It was humid and sunny as I stepped out of the Cebu Mactan international airport. I was surrounded with scenes of Balikbayans coming home after years of not seeing their family, lovers being reunited, conspicuous foreigners looking for taxis, taxi drivers eyeing these foreigners, hotel drivers holding japanese or korean name cards, and basically every single airport drama you can imagine. It was 4p.m and the humidity laced my skin.
I was home.
After a 10 hour flight I found myself energized and hyper on the bus ride to the hotel. Several of the crew sat at the back facing each other and telling lively jokes amidst good conversation. When I finally got to the hotel I saw my parents stand up in excitement (they had been waiting all day for me since their flight from Manila arrived at 6 a.m). I saw my mothers slim and petite figure wearing a blue and white floral blouse. She was smiling from ear to ear as she made a tiny wave with her hand. I took in my fathers tall and gaunt figure standing erect after his two year struggle with cancer.
As I saw my parents from afar I could already feel their love embracing me from across the hotel lobby.
I felt a wave of lucid deja vu. It was exactly two years ago since I was last here. It was exactly two years ago that I stepped into this hotel, also searching for answers, for true love, and finally two years later , I found it.
Two years ago I stepped out of the Cebu Mactan International Aiport to scenes of airport drama that made my heart leap in anxiety. I was on a mission where my own drama was to unfold. During the bus ride I was quiet and anxious. I wanted to reserve my energy for what I was planning to face. As people chattered around me, I closed my eyes and let the questions spill through my head.
“ Am I doing the right thing? Am I ready to break all the rules? What is he going to think of me? What is he going to do when he sees me?”
It’s a good thing I was planning to take this little rendezvous with a batch mate of mine (or I would have been completely lost) and we had already plotted how we would quickly change in the hotel and rush back to the airport, catch another flight to Manila, and go our separate ways- both in pursuit of an answer. She was looking for closure. I was searching for a new opening in what was a long drawn out affair of the heart.
I was going to Manila to surprise ‘him’. We had been dating for a while now, but everything was ‘malabo’. I was falling for him but I didn’t know whether I should stop myself or if I ought to go on. I thought that this bold move to see him would be the exact thing I needed to know for sure if he was worth all of it. I thought that it would also make him realize how much I really cared after months of acting almost nonchalant about our affair.
My batch mate and I made it all the way to Manila in one piece. We weren’t too close back then, but we were both on a mission, we were both exhausted, and we both knew that we needed answers.
It was slightly drizzling when we arrived in Manila. It was also late (past rush hour) so a taxi was easy to find, and I was on my way to Alabang in no time. I remember that was the first time I had ridden a taxi alone at night. The driver was making me feel nervous and constantly looking at my legs through the rearview mirror. So I called him and we talked on the phone. He thought I was in Cebu when I called. Less than an hour later I rang his doorbell and anxiously stood outside under the drizzly night air.
I was a strange sight when he saw me: white dress, duffel bag, slightly drenched hair.
12 hours later I found myself saying a ‘final goodbye’. I was so sure this was the last time I would see him as more than a friend. I believed with all my heart that I had my answer and that answer was: It’s over. After that 10 hour flight to Cebu with a full economy load, and another two hour flight to Manila, all I wanted to know was that he was willing to fight for me. I had been praying for weeks for a sign from him, and when I finally got it, it was exactly what I needed to find the strength to walk away.
My friend and I left for Cebu the day after. She got her closure. I got my opening – because little did I know that trip sparked the domino effect of the next two years. Two years of ‘him’. Two years of trips to see him instead of going home to my family. Two years of what some people call ‘the honeymoon’ stage. Two years of great love followed by the greatest heart-ache.
So that was then. This is now. To understand the significance of this one must know that I was once somewhat of a rebel constantly getting into fights with my parents. I almost ran away from home- twice. I never talked to my parents about real things happening in my life. These days, my mother is my best confidant. When I felt my friends were getting tired of hearing me rant and cry about him, my mom was always avidly ready to listen and comfort me. And the fact that I could even speak of such things in front of my father is still surreal for me.
