This is what I'm doing, 10minutes to midnight here in the far, far north of the world - opening my Yahoo mail in classic mode and selecting the 'Last' button in my inbox.
I found, to my surprise, some email exchanges that I have forgotten about, including an email from my literary journalism inspiration and college teacher Ms. Mayette Tabada sending me an attached article of hers with the subject, Enjoy your weekend!
And two emails for a group mail where I was singled out, 'To VERA and anyone who cares to listen to a blabbermouth,' and then 'To VERA again and anyone who cares to read a confused soul' from a classmate whose paranoia and hysteria never fail to amuse yet inspire me.
If you're curious, here's part of what she's written in one of the emails:
¨vera, you're lucky, because when you look out the window, you see
cebu that is coming out of its shell (well, it actually has come out
of its shell some time ago na but still, it is parked beside its
shell, it hasn't proven its bravery yet by really getting away from
its shell... um, why am i even arguing on this?) so yes, i was
saying that you are lucky because when you look out the window, you
see cebu that is coming out of its shell. er, i just said that.
you know what ver, your dream of going abroad like claudine in milan
is not funny nor sad. you know what i think, being nationalistic and
staying in the country to help improve it is overrated. when we
decide we want to go abroad, people think it's because we don't like
our country. what if we just want to discover the world? what if we
just want to take advantage of what's out there? we'll never know,
we'll find ourselves best out there. so i really think people should
stop associating american or australian dreams to hatred for the
country. how can i hate the country where my family will be left
and ver, pls don't literally be a claudine in milan! not to put
domestic helpers at a lower pedestal but you weren't born to be a
domestic helper. you were born to prove to the world that there
could be another brand of poetry aside from those who lived decades
back. you know what, if you can be more dramatic as you already are,
maybe you can bury your poetry in a beautiful and sturdy diary, and
make a grave for it somewhere that somebody in 5 decades will be
able to exhume. ok, i imagine too much. but you know, my hopes are
high that somebody in 5 decades will exhume the bones of my deceased
dog chin chin, including the tombwood (cos it wasn't a stone) that
says, "all dogs go to heaven" so they'll know how much loved the dog
anyway ver, let me get some sense into this email. i hope your eyes
are not giving up on me. pls do dream of a pasture beyond the
philippines, beyond cebu. pls do dream of studying abroad. (hey, you
can apply for the fulbright scholarship. my favorite writer was a
fulbright scholar himself and studied literature at the university
of michigan. he's now a professor at UP dil and a palanca hall of
famer and a funny writer. maybe you can email him and ask him about
the world is at our feet. then we can all go to heaven.¨
I don't want to sit down and think about the years I have just lived because it is too much to handle - youth and spontaneity, the idea that we carry the world in our backs, and the mystery that is the world. And here I am, just opening emails and I am having mixed emotions, like seeing a picture of yourself from preparatory school graduation, and you feel proud and awkward at the same time, proud that you have actually gone a long way, and awkward remembering past minute mistakes that were either stupid or simply borne out of innocence.
And then comes gratefulness, which is easy to lose touch with once the real world comes in full force in your life. You try to remember how you were 10 years ago and then you see the faces of the people whose correspondences with you have insisted on taking a place in that old picture, you hear their voices, you see their movements, you take in the air around them. I have many to thank for in my life, like my teacher and my friend.
And so, I will write a long email now in response to my friend who is probably having her own version of self-recollection. No matter the distance and years, see, I can, after all, continue to share my stories.