I believe that our desires speak clearly to us in our dreams. It does not matter whether we are asleep or awake, whether we are fully aware of it or not.
The message will come. Maybe in cryptic fragments, maybe in a series like a comic strip or fantasy saga, or maybe it will appear whole, which can be inspiring and intimidating at the same time. But the point is, that our desires become manifest in dreams. And it is up to us whether to leave it as nothing more than a dream and get on with our lives as usual, or something that can take root in reality and create a life of its own–with our help of course.
I dreamt of you more than once already and every time, you always felt like home. I dreamed you into being and you were there when I least expected it. And though I have built a cozy home for myself, softened some edges with time, thought I couldn’t possibly have room for anyone else, you came. You are my moment that felt like Fate.
I know now that I want to keep on building with you if you share the same dreams too. Let’s take this waltz and not look back.
Saying I had a rough night was an understatement. I’ve been having rough nights for quite a while now with sleep eluding me and thoughts circling my head like sharks going in for the kill. Insomnia is a lonely friend.
When I finally got up and found my way to the water cooler, a sharp, familiar scent rooted me to the spot. Insomnia may have slowed down my reflexes, but it hasn’t dulled my mind…yet. On instinct, I kept going through file cabinets of memories in my head, searching for the connection to that specific scent when the image just showed itself–bayabas. There was indeed a bowl of bayabas on the dining room table.
Bayabas is the native term for guava where I’m from. It’s a small, round fruit with pale green skin that’s sometimes smooth or uneven. It grows in the tropics. When you split one open, the flesh is white with small pinkish seeds that dot around the center. They remind me of teeth marks on a mold. When I was a kid, I used to bite straight into the middle because it’s the good part–it’s crunchy as an apple minus the juice, and with the seeds of a raspberry that’s unavoidable but edible and that also won’t get you teased by your elders that if you swallow them, you’ll grow a tree inside you. I think Filipino aunts and uncles used to say that just to get a kick out of teasing the kids. (Kidding aside, if anyone can relate to this experience when you were a kid, do tell me!)
What I love the most about bayabas is its scent–the sweet smell of just ripe bayabas that’s still a little bit firm. Not too soft and not overripe that it turns sickly-sweet and mushy. It always reminds me of childhood–we used to have a bayabas tree in our backyard, and at Nanang’s (1) where the ripe ones just fell off from the tree. When the fallen are bruised or split open, their perfume would follow you all the way from the old pig farm (2), past the langka (3) tree always swollen and smelly with fruit, the Indian mango tree where they say the white lady (4) hangs out at night, past the outhouse, and finally to Nanang’s back door which leads to the kitchen. When I was a kid vacationing at Nanang’s and would find myself heading back to her house at night, I would always run the entire length when I’m by myself or with younger cousins, nieces, and nephews. When I was with an elder, I would simply hold their hand and close my eyes until we got past the mango tree. Because even if it was just one of those old aunts’ stories to scare the kids, nobody in their right mind would want to see a white lady with Sadako hair and bloodshot eyes dangling from a tree when they’re all alone at night.
(1) Nanang was my paternal grandmother. My father is Ilocano, and their term for mother is “Nanang”. In Tagalog and Ilocano, “Lola” is the term used for grandmother, but since my generation grew up always hearing our parents, aunts, and uncles call our grandmother Nanang, nobody thought to call her otherwise. Nanang has always been Nanang–the core, the endearing Apilado matriarch who drew us all together. She was the reason I have fond memories of summers and holidays spent at my father’s childhood home.
(2) Nanang used to run a small piggery. On one of my memorable summer vacations as a kid, I got to see a new pig mama nursing her litter.
(4) There is always a variation to the White Lady story. I can’t remember who specifically told us these stories when we were kids, but it must’ve been Nanang and my aunts. In one story, a cousin saw a white lady hanging out on the swing by the mango tree. One version describes her as “nagkukuyakoy”–swinging her legs back and forth while sitting on a branch. Another version from an uncle describes her as looking lost, and when my uncle approached to help, he saw that her feet seem to have vanished and she was floating! This last version though, seems questionable depending on whether said uncle was sober or not at that time. But what’s always consistent with the “sighting” stories is that the White Lady always has long, black hair, dressed all in white (duh), and doesn’t make any sound. It might be better that way though. Imagine if she actually talked…well, that might make a far more interesting story too now that I think about it…
I just binge-watched (and finished) The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel last weekend. It’s a mind-blowing show. For the first time since Gilmore Girls, finally, I have a new Amy Sherman-Palladino show to watch that’s original, witty, and exciting every time. They deserve their Golden Globe and Critics Choice wins. But more on what I love about this show later.
For now I want to talk about wanting to talk like Mrs. Maisel. Not the posh, 1950s New York slang that comes out of Rachel Brosnahan’s pretty mouth, and oh, what a pretty mouth it is. I’m talking about explosive expletives here. The f-word set out like a bomb on an unsuspecting audience.
But who am I kidding? I’m not really like that. I couldn’t even speak without shaking like a leaf in public. But I think it’d be handy to talk like that for intimidation purposes like telling off the rude busybody who cut through my line on election day, or to ward off suspected would-be muggers in the UV Express on my way home. That would’ve been really useful, but might not be effective, given that swearing in Tagalog has more impact on ordinary commuters and muggers alike where I’m from.
At the moment, expletives are reserved when talking to myself or having a conversation in my head that goes like, “So, do I give an effing f— about what this person really thinks of me? No? Then I’ll just stay at home and read a book instead, or bake cookies and binge-watch The X-Files. Obsess about Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny’s frustrating and palpable chemistry. Yup. Sounds like fun. Problem solved and crisis averted”.
So, yeah, I’m good with it. At not talking in expletives. I’ll leave the actual f-bombing to Mrs. Maisel instead. She’s the only one I know who can insert the f-word in every sentence that comes out of her mouth and still look classy.
Revisiting old writing is like rediscovering an old friend after a long time. You’re relearning those tiny details you loved about her–her laugh, her idiosyncrasies, what made the two of you click together in a way that you’ve never had with another.
Old feelings flood back and assault you, warmth as palpable as the naked sun on your face that time you laid on your back on a rock at the beach on a perfect summer’s day, giving in to the pull of the waves lulling you into a sweet sleep.
And sometimes the yearning is the hardest to bear–to be back as you were in that same moment now only preserved in words, reanimated by memory.
But you know you can never go back–to a frenzied infatuation you dreamed would bloom into love, or a kinship you thought would last until you left the bubble of youth. The sweet with the bitter and the tang, the then and the now, all a part of you–occupying a space where you can embrace them both, for as long as the feeling lasts.
In that moment, time doesn’t exist–it’s immaterial. It’s just you and the memories. Suddenly, there’s a thread that runs through you that regret is a thing unheard of, almost, and rejected.
There can be only what you make of, continue to be, choose. You can finally let go and let the old bones rest where they should be. And you realize now with clarity that wasn’t there before: there is peace, there is peace within.