Twenty Three

Exactly one month from now I will be turning 23. I can’t believe I’m on the sixth version of this now. The first time I started this, I was turning 18. Six years quickly came by in what felt like a blink of my eyes.

A year ago today, when I wrote my first draft of what happened to me before I turned 22, I was sitting at the 2nd floor of Subway fast food, overlooking the Dubai Metro station and Emirates Tower. I just had my lunch. Everything was so different then. My mind was consumed. I was a little bit scared and uncertain with where I was, and with everything that I had. But I was keeping myself intact. I was fighting, with my head above the water.

Now, 12 months later — I am here, back in my home country. Back in the city I’ve lived for almost 6 years, sitting at a conference table, overlooking the city skyline. Saying a lot has changed in a year is an understatement. I mean, look at where I am right now from where I was?

How did everything happen so fast? How about we start from the very beginning.

Six hours before I turned 22, I decided to spend the night and wait until midnight at Jumeirah Lake Tower. That place always had a special place in my heart so I thought why not celebrate there? It was the first time I’d be welcoming my birthday outside my home and I knew it would be exciting. And it was — but not everything that happened afterwards.

I had my last dinner as 21 years old at a Chinese fast-food chain. I celebrated my pre-22 all by myself. I thought it was a good idea to think things through very clearly. I never wanted to turn 22 if I was being honest with myself. I had an incredible year and I felt like I didn’t want that to end. A huge part of me wanted to stay young forever — careless, worry-free, ambitious, don’t-a-shit young adult.

But I had no choice. As soon as the clock in my phone turned 12, reckless party would be over.

So I roamed around for a bit on the shopping boutiques along the JLT Boulevard before I head down to the beach. It was pretty dark already as far as I could remember. I saw this amazing grocery store. I never saw it the last time I was there, I thought to myself. I went in, bought some snacks to munch while I kill time before midnight, and promised to myself that I’d go back later. I didn’t care about the money I was spending, even though I was technically a broke 21 year old kid. It was my pre-birthday after all. I deserved a break.

Finally, I walked to the beach. It was quite dark but I was glad for the moon, the first-world country establishments, elite residential, and Movie Theater in front of the beach that gave tiny light to my surroundings. I knew the Palm Jumeirah didn’t give much impact on what I needed, but I was glad too that I could see it shining brightly on the distance.

I sat on the sand, breathe the salt pre-summer Middle East air, and allowed myself to unleash the real me.

I watched these two kids playing around by the water. Their parents were sitting not so far beside me, watching too. I wondered if they’d grow up to be the person they wanted to be. I looked at them and they seemed really happy and content with where they were, with what they had.

I stood up and had the urge to walk along the beach. There were few people still on the ocean even at around 8 pm in the night. I walked more. The ocean looked blue green. I thought to myself, “I would never forget this moment.”

I pondered about my life as I let my feet drag me further down the beach.

Am I really happy? Is this what I want? I’m so broke here. I feel like I’m living under the rock. Should I just go home? But I’m already here. Besides wouldn’t that be an embarrassing move to do? Especially that I spent the last four years bragging I’d be here sooner?

I was confused. I was somehow lost. Al though I couldn’t remember how terribly lost. I talked to God while I walked. I knew He’d help me. I was also worried about something else. Someone else I needed to save. I was worried about a lot of things in general. Money. Rent. Gadgets. Travel. Food. Savings. Choices. Name it.

There was this weird mist in the air I was having a hard time to explain. But it was like the wind was warm, but the ocean was cool, and they just sort of collided. I don’t know. I hope you could picture that out.

I realized I walked very far. So I turned back to where I left my bag and snacks and slippers. One more reason why I fell in love with the city real hard was that, there was almost no record of theft. You could leave your things and you could always find them.

I sat back to the sand. I looked at my watch. I had less than 4 hours to kill. What else would I do? Should I just head back to my apartment? This was silly. I pulled out my phone, inserted the earphones in it, then played Ariana Grande’s newest album. It was my pre-birthday gift to myself. I loved it.

I dragged myself to the tip of the ocean, careful not to wet my shorts, and listened to Ariana Grande’s songs while I twirled around the water, pretending I was on the music video, and being sexy. I was that weird. Really weird.

I got tired so I settled back to where I was sitting. I thought about my life more. My mind was bleeding — that’s for sure. I was 21. Did I truly know what I was doing? What my purpose was?

I was a very deep person. That was me in my normal habitat.

I got tired, sat back again, then made a list. I shouldn’t forget that to mention here. I made a damn list! One that I would love to call “Jinxed list”. Almost every item in there never came true. The content was stored in my iPhone4s. I should re-read that again. I wrote the list and promised to myself, “These are the things that I need to have or achieve at 22.” Which was bullshit obviously.

