My vegan friends and I used to meet regularly for sleepovers and picnics, but when the pandemic brought the lockdowns, we adjusted to the situation just like everybody else. We created a Signal chat group where we updated each other with random news and new discoveries. These broke the monotony of my life being cooped in my studio, especially during the start when people were barely allowed to come out.
Last Friday, we went out to see Amélie the Musical at the Criterion Theater. My partner chose it because he loves the film a lot: it was one of the movies we watched during the height of the pandemic last year. (We played the movie in sync while on a Google Meet call, which is pretty much how we survived the long-distance relationship.)
It was surreal to get back inside the theater for the first time since COVID started, and seeing the West End bustling with so much life made me miss watching plays and movies in Manila. (Wicked has started showing again, while The Book of Mormon has been bombarding me with reminders that it will resume this November.)
Do you ever think about dying? I mean, genuinely think about not existing anymore: not breathing, living in the past tense forever—a nothing?
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.)
“A good place to retire,” my fiancé said that afternoon as he pointed at a “For Lease” sign on one of the charming whitewashed houses here in Perast, a small village facing the Bay of Kotor, in Montenegro.
Although we were decades away from quitting our jobs, I imagined living in this town: half-naked under the sun, lazily reading by the lake, the crystal waters stretching for miles that made you believe it was the sea.
It was appealing, I thought, the idea of a never-ending vacation—but I also told myself that was probably because I still found all of this new and wonderful after being cooped up for months inside my studio in Makati.
“Yes,” I said, “But what will we eat?”
“And if it is love, it is a curiously inefficient force, urge and halt, both at the same time. I want, but nothing I can propose would satisfy this wanting. I can’t say what it is I want, not anything much…Simply I want. Earnestly, most hurriedly, wretchedly want.”– “At Swim, Two Boys”, Jamie O’Neill
I’m typing this at a food court in Dubai Airport Terminal 3 while waiting for my flight to Clark. There’s a three-hour layover and I’m eating the vegan falafel sandwich my boyfriend lovingly prepared before I left the UK, which he handed to me just as he was sending me off in Heathrow.
It’s midnight, I’ve almost finished the sandwich, and I’m still hungry, but I’m not sure if the eggplant tofu dish being served at the Panda Express behind me is even vegan. So this will have to do (not that I’m settling in any sense—it is delicious falafel.)
After one and a half months staying in London, I’m now trying to figure out what I feel about going back to Manila.
I love the Philippines, no doubt about it, and I’ve often said that I couldn’t imagine myself living elsewhere. But relationships have a way of making people reconsider things, such as—what exactly should we give up for the people we love?
Lately I’ve been feeling a sense of displacement. It usually strikes me every time I come back from a long trip, as if I’m straddling between two worlds, one that is familiar and one where I am invisible, where I only exist as a random face, a stranger.
I know that home is a wonderful place to be in. I honestly don’t have the right to be dissatisfied. I enjoy a lot of things here that many people don’t. I don’t mean to say that with a smug sense of satisfaction, but to acknowledge that I’m lucky. (Maybe to say one is lucky repeatedly can be some way of humble-bragging as well, but…shrugs.)