Gypsy girl turned Queen of the night

For a kid who secretly enjoyed being scared out of her wits and playing “dress up”, Halloween presented a whole new world full of possibilities.

Obviously, it isn’t a local tradition, but little me during the 1990s looked forward to watching Magandang Gabi Bayan’s Halloween special and horror movie marathons, egging classmates and friends to tell ghost stories, and re-reading my Edgar Allan Poe collection. I was particularly thrilled with Fall of the House of Usher (What was the cause of Madeline’s mysterious illness? Why did Roderick feel as though his fate was entwined with that of his sister’s and their ancestral house?), The Cask of Amontillado (Fortunato being buried alive was really morbid!), and The Tell-tale Heart (the narrator/murderer and the old man with the “vulture eye” was REALLY CREEPY).

It was Halloween on my tenth year that I remember wanting to be a beautiful gypsy girl. To have smoky hypnotic eyes, dance as though in a trance, read tarot cards, and pronounce fortunes. That was around the same time I read Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits and was very much fixated with Clara Trueba and her mystical prowess. Clara was also a diligent writer and keeper of notebooks which she painstakingly organized and kept bound with ribbons. In fact, she inspired me to do the same–to keep track of my life and thoughts by writing it out in journals and notebooks. From the moment I read the first line in The House of the Spirits: “Barabas came to us by sea”, I was instantly mesmerized. It was also the same year my sisters gave me an illustrated children’s classic edition of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which I read before the happy ending Disney version came out). The image of Esmeralda, the gypsy girl, was so exotic and mysterious, I couldn’t help but be drawn to her character. (Spoiler alert!) I remember crying at the end when Quasimodo’s and Esmeralda’s remains were uncovered years later. Of course, they died tragically.

Back to being a gypsy girl wannabe, I had aspirations of going trick-or-treating. I raided my mom’s and sisters’ closets and found a peasant blouse, a long flowing skirt, a kitsch scarf that became a turban, bangles, and hoops. For my “bolang kristal”, my sister’s heavy angel snow globe served me well. I decided that I would go barefoot, for lack of matching footwear. But there wasn’t any costume party or trick-or-treat to go to. Still, I managed to entertain them at home with my resourceful prowess in putting up a costume from scratch.

It was only the following year when my friend Jens invited me to their village Halloween party that I was able to go all out on the trick-or-treat experience. And the best surprise of all: I won consolation prize for my costume! It wasn’t the gypsy costume, though. I was a queen in a scarlet dress robe with faux fur and gold trimmings. I had a crown of gold cloth with cheap plastic jewels stitched on it. My mom didn’t have as much imagination. She bought it ready-made from SM Department Store. For extra horrific make-up, my sister painted my eyelids with black and grey eyeshadow. Despite the costume not going my way, it didn’t stop me from having such fun! We were chaperoned by one of Jens’s older sisters while we went door-to-door around the neighborhood, expecting treats more than tricks. My plastic pumpkin pail was filled to the brim with candies and sweets of all kinds. But I also remember there was this older guy in a corpse costume we kept bumping into every now and then, which I thought was weird, and he would always mock me with a “Good evening, your Highness”, while letting me pass first with him making a bow. I just chalked it up to creepy-attentive vibes and hoped I never had to encounter him again for the rest of the night.

My friend Jens was Wednesday Adams of the night and won second prize. She did look the part with her fair skin, enormous beady eyes, and long and sleek black hair in pigtail braids. She even had a headless doll sticking out of her chest pocket! Knowing Jens back then, she was the more charming, nicer version of Wednesday Adams for sure.

I had such a lovely time being Queen of the night. And being the only one who wasn’t in a typical scary/monster Halloween costume. I took in every happy moment I could and committed them to memory. And as for my treats, well, they didn’t stand a chance against my sweet tooth. They ran out in a week or so. πŸ™‚

Originally written: November 6, 2008

Love is Like Ice Skating

In honor of a departed friend’s upcoming birthday, this post is a memory of an awesome day we had, 13 years ago. I originally posted this on my Livejournal blog.

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Nov. 10, 2006
I was so excited to see Alyjane & Carla again after such a looong time. πŸ™‚ Aly & I scoured both NBS and Powerbooks of Megamall and Shang before having lunch and we were later joined by Carla at the first Cine Europa screening of the day, 
“Karo and God Himself”.

This film was simply a joy to watch. Karo made me laugh with her stubborn determination in getting “God” to make her wish come true, and she almost moved me to tears as she learned a lot of valuable lessons and developed a pure friendship with him. Little Resi Reiner (Karo) was able to charm the audiences with her innocence, humor, and wit.

