A Turtle’s Shell

8 Feb

I woke up one morning in a state of unease. An hour hence and I found myself trembling in fear, sobbing like a helpless child. I was convinced I had melanoma because of this suspicious mole I had just discovered – dry and a bit scaly, and I knew it was not how it originally looked like. “I have cancer”, I frantically said, and at that moment I have never been more scared of death. It also didn’t help that just last night, I had already cried because of another illness I was so sure I had – the Ncov virus that has so far infected more than 30,000 people worldwide, and has killed at least 600. I was more than certain I’d be part of this statistics soon because I felt I was developing cough and colds then, and my throat was itchy all of a sudden.

So I cried.

And cried. and cried.

I was a wreck the second I opened my eyes.

Yet all the while there were these arms that held me so tightly as I bawled my eyes out. A soothing familiar voice would make itself known every other second, patiently and endlessly telling me that I’m alright; that I don’t have cancer; that I don’t have the virus;  That everything is okay; That I am loved; And that I am in a perfect state despite my imagined dreaded diseases.

Those arms and voice were of the very man that would leave me soon — He would have to leave me and free me of his warm, reassuring embrace because anxious, dysfunctional me needed to be fed.  So off he went a few meters away from where I was, in order to make me brewed coffee and toast and eggs for breakfast. He would claim it to be his best one thus far, and  then he would proceed to prep up our make-shift dining table – place mats and all – and he would convince me to forget about my paranoia for a while.

Every time he’d see my health anxiety creeping back, he would find a way to make me laugh. He’d even go to the extent of dancing sexy to me (although silly is all that I can see haha) to the tune of this classic 80s disco music entitled “Shake Body Dan-suh” that I introduced to him for fun weeks before my panic attack.

While I was lying down in bed flat on my stomach, Chris slowly threw himself on top of me, and hugged me oh so tightly…

He whispered, “Look, you are a turtle…”

He whispered, “… And look, I am your shell”.

Chris studies me. He pays attention to the littlest things that lift my spirits up.

He would buy me potted plants, and would surprise me with them on some random nights. Sometimes it is a just-because gift. Sometimes it is to cheer me up because he had noticed that morning that I was feeling a bit sad.

Every time he’d do groceries for himself, he’d buy me four of my favorite chocolate bars at a time. He’d then excitedly lead me to the fridge to show me what he got for me, and then he’d avidly watch my face unravel a smile. My smile — he said it was his favorite thing to see me wear. And he would plan out little surprises here and there, eager to earn as many smiles from me as he can.

Chris would always try to do more for me. Sometimes I’d text him about a bad and long day at work. I’d text him that all I wanted was to go home and hug him.  To my heart’s delight,  I’d arrive to a full dinner comprised of home-cooked pasta, cheese, and white wine, and of course a platter of warm hugs and long kissses as asked.

Chris loves to write me love letters too. It is so cute how he would write these letters on his plain notebook, peel it off, fold it and sneak it into some corner of my personal space, just like how a fifth grader with a huge crush on his pretty classmate would.

Every time we have a fight, (or more like, every time I instigate a fight), and I go on full “tampo” mode, Chris is always the first one to make amends even though it is really rarely his fault. Chris says sorry not because he did me wrong; He says sorry because I feel rage, and anger, and disappointment over the fight, and he doesn’t want me to experience all these things anymore.

Not a day goes by that I do not feel his love.

He walks me to the train station every single morning. He gives me neck kisses every single night.  He puts on “everescent” (efficacent) oil on my body every single time I ask. And he would always, always give me the larger portion of the food he very much loves.

Most importantly, Chris always provides. He would always make me feel that with him, I will be safe and well taken care of. Whatever expenses we both would have, he’d shoulder them as much as he can. And he would rarely let me spend my money in the few times that I’d offer to pay or help pay. I try not to get used to this, because I know that neither of us is rich (yet). But I respect him and his intentions and I let him take care of me because taking care of me is what makes him happy.

See, my boyfriend’s efforts are not grand. They are no fireworks. They are not the kind that gives me butterflies in the stomach. No — my boyfriend gives me something more than that — He gives me serenity, happiness, comfort, refuge, and peace of mind.  He does it in his own simple, unassuming ways. And he is ever consistent.

He gives me all these things that are worth more than the fleeting high that grandeur offers. Thus, while every action he makes is never worth millions in dollars,  he is still, for me, an extraordinarily gallant man.