But in case you’re wondering, from what I could remember, the list included: having a go-pro, writing another novel, saving someone, focusing on career (?), save money (!), go back home to visit. And so on. I can’t remember them all.

So I was getting a bit bored. I browsed the shops more on the Boulevard, and went back to the grocery store as I promised to myself.

I walked into the store and I said to myself, “This is such a movie moment.” It’s kinda weird but I was starting to feel magic. Like, something was just so different. Like, everything at that moment was special. I looked around me in that shop and I swore I could live in that moment.

I went out with a huge cookie I guess and a ginger ale. A freaking ginger ale because I wanted to get drunk but apparently Dubai banned alcoholic drinks ever since, so I dumbly thought ginger ale would do. Freaking ginger ale.

Two more hours before Angelo officially turned 22! How exciting it was to celebrate by myself. I mean, wow!

I transferred to the back portion of the Boulevard and left the sand because it was getting late and it was getting creepy there. I sat on the well-maintained grassy area with all the beautiful night lights around me. Some expensive restaurants were closing behind me. I could still see the ocean from my spot all too well.

Different people walked pass by me. But it was pretty much spacious since it was a weeknight. Again, it was such a movie moment. I inhaled some air more.

I yawned. I was somehow dead tired, and my emotions started creeping in. I looked at the Palm Jumeirah. Still bright. And I finally faced that one thing that was looming on the surface.

The truth that I had no love life. That I felt lonely for most part. That I questioned myself if there was something wrong with me. But how could there be something wrong with me when I’m so dateable? All of my girl best-friends would testify to that.

But I was all alone, not only that night, but for most part of my life. I guess I shed some tears on that hour. I thought leaving my home country would make a difference in my romantic life but alas, it didn’t. So I thought about going back home again since being there was stupid anyway.

My then considered best-friend, texted me to greet me Happy Birthday and sent me a picture of, ahm, (N). She thought it was a crush joke. I thought too. But subconsciously there was more to that. And there was more to that story later. Specifically how N affected some of my decisions.

Few minutes before I turned 22, I was giddy and pumped and beaten up and sleepy. But pretty much alive. I counted down the seconds before midnight like it was a New Year. And I sung myself Happy Birthday. How sad right? I wished to the world, to God, to everyone or everything that was listening. Do I remember what I wished? Uhm. Not exactly sure. But they had probably the same fate as the lists.

Okay. Take a shift in your seat. This is the turning point of the story.

Not even an hour after I turned 22, shit already came bothering me. And it pretty much set the tone for my whole year. I know. It’s weird and strange and odd. But I felt like that moment, the world was giving me a warning sign.

What bad signs? I’d give a quick montage: no more bus, no more train. Had to take taxi. Paid almost 80 dirhams. Embarrassed myself to the taxi driver. Transferred to the only bus that would bring me to the apartment. 2 am and people had so much shit already. Bus driver yelled at me. I felt weak and just allowed him win over me. Said to myself, “Fuck this. Does he know it’s my birthday?”

Came home safe. Slept.

Want more bad signs?

Woke up in the morning with no breakfast. Cooked my own. Was kinda yelled at. Lunch was whatever. But good thing we had dinner party planned. More personal horrible story I wouldn’t share.

But unto a good one on my birthday, my Aunt — favorite Aunt — surprised me a bouquet of flowers. How lovely! Yes it was but… she was the first person who gave me flowers. But it’s okay! I was still sort of happy. Birthday dinner was okay. It was sweet, small, solemn, and yeah — unforgettable.

End of my birthday.

But wait.

Worse signs came in after that. And the world didn’t truly give me a break. Not even 3 days after my birthday, my entire hope collapsed.

I went back to the office with no birthday greetings. Nobody cared. My best-friend and few of my friends (?) tried to give pleasant wishes, but they were also just whatever. No surprise. No anything.

I locked myself in the toilet for Idk how long. Cried. Missed home. Felt the loneliest in my life ever. I was wearing something special and beautiful, for nothing.

But here’s the worst part on that day. I was called for a special meeting. I was lectured for not following a company policy for which I ignored, didn’t care, or was ignorant. I informed someone high-ranking through email about me taking a day off as I would celebrate my birthday in the most light-hearted and funniest email I sent in that company. But since I had no luck whatsoever, it didn’t work.

I was 22. It was the only day I took an absent. And it was the most special day of my life. Was that hard to understand or sympathize? Were people really that cruel? Would this be the life I wanted to live in the next 2 years?

I was heartbroken. And nobody knew, cared, understood. I am a human being. I have emotions and feelings.

Things changed after that. I felt even lonelier and purposeless. I had my lunch alone for couple of weeks that followed. I barely talked or trusted anyone. I snapped too easily to anyone. I just didn’t care at that point. Because I was a young 22 year old kid and nobody gave a shit about me. So why would I?

