September 28, 2015
Half of his face was highlighted by the afternoon coffee-colored sunlight, the other half was shaded in espresso. He was in his usual spot in our living room, talking animatedly with his hands the way Italians do (con brio!) bringing his fingers to his lips and smacking them as he recounted the figs, the grapes, the olive oil, and the fresh mozzarella from his recent visit to his home country. I thought he looked a few years younger and healthier. In my heart I know, that’s what Italy does to people!
He and my dad were traveling across one topic to another but I could not sit through the whole conversation as I was preparing coffee and getting ready for my next batch of students. There was an interval of fervid talk about the migrants, the refugees, the mafia in Naples, and local politicians (con fuoco)! I only sat down with them as the impassioned tones were reaching a diminuendo.
And then he spoke of his first few days back in Dipolog; of the big mango tree in his neighborhood where, according to him, hundreds of maya birds occupy the branches early each morning and chirp an entire symphony as he drinks his coffee and smokes his cigarette. His face brightened at this as he went on to imitate two soloists of the maya symphony (con alma)!
I wanted to take a photo of him at that exact moment, but therein lies the tragedy of photography, one cannot always capture the music and spirit of a person, and that is why I am writing this down in my journal, otherwise, these excerpts of life just fade into anonymity.
A thousand things go into my journal, but rarely daily occurrences like what the conventional diary is made for, or made of. Thoughts go in here, and sometimes, written portraits of people in my life, or even strangers. Today’s entry is a snippet of a moment from when a family friend paid a visit this afternoon – a friend prone to pessimism but for understandable reasons, and who can be a bit overeager about my marriage to the person he thinks is perfect for me!
But nobody talks about maya birds and their song so ardently nowadays. Nobody. I just had to write that down, instead of taking another picture, as I wait for my next student to arrive.
July 30, 2015
Totoro is a character from Miyazaki’s “My Neighbor Totoro”. The animated film is a unique tale about friendship, I’ve been told. I wouldn’t know because despite friends’ urgings, I have never been able to spend enough time in front of a screen to give the seventh art the appreciation it deserves. At least, not yet. My interest in certain things develops as unhurriedly as the human gestation period, or an elephant’s, or much longer. I cannot pretend to like something just because all my esteemed friends are into it. I take my time. And when, a few days, weeks, months, or years later, the subject in question beckons to me, I respond. I take my time with such matters, and my closest friends know that – especially the friend who took this picture. He knows that. He knows not only that, but I digress.
This childhood friend of my heart; this person who has been there through life’s moments of clarity and muddledom; this friend from four score and many identities or hairstyles ago; this friend who regularly sends me books despite the distance between Brunei and the Philippines; this friend who challenges me with uncomfortable questions and speaks of unbearable truths; this friend who used to be my boyfriend in other people’s eyes – but we knew better; this friend who has said many a time “he doesn’t deserve you” or “you deserve better” and was always right even though I also took my time to believe that; this friend who has never used our friendship for selfish motives; this friend who is so unlike me but who is nonetheless a significant part of me.
A few days ago, this friend spent several hours of his precious vacation time with me. We went through the usual: Books, music, the people we’ve loved and love, and silly stuff. Always, the silly stuff. We don’t communicate too often, but at times when life scares us, we somehow look for each other, and then, because he is crazy, we laugh. Isn’t this line from Totoro anyway? “Everybody, try laughing. Then whatever scares you will go away!”
Franz took this photograph. It is a unique picture about friendship. It is a picture of his favorite character and Totoro. Haha 😉
January 1, 2015
My 2014 is too special to cram into Facebook’s “Year in Review” feature, but I still wish to thank the people who have made this year the most incredible year of my life. Because it’s always the people and never the things. I am overflowing with gratitude for the priceless moments and experiences. No other year has caused me to be this ecstatic about Life! And this is my New Year’s wish for all of you – not only to be happy, but to be life-ecstatic! May the world’s troubles teach us compassion and humility but may they never cripple our zest for life or our search for the wondrous and true. Cheers to a 2015 of meaningful and authentic lives!
Your Ecstatic Conundrum