Category Archives: Life

Half and Half

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Every Friday night in Egypt, the curfew starts at 7pm. And what better way to use this time than to do something fun and creative. In the last two Fridays, I have been spending the curfew hours with Bella who is this 5 year old edible girl who loves to draw and color. We started this series of drawings with me drawing the heads and her finishing the bodies. Add a touch of rich colors and viola, instant masterpiece! 🙂

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A Sunday kind of love

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I feel like everyday I have to meet up with a different friend just so I can tell someone about you. It could be any day when I find myself flicking my phone, calling any friend to ask if she’s free to hangout. What I should actually be telling her is that I am in dire need of company, and that I am just actually forcing anyone to see me so I can start talking about your marvelousness already–just so I can relive those days I had with you out in the open.

Some of my friends fall prey and find themselves trapped to my endless blubbering of you and me. Until they can’t take it anymore. Until they’ve unwillingly memorized your name after hearing it 20,000 times. Until my lungs collapse from pure bliss. Who knew my lips could stretch to a smile from ear to ear?

Yet at the same time, there are nights–it could be any night–when I don’t feel like telling anyone about you–like you are mine and mine to keep, and the mere act of telling someone about you means blasphemy. I didn’t want to have to share you with anyone. It is as if you are my precious, little thing, and there is no place for you other than in my secret pocket. So, some nights, I just find myself all curled up in bed, lost in my mind’s little cinema where bits and snippets of memories and photographs are kept alive. I would press play and watch as our time together unfold right in front of me. Then I would pause and take you all in–all the biggest and littlest details–from how your eyes widen and glow a different glow when you are looking at me to how it changes color from blue to green depending on the day. Then I would press play again, until I have to rewind to the very start.

I live for afternoons and evenings like that when I can almost touch you, when I can almost smell you. When I can almost hear you calling my name out loud. “Amo,” you always call me that. All I have to do is close my eyes and I can hear you telling me that “it’s too ot today,” or that you “want to tell me on thing.” You spoke with great enthusiasm, as if everything you say has meaning and purpose and is a living, breathing thing. It’s so difficult to look away from you as long as you are talking. God! I can listen to you speak Italian all day long even if I don’t understand any single word of it. I can listen to you speak in broken down English. None of it really matters because whatever language you are using, your accent is so edible I can taste every word in my lips.

How you make me feel is a different story. It’s frenzy. Like The Notebook frenzy. Only more frenzy because there is no Lon Hammond between us. It’s just you and me, just like it’s just Noah and Allie.The only thing that separates us is the three months we have from now until then, but you taught me to love Sundays. I hated Sundays with great passion and you know it. Sundays always mean that Monday is knocking at the door and work shit is just around the corner, but you said “every Sunday brings us a week closer to each other,” and since then I see Sunday as an ally, not an enemy.

It’s so hard not to miss everything. Not to miss you, or the color of your skin that looks like the sun is shining through a macadamia. I miss how I will look at you and catch you already looking at me. I miss how you flash your winning smile that makes my face just go all soft and gummy. I miss how you pinch my cheeks. How you nibble my ear. How you tickle me to no mercy. Ah, those uncontrollable pinches and nibbles and tickles! It makes me grin just thinking about it now.

I miss holding your hand too, or you holding my hand. Your hand always feels like a butterfly against mine. Sometimes, it feels like a heartbeat. Like, your hand is so fragile yet so complete and completely alive. I try so hard to make sure I don’t hold you so tight. Yet each time we hold hands, I feel like melting, but more violent because I know that I can turn into a pasty pulp yet won’t dare to let you go. And now that you’re not here, I would touch my hand and run my thumb through my palm. But nothing happens, and I’m left wondering–where have all the nerve endings gone? It always seems to be there shooting different sensation down my spine when you hold me.

I also miss the songs you keep playing in repeat. I learned to love Prince Royce because of you. I have all of your songs in my playlist, and in my chest, somehow. Darte Un Beso, Corazon Sin Cara, Stand By Me, and Addicted. Listening to Addicted in particular brings you a lot closer to me. There is something about that song. The harmony is different. Like, it sets my stomach on the edge. There is something exciting about it, something nervous, and it makes me feel everything. “Sleeping in, Sunday morning bodies intertwined” has got to be the best beginning to a song ever. It makes me feel like the universe isn’t what I think it is. If I listen to it and close my eyes, it’s almost as if you are here smoking grape flavored shisha with me even though you’re 1088 nautical miles away in Sicily. And if I listen to that song 10 times, that means I have 40 minutes and 20 seconds to spend with you in my head.