The best-friend I thought would protect me ended up not caring too. The person I had feelings for (N, this was you) wanted me out. The person I believed had a crush on me just stayed quiet, and chose to be blind. The person I shared the same roots betrayed me.

How could I continue to live in that environment? I was suffocated.

I tried to get my shit together and stick around for more.

Back to my personal life, maybe God answered my wish. I was on the lowest point in my life. Literally about to give up. Then you came into my life A. We met on the bus. (For those of you who’s interested in this meet up story. Scroll down and find a piece with the title “June 6, 2016”)

We dated. Or so I thought. No actually we were fucked up. We were complicated. But it was Ramadan. You were weak — I meant vulnerable — for the whole month. I don’t know what we were.

I was worried more, and worse this time. I was worried about the person I wanted to save, about A, about both of them going home. But guess what? We all went home. Wasn’t that the sickest joke?

Back to the working life, so we could wrap these detailed parts already. I tried to change, fitted in, swallowed my pain, and smiled like nothing was wrong. But I was just about to see the worst.

Before things blew up, there was this one morning and I could remember  so well. I was in your car N. It was Ramadan month, and as part of your “charity”, you gave me a free ride. Which was fitting because our apartments were only 10 minutes apart by walk.

While you were driving, I was on the back seat, looking at these tall buildings from the distance. They were all perfectly aligned. I wanted to take picture of that scene but was afraid you’d judge me N. What strike me, though, was that I felt something in that particular moment. It was weird. And I almost whispered to myself, “Take a look. Take them all in. You’re going to miss this.” It’s like I was saying goodbye already.

Maybe the universe was screaming at me, making me feel what was about to go down – a preview of what I’d do.

But before we go to that part, I have a question to ask.

Do you know how sometimes, it feels like you have a complete control over a situation, and one little decision can change everything?

Well, I had that moment. And it did really change everything for me from then onwards.

I was having a rough time at work, pissed off as usual. I compromised my liberty in response to your “charity” N. Because I’m the kind of person who has a heart. But you took me for granted. All of your folks took me for granted almost every day. And I’ve had enough. I was honestly tired. You wanted to take more of my freedom, but I couldn’t. What you were all doing to me was too much. Too much.

And if there’s one thing you should know about me N, as I write this, is that I’m smart. I know what I’m doing. What I did on that day was a thought I decided was right.

You don’t know this N, but when you wanted me to finish something and stay longer, I was planning to lie and walk away afterwards. I finished some parts of what you wanted. I had few couple of minutes of debating whether or not I should pursue my plan. A series of flashbacks passed before my eyes as I deliberately weighed my options.

I decided to do what I was about to do. I smiled. I turned off my computer. I stood up. I slung my backpack to my shoulder. I walked pass you. Then you were stunned. You didn’t expect I’d do that. You asked me if I was done. I said, “Yeah”, nonchalantly. You asked if I was sure. I made a hand gesture to confirm yes, and showed how defeated I was already at that point.

Did you see how defeated I was N? Did you even care?

I went to the pantry to get my lunch-boxes, then you watched me through the glass doors as I left. You found out I lied. I left my task unfinished, on purpose. I wasn’t dumb. I knew what would happen next. And I chose that to happen.

But did you know where I was heading N? Did you know why I was eager to leave?

I went to my cousin’s birthday. Yes Adrian. I picked you over them. You didn’t know this too. We celebrated your birthday while I was trying to bury my worries. I knew I was done. But I wanted to enjoy the night. I wanted to see you happy on your birthday.

Because, Adrian, honey, I will always choose you over them.

The following day was, well, the doomsday. I didn’t want to go through the details as few people knew the story already. There was a piece in this website where I told the part when I was standing at the 19th floor, crushed on the inside and so done with the world, while I looked at the highway below. I watched the fast cars raced through the streets and thought it’d be the last time I’d see them.

My final words that all of you folks would never forget was, “This isn’t the kind of life I pictured myself living in.”

It was the bomb that I dropped that destroyed everything.

The list I made before I turn 22 turned out to be defective.

I made bold moves. My theme on my 22nd year was: “Carpe diem that one great leap of faith and have fun for the wild ride.” And I did carpe diem the great leap of faith. Was it a wild ride? I bet.

Half of my 22nd year, I spent sort of lost. I didn’t know what I really wanted. I had no idea where exactly I wanted to be. I was weak. I had so much in my mind. I played a little too aggressively — impulsive even.

I admit that there were so many things in life I couldn’t understand or wanted to understand. All I knew was that I was young and I should be having fun. But I was wrong.

Half of my 22nd year, I spent redeeming myself. I gave myself second chances to do things right, to correct my mistakes, and to begin again. It wasn’t an easy process. Some days, I would get discouraged. Some days, I would regret for what I did. Some days, I wish I could go back in time.

