Playing It Cool

Autumn is coming. It’s not here yet, but I can already feel the weather getting colder. The weather here has been generally chilly, but I think it’s because I’m used to the tropical heat in Manila (not to say that I liked Manila weather, but I’ve grown accustomed to the oppressive and humid climate to know how to work around it, such as: never to wear anything colored, unless I wanted sweat spots all over my shirt.

That reminds me of this one time in Singapore on my way to a meeting when I messed up with Google Maps’s directions, and I was left dripping in my own sweat—but I’ll save that for another story.)

There was a heat wave the first day I arrived here in London. That afternoon, right after we had landed at Gatwick Airport and left our bags at home, we walked around the Royal Docks area to look for a vegan place where we can have late lunch. People hung out shirtless under the sun, enjoying the rare sunny day with their friends and family. I thought it was a pleasant scene, I’ve to admit, although I remember how I used to be so grossed out by the neighborhood drunks in Manila who went around the streets half-naked.

That was the last time it was that hot. I don’t miss it. I like it now that it’s cooler, but I also dread that winter is almost here.

Salted caramel vegan ice cream, in Brighton

Winter is only nice as a concept (snowflakes, ice skating, hot cocoa by the fireplace, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and all the fantasies White people have indoctrinated us in) but horrible in reality. The cold makes you nauseated, layering up is hell, and the shorter days (the sun is already gone by 4 p.m. and doesn’t come out until 10 in the morning) are depressing. On balance, winter is not as wonderful as it’s hyped up to be.

This weekend, I caught up with some friends over Facebook and Google Meet video calls. I rarely bug my friends for anything, being the type who usually enjoys letting people do their thing and watching from a distance. I mostly keep updated by viewing their Instagram stories and reading their tweets. It’s hard enough that everyone in the Philippines is trying to survive through this pandemic (and the limbo of lockdowns), nobody needs the extra pressure of showing up.

Outside the Tate, a view of Thames River and Millennium Bridge

My call with KC and Nicole had been moved to different dates across months already, all for different reasons (meetings, sickness, conflicting schedules), but we’re cool enough that we just let it slide with a laugh. “I’m just happy my friends are alive and okay, enough na yun,” I told them.

But it was refreshing to have that long-overdue call finally happen. The three of us ended up promising to each other to keep KC and I accountable to our writing deadlines—KC for her thesis, me for my book. I’m still not confident about what I’m writing, and I think that’s the reason why I’ve held off finishing it for years now. KC assures me though: she’s seen worse stuff with the manuscripts sent to her for editing.

This should keep me busy for the last few months of 2021. (The year is almost ending, it’s finally sinking in. Crazy.)

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