Light

Around the Block
Canon 40D
2009



What bright light.  

The sunlight reflecting on the broken street lamp harasses me with its attacking shimmer as I sit and write at our kitchen table.  I squint at its sharpness.  It’s like the emergency beacon of a lighthouse signaling for help, I imagine.  It’s been broken, half-open for some time now, this glass casing dangling from it’s black foundation roofing.  High up there it threatens day and night to fall down on pedestrians.  But not just yet.  Maybe never.  For now it reflects the sunbeams.  
Sunbeams.

Oh, how I’ve missed you.  I’ve missed you so much that I’ve gone momentarily insane.  Crazy with very real fears that I called 911 at midnight two nights ago.  I described the pain to the operator and said it started as a strange stomach pain and I felt it slowly rising in my belly towards my chest.  The website didn’t help as there were too many “signs” to look out for in case of the dreaded heart…I don’t even want to say it.  The calm yet urgent voice of the dispatcher and the many questions he asked made the thumping in my chest go faster.  In less than fifteen minutes – but felt longer in my worried state – the ambulance arrived.  


Recall: My DH is ushering the paramedics in but not before tidying up a little bit.  Discarded toys on the floor, too many glasses of water and candy wrappers on the living room table.  He looks relaxed in his just awakened state.  My DS who stayed up with me, isn’t as calm.  The paramedics, a man and a woman, both white, find me seated on the leather couch.  I am weak from worry.  It is the holidays after all, says Allen who is clearly gay and the lead guy in this quick check.  Final diagnosis:  Indigestion at best, anxiety attack at worse.   Allen is now inquiring about the decor and the mirrors by the entrance.  He is also clearly interested in my DH more than his patient.  The lady who didn’t introduce herself, is taking off the wires from the sticky thingies on my ankles and wrists after monitoring me for a few minutes.  “Your heart and blood pressure are looking beautiful.”  I wonder about her choice of words.  Beautiful blood pressure.  Hmmm…odd.  I beam a little just the same.  “It may even be better than mine!” she says smiling.  She did look overweight, and Allen was too, but much slimmer than her.  DH and Allen are chatting about feng shui now.  He lives in a condo and didn’t have to worry about that, he intimates to DH.  TMI, Allen.  TMI, I thought.

I am much calmer now having been told my vital signs are “beautiful” and listening both amused and annoyed at Allen.  He gives me the option to go with them to the hospital for a fuller check or to see my doctor the soonest possible.  I choose the latter and sign the pink release forms that he hands over to me on a brown clipboard.  He gives me the standard words of advice: relax, observe, etcetera then goes on to lecture me about my tight pants.  I just changed from my frumpy jammies to decent blue jeans just in case I needed to be whisked away.  “Wear something more comfortable, Cathreen.  Sweat pants or pajamas.  Your jeans are way too tight.”  I think he just told me I was way too fat in so many words.  He goes back to chatting up my DH about the wooden horse by the door now.  We say our thanks and goodbyes.  I walk up the stairs, one slow step in front of the other with my DH and DS behind me.


Single Leaf
Canon 40D
Winter 2009

This is me.  
The nine-out-of-ten on the Worry Wart Scale me.  I dared my DH to be honest during our after-dinner couple time on the couch last night.  “So you think I’m a worrier?  On a scale of 1 to 10, where am I?”  He didn’t even skip a beat.  “Nine.”  NINE.  That’s almost a perfect 10, I thought.  “Oh, a bump.  Could it be cancer…”  He’s mimicking me now.  “Oh, my hands are pale…” and he looks anxiously at his hands like I do when I don’t feel like myself and does short, deep breaths.  We both laugh.  His in amusement.  Me in more worry.  I’m a 9.  Damn.  And I thought I was the calm one.  But then again, that’s his opinion. 


This brings me back to my University years in Diliman when Cynthia, my friend from freshman year in HRA school tells me the same thing while we are on the Ikot jeep to our next class.  I was sharing something I don’t even remember anymore.  “Chiquita, you are such a worry wart.”  Probinsiyana me didn’t even know what “worry wart” meant.  She was laughing when she said this so I thought it was a joke.  I think I laughed along with her.  Just going along.  I did a lot of these going alongs when I was younger.