How I wish it’s easy to bend time and space, but you proved that time and space is nothing to two people who are willing to give it a try. Geez, why do you say things at the right place and time? I miss you saying the right words at the right time!

I miss how we always agree to everything important and argue about everything else. We liked the beach, we loved El Gouna. I gave the rucola pizza we had a perfect score of 10, but you said it was blah and gave it a 4. You played Highway Rider, while I played Subway Surfers. We both enjoyed watching documentaries on NatGeo, but I find the channel less entertaining without you. One time, I was irked by how a lioness devoured a deer, and when the blood splattered across the screen, I realized I don’t have your arms to burrow my head into. Yet I could hear you say “no, amo, look, look, just watch, this is the good part!” And after one documentary, all I’d want to do is just sit and talk about it. Well, that’s a lie. In truth, I just want to sit and talk to you. Or just sit and watch you.

I didn’t think it is possible to just look someone on the face, but you look like you’ve been crafted by Michael Angelo. Where I am round and soft, you are chiseled. Define lines. Define arches. Define bone structure! I can just lose time admiring your shiny cheeks. From afar, you are beautiful, but when your nose is just a centimeter away from mine, damn! And when you kiss me, something inside me just dies out of ecstasy or embarrassment. You look like art, and art always makes me feel something. And you demanded to be experienced.

Whatever happens tomorrow, we have yesterday and today and that’s all I know and that’s all I have to know. I won’t wake up to you tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, or even the day after that. I will be listening to our favorite bachata songs on my own. I won’t be making you your coffee in the morning. For now, there won’t be breakfasts or lunches or dinners with you, not even a small piece of tiramisu, but that’s ok. I love you anyway. Because you are worth one more day of uncertainty before we become certain. You taught me to welcome everyday whether or not you’re around. And to let Sunday be what it is.

Three months is a hundred years long, yet again, we’re not in a rush. I know one morning from now, we will wake up to that Prince Royce song and we will want to sleep in. Until then, I love you like I love Sunday.

Traffic Lights

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I saw him standing at the intersection
A cigarette stick hung carefully in his left hand
Between puffs of smoke his eyes found mine
It was almost electric
I let his gaze swallow me whole
His lips curved to a familiar smile
So familiar that the pool of strangers drowned in reverie
The light turned red and all the cars reached a temporary end
The flashing man turned green and pedestrians resumed what was temporarily halted
He started crossing to my side
I started crossing to his
Slow, calculated steps at first
And then long strides all at once
We met halfway there
Definitely indefinitely
Where the red meets the green
That is when we kissed

What it feels like

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It feels like not being embarrassed that I can’t do proper math, or the fact that the only number that matters to me right now is the eight hour time difference between us. For the first time, I don’t have to give myself a difficult time for not being a unicorn. I didn’t have to worry that I didn’t know about Tricky, or who Joseph Campbell was, or that I have never used google docs and google calendar before. None of these things matter because what matters is that you are there to introduce me to all these new things, and more. Everyone has their flaws, and you’re someone who appreciates me even more for mine. (I’m close to considering that you’re psycho!)

Recent mornings felt like a thunder woke me up from deep sleep. Whenever you say the words us, we, always, and forever, it scares me, the way a loud thunder scares the crap out of me. These are words unfamiliar to me, completely unheard of, and yet you would string these words to perfection that often makes me squeal, not out of fear, but out of delight. Congratulations, you just successfully transformed me to a giggling, school girl!

Everyday feels like I have the world’s best publisher. I just want to sink myself in blank paper just so I can write our story. I know there will be days when I will complain about damn writer’s block but I take comfort in knowing that you will be there to inspire me.

We will support each other in the biggest and littlest of things. We will encourage each other. Even if salsa dancing is not necessarily your thing, and c++ is definitely not my language, I know we have it all figured out. We know that coffee and tea don’t mix well together and that is actually a beautiful thing. You are your own person the way I am my own. Yet we know that wherever there is coffee, there is tea. Doubtful? Just look at the beverage aisle in any supermarket, or check my kitchen bench.

What it feels like is exactly what I feel like when I’m traveling. It’s something that I would want to do even when I’m old and grey, and it is also something that I would want to do with you even when you’re old and grey. I want to explore with you, to hold your hand and try new things, and discover new places. We will tirelessly look for our happy place which actually sounds silly because I know that any place with you is my happy place.