But you know what? As I sit here right now typing this, I am wholeheartedly decided not to go back in the past.

Yes this city I am in right now is stupid. It’s killing me every day with its flaws and imperfections. But this is where I actually feel more at peace with myself than where I used to be.

I have a room for myself. I have a decent salary for my age. I eat take out fast food every day, as opposed to canned goods. I see my grandmother every weekend and it’s the best thing ever. I get to be in my room at the country side every weekend too. My work schedule is light. I have 4x more time here, and because of that, I am able to write for Thought Catalog. I can buy myself expensive clothes in here as well, but I just choose not to. Sure I probably can’t risk my money with chocolates, but will they just eventually destroy me if I go on with that addiction?

Point is, I should truly consider the substance over form. Intrinsic value over face value. It’s true this city is nothing compared to the beauty of Dubai. But I’m actually calmer here. I have more time here for myself, for the things that I love. It’s just a matter of opening my eyes and knowing what makes me really happy. And where I’m genuinely happy.

I recognize that I’ve let some people down because of my decisions, and I choose to silently ignore them, and proceed to living my life. But I just want to say to anyone who rooted for me, that I am sorry you realized I wasn’t that great.

But I think I’m allowed to make mistakes at this age, and figure out what I want for myself, and not for anyone else.

I know it sucks. But I’m trying to move on, be better. And I hope that you do too.

I will be turning 23 soon. It’s a totally different story this time around. Now, I’ve found my voice, my dreams, my goals, myself.  And it’s time to make the tables turn.

I am not scared anymore. I am no longer the 22 year old kid running around, always panicked, always worried. I am confident with the skills that I have and with what I can offer to the world. I know what I want to pursue and I have plans in my mind I want to execute patiently.

I see a bright future for me now and I know I can bring a one big success this year. I’m starting to figure out my purpose and why I am here. I am glad with the achievements I’ve had in the last five months, and I think I’m good for it to go on until I’m ready to make my own mark.

I am moving on slowly. And writing down my past allows me to let go. I am comfortable with my own skin. I barely have insecurities anymore. I only do what I love, and not pay attention to anything that’s irrelevant in my life.

I am happy and I think I’m living the life that I picture for myself. This year, I can feel that I’m going to be even happier. I trust myself, the world, and God more.

I am working hard day and night for some of my dreams to come into fruition at 23. I am excited for this year, for all the possibilities, for all the better experiences, for more amazing memories, for more people to meet, for more places to visit. I am more focused on my goal now, and craving for success, than I’ve ever been.

And I think I am finally seeing the stripes of lights, because I know, in my heart, that I’m heading to where I am supposed to be.

 

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Twenty One.

First of all, I still can’t believe that there’s already two words printed in the title section. Actually it’s still hard to accept the fact that I’m turning 21 already because to be honest I still feel like I am 16. Al though there are some times when I can catch myself acting appropriately like my age, overall I kind of believe I do not fall into the category of being 21. 


To describe the past year in a word, without a doubt, I would have to say successful. Regardless of everything that has happened whether it’s a good and bad experience, in the end I always wrap it up with the reality that I made it, that I have proven myself a worth in the entire universe. But since this is a yearly tradition to look back on the last twelve months, here is my fourth version of narrating my previous year.

I want to begin with the romance part. It is the most interesting side of my life because I have spent my year having a fucking zero good experience with it. None as in nothing. I guess before  my year started I already made up my mind that I was going to determinedly defer my usual epic search for romantic partner because I was thinking if I want to achieve something in my life I had to concentrate by all means of going after it. So since I was a graduating student I thought why not wholeheartedly dedicate my 24/7 time studying. Miraculously I was able to surpass my deal without any complication. I learned that if you focus yourself a hundred percent in reaching your goal, it’s possible that you can forget everything else that doesn’t matter.

Regarding my relationship with my friends I am glad to conclude that I have found a group of friends that I can keep for life. I am claiming to God and to the Universe that I am so happy to have met my Pamilyang B. They mean so much to me more than any other material thing. If I’m going to be honest yes we have our ups and downs but I realize that’s exactly the true test of our friendships. The important thing is how people are able to make peace with everyone at the end of the day. We love each other and that’s all that matters.

As in terms of life in general, I want to portray the other side of me that clearly shows how tough I am. Like I can be flat-out nice to everybody but if someone tries to be rude or mean to me that person will see how bitch I can be. I have spent my last 2 years trying to please everyone and let them wreck me but I always remember what some of my friends told me about being brave, courageous, and indestructible. I feel like in this life there will be people who will belittle you and take you for granted so you have to show them that you’re the exact opposite of what they expect you to be. 

On the very good side though, I believe I own this year. I remember thinking that 2015 will be my time and as proof to that I graduated college. It was a five year worth of hard work and patience and being able to cross the finish line was a huge sigh and relief. The fight isn’t over yet because I have to get my license as a public accountant but I am positive I will be able to achieve that as well. 

