Sunday, July 13, 2008

Reunion and Retreat

Call it perfect timing that two of my batch mates and dear friends came to Cebu for a visit within two months. One of them, Athea, left the country six years ago when her whole family migrated to Alaska. Raissa, on the other hand, moved to Iloilo while we were still in first year high school.

I don’t know how it is with other batches but ours is a closely-knit one. Blame it on the numbers and the years we spent fighting and caring for each other. We were probably 45 when we graduated. Roughly 90% received a Loyalty Award, which means we’ve been together since we were still peeing in our pants. To date, we occasionally meet to eat out, catch up with other batch mates who aren’t Cebu-based, drink from dusk ‘til dawn, sing to our hearts’ desire, talk nonstop excitedly, and simply relish each other’s company. And those are exactly what we did when Athea and Raissa dropped by.

To sum it all up, I had fun. Who wouldn’t? I guess this text message from, coincidentally a batch mate gives the exact reason why: Your college friends know who you are. But your high school friends know why.

In less than a month, I’m turning 22. Like all my other birthdays in the past, I look forward to it with much anticipation, anxiety, sureness, and uncertainty. Unlike my last birthday however, I felt that I lived most if not all, my 21st year living it – taking life as it comes and never being too busy to miss a lunch date with a good friend or just laze around on a Sunday morning enjoying coffee. I’ve experienced being overly stressed out in the past that there wasn’t just time for me to steal for myself or for my family. Perhaps that was one of the main reasons why I felt like I’ve lived for so long in this world. And I don’t want that to happen. Life is too short to not live it the way it should be lived.

So, as I was saying, it’s going to be my birthday in a few weeks. I must have a little hangover from the hospital because I’m eager to make an escape during my special day. Right now, I’m dreaming of the beach or the mountains with food, music, and friends. But as much as I would like it to be the reality, I can only drool over it. Apparently, the hospital experience dug a hole into my resources. And unfortunately, my birthday falls on a work day. What else is there to say but, “Let’s wait and see.”

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Slow down, you’re going too fast

For the second time in five years, I was admitted at a hospital in Cebu. The diagnosis: classical dengue fever. For once, I was relieved that the cause of my latest distress in life was a blood-sucking Aedes aegypti and not because I couldn’t keep myself from chomping down contaminated food. The first time I was ever admitted at the hospital was when I was a freshie in college. I was admitted due to typhoid fever. Then on the summer before my senior year, I got mild amoebiasis (and nearly got hospitalized). Geez, bacteria love me so much they find a way to invade my system through the food I eat.

Anyway, what’s more important is that I’m well now and back to work after six days of bed rest, fluids, and anti-inflammatory pills (for the rashes). Although I feel a little bad of having to leave work for a couple of days, I somehow felt that it was a welcome respite for me. I’m not glad that I got sick. But boy was I glad to have taken a break from work. Some of my friends who visited me at the hospital actually envied me and would gladly take my place at the hospital bed. But well, I wouldn’t give up my slot either. Except for the incessant poking of needles in my arm to draw blood samples, everything else made me feel like I’m on vacation. Kudos to the hospital and its staff! If only the hospital was tucked somewhere in the mountains or near the beach, it would have been the perfect escape.

On a more serious note, being confined at the hospital gave me a good time for contemplation and reflection. I couldn’t help it, you know. My bosses were really understanding enough not to pester me with work and would rather check whether I was fine. So I had all the time mostly to myself. And I wondered what could have I possibly done this time to be in this situation. The answer: none. I certainly didn’t want to be bitten by a dengue-carrying mosquito in the first place and I could have gotten it in a lot of possible places – the boarding house, the office, the mall… But among all the people in all those places, it chose to bite me. Why me, I asked. Perhaps, I needed a little jolt.

For me, it was a natural roadblock. Unexpected, sometimes unwanted but almost always desperately needed. You see, most of the time we want to take full control of our life – driving it at topmost speed and making the most out of the little time we are given. And that’s not bad. It’s just that sometimes, we get so caught up with our job and our everyday struggles that we tend to miss the very little but very important details in life that actually matter – family, friends, love, and even life itself. In other words, it is simply life’s way of saying, “Slow down, you’re going too fast.” Life must have, at first, tried to warn me about it but I didn’t listen or I was too busy to even hear what it was saying. So it deliberately stepped on the brakes so I would stop. Stop and breathe. Stop and savor every single moment. Stop. And start all over again.

So today, I am back at the wheel, coursing through uncharted paths. I make right turns and sometimes bump into the wrong ones. Sometimes, I drive back. Sometimes, I speed up. But I’m fervently hoping this time, I’ll know when I need to stop.