You remind me of the time I just started learning Arabic. At first, nothing made sense. I couldn’t even get the pronunciation right. I’m flustered and I sound stupid, but the point in learning Arabic is that the more practice you do, the better you get at it. And that’s exactly what it feels like learning about you. And I want to learn more about you everyday. There might be times when I will fail miserably in getting the accent right. Maybe there will be days when I will accidentally push the wrong button, but make no mistake, I want to be fluent in you. You are my favorite language, you are my favorite subject and I just want to get all As!

Just like Camembert, being with you feels like craving for strong, rustic flavors. It takes a good palette to know that you have to keep eating this cheese to fully appreciate all the flavors, and that’s exactly what I want us to do. No stopping. Just moving forward to more exciting flavors.

I will confess. Talking to you makes me want to punch myself on the face sometimes for saying the cheesiest pick up lines. I never thought I could be cheesy, but it’s all too late now. You just managed to turn me into the biggest mouse!

On a serious note though, being with you feels like being excited to start writing the last chapter of a novel. You told me about how that mosquito bite annoyed you, and how you felt frustrated about the project you’re currently working on, and how you were caught in bad traffic. I know you don’t like too much traffic. But no matter what awful things happen to you out in the real world, I want you to know that in my book, you have an epic ending, and that when you come home to me, everything will be OK.

An open letter to writers who stopped writing

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Nine years ago, we were all dreamers. We were enthused and inspired by some of our professors, and belittled and sneered at, and bashed by others. The point is, we felt feelings from sheer bliss to dread. We were so eager to start sinking our heads on piles of freshly photocopied reading materials. We were afraid to run late to that creative writing class because the professor is known to be a terror. We were confused and thrilled, at the same time, but mostly scratching our heads contemplating on how we will finish a three-page, double-spaced, font size 12, times new roman writing assignment with Michael Jackson as the main character and Cuba as the main setting.

We were raw, and ready to be cut open, and bleed for that 3.0. A 3.0 can mean a perfect mark depending on the professor, and we can sure be damn proud that we don’t have to retake that class. It’s more sacred than passing Math 11, that’s for sure.

We all wanted to be published authors, story tellers, editors of the most popular fashion and lifestlye and whatnot magazine. We wanted to be playwrights, and screen writers, songwriters, whathaveyous.

But what happened to that? Somewhere along the way, we got a little bit distracted of this, a little bit distracted of that. Most of us moved on to different directions, while some of us stopped completely.

Was it because there is no money in writing? Was it because of too many rejections and failed attempts? Or the lack of motivation and inspiration?

I still have the blogs we were required to write in our uni days bookmarked. I still check it once in a while, just in the off chance that some of you might remember it and update it one bit. But what I get is my heart broken once in a while. Nothing changes. The last post you wrote on your blogs are still dated 2007.

It seems that the closest way I can get to your writing is through your smart one liner status on facebook. Sometimes, it comes in the form of full-on, full-length, quasi-literature ranting about the daily chaos you go through. From the clumsy coffee spills, to how riveting Jennifer Lawrence looked, then back to how badly your boss sucks, to celebrating your 113th month anniversary.

And I must admit, when I read those status, those moanings, and whinges, and whatnot, I smile. Because it’s funny! Because it’s witty! Because it’s spot on! Because I can taste how vinegary your awkward first date went. Because I can feel the pressure you placed on the handlebar on that one hell of a bus ride. Because your words have texture and aesthetic! Because you’re still temperamental, and we all know that writers are meant to be bipoloar or something!

I smile because I know that you still have it in you, despite your corporate or academic attitude sometimes, no offense. I just wish you guys can tell me more, I wish I can read more of it, I wish you will write more.

Maybe some of you stopped writing because there was no material to work on. Well, experience is like Santa’s big red bag! Turn that trip to Nagsasasa Cove into a travelogue and I will be the first one to read it! Make a review about the last book you just read because I can use a good insight. Write a review about the latest blockbuster movie, or write a commentary about the Sundance Festival and I will read it all because I trust your taste in film.

Maybe you stopped writing because you’re going through a hard time right now. Maybe your relationship really really really sucks. That’s no excuse. Look at Adele and the tons of songs she has written! Maybe some of you stopped writing because you don’t have the time. Well, if you have the time to browse reddit and 9gag, please, shoot me now!

