On Being Grateful

birthday cake

Two weeks after my 33rd birthday and a proper thank you is in order.

I haven’t been good in showing my appreciation to people. I always assumed that somehow they will know that I am thankful for everything they did for me. But I know it is not the case. If there is one thing I learned, appreciation always makes a person’s day.

Hence here I am, thanking and being grateful.

I am not here to write individual prose for each and everyone who touched my life nor am I going to list all the significant persons who are relevant to me. It will just be a plain and simple thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone for being here for me and with me in the last 33 years and 2 weeks of my life. Cliché as it may sound but I will not be who I am without the individual contributions of you people, be it large or small, in my personal development.

I have always believed that we meet people in our lives never as an accident or just for naught. Call it the butterfly effect. Each and every person influences and affects our reality in more ways than we can imagine. I treasure all those interactions. I value them. And I am grateful for them.

It has been 33 years of wonderful existence and looking at the slice of life that has been offered to me, I can’t wait to have my second serving.

Cheers to another candle to blow in my cake.

I am thankful.

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Fernanda’s Day

It is Chinese New Year and it is also your birthday. How auspicious can this day be?

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I hope you are wearing red because Chinese believes it is a lucky color and I hope you ate noodles because they say it will give you longer life.

But what the heck. You are probably dressed to the nines and it doesn’t matter if it is red or not. And eating noodles is the farthest from your mind because what matters most now is that goldish drink with fizzles and bubbles on top which makes people happy and tipsy and makes you kiss strangers in some unknown club in a new city (like Istanbul perhaps) which will give you good memories and something to smile about. Don’t kill me. 🙂

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I flew a Chinese lantern for you with a wish that somehow somewhere, we will bump into each other in one crowded street again at the same place at the same time and decide to have a beer (see, I told you I will try to drink one for you) and create new memories again together.

Happy birthday tatlim. You are always in my heart.

sAF

Now, have your cake

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and drink some cola (from Safranbolu).

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Because there’d be no way it will be called a birthday in Turkey unless these two are served together. 🙂

My Sister is 27

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I can’t believe you are 27.

27 sounds old.

Don’t you think so? It kinds of leave a bad taste to the mouth.

Where has all the years gone? It was only recently that you had your 18th birthday, then 20th, then 25th. And now 27!!! It is getting closer and closer to 30. Yikes.

But 27 is a good number. It was for me. And since you are my sister and we are so alike (except that I have more patience than you) I hope my luck with that number rubs into you.

I was 27 when a lot of new and wonderful things happened in my life.

I know you have a lot in the running on your 27th too. I wish that all those experiences wisen you and make you appreciate more life. I know you do appreciate it more now after what your 26th has taught you.

But life just gets better and better. At times when we think we are in a slump and nothing is going right or nothing is going the way we imagined it, we get surprised by life and we can just smile because of the good fortune that landed on our feet.

I wish you all the best on your 27th and I hope it teaches you things that will mark your life so when you look back, you can say that it was 27 which did this to you.

I will be missing your birthday dinner but my thoughts will always be there.

Happy birthday girl. I am looking forward to our next great adventure.

And as a birthday gift you can stay for 3D2N in the most beautiful and luxurious resort in North Sumatra for free. See. I am not that kuripot as what you always claim. :p

I miss you.

P.S.

And did you notice how many times I wrote the number 27? Just so you’ll get used to it. 🙂 It can take quite a while you know. It is always easier and sweeter to say you are 25. :p

It Is Somebody’s Birthday Today

It is somebody’s birthday today.

I was looking earlier at the photos of the time that was and just like that all the memories came rushing back.

I am in my pajamas now smiling like a fool alone in my bed with that fuzzy feeling in my stomach and a weird grin plastered on my face. My cheeks are starting to hurt actually. Too much stretching. Too much remembering. Too much beaming. Whoa. Time flies. It has been almost a year.

How do I begin?

The plan was to meet and show around a newfound friend who was coming back to Manila for a visit. You were never in the blueprint. But you tagged along. So there. You happened.

