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Dear Edward Brysen Harry, Hey kiddo. I asked your Ate Hailey if she named you after Harry Styles, I don't quite recall the exact answer but I think the essence was no, she didn't. And that she wanted an H name for you, too. Edward is after your grandpa, of course, your Papa and Tito Byron, too. Brysen, my dear, by the time you read this you already know all this. And by now you've heard about your aunt's severe crush on a boybander. I'm sure of this because I actually plan on telling you even if you don't ask.
Hi baby boy, I miss your smell. You're growing up too fast. Sometimes my yearning for you hits me a certain way and I don't know, I just can't do anything else anymore. The immobility and daydreaming usually lasts hours. Your aunt's a drama queen. You can say whole words now whereas when you were last here in August you could only mumble, you were so much smaller then. And then you went home to Guam and you ballooned then you could suddenly speak gibberish then you started walking. You look so big in photos and I wish you're here.
One of the fondest memories I have of your grandpa was when he gave me his analogue Canon camera. It was in the living room and I had just came home from Baguio. That was a time i still came home regularly for weekends, and I think I informed your grandpa before I traveled home that I needed a camera for my photography class. Upon coming home I saw that he got me a new camera necklace, and he even put the camera on me like he was bestowing me a medal. I still remember his smile from that day.
I guess what I want to tell you is that you don't have to scramble all the time to document moments. I used to be that person who chose to take photographs instead of enjoying the moment. The least interesting thing happens and I have my hands on my phone or my camera. I may have missed too much during those years. There's nothing wrong with wanting to preserve a memory, kiddo, but you know, the best ones stay with you. You will understand this as you go along, and I hope you create beautiful memories with your loved ones.
Hi Brysen. I was looking at the May 3 entry and had counted that I mentioned the word "home" four times. I am now itching to rewrite that entry but I won't because lately there has been an effort to quell this OC part of me. I can spend days obsessing and worrying over the smallest thing, you know, and I want you to understand that it doesn't help your life a lot, if you're constantly looking back and trying to make the past right, or justifying what you did wrong. My dear baby boy, "life from now on," this.
Dear B. I'm excited for your grandmother to meet you. It's something that is yet to happen and to be honest I want to bottle this anticipation because this alone has me smiling a lot. How more beautiful can things be once you two meet? You are her first grandchild, and online I hope you can already feel how much she loves you and you know? I can hear her shining on the other side of the phone whenever she speaks about you. She is giggling when she tells me of your latest antic. I hope you meet her soon.
The first time we met, your father was carrying you on one hand and holding a flower on the other. It was at the airport parking lot and I was looking at the two of you crossing the street, it all happened in less than 10 seconds but that right there is a huge chunk of my life right now. I remember when your Papa and Tito Byron surprised me in Baguio. I was watching them cross Harrison Street towards me and that morning will forever be in my heart. I wish that someday you will have these memories, too.
Twice a week I'd do laundry and leave you in your stroller with a teether or a rattle, and you'd be fine, watching me from the back door. Your eyes would follow me as I walk from the washing machine to the hamper to the clotheslines and, I don't know how, but you'd manage to entertain yourself for half an hour, you wouldn't cry or demand for anything. You'd wait for me to finish whatever I was doing until we can come inside and play again. Sounds boring yeah? But the boring times were my favorite times with you, B.
I love watching your face when you're with your Mommy. It's like you're smitten, and don't want moments with her to end. Your laughter takes on a different sound, it's your "Mommy laugh" and it's heaven to my ears. I see that you're so in love with her and I wish that when you grow up that love will grow within you, I hope you nurture it because you know where it comes from? I think your young heart knows that her love for you is fierce and you're trying to give it back, bless you. Hold on to it.
B, today we went to Sucat for Mother's Day dinner. Also Tito Anju's advanced birthday celebration. There was stellar kare kare care of your Ninong Lester. Lola Lisa made yummy shrimp and potato salad (we managed to bring home some and what a happy moment it was, knowing I get to eat some at home). Lola Tita prepared pinaputok na isda which was several versions of awesome. Then we had KFC delivery with loads of gravy, and...we missed you Guam people. I wish someday you guys can be part of this, so you can play with Bullet and Caleb.
"Desire line, n. An informal path that pedestrians prefer to take to get from one location to another rather than using a sidewalk or other official route." -- wordspy.com B, someday you will see a desire line in a playground or something, and what I wish you would do is follow where it leads, just be careful, ok? I hope you grow up to like walking, and I hope you occasionally do it by yourself and with someone else. Experiment with your paths, create a way of your own, and I hope you are amazed by where it leads you.
What I meant by "camera necklace" a few entries ago is "camera neck strap." Now that's out of the way. It's Tuesday. Your grandma's day off from the hotel was on Tuesdays. I don't think I can aptly explain to you how important Tuesdays were, still are, for me when I was younger. See, your grandma rarely had time for us, she was always tired from work, and we only really ever saw her on some weekends and all Tuesdays. She always made us feel special and loved, though, my favorite thing she brought home were the ensaymadas and liverwurst.
It's 10:40 p.m. as I write this. I'm reading a short story-collection by Vonnegut. I keep restarting this book because I also keep having to put it down, so when I get a chance to read it again I start from the beginning, and today I think I know why. Vonnegut's introduction is heartwarming. I wouldn't mind reading it again and again. He talks about his sister a bit, and that right there is the core of that introduction. It's heartbreaking in the most beautiful sense. Dear B, you're almost two, and you already know your letters!