My wonderful time with them in Cebu was the culmination of the past 4 months of the revolution of change within me. In these past four months I had spent all my Manila flights with family. I flew on two days off to see them on New Years. I became more open to my parents about my plans and ideas. My mom was ecstatic when I told her about my pursuit to become a yoga teacher like her. My dad is excited and proud about the condo I’m buying.
(And I finally started blogging)
I spent two full days with my parents in Cebu and witnessed things come full circle in my life. The last inklings of pain about my break-up evaporated the minute I saw my parents waving at me from across the hotel lobby in Cebu. How silly of me to look for great love back then, when I already had it the whole time.
I had so many plans for my time with my parents and all of them were successful.
For the first time in my life, I heard my mom gush over the excellent food in the hotel. The Marriot hotel has an excellent lunch buffet that I would recommend to anyone passing through the area. The buffet costs regularly 550 pesos (crew get 30% discount, yey!) with a full salad bar, sushi, cold cuts slices and other excellent appetizers. You are entitled to choose between two plated main courses: fish or beef. I highly recommend choosing the fish. I can’t remember how it was prepared but it was absolutely delicious.
We have been to five star restaurants where my mom has sent back food (having a food connoisseur and ex-restaurant manager for a mother is not easy) but this time she complimented the server every time he would come to refill our water.
I also took them to a jazz bar called “Jazz n’ Blues” where my dad treated me to cocktails! The place is packed with D.I’s (dance instructors) so it can be slightly annoying for people who don’t like to dance. But my mom loves to dance and I was also led to the dance floor a few times myself. But the best part was seeing my dad dance with my mom in that dimly lit club with that romantic atmosphere.
This was also the first time my father has been out to a bar since he was diagnosed with Cancer three years ago. I also knew that my mother was happy because she had no comment when my dad and I lit a cigarette together (another milestone moment!)
I look at my life now and cannot believe how things have come full circle.
The batch mate I travelled with two years ago is like a sister to me now (and ironically enough was also going through something similar the same time my own tragedy hit).
A few weeks ago she said to me
“ Linoloko lang natin sarili natin na malungkot pa tayo. Sa totoo lang masaya na tayo at hinahanap lang natin yung lungkot dahil hindi lng tayo makapaniwala na nawala na ”
She’s right. I wake up searching for the pain like some lost dream. But it has been gone for a while now. I exorcised the last of it in Bali, and I realized it in Cebu.
I understand now that the reason I was so depressed was because I had never experienced a real break-up before. Every time I ended a relationship with someone, I would find someone new during my mourning period.
Things have come full circle under the light of a full moon.
I wake up looking forward to the next yoga adventure, the next backpacking trip, the next prayer, the next delicious meal.
People whom I thought I had lost have started to slowly re-enter my life. My flat mate whom I have missed dearly now talks to me like we are friends again.
People whom I thought don’t care about what happens to me, would read my blog and take the time to read it till the end.
I have felt Gods love through the love of my best friends and my family who have supported me through this arduous task of ‘getting over’.
I cannot begin to describe the way this heart-ache has become the vessel of so much joy. As Khalil Gibran put it: unless you cry all your tears, you cannot not laugh all of your laughter… The more sorrow carves into your being, the more joy it can contain.
Some people say that growing up means you learn how to take control of your life. It means that you stop leaving things to fate and start believing in the power of your own choices.
I say that growing up is the balance of believing in the power of your choices while knowing that everything.. everything (under God) happens for a reason.
all that self renewal-
after finding true excitement at being single –
after telling my friends that I am no longer looking for love but will wait for it to find me-
after finding inner peace-
after coming to terms with the fact that life is about learning and unlearning the unexpected – after all the prayers to God telling him to safe keep my heart –
after offering all my future love stories to God –
after finding out that what I thought was right was completely wrong-
after realizing that what I think could be completely right could turn out to be completely wrong-
after all the poetry that life that has shown me,
after all that ..
THEN what am I to make of meeting ‘Bingky’?
(to be continued: Bingky, and The disasters of Speaking Too Soon, and Eating Ones Words)