For 365 days there were a lot of things that had occurred but the only thing that I am putting in my mind at the moment is that I am done with school and I already have a degree that I can use in my life forever. I am excited for what this year has in store for me. I want to pray, hope, and wish that there are a lot of great things ahead of me. 

.04 This is to you.

I feel lonely sometimes. And this is one of those sometimes. There’s no sugar coating the fact that I need saving. I need someone to take me out of this loneliness. I need you.

I have made peace with my friends and it felt really great. They welcomed me with open hands and right then I knew they were the kind of people to keep forever. Too bad I’m faraway from them right now. I guess that’s why it made me think about you again lately. Remember the guy I met online that I wrote about previously? Well jinx got the best of him. He banished all of a sudden without any explanation. I was okay with that. I mean, people come and leave. I got used to it.

I bet you a thousand bucks you’re wondering what went wrong again. I just realized important aspect in my life. Like how it was hard for me to maintain a strong grip on relationship with people. In my defense, I always explain that what I do is the exact reaction that is normally anticipated on a certain situation. So in my mind I am always right because I am always nice to people and when they take that for granted and waste it, I usually walk away without any reconsideration. I hope you’re here with me right now to hear this drama and understand me.

Once in a while I remember the time when I was sitting at a chair in the middle of the night wishing someone would come and pick me up and fly me somewhere to make me feel better. That feeling never fades. I am very fragile, I easily get affected by tiny unexpected things. Like this book I have read 2 weeks ago that still sticked to me no matter what. There was a part there that said something like you see people the way you perceive them but you have no idea how broken and messed up they are from the inside. I guess that’s why a lot of people commit suicide. Nobody figures them out. 

I want you to figure me out, every single detail of my life just the same way that I will. I love you babe. I’m sad you’re not here with me.

.03 This is to you.

We’re on our third version my love! I can’t believe we’ve made it this far. To be honest, I’m feeling sort of skeptical as to continuing this thing but I realize love tests patience and so I solemnly agree to bear the foolishness in the name of you.

Character development is what I’m trying to tell you this time. I acknowledge the imminent changes and developments along the way, so goes in terms of romance. I have grown from seeking you in this superficial suit into the close to reality one. Al though you never come yet just like before, I pray my words will get you this time and make you realize that I am here sitting beautifully, patiently waiting for your arrival. I’m not expecting destiny will exactly play it this way at the moment, I understand that. But still, I have hopes and dreams. I can proudly adress to you that I cry no more, not a total dry spell but no more unexpected roller coaster rides.

Maybe you’re wondering what have happened since the last time, however I believe it will take a whole new long story to tell you those.

I see you differently now. And it makes me incredibly grand for doing so. I’m pretty sure you feel the same way too. Well I wish you do. Seconds will tick down, minutes will pass, hours will lose in an instant, memories and moments will fade. But I will freeze them for you. I will write you a thousand words for as long as I can. I will make you smile to begin the day with and I will sooth whatever pain you have by the end of the day, through my letters I will. Come and be here and we will work with the world to make it a better place through our romance. I think I am ready for you, more than I have ever been. I’m not afraid anymore, no worries, no pretending, it is the only me I will show show you every time until infinity.

I think I don’t need to remind you how much I love you because I am sure it’s already drilled in your soul. I miss you and I hope you come soon. I am prepared, I swear, cross heart. I love you to the stars through adversity.

Just like Taylor Swift’s song.

Look at your phone and tell me what you remember.
There we talked endlessly and felt so much better.
This invisible space we called ours.
In my room, in your room, every hour.

It was Decemeber and I remembered it was so cold.
But you were there to give me warm I dearly hold.
You gave me confidence knowing someone liked me too.
Your generosity made my heart melt which I loved in you.

All throughout I was living in illusion.
What you gave me was unreal.
I realized that you add me in your long list
Of people you let hang by a thread.

I stopped saying hi.
And this song is to let you know why.

Just like Taylor Swift’s song.
You paint me a blue sky and go back and turn it to rain.
Just like Taylor Swift’s song.
You gave me love and then you take it away.

It was the kind of love that’s fast-paced.
I forced myself to forget you but all I did was crave.
You made me soar high and fly.
But you let me live in your lies.

It was embarrassing what I did to move on.
I deleted you everywhere so I could go on.
It was immature but I can’t help it.
I always fear to be left in a heartbeat.

Avoiding you was as hard as trying to solve a crossword.
Denying I never loved you was not as easy as reciting the letters.
Forgiving you was as hard as sleeping in nightmares.
Letting you go was not as easy as counting numbers.

I fooled myself into thinking it was love.
But love was never one-sided.
Love was a mutual feeling.
We did not have that.

