Thursday, July 19, 2018

On the porch

My grand-mother was no longer keen on traveling during her last years. Even an outing to the nearest city which, God’s honest truth, happens to be an actual and phenomenal vacation spot in the Philippines; howbeit that reality, asking her to come with us oftentimes became too much to ask. We would still encourage her of course — if only to take a few deep breaths of fresh air or indulge our cravings at one of those fancy spots. On most occasions she enjoyed our 'permanent staycation’ as much as we did, other times she would already set a countdown timer as soon as we arrived. Sometimes both.

If she did not necessarily looked forward to traveling ‘more’ roads like in her younger years, it did not cut ice with us. It certainly did not cut ice with me. I came home. We live in a world and time when traveling is practically considered a commodity. Actually, I am on a train, on a bus or on a plane more often than not. Being on the go managed to sneak in my DNA early on  –- I value it immensely, and above all, it is a life choice I am devoted to. After a short while, the itch becomes unbearable. I am a stubborn child again : do not scratch –– but then I always, always do.  Often, I have to go on a side trip to the next town, even just for half a day, only to quench my thirst. That being said, the more I loved embarking on new adventures, the more it spiked my appreciation for the slow pace of the day one can only find in the country. 

In my country. In my province. At home with my grand-mother. 

In no way am I undermining life in the province; but coming from constant traffic, noise, appointments, incoming emails –– even just the hassle of reserving a table at a restaurant, as one does, during the rest of the year; each time the car turned that street corner and I could finally get a glimpse of my grand-mother's porch, it was legitimately soothing to be subjected to less choices –– to almost none –– ruling the day. There was not much to do than just be –– and those days filled me with more life than anything in the world. To feel the seconds. To be completely free to reassess. To suspend time in order to saunter and be engulfed in the present moment. No distractions but ourselves. I am a writer. I find small moments in big city life –– but at homeI learned to have big moments in small city life; enjoying coffee, the sun skating on my skin. 

We ‘scold’ doing absolutely nothing nowadays because it would count as a day lost. We became greedy. Long have I been a victim of this reasoning; yet the older I get, the less I see it or feel that way. To add my grain of salt to Henry David Thoreau’s famous quote, finding meaning in such an ordinary day is truly the highest of arts. I had plenty of those with my grand-mother, especially during her last years when she preferred to stay at home. Right there on the porch, we did affect the quality of the day: I brought stories to her. And I would listen to hers. We would meet in the middle. For love in the ordinary is extraordinary -- the highest of arts.

In my country. In my province. At home without my grand-mother. 

I already wonder how it will be like to come back now. She loved me from the moment I opened my eyes, and I will love her long after she has closed hers. In my dreams, I am sitting on that porch again. I know she is listening.