Maybe you stopped writing because you got pregnant or got married, whichever came first, but that’s no excuse either. Write children stories–stories that you know your little kiddo will love listening to before bedtime. That’s inspiration and experience right at your fingertips.

Writing is a state of mind. Although having that perfect cup of coffee and feeling the breeze on your hair while you’re sitting under the shade of a tree somewhere in the outskirts of India is highly recommended, most of the time, you will find yourself waking up at 2am in your cockroach-infested apartment, with a drool drying at the corner of your lips. Wipe it off, and pen it down, dammit! Or write it on your computer. Or phone. Whatever. You have no idea how many brilliant ideas get lost in ideasphere every single night just because we’re too lazy to try.

Kidding aside, just start writing again and make sure to send me a link. I mean it.

PS. If you’re reading this and you belong to the UPLB Com Arts 2004, yes, this letter is specifically addressed to you.

An open letter to my best friend

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Disclaimer: The subject in this essay is totally fictitious. Any resemblance to people living and dead is a miracle and should only be obvious to the subject and those who know the subject.

I was waiting for my lunch at Testa Rossa today and was about to order coffee when I saw two guys laughing and talking the way that only Joey and Chandler does. I thought of you and ordered cherry cola instead.

Isn’t that the definition of our friendship? That I like coffee and you like cherry cola? I’m the emotional one and you are the unbreakable. I’m always idealistic, the way you’re always pragmatic. I’m the one who believes in happily-ever-afters. I’m the one who sought for love and failed, yet never tire to seek for it over again. Whereas you keep things real. You weigh the success rate of a relationship based on statistics.

While I have ideas on how to solve a problem, you have specific steps to reach a solution. I always ask you to believe and give things a good try, and you’re the one who always prepare me for the worst. I give you hope, you give me reason. And that’s why we go so well together. Well, went. After our silly argument last night, I’m not sure if I should start referring to you in past tense form.

I remember, when I met you at a salsa party a year and a half ago, you were that guy behind your glasses sitting alone in a corner. You would dance, and sit, and dance, and sit again. A vicious cycle. Nothing else in between. Back then, your social skills weren’t really your strongest point. And back then, I would never have guessed that you would eventually become one of the very few people I hold so dear in my heart. And I bet neither did you.

Referring to you as my best friend is a long process that reflects a string of cafes we went to, the amount of popcorn we eat on every movie night, the evening drives to and from parties, and all the conversations and calls exchanged in between. Our friendship reflects a history of inside jokes and banters that people around us would never understand.

I think some people still find it hard to grasp that two people from the opposite sex can be best of friends without crossing the lines, or without smudging the borders of friendship and romance.

What we have is friendship developed over time, over shared experience, over a consciousness to support another person without any ties and expectations romantic or familial.

But best friendship is not always sugary, and full of rainbow colors and unicorns and jokes and hangouts. Let’s face it, that’s bullshit.

In reality, our friendship is flawed. We have a lot of misunderstanding and contrasting views that often lead to petty fights.

You tell me that I’m a drama queen to you the way I am not with everyone else. You are right, everyone else sees me as this peachy, ever-so-awesome, happy-go-lucky girl. I don’t show them that I am neurotic because it will make them run 190mph!

You are an asshole. You are a self-absorbed, unfeeling, callous ass! In a way that you’re not with everyone. Everyone else sees you as the laid-back, cool, all-smiley guy.

Why can’t you be that laid-back, cool, all-smiley guy to me? If only they know you, they would be running 190mph too.

See, the point is, I can be the monster that I am and I know you will understand. You can be full of crap (which you are!) and I will take it for what it is. We take each other’s shit. We listen to each other’s crap. We got each other’s back.

Our friendship is as special as it is rare. It consists of honesty. Brutal honesty and ugly truths, and everything else that no one would dare tell us. I don’t think anyone else can call me a bitch on my face, the way no one else can come to you and tell you to fuck yourself off. Respect that we can do that in each other’s faces.

I know I don’t say it as much as I should, and it doesn’t show in my actions, but I really value our friendship. I appreciate you and everything that you’ve done for me. And I will continue to value our friendship and appreciate you even if you stop everything you do for me. You are my rock. Everytime I find myself in trouble, you are there. You are there through every heartache. You’re there through every good and bad decision.

You are my family. For goodness’ sakes, you’re even my emergency contact person!

