A FRIEND was walking around the oval at the Pelaez Sports Center, complete with umbrella, and I thought, so uncool.
Then last Wednesday morning, there I was, walking with an umbrella. I was afraid the slight drizzle would worsen to a downpour. My weather knowhow is limited to gazing up at the sky and concluding that clouds mean rain and sun means no rain. That morning, however, was partially cloudy with more chances of sunshine, but there was the drizzle anyway. I was already dressed for a walk, what a waste if I’d decide to stay home and let the fats multiply pa more.
So, I walked, with the umbrella hopefully making the arms’ muscles firm and sexy. And to worsen the look, I had a blue shirt, blue sneakers, two straight blue lines down the sides of the pants, and the blue umbrella. Talk of color coordination, this was Fashion 101 at its worst. A cap or hat would have looked better, but I wasn’t thinking, I was desperate, I simply wanted to go walking.
Yesterday morning was definitely cloudy so I didn’t go out anymore. But then, it didn’t rain, at least as of 10:30 am, that is, and there flew the chance of walking on a nice day in this corner of the world.
Going back to walking makes one notice signs of progress or regress. Construction materials are now sprouting out of previously empty lots, prompting a neighbor to remind me again to build my bahay kubo already. The house that was under construction months ago is now finished. The house that had occupants is now for rent. The new house that was vacant now has two cars in its garage and two other cars parked outside–if that doesn’t convince you it’s occupied, I don’t know what will.
And then, there’s Thunder, the cutest teeny weeny hairy dog whose bark sounds like a drizzle. Is Lightning nearby?
Seeing all these is like a before-and-after photo. From empty to under construction, from under construction to finished, from finished and vacant to occupied, from occupied to “For rent.” Which brings us back to, How about us, what have we done lately?
Well, some things remain the same: the frog flattened on the pavement, unidentified crawling objects, land mines aka dog poop, and the same familiar faces walking, running or biking. Except for one who used to walk, but she’s running now, making me wonder if my progress would have followed the same pace had I continued walking daily. But that’s water under the bridge now that I’m back to square one–hey, two idioms in one line!
This is the week that I’m reading the newspapers and magazines piled on the center table. Yes, the bedroom has a center table, the one that used to be part of the sala set in the old house. That old house is now a store, too commercialized to be considered for a residential unit. When we lived there, we’d get drunk the moment we stepped out the door and inhaled the alcohol. That neighborhood has become the place for the Cagayanon to eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow he will eat, drink and be merry again.
It was my usual complaint then each time I talked with the yellow incumbent mayor, to please make the area livable again, without the drinking. But he would then start comparing the area’s progress–progress is in the eyes of the beholder–with that of Aguirre Street at BF Homes, Paranaque, and I would tune out and wonder what would have happened if the violet mayor remained at city hall, the violet mayor who had his Night Cafe where Cagayan de Oro’s drinkers converged then. Now, the drinking is all over the city. Cirrhosis pa more.
By the way, I think the color of liver is violet. And cirrhosis does make the skin yellow. Hmmm. Compare pa more.
Anyway, back to the newspapers and magazines. I had not been reading lately, no thanks to the busy sked and sleepless nights. So, this week, I decided to have a staycation. To recharge. To reboot. To reflect. Where I’ve been. Where I am now. Where I’m going. That’s why the walking.
A friend texted me this last week: “When you’re stressed, try to walk around so your mind can also ‘walk’ and then work better.” While reading that, I was like, I know that already. But why does it take someone else to remind us? We know what’s good or bad for us, and yet…
We live like we have no other choices but this. Despite the fact that there are many flavors we can choose from. We’d rather be stuck with the familiar, afraid of changes that we need to adjust with.
Transferring to a new neighborhood is I guess a major change. I once hopped from CDO to another city far far away, and it went fine for a while but the heart missed the beloved and wanted to go home. Only to arrive home and realize otherwise. Darn. Should have stayed in the land far far away?
Had I stayed there, the story in the last decade or so would have been different. Not better, not worse. Simply different.
That beloved recently called to ask about the phone number of a local hardware store. When you’re old, you don’t give any more meaning to that call. He wanted to order construction materials from the store. You happen to have a PLDT directory.
And you know you’re old once exes start communicating with you after so many many years of silence.
Each time I’m asked how many exes are in my biography, I always have to do a recount. Not because they’re many, but because I forget. I’m old, remember? And you don’t reach this point of no return without having an ex or two.
There are people who marry their first love, their one and only love, without having other relationships, and that’s a good thing: no basis of comparison. In other words, they don’t know any better. But they should never allow themselves to wonder on the what-if and if-only. They’ve chosen to be with the one, the only, so be it.
And there are people who, not exactly by choice, have ended up with several relationships, with no conscious effort to compare. You know, life happens and all that jazz.
So, who between the two–the one and only; the many–is better off? I don’t know. People do not always marry for love. Sometimes it’s for convenience–he has money, he can build me a house. Or for companionship–someone to hug. Or for connections–he has an influential family. Who knows what goes on in people’s minds when they marry?
There was one bride who did exclaim right after her wedding, Hay, salamat, minyo na gyud ko! Like as if it didn’t matter who the groom would be.
And there was that other bride who thought her groom is straight. Did she find out later he’s not?
At least umbrellas can still make us ponder on color coordination. Marriage may not require that much pondering. Even the battered wife would choose to stay married to the husband who batters her daily because she’s afraid to think of a life without him, the life that’s lived alone with no one to hug, with no one to raise the kids with, with no one to grow old with. Or she simply can’t leave him because of his threats to do the worst not only to her but also to their kids and her family if she does. Hay naku, life. Complicated, eh?