Back to the writing exercise.  Keep the hand moving.  This is me.  Broken open and emptied to my present life.  Wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend.  Lover.  Hater.  Distant.  I’ve become what I once feared.  Ordinary.  Or so I feel.  The Ordinary Woman.  Feared it and longed for it at different times in my life.  Always, always the dichotomy.  My friend Jeannie once told me “The duality of good and evil shows very strong in your cards.  The fight between angel and demon, light and dark.  Do or don’t.  It’s almost two people in one.”  Doesn’t everyone feel this way?  I thought.  Jeannie, the archeologist.  No, not archeologist, arthritic…architect…what was it…that study of sun signs and the stars and moon…astrologist/numerologist!  And I am dumb again.  My diploma from the State U, my Iskolar Ng Bayan status, my 99+ on the NCEE and all my accomplishments combined are nothing now.  They look good on paper.  They are useless in real life.  In this lifelong search for authentic living. 

Snowy Branches
Canon 40D
Winter 2010

I am broken open.  
I am both my best accomplishment and my greatest failure.  I love with all my arms, hands, fingers, my very breath and then I hate with all my entrails, loins, blood boiling.  Overflowing.  I see everything and nothing.  I walk my morning walks for days, weeks, giving and sharing with my all my heart and then one day I am comatose on the coach, in hiding, eyes closed to the shimmering, twinkling light of the Christmas tree.  I stay this way for too many hours, withdrawn into this shell of emptiness.  Homesickness.

Hello, Winter Solstice.  I see you.  I feel you.  I honor this hell that arises with you in me.  I see me.  Finally.  I’m free from the darned, doomed, devil-hold.  How did I get here?  I refrain from analysis.  No more paralysis.  I look and listen instead.  It.Just.Imperfectly.Is.

I see you.  More beautifully, openly, crystal-clearly, your glass prism showing off all colors no longer the imitation Nescafe glass of your younger days but a crystal cut and formed by the tender hands of your later years.  I take all of you only because I take all of me, too.  The emptying of the shoulds and shouldn’ts.  It feels good to walk again.  In the sunlight.  To live and breath in the open space and wet grass and brown mud and cold air.  

To have died and live again.
I’m new to hearing this piece of music that goes la, dee, dum, dee, daaa today and bom, boomb, booom, crashhhh the next.

I’m gripping the red Parker pen too hard again.  I’m feeling my fingers, hand, right arm getting strained.  I loosen my grip, loosen my hold.  I loosen control over how this should be.  I hear Natalie’s voice: Keep your hand moving.  I hear the others, too.  Still there sitting by the rafters, speaking four different languages – Filipino, English, Cebuano and one that I’m not familiar with.  The one I don’t recognize is pure venom, vile and vulgar with its grunts and pfffts and eye-rolling hisses.  My heart races again.  Is this another anxiety attack coming on?  No.  I decide it is adrenaline pumping in my veins from the fresh morning walk in the sun earlier today.  I embrace the discomfort slowly growing in my chest.  I choose excitement.  Over being reborn to this new day.  Again, born in Manila, Davao, Pasig, Makati, Toronto.  Born in every city I’ve ever lived.  Born in every home, fifteen as of last count, I’ve grown up in.  If and only if I allow it to happen.  I am brand new, brewed fresh daily just like the Tim Hortons coffee advert proudly says on the radio.

The voices of urgent chores are getting louder now – the gift-buying, the clothes exchanging, the birthday greeting, Xmas dessert-making – all still undone.  I gently, tenderly loose the voice.  Always gently and tenderly.  I notice the hard light that shimmered earlier reflected on the broken lamp light casing is gone.  The sun has moved higher in the blue, cloud-smeared sky.  It has been fifteen minutes since I began writing my heart out on this beloved Moleskine notebook.  I feel good.  And tired.  Full.  And  Empty.  Spent.  And Energized.

I feel.  Light.

Free Flight/Lamp Light
Canon 40D
Winter 2008

Courage in creativity,
Chiqui
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2 thoughts on “Light

  1. I think about the opposing forces in my head, the one that pretends to be someone with a high moral conscience when in fact it is just pure fear of what could be and fear of not being able to survive it. I am, as my husband describes, the biggest worry wart he's ever met. If I didn't worry, I said, then you ought to start worrying. Happy Birthday new friend, I hope the light within you is as bright as the morning sun on this special day 🙂

  2. I just LOVE you, Sisaaater! My big worry wart, new friend YOU. Thanks for the fabulous bday greeting, my dear and may all the forces – opposing or otherwise – be with you always. Because it's more fun that way. Parang Philippines! Heehee!!! XOXOX

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