I stopped saying hi.
And this song is to let you know why.

Just like Taylor Swift’s song.
I lived in your chess game but you changed the rules everyday.
Just like Taylor Swift’s song.
I regret when they said run as fast as you can.

It was the kind of love that’s fast-paced.
I forced myself to forget you but all I did was crave.
You made me soar high and fly.
But you let me live in your lies.

Here I am sitting in my bed.
Making this and hoping it would reach you.
Here I am remembering those short times.
Making you a song and hope that one day I’d sing it to you.

Perhaps you thought I haven’t gotten over you.
You’d think it’s funny that I still liked you.

But just like Taylor Swift’s song
I already took the matches before fire could catch me.
And just like Taylor Swift’s song
I’m shining like fireworks over your sad empty town.

Those December nights.
Those invisible spaces.
Those endless laughs.
Look at your phone
And tell me what you remember.

Fiction 1.0

In my dream I was standing surrounded by red petals. I was nervous. Not the panicky kind of nervous but the excited kind of nervous. I bet I was inside a garden and there’s nobody else but me. I was so lost in my thoughts I didn’t notice someone opened a door. It was so shiny I could instantly go blind just by looking at the door’s direction. I covered my eyes with the back of my hands, struggling to see who’s that person walking towards me. The light coming from the door was super bright it literally pained my eyes, so I closed them. When I finally collected myself, I bravely opened my eyes. And just like that, the mysterious person was kissing me, gently. I realized it was my first kiss. He had a beard. It was safe to assume he was a guy. I was attempting to put my hands on his face and look at him. But then my alarm clock went, “Toot-toot. Toot-toot.” And I came back to reality.

Did you every experience something like that? When you’re in the middle of a magical dream and then something bullshit woke you up? Did you, just like me, felt frustrated ten times you got frustrated under the normal circumstances?

I was so upset I immediately got out of my bed. It was past 11 am on a Saturday morning. I really had no concrete plan for today so I decided to just take a bath and have my brunch afterwards. Then, I’d figure out what to do as soon as I finished my meal. Thank God my apartment had a built-in heater on its bathrooms. It was a pleasure to take a long bath but I thought: “I didn’t want to spend my whole Saturday afternoon inside my bathroom.” After a quick 15-minutes of shower, I headed out to my closet. I deliberately checked what shirt could make my skin glow? I didn’t really dress up so well during non-working days like today. Usually, I just wear whatever my hands picked on the closet but today is different and I have no idea why I gave a thought about dressing up all for nothing? I ended up putting myself a fancy polo shirt that complemented my body size and skin color so much. I believed I only worn this twice during my lifetime. For pants, I wore denim jeans. Just a casual denim jeans. Shoes? Well, I only trust nike. And, of course, a sling bag because I never go out without a sling bag, it had been a tradition since who-knows-when. I was craving for something Italian. I knew where I’d wanted to go. There was this cute Italian restaurant five blocks away from my apartment. I always make sure to visit it once every two weeks but since my work had been eating my time lately, I never had a chance to go check that small Italian place.

New York City was busiest during night times and since it’s just 12:03 in the afternoon, every business establishments that sell or render services is almost deserted. No surprise when I arrived at Piazza Del Poppo seeing only two groups of people dining in.

One of the waiters escorted me to my seat. I chose the place outside because I wanted to see the motions of busy streets of New York. I roamed my fingers through the menu, I’ve been here thrice already but there were still a lot of strange names in the menu that I could not understand. Like what were Capellini, Zitoni, Pici, and Buccatini looked like in the first place? I hope they had photos beside their names. Even so, I ended up ordering spaghetti bolognese because, well, I was at least quite familiar with it. Also, what’s Italian restaurant without pizza? So I had a Neapolitan pizza, from the name itself I knew it came from the famous Naple’s pizzas. Plus, I asked for a raspberry tea since I was never a fan of soda.

It took a good twenty minutes before my food was served. I didn’t realize how good looking the waiter who’s serving me until he was dropping my meals in front of me. He kinda looked like Italian and suddenly I couldn’t hide my face from blushing. I was wondering if he would get my number. But no. I spent all my life fooling myself into thinking a guy I liked would turn out to be gay eventually. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. So I dismissed my fantasy immediately.

Hmmm. So. An Asian inside a big old city eating an Italian cuisine. Five years ago, I didn’t even see myself in this situation. I looked at my food delicately, I was afraid that once I started eating my food it would no longer look gorgeous as it was already. Obviously, it could not look the same again once I savored it. I was being paranoid, I know.

