At some point, you stop asking yourself: why, wherefore? Who gave you this gift, this precious gift: of time, of being with people who love you, to whom you will always and forever be “bata ni Oso,” daughter of a man who ran for Congress from here in the late 1980s, in the first flush of excitement of Cory Aquino, who some remember as “so quiet” (according to a Carmelite priest self met today, in her cousin’s office at the bank, where self had gone after shopping at The Negros Showroom!) and who people say self takes after, in her quietness (But self is not that quiet!), in her diffidence.
Today a different cousin took her to lunch. So far, she has eaten in maybe a dozen different restaurants: Bob’s, 21, Roley’s, Pendy’s, Louise, 18th Street Palapala, Chicken House, Inaka, Calea, Café Uma, L’Sea. And even family secretary Ida’s turo-turo, across the street from De La Salle. Today’s lunch was at Mu Shu, cute little “Asian Fusion” place in a quiet side street, where self laid out her plans for her next visit (If she can swing it, before the end of this year).
Why, why, why, self? Useless. Useless to ask why.
So far, self loves everything: L’Fisher Chalet and its super-fast internet, the staff who smile but not in the obsequious, fawning way of other hotels self has stayed in; knowing she can go to the Balay Daku anytime she feels like it; loving the seven pesos she pays for the jeepneys, and the five pesos for the tricycles; the food, OMG, the food: the piyaya with brewed coffee, the mango cupcakes, the caramel tarts, the pinasugbu, the cheese puto, the pansit molo, the steamed fish, the Chicken Hainan, the super-special Batchoy with crackling chicharon all over the top. One day soon, she’ll wake up in the drab and drizzle of Redwood City, and she’ll think: Was she dreaming?
Sometimes, she has inklings of reality. As when she read, in a local newspaper, The Visayan Daily Star, that Negros Occidental tops Western Visayas in “most crimes in 2010.” Then, self blanched and grew quite pale, wondering at her temerity, traveling all over Negros with just a driver, even though he was capable and she trusted him (or rather, trusted the fact that her relatives would never have let her go if it were not safe). Joel assured her that no one would bother her in the car (black SUV, black tinted windows, belonged to a policeman from Silay), and she didn’t question him. His only stipulation was that they never, ever be caught going through the mountains after dark. There was one time she wanted to drive straight to a small town and back, in one day, and that was the only time he said no, they couldn’t.
The Visayan Daily Star of Tuesday, January 25, reported that there were “1,090 crimes against persons reported in Negros Occidental” in 2010. In a separate category, “crimes against property,” Bacolod City reported 2,623 incidents.
Of the 1,090 “crimes against persons in Negros Occidental, physical injuries accounted for 681, murder 182, rape 139, and homicide 88.” (Self is so dumb she doesn’t know the difference between “murder” and “homicide.”)
So, wake up, self. Wake up. This is not the Paradise you with your California breeziness seem to think it is. Even though every morning you look out at the rooftops of the city from the top floor of the L’Fisher Chalet, even though you are now an expert on the best massage places in the city, even though not one day passes when you do not talk to a relative, even though you feel loved, and cared for, and protected.
Yesterday self decided to get serious with her work and spent most of the day in her room, working on her novel, Leaving. She thought of different ways to structure it, and each time she had to stop and text Zack. Zack himself is writing at blazing speed. She realizes that he is a very very disciplined writer. Would that self could be the same!
What Her Bed Looks Like, Every Day
After dinner, the woman who delivered self’s clean laundry to the room said, in a tone of most abject sympathy, “You stay all the time in your room, Ma’am? You don’t go out?”
Which then resulted in self feeling like the loneliest, stupidest person in the entire world.
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.