28th August 2011
I woke up to the morning sun, finding myself stiff-necked and still seated on the same couch with my two best friends, crumpled together into sides sides, all cozy underneath the thick comforter, sheltering us from the stinging, cold air from the air conditioning. I left the room of requirement, my two pets still asleep. I heard my mother complain about her back, as she stopped at her attempts to prepare breakfast.
Not again, I thought. Not her slip-disk. Why does her back ache? She’s too young.
My mother was only a little over her forties, my father soon to turn exactly sixty this year. There’s always a pain in my chest, a crumbling in my stomach, a twisting in my guts whenever I think about either of them getting any older than they are. It’s the kind of pain that has caused me to cry countless of times through the years. Unfortunately, it is also a pain I have slowly learned to tolerate. I may come off as an ingrate, a child who no longer cares about my parents welfare–but trust me when I say that their pain is one of my greatest fears. Stuffed somewhere around the pile of titles and awards I have, there lies a small note, a post-it that lost its adhesive side, with folded corners and smudged ink. It reads, “scared child; prone to weakness.”
Enough of that.
I told my mother to get back to bed. I volunteered to do the cooking. The rice was already cooked, perhaps the maid has done that for her. I proceeded to frying up cuts of Hungarian sausages, and a batch of sunny-side-ups. I did the sunnies just how my mum wanted them–crispy edge on the whites, and a runny golden center. The way I prepared breakfast, I couldn’t seem to shake the thought of my mother from my mind. I hope she likes the sunnies.
I went back to the Room of Requirement. Lo and behold, my two pets have awoken. Xela was already on her laptop, playing Tales of the Abyss, while Jovanni was skipping through the Hollywood version of Shutter, ridiculing it and saying how much better the Thai version was. After breakfast and some hot morning Cafe Mocha, we all headed off to the swimming pool. Had a good dip–actually, a marinating, seeing as we swam for 6 hours. I kept on saying we should head back; Shaina kept on arguing that we should stay. We had our lunch around the pool grounds, and fed the stray kittens with small pieces of meet. We made waves in the kiddie pool, and tried to teach Xela how to swim in the olympic sized one. And being the show off that I am, backflips. Trying–and succeeding–to teach Jovanni how to do summersaults underwater.
After getting out, Jovanni and Shai were the first to take baths at home. Out in the garden, as we waited for our turn, Xela and I sat on the swing, still wet with pool water. We shared about our academic turmoils as Statistics majors. We talked about regret. We talked about success. We talked about life. We talked about our plans for the future. We talked. And that was all I needed.
I haven’t seen Xela in months. Same with Jovanni. And even though she had already gone home by the time this story was happening, Addy too. Something like this is truly rare to me.
Hitting fast forward on this, after going to Church, we had dinner at some authentic Korean place whose name I would never learn to read, write or pronounce. Had bulgogi, kimchi, bibimbap, and some other dishes with names I could never manage to recall. There was this seafood noodle soup, and this curry silken tofu soup, and this dish with the really, really spicy pork and vegetables. And there was also this Korean bacon that gets grilled in a hot plate in front of you. Xela barely survived, seeing how she utterly despises spicy food. And we couldn’t help but wish Addy was around–she’s on this eternal quest for good, spicy dishes.
It’s one of those things she and I shared. One of those things my best friends had about them. I like good quality food; I eat everything, but I criticize everything too. Jovanni eats anything edible and doesn’t mind. Her only descriptions for food are ‘tasty’ and ‘not so tasty’. Simple. Xela takes in anything sweet and creamy and holds a great disliking towards spicy foods. Addy, on the other hand, loves spicy and savory dishes, but could barely tolerate any sort of sweets. She has to gulp down a glass of water after eating a bite of chocolate cake. Opposites attract? We balance each other out. This is what I call equilibrium.
Now before heading back home to Central-East, we stopped over at California Berry, had some frozen yogurt. Xela and I rode in a separate car with my parents, as we dropped her off at her place. Jovanni and the rest rode in the car my sister drove, straight home. She stayed for another night, getting drunk with my sister over some bottles of Soju, a clear, Korean liquor which I never got to taste. My mom confiscated the last bottle and used it for a pork dish, trying to imitate the one we had down south. Jovanni was planning on leaving at 3AM. But when I woke up in the morning, she was still there. She was apparently too drunk to travel home.
Too bad I fell asleep, then. I missed out.