Richard and Juliana: Two peas in a pod

On weekends he will come straight from the airport into the car and enter our bedroom door, hair tousled, strong and sturdy and always oh-so-handsome. If I’m asleep by the time he arrives I will wake up to him nuzzling my neck or showering my face with a thousand little kisses. But their ritual is different: when she sees him enter the door she will rush to him for a bear hug, or if she is far enough still she will run and leap into his waiting arms like a happy little monkey. Then they’ll catch up and plot their time together. I say “plot” because for the most part I get nervous with their antics.

See, I grew up in a home where Mom and Dad were always cautious, maybe overly so. The yaya always had to make bantay, so we did not fall and scrape our knees or hit our heads. We had to always play in long pants, play safe, and never when it was too hot or rainy. We could play as much as we wanted, yes, but nothing dangerous that could potentially break bones — skateboards, climbing trees, rollerblades and the like; these were no-nos.

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On cleaning, pruning, letting go

The only way, really, is for me to do it every day. Like a good diet, a healthy lifestyle, a marriage — this, too, is something best taken on regularly, in regular doses, a constant (and mindful) must-do.

I am talking about cleaning, pruning, letting go. There is the emotional aspect, but the one I speak of is the physical kind — specifically, letting go of things that have accumulated here and there through the years. In this realm I’ve dealt with quite a handful: porcelain sets and home items bought on a whim (maybe it was at a clearance sale, or I felt like rewarding myself after a happy project); beautiful dresses, yes, but hardly ever worn, just hanging in the closet, waiting for the right occasion; unopened palettes of makeup and brand-new tubes of lipstick; handbags once used; wallets (how many do we need, really?); jewelry and accessories that no longer resonate with me.

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‘You okay, Mama?’

The workday is rough, human beings act like beasts sometimes, wolves in sheep’s clothing to be exact, and I sink into the sofa in my daughter’s room. She knows me too well. “You okay, Mama?”

I tell her all about it, my 16-year-old who speaks, on nights like tonight for instance, with a wisdom (and wit) beyond her years. She hears me out, makes me laugh despite myself in between my narration of the events of the past few days (yes, it was THAT kind of week). I listen to her speak and I do not know how they (their generation) manage to seem wiser, more sophisticated, more opinionated, more brave than the 16-year-olds of my time.

My generation did not reason things out with adults; we smiled through fat tears, stood in the corner submissively when we were ordered to by parents, hid life’s pains even as we felt them through the pages of a diary or bent the ears of our best friend. The children now are allowed — no, even encouraged I would say — to speak it all out. To say it as it is, call out an erring adult if need be; they even weigh in on issues of national interest. Maybe that is why they are less fearful, more objective, less emotional. Because they are encouraged to communicate, not leave it all bottled up.

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Time to wake up

My love, wake up. I hear a herd of goats in our front yard.”

Richard is sound asleep. After all, it is 4:22 a.m., his birthday morning. The goats persist, louder this time.

“Honeeeeeeyyyyyy… Wake up! I don’t know how or why but there are goats in our front yard. I hear them…”

Oh, did I mention that prior to that I heard chickens? But then I would hear their “tuk-tu-Ka-ok” daily in our home in Ormoc, so nothing about that surprised me. But goats?! Why are there goats?! Then I heard the cows…. Oh, my. Cows, too?!? And lots of them, because the sound was solid. In our front yard! Someone was playing a joke on us. How could a farm suddenly be in our home, up a hill, in the city? Then the goats and cows started singing in unison, almost chorus-like. “Meeeeeeeeeeeeee, mooooooooo…” The chickens join in — “Tuktukaok” — all three kinds of animals together now.

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