First stop, I shoveled the pasta inside my mouth. It was so delicious I bet you would expect I’d use “delicious” to describe it. But to be honest, it was easily satisfying. Or so I just was plainly obsessed with Italian cuisine so whatever my judgment about it was always overstated. On to the next, of course, the pizza. Thankfully, their pizza wasn’t thin. I wasn’t at all fascinated about thin pizza as almost every one else was. I preferred my pizza be thick that way I could criticize if the dough was good enough to compliment the toppings of pizza. I already finished my drink but not my meal yet and so I was beginning to feel like very thirsty. I asked one of the waiters for water, which he served to me with a full smile painted on his face. I was almost done I realized I haven’t thought about my plan for the day yet. I fished my wallet inside my bag and I felt something familiar — I had my book with me. By then I was quite sure where I would be heading after lunch.

I paid for my bill and started to walk out from the beautiful Piazza Del Poppo. I looked through my bag finding which book I brought with me and I tried to remember how it got there. I was so immense in my thought I didn’t expect a bicycle practically hitting me onto my legs. Thank God, he immediately changed his direction slightly before he could possibly drag me down the street. I was so shocked I didn’t get the chance to see who he was. All I knew was he had a striking blue bike. What somehow pissed me was when he said, “Watch out!” In my mind I was like, “Ah. Excuse me asshole but you nearly killed me right here. You owed me an apology!” But then he was far away from earshot already so I believe my sentiment was pointless. I let the situation not kill my vibe. So I did stick to my plan — go to a coffee shop and read there until the night came.

Coffee. It’s the first and only thing that I could smell inside this coffee shop. I picked Postmark cafe because 1.It was not a big fancy coffee shop. 2. It was not as overrated as Starbucks. 3.It was cheaper. Okay. I could sense right away your thoughts but I just had this mentality that coffee wasn’t something I could spend a lot of money with. Anyway, caffeine was the next thing I needed after a marvelous lunch. I ordered winter watermelon coffee not only because it’s cute but also because it’s pink. So get over it. I sat into a circular table in the left corner of coffee shop which could only occupy two people. After about thirty minutes, I noticed several seats were beginning to be less vacant. Business meetings, I thought. The book I was reading was all about this dude who slapped a son that was not his. It was super boring it seemed heroic of me to be able to reach 258th page. I stifle a yawn using the back of my hand when a guy was standing in front of me and was trying to catch my attention.

“Hi. Are you with someone else?” He politely said.

I gave him a strange look for two seconds and soon realize the coffee shop was full of people already. “Uhm. Sorry. Oh, no. No.” I awkwardly replied.

“May I?…” He was smiling a little bit. I didn’t know how he did that.

“Oh. Sure.” I flashed a smile back as huge as a beauty queen. I hoped I didn’t freak him out.

I’m not really a flirty kind of person. In fact, I easily got choked up by my words whenever I had a chance to have a conversation with someone who’s far way good-looking. Before my inner persona could make something embarrassing, I mentally reminded it that I was just here to read and chill and that’s all. I felt like he was opening a laptop and when I looked at him I confirmed I was right. He had a really cool blond hair. Okay, shit. I should stop looking. Page 251, ugh. this book was super boring why was I reading this book in the first place. I glance back at him and he had a dark blue eyes, why was I staring at him exactly? I forced myself to read. The character in this story was so worthless I felt like I was just wasting my time. Why did I bought it again? I was sent back to reality when someone whispered “Oh shit” I looked up and yes really “Oh shit.” The dude in front of me poured his drink in the table. From what was I seeing, it was a hot brewed coffee. Before it could reach my pants, I was already on my feet but I left my book on the table. Oh shit it got a coffee stain.

“Ahm. I’m really sorry. I didn’t.. It was an accident. I’m so sorry. Ah, I’d replace that book. Just tell me where you bought it.” There was a panic in his voice.

I was surprised that this guy I was just staring at a while ago was talking to me I couldn’t come up to with something else to say. It took 5 seconds before I could respond. “Oh, no. Ahm. It’s fine. The book was out of my league anyway so..”

“Oh, well, at least let me replace it. You kind of look like someone who collects book and of course, you don’t want to put a book that has a stain on it.” He said matter-of-factly.

How did he knew that? I thought. “Oh. No. Really. It’s okay. ” I really could not say anything more.

“How about I buy you another drink?”

I stare flatly at his face.

“Do you speak English sir?” He said curiously.

I chuckled a little bit. Of course I looked Asian. “Yes! Yes. Ahm, I’m just not really use to conversations with strangers.”

“Well then, come on! Allow me to buy you a drink.”

I sighed. I looked at my hands.

“It’s not a question. Let me buy you a drink.” He insisted.

I smiled at him. It was a kind of smile when you saw a new-born baby.

“Okay.” I shrugged.

Journal p2.

                                                7 June 2013

PART ONE.

I have to be honest about how it’s not easy to keep a journal and write constantly. By constantly, I mean in an everyday basis. It has been more than a week since I last enter something into my journal. A lot of things have happened definitely and as usual, I have to narrate it here.

