpowering above all else is calmness.

“At the end of it all, the only question that matters is that did she have a happy life?”, the person asked.

I cannot answer that. Nobody can answer that.

But remembering those quick, stolen times when I caress her, tease her and share all my stupid stories to irritate her and make her laugh, I want to believe that even for a moment I made her happy.

“Lespoy, kelan ka mag-aasawa?” she always asks every time I bid her goodbye from my visit.

“Nanay! Ano ba?! Ang ganda ko kaya. Wag kang mag-alala. Bata pa ko. Tsaka bukas na lang! Gabi na kaya!” Then I will give her a hug and a kiss, bring her hand to my forehead and then quickly run to the car.

She will always stay by the gate to see me off. She’ll wave. I’ll wave. I’ll honk the horn, she’ll close the gate and then I will speed off.