After Cine Europa, we went ice skating, which I haven’t done for 3 years. We were laughing at ourselves because we looked funny–3 child-like girls all giddy and giggly with their hands linked together. We remembered the first time we did this together, and the memory that stood out the most was of us slipping and falling and just laughing it off, not caring how silly we all looked as we were getting acquainted with our skating legs. I was back to 0 again since I forgot how to glide on ice without hogging the bars. But I still haven’t forgotten the mixed feelings of bliss, excitement, and fear when I’m learning how to skate. I was having so much fun, I didn’t notice that I already had bruises because of the tight skates. After I got home and I’ve already rested my bruised feet, I had a crazy realization that love is like learning how to skate on ice. It’s an experience that makes you feel excited and giddy, and your heart race faster. (The moment I was finally able to face my fear of falling by letting go of the bars and gliding on ice–incomparable. I felt like I was flying and that anything was possible.) Of course, there’s still that slight fear that you might slip or fall, but once you get the hang of it, you feel pure bliss–as if you’re light and soaring on air, oblivious to everything else. You will still fall and you will feel a bit embarassed, but you will muster all your strength to get up and start again, determined to make everything go smoothly and not to fall again. You will get bruises too but does that stop you from skating? Of course not. You do your best and hopefully you perfect it this time. But when do you finally stop? You stop when you’re so tired and your feet feels sore and every glide feels painful, or when you discover that you already have a lot of bruises from skating too hard. ❀

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Confidence wears a bright orange flippy skirt

*This is something I wrote back in 2010, when I was still blogging at Livejournal. Then out of nowhere, I just remembered this post a few days ago, as if someone tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me of it. I felt compelled to share it here on my WordPress site, especially after reading it again after such a long time, and realizing that the truths I’ve written all those years ago, are still very much ringing true today. It’s bizarre but in a good way.

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There’s a leak in my cabinet. Whenever it rains hard (as it has been doing on and off these past few weeks), I can hear the pitter-pattering of water from the top to the middle shelf. I had to evacuate all my clothes and other stuff (yoga mat and empty perfume bottles included). This is a perfect time for a wardrobe overhaul–sort through clothes I should be giving away, and keep those that still love mon petit corps. As I was rummaging through them, I spotted my bright orange beach skirt–the one that’s so flippy, even a gentle breeze can bring it to life. It’s been two years since I bought it and I haven’t worn it even once. It still fits me perfectly. I did a happy dance and was lost in it for a while, longing very much to be a student of it again. I imagined myself walking barefoot on sandy shores–the salty sea air filling up my lungs in a most delicious way, and the cool breeze whipping my hair. It’s always a comforting reverie.

As I was very much occupied with the task at hand, my mind kept zoning in and out on different trains of thought. It would board on a station, get off at a stop, and board the next train to a new destination. It’s crazy. I remember some bits and pieces, and now I’m trying to challenge my memory. Introspection strikes again!

I’ve been re-learning a lot of things lately, and at the same time, I’ve been recharging myself. I’m letting go of the excesses.   

First stop. I realized that no matter how much you think of other people, they will almost always be self-absorbed. That’s just the way it is. As much as we are all caught up in our own affairs, I still want those who matter to me to be emotionally available. To really listen and understand what I’m saying, to take time to be really with me in the present. I’ve had enough of selflessly doling out pieces of myself and ending up unsatisfied.   

Second stop. What works for others doesn’t necessarily work for me. Different strokes for different folks, my friend. I don’t have to compete with anyone else. And I don’t have to pattern myself to what others have successfully achieved. I believe that I too will be successful and become excellent in what I do, and even then I don’t need to broadcast it. It’s enough that I know my own worth. 

Third stop. I am demanding, but I can live with it. I am not into things done halfheartedly. I want to be loved for my entirety, the same way I do with a precious few. It should be mutual. Countless times I’ve been the go-to girl when loved ones have thoughts and problems they couldn’t share with anyone else. They allow me to see them at their most vulnerable because in some little way, I can give them what they need–comfort and understanding. But as much as I know that I am capable of being their “rock”, I don’t want to be solely considered as that kind of person. I want to be there for the good times as much as the bad times. I want to celebrate with you as much as just be there to listen and uplift you. I don’t want to be excluded, much less to be noticed and valued only when you’re at your lowest and feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. I can only give so much of myself.      

Fourth stop. I thrive in an environment that allows me to just be MYSELF. A sanctuary where I can let loose all my creativity and passions, and infuse a touch of Leanesque in every aspect. I am at my best when I can nurture, inspire, encourage, and strengthen others. I am at my happiest when I could translate thoughts, ideas, feelings, and experiences into words that make people feel something too. I want to continue being warm and generous, and feel safe, knowing for sure that I will not be hurt in any way.   

Last stop. Never ever lose the light. For a long time, I didn’t embrace my uniqueness. It took a very special angel of a friend who calls me “little Elizabeth Barrett Browning” to make me realize that (to her especially) I am a rose that’s unique from all the rest. That my poetry is beautiful and I need not wait for somebody else to tell me that. I know it, and I can feel it in my bones. My passion lies here and that’s all that matters. 

Now, the mirror shows a girl in an orange flippy skirt, with twinkling eyes and a devil-may-care smile on her rosy lips. She doesn’t always feel like this, but now she is free.

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Image credit: frank mckenna on Unsplash