Here’s the inside story of what happened the night I decided to put up a diary.

It was in the middle of the night. Or so to me, it was still early in the night. I was sharing room with my grandmother and her mother for less than two weeks. I was reading a book when my grandma’s mom entered the room and called it a day. One bit of information: Old people sleep really early. So while I was reading, I thought she was about to go silent and drown herself to sleep. To my surprise, she didn’t. She was kind of chitchatting with me about random things she could ask about my life. Until then the conversation got interesting. She started to tell some information she could remember in the least about my father whom I never seen, etc. At one point, I had to ask several questions about what happened before. It was more like a historical queries. Like, how did they deal with the series colonization of Spanish, Japanese, Americans.

One thing I liked about that conversation was by how I could imagine the setting and the vibes people went through before. I felt  like I was there witnessing and experiencing all the emotions whenever she told me those stories. Also, I was stunned by how she could still remember those stories given that it was decades from now.

After we finished talking. I thought to myself, I needed to do something about my story. I long underestimated the capacity of my brain to hold memories, even the smallest detail I wanted to keep and still remember years from now.

So I started to be extra passionate on writing.

PART TWO.

Warning: I do not write terrible and horrible experiences. In case I do, it is just for the sake of stating what I have learned.

The happening of events within 10 days.

31 May 2013.

Finally, my mother left the Philippines. I was more happy than sad about her leaving us yet again. Mostly, I guess because I got to have my room back. In as much as possible, I didn’t want to formulate early judgement always but if there’s one important thing in life people should know:

Never put your children on the bottom lists.

I believed that’s a universal common sense. If ever I would have child/children in the future, I would give my all to provide him/her support in every aspect there would be without any second thoughts.

3 June 2013.

I had to wake up really early like a zombie because I needed to be on school really early. It was the first day of school enrollment for first semester and absolutely the worst day of my life. Well, enrollment day usually was.

I had to carry on the exhaustion of 4 hour ride and still fell in what seemed be like endless queue of people. It was a nightmare if I would describe it. Thankfully, I have wonderful friends who helped me through a lot during the process. I know I am a very appreciative person but in a situation like that, even those people who don’t know how to say “thank you” will never forget the generosity of other people. I believed I’d get insane without any help that day.

The only good thing made me happy was that I get to see my friends since 3 months. It was such a wonderful moment because everyone was surprisingly nice. Even the people I had issues with before vacation seemed to forget what happened. Also, everyone was super talkative it felt like we could talk for days without having a pause. In this point of my life, I am grateful to have friends I might possibly be friends with after school.

One last thought that day:

I remembered I read or watched somewhere an interview about the author of ultra successful novel-series “Harry Potter” J.K. Rowling. She said she started the idea of writing the characters of Harry Potter while inside the train. What relatable about this interview was the thing that I thought while riding a bus home.

I thought about writing my own book. Genre: Autobiography ish.

It was no longer a foreign idea that I wanted to be a writer. My only issue about it was the fact that I didn’t and could not afford to have any degree these writers took. And that led me to a bigger problem: “How could I write?”

I knew writing and blogging were kind of the same in some ways so writing in its sense wouldn’t be any hard to me. Also, I wasn’t up for selling my book so I didn’t care about how my grammars should appear inside the book because usually I write the way I thought it was right and I felt like it. I just simply had no idea how it should be presented without having any confusion when someone who had good soul tried to read it. Sure, I had been reading a lot of novels lately and that was somehow a training ground for me already but I was afraid my training wasn’t enough.

The only solution I could see was by starting to write until I got to finish whatever I needed to finish. So by the time I re-read it, I could notice the developments and further revise what would be needed to revise.

PART THREE.

The remaining events of ten days.

What happened on the remaining days before June 3 were basically the same thing happened to me during my ordinary summer days. I wouldn’t say it was a routinely activities because there were some tiny changes at least. But those were days wherein I was in the middle of nothing special and nothing bad happened. Just the usual day I could let pass by and yet still be thankful I was alive despite my effortless efforts of trying to live my whole life to the maximum. I recognized there were a lot of people who wanted to buy more time in this world and I thought: “Here I was staring at a blank space trying not to think and just taking the act of breathing for nothing when too many people outside were desperate to extend their lives even for a little bit more.”

Sometimes, I thought life was unfair to everybody. The people who fought so hard to avoid death were the ones being taken earlier than they expected. On the flip side of it, the people who didn’t care about dying were the ones still living. It was too ironic it wasn’t even funny.

If anything, I wasn’t super scared about facing death. Not that I was saying I wanted it now, but that was a common thing we both known since then. The small piece of fact that we were all going to perish to give way to new life. No one was safe and no one should ask for mercy about death. But between life and death, I wanted to make a difference and leave something to remember in this world. And that is why I’d be writing.