I remember I was late. I was stuck in traffic. Actually, I could have avoided the jam had I decided not to curl my hair. Anyway, my hair looked great and that’s all that matters.

So there you were in the marine park. I swear my heart skipped a beat when I saw you. And yes, I was 29 then. Those things still happen even in your after teens, I learned.

I always play it cool with people but with you I instantly felt shy. That feeling when your crush sits next to you and you were frozen because you’re so scared to look uncool and make a fool of yourself. Yeah, that was the feeling when I saw you.

You were just perfect the whole day we were touring Manila. I swear I’ve been sending shrieking messages to my friends when you were not looking. Girl stuff.

Night time. That was for the record books. It must be the combination of Smirnoff and some cocktails. I was rocking the dance floor. Of course rocking for me means dancing in one corner with my version of weird moves that mimics swaying. I was never a party girl so pardon the steps. They were unexceptional really.

I was dancing and you were dancing. You came nearer I didn’t care. You put my arms around your waist I willingly obliged. You put your arms around my waist I didn’t budge. The music was alternative rock but we were dancing like prom king and queen. I was smiling inwardly and was feeling careless because of the drink. I really don’t care.

Your forehead on my forehead. Wow. I thought that only happens in the movies. Minutes passed, or was it seconds? I lost count. The world stood still. Your nose on my nose. Oh wow. It’s getting even better. More than what I expected. And yeah, there. Eeeeeeee. I felt something on my lower left lip. Oh. Was it your lips? And before I can recover it was there again. Yeah. Confirmed. What the hell. I was raking my head trying to figure out how to go about this. Well, I stopped thinking. It didn’t matter that my friends’ mouth were left hanging. Astonished. Even I was surprised. I can just give myself a pat at the back.

We could have stayed there forever. I swear. But Cinderella needs to come home. Actually, the conservative friends had too much show. They can’t take it anymore.

So as I said, it is somebody’s birthday today. I really don’t know what you’re up to these days. Life decided things for us.

No worries.

But guess what? You’re one beautiful memory I go back to again and again. And it feels like my birthday everytime I do the recollecting.

So there, happy birthday. I would have kissed you today as a gift. But I am here and you are there so CANNOT CANNOT. 🙂

And that’s how far the story I can tell.

The 30th Birthday

I should be doing a dozen other things now rather than writing. I need to finish that assignment in my accounting course that is due tomorrow. I should be listing down some last minute reminders and instructions for the staff before I take my train back to KL in the morning. I should be packing my stuff making sure I don’t leave any dirty clothes and undies inside the bathroom. I should be crafting a one night Kuala Lumpur itinerary for my sister who is arriving tomorrow. I should be researching for places of interest in Penang and other nearby areas as what Kwang Yi has been asking earlier in his call. I should be doing a million other things than this.

But yeah, I have to write my thoughts now before they escape me, before I lose time and forget.

———

Night of October 10.

S and I had an early dinner. We ate some sizzling stuff in a clay pot. The goal was to save as much time as we can so we can finish one last round of ALL the shops and boutiques in Aeon Mall here in Ipoh as we will be leaving this town in a few days time. That mall is so nice, btw.

Come 10 PM and both of us were spent (literally and figuratively). We headed back to the hotel. I told S I want to lock myself in my room and spend the last remaining hours of my 20s contemplating. But really, I was just not in the mood to have company. Suddenly.

We parted in the hallway. I to my room. She to hers. Then she stopped dead on her tracks and reared her head from the wall dividing us. “Leslee!!!”, she shouted.  “Don’t cry, ok?!”

“Of course I won’t! What were you thinking?!”, and then I laughed.

I was in my room. And out of nowhere loneliness crept in. It must be the quietness. Here I am about to welcome one of the milestones of my life and I am stuck in an unknown hotel in the middle of nowhere, away from my country, and far from family and friends to celebrate and party with. What was I thinking agreeing to come here on my day?!

Then my BB beeped. A message. Somebody is asking me to go on Skype.

We have been friends for more than 15 years and if there is a person who knows me inside out, I will bet on him. He always knows when I am not ok. His instincts are worse than a mom.