Chris is the guy I have always prayed to have when I was still a little girl just starting to understand the concept of love. Yet, somewhere along the way of growing up and dating around, I have forgotten the most essential thing to look for in a man. I have forgotten the dreams of an innocent girl, with thoughts so pure and ideal; and I kept on settling for something different, not realizing that it is less than what I actually truly want.

Now, at 30, I am more than happy to  have finally stopped walking, searching, and looking around. In this seeming race or marathon to find one’s perfect partner, I, perhaps, am a turtle that took some time to cross the finish line. But as we know from the stories told to us by our moms or grand moms, the turtle would always, always emerge triumphant. So, my flags have been waved to celebrate the end. I am just happy to cool down and start heading back to my restful zone. And just like a shell is a turtle’s shelter, Chris to me, is home.

 

——–

 

P.S. We went to the doctor to get that mole checked out, and it is NOT melanoma. Just really dry skin. I also didn’t develop full blown colds and cough. So I know at this point that I am really fine. hehe.

P.P.S. Advance Happy Valentines Day, Jowa! I Love you!

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Turning Thirty

29 Nov

It’s been more than a month since my 30th birthday, and it is only now that I am picking up enough interest to blog again. There are so many things I wanted to write about, so many thoughts I wanted to share… but somehow, the midlife crisis bug bit me hard and got me into a hybernation mode longer than expected.

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Two months before October (my birth month), I was experiencing extreme anxiety about turning thirty. It felt like I was about to get to a milestone year without really any milestone in tow. I questioned my significance. I doubted my worth. I forgot about all the wonderful things I’ve experienced in the past as well as the hard work and the degree of competence it took for me to get there.  I suddenly felt stuck in the job that I do even though i have declared time and time again that I immensely loved my work and I derived meaning and purpose from it. I felt left behind. I felt really lost, and really small at times.

I needed some reminding that at 30, I have actually done pretty well with my life. It took a long and serious reflection to bounce back from my “depression”. And I am just happy to have overcome those dark days. I am very thankful for all the people who helped me wake up from that unwanted slumber, who dragged me out of bed every single day to push myself to go to work and continue to make a difference, no matter how tiny, in this world.

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Now looking back – with fresh eyes –  at the three decades that passed, I must say that there is nothing I could have done more but just be thankful for the life I have. I’ve received more blessings than I asked for, achieved more than I have planned, I have traveled more than I even actively wanted, and I had the honor to be the one to extend my father’s life. Finally, and most unexpectedly, I have found true love. 🙂 There are so many things that I have gained more than I have lost, and I have been fortunately spared of any serious tragedy to warrant any of my trepidation.

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So, at the rebirth of this blog, I commit to just go on with my life as a thirty year old girl with utmost gratefulness and grace. I commit to surrender my trust to the universe knowing fully well that it is my ally not my foe.

I commit to better myself in every which way I can, and I commit to share here only positive thoughts, beautiful experiences, important learnings, honest (but never judgmental) sentiments and opinions, worthwhile hobbies, and everything else that lightens up my being.

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I did not throw a grand party for my 30th birthday. Instead, I chose to just celebrate it through a simple Sunday brunch with family.

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The restaurant we were at was emblematic of my deepest life goals – I’ve always loved Harlan and Holden Dine for the relaxed, polished, chic, and happy vibe of its interiors. At the end of the day, that’s all I really wish for – to live in a constant sunny disposition, to exude lightness, to help and inspire others, to always be intimately close to nature, to maintain my peace, to be full of love, to spread joy and share my abundance, and to value serenity at all times.

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I think that particular midlife crisis I experienced was due to the struggle of my inner self towards valuing my deep goals over my high ambitions. They say that goals that are deep instead of high are harder to achieve. Maybe it is because it cannot be easily quantified or measured by the money you make, or the awards you receive, or the praises you hear. Deep goals do not care for other people’s definition of success. It looks from the outside in rather than the other way around. It is not concerned of mundane rewards but is rather geared towards self fulfillment, resolution, and contentment. And I cannot be any gladder to have reached this point of reaching down rather than up — at 30.  Now that I’ve come close to halfway of my time on this earth, this is one challenge that I’d welcome throughout my remaining years – to realize I am always my best self without relying on anyone else’s standard but mine, and to ultimately aim for significance more than success.

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Time and tide wait for no man, but time always stands still for a woman of thirty.

 – Robert Frost