We will have disgareements, we will want different things, and we will fight. But I think being each other’s best friend means there is willingness to adapt, and understand each other’s shortcomings. And to not cease supporting each other because someone was being irrational (in this case, I will admit it’s me.)

It may sound like a job, and it sort of is. It is something that demands admitting you’re wrong. It is something that requires you to swallow your pride and understand that you can’t be too selfish all the time.

I’m sorry about last night. But you made me feel that you didn’t have my back. Ok, I overreacted, but you could have been considerate! Scratch that! I’m sorry and I mean it. Can you still be my emergency contact person?

Come away with me

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I know this will sound crazy. I’m crazy and you already know that. You’re crazy and I already know that. But what I want is to forget all about that craziness for a minute and just let ourselves go, without too much thinking or reason.

I want you to just take my hand and come away with me. Walk beside me as we turn to corners and enter streets in the city that we’ve never been at before. Let’s catch the perfect sunset in the harbor, or we can start chasing ibis and sea gulls at the fish market.

Take my hand as we take the next bus. Sit beside me and let’s go out of town. We will watch the people in the bus and make up stories about them as we head off to where we are going. Or we can watch the changing views from our window–the ambiance of urban structures to the calm of the country side to wherever it will take us.

Be patient with me. Soon enough, we will get there. Only a few hours and we’ll be there.

But where is “there” you might ask. Maybe it’s at your kitchen in Bondi where we can finally put your carbonara recipe to the test. Maybe it’s at a crazy house party. We’re not invited, but we’ll crash anyways! Maybe it’s in a far-flung area outside Sydney where we won’t do anything other than take pictures of things familiar and unfamiliar.

Take my hand as we search for our boarding gate. Rest your head on my shoulder as we take off. Let’s watch as the cars and buildings start looking like Lego miniatures. Let’s look at the sky and see what shapes the clouds take. While up in the air, let’s see the things beyond us and resolve in comfort knowing that we can face anything and everything that lies ahead. Feel the change of atmosphere as we step out of the airport and into a new world. Bali, Sydney, Manila, Cairo, Isle of Wight. Let’s tick one destination off our bucket list at a time, as we collect memories and embrace new adventures. We’ll count how many variety of curry dishes there is on the menu, we’ll try every shisha flavor available. We’ll go see the pyramids, we’ll watch a football game. We’ll look at old buildings, and enter ancient buddhist temples. We’ll count the stars as we lie our bodies across an open field. Our eyes will open at the first sight of a new morning. We’ll watch as the colors change from purple-grey to a gleaming orange sunrise. Another day–foreign and new–is waiting for us.

During the day, let’s discover and submerge ourselves in a new culture. We’ll spend time talking with other travelers we meet on the way. We’ll speak to locals and listen to their stories. And when we’ve finally had our fill of good food and wine, we’ll come back to our hostel and fit ourselves comfortably on our bed. We will sleep happy, and smiling, knowing that there will be breakfast and tea and you and me in the morning.

Get in the cab with me. We don’t know where we’re going but we’ll ask the driver to take us somewhere. Let’s roll the window down and feel the breeze in our hair. Let’s keep going for as long as we can. We won’t stop, unless we’re hungry. We’ll stop at gas stations for bathroom breaks, at restaurants for dinner specials, at pubs for happy hours. But we will continue our travel until we reach our happy place. Until we’re standing at the beach with the smell of the Pacific in front of us. Until the crisp sound of palm leaves surround us.

We’re outlaws, travelers, lovers, companions, explorers, triers of new things. We’re witnesses of whatever it is that is out there. Sometimes we won’t talk, we won’t touch, we will just be there, standing side by side. And we will fall in love, not with each other, but with the unknown. We will fall in love with the things we can’t see, we will love the things we don’t understand.

Take my hand and do this with me because I want to get carried away with you. I want to see new things with you. I want to do old things with you knowing that it will feel brand new because it will be the first time I’m doing it with you. I want to explore with you beside me, with our eyes full of curiosity and wonder, and our hearts just as free. I want to walk on roads we’ve never walked on before, hear languages we’ve never heard or spoken before. I want to get lost with you. I want to be found with you.

We will touch things, and taste flavors, and see life the way we never did before. Everything will be new. You will be new, and so will I.

It doesn’t matter that I don’t know you, or that you don’t know me, or the fact that we’ve never met before, because today, at this very moment, I just want you to take my hand and get carried away with me.