He was making some small talk though I know he just wants to greet me and make sure I am ok.

“So, will I change the password now?”, he said.

Why does he have to bring up that topic the night before my day?! I was trying to forget about it.

“Yes, please.” I said. I better have that email address contained so I won’t feel like checking it on my moments of weakness. I know I don’t make sense. Anyway.

Then I blurted, “I just feel like crying.”

And on cue the tears fell.

I hanged up on him fast. I don’t wanna talk to anybody. I want to be left alone.

I lay face  down on my bed hoping the pillow will stop the tears from flowing. It didn’t. I was sobbing. Sobbing with the shoulders heaving up and down. And the funny part is I don’t even know why. Still, sobbed I did. A lot of conversations were running through my head. The mind must be panicking or something. Tick tock tick tock and 20s no more. It was really making a scene.

Then I talked to God. Asked Him lots of questions. Questioned Him. Pleaded on Him. He never answered. Not a word. He just listened. Quietly. And I felt better.

Before the clock struck twelve I was back to my composed self. I checked myself in the mirror. I still look the same save for the red eyes and some pillow lines around the forehead and cheeks.

Then messages and greetings came pouring in. All the sadness, loneliness, questions, etc. faded. Why the hell did I even cry? I am loved.

I was swimming in all the positive wishes and love from people. I know some were just prompted by that notification from FB but what the fudge. A good wish is a good wish. I welcome them. I relish them. I love them.

Then I went to bed.

———

October 11.

My Mom’s overseas call woke me up. She always wakes me up on my birthday. That is comforting and sweet.

After hanging up on her and after a good 30 minutes of convincing the body that I am really awake, the first thought that came in was “What changed?”. I am 30. Gulp. There must be something.

I went to the full length mirror and inspected myself. I still look the same. Some small pimples popping out but yeah, still the same. Whew. It wasn’t so bad.

I showered and dressed up then went to the lobby to wait for our ride to somewhere. S appeared with her big smile and overflowing vibrant energy. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!”, she shouted with her goofy face.

Yay! That woke me up. And the hug too. Thank you.

We had breakfast and I had my staple Kway Teow and Teh Tarik. S got me a gift. Sneaky her asking me to try on clothes in the mall last night feigning she is too lazy to fit them without me knowing she was shopping for my gift. I feel loved. 🙂

After work, the hotel owner offered to bring us out for dinner. It didn’t hurt that he looks like Harry Potter according to S. He is also young and he is just so nice. I agreed. We agreed.  I have no plans anyway.

He brought us to this steak house where I will never bother to eat if I have to pay for it myself. Almost 100 Ringgit for a meal?! Are you crazy?! No way! I can buy 50 glasses of Teh tarik with that money! Even a 10 Ringgit meal is expensive for me.

The hotel owner appeared shy and reserved when we first met him but really he was so personable in that dinner. Conversation flowed naturally and we never noticed the time. That was interesting.

And, to put icing on the cake of my day, they got me a cake! I just came back from the bathroom when several resto staff swarmed around our table singing a Happy Birthday song and carrying a cake with a lighted candle in the middle. Yay!

Here I am in the middle of nowhere celebrating my birthday with people I have known barely for a year (the owner and his accountant was barely a week) and I am just so happy and blessed.

Recounting all the greetings and messages from all the lovely people in my life, I cannot ask for more. Disappointments come here and there but really, what is there to have a long face for? My life and my loved ones are true testaments of the goodness of God.

I am still not done thanking all the people who cared to send me their positive thoughts and wishes on my birthday. You made my day. You made me feel special. You took a small portion of your time to remember me and I truly appreciate that. Thank you for your good hearts.

As what one of the greetings that was sent to me said,

Happy Birthday Leslee. Hope you are spoilt rotten today and that you will have a blessed year ahead.

I really was spoilt rotten.

Thank you very much. 🙂

P.S.

And the good feeling didn’t stop on my day. Why does God send me such wonderful friends like him? I am just so touched. Thank you.