B. Just now I saw a GIF of a massive storm rolling in over a city. It shows a grey sky being covered by angry clouds, the buildings below then looked like they were swallowed by fog, which is actually the heavy rains. When the clouds reached the camera, water droplets began showing on screen. It looked so violent from afar, but the droplets on the camera lens would inform you that it's just rain on a city. Perspective. Someday you will find yourself in the middle of not knowing anything, but trust me kiddo, you'll get out of it.
A message for when you're grown up and finding yourself looking back at all the mistakes you've made and wanting to make them right and hating yourself for doing them: DON'T. It's done and over with, there's nothing you can do but move forward and try to be a better version of your past self, this is how you rectify past mistakes. The most important thing is to treat people kindly all the time. No regret can come from doing that. If there's one thing I'd ask that you don't hesitate doing, it is this: Be kind all the time.
Hey, kiddo. I have a lot of notes about the things I want to tell you. But see, the problem is I have poor memory, this is why I need reminders all the time. As I'm writing this I don't have my notes with me, and so I don't know what to tell you in this particular entry. Right now though I'm recalling something about your grandma's mascara which she used to hide in the kitchen cupboards when I was younger. I would get back to you on this once I have my notes on hand. Catch you later, alligator.
Here's the thing, once you go looking for something, chances are you would find it. So it's my hope that you'd grow up to be the person who goes about his days looking for the good in people. This is hackneyed yeah, but...Okay, I'm not going to be that person who has to justify everything I say. I want to be that person who you can throw difficult questions at, who you can expect to be honest. So my dear boy, what I want to say is, find out for yourself why looking for the right things is important.
I once drove around San Juan on first gear. I didn't know you were supposed to change gears? I could feel the engine complaining, yeah, but you know, I shrugged it off in my ignorant bliss. Had I gone longer than the almost-hour time it took until I got home, the car would've broken down I guess? I'm telling you this because looking back, I've spent years probably getting on my mother's nerves, testing her patience. But through it all she treated me with love, she let me learn things on my own, and now I just go WOW.
On Facebook there's a photo of me and Papa in front of his birthday cake. He's wearing a brown blazer, I'm wearing something red. I can remember snippets of that afternoon but I'm not sure now how accurate the pictures in my head are. I remember him saying I could sit on his lap while we blow the candle. I remember feeling so special. I get to blow the candle with the birthday boy! I remember Mama holding the camera. I remember...smiling smugly, as if I'd just won something. Maybe my memory's rusty? I just remember feeling really happy.
Dear B. Once on a New Year's Day I decided to go to Baguio to see a friend. Unfortunately, Victory Liner did not have any trip on that day, nor did the other bus lines. There were zero buses. Almost five terminals in Cubao---empty. I stood on the sidewalk then, thinking: "BUT I really want to go," but also almost deciding to cancel when, I am not kidding, a bus to Agoo
in front of me. This is me exaggerating, see? Sometimes the universe does make something happen in consonance with how much you want it.
Ask your Papa about this basketball team called Ginebra. I'm sure he'd have a lot to tell you. I remember basketball TV time with your Grandpa and Grandma, your Papa and Tito Byron...Grandma would be cheering for Alaska, and us four would be rooting for Ginebra. I hope you'd appreciate and understand why their fans root for them and continue to love and support them even if they lose more than they win. Ask your Papa about this team's heart. I think the charm is in the heart. People have the tendency to root for people who keep fighting.
Having said the stuff before this entry, I also hope you'd know how to choose your battles, how to determine when to walk away, how...being brave can mean knowing when to move on to more important things. Bravery isn't always staying, it's also about packing up, starting anew, not knowing. I can't stress this enough, little boy, people will try to hurt you and, are you reading this intently? Hey, remember, okay? Treating them with kindness is the best option. There is no excuse for forgetting this. Of course, learn self defense or something hahaha. You get my drift.
Hey! Google this: Ireland, May 23, 2015. Something beautiful happened today. I don't know how far off into the future you will get to read this, Brysen, but I hope at this time that equality and acceptance has reached greater heights. I hope you grow up to be a respectful man, someone who is accepting and compassionate, someone who sees through someone's race or gender or whatever perceived differences human beings like to foist on each other, someone who doesn't laugh at other's misfortune, someone who is comfortable enough in his own skin, however "queer" or "weird" he turns out.
How old are you now, Brysen? Would you mind sending me an e-mail or calling (I would love to hear your voice! I imagine I would always seek to hear your voice) telling me that you're reading this? I wonder where you will be at the time, how your Papa and Mommy would be by now, are they still working? How's Hailey? Would we have been speaking regularly by now or would we be an aunt-nephew pair who rarely correspond? Is it cold where you are? Humid? How is your heart? Is it happy? I want to know.
Here's a continuation of the mascara story. I remember sneaking in your grandparents' room to use your grandma's mascara when she's not home. I was 5 or 6? I believed that she wasn't aware of my treachery because I was stealth and an expert in mascara theft, or so I thought. Of course, adults know everything? Anyway, she gently told me off and one day I discovered that she took to hiding said mascara tube in the cupboards above the sink. I used it still because I'm a rebel. I think she eventually just let me because it stayed there.
You probably know by now that if you keep picking on your wounds it would take longer for them to heal. This is also true with figurative wounds. You need to acknowledge their presence, feel their pain, apply some balm or antiseptic, and then move on. The critical part is when they're about to heal, you have to keep yourself from touching them and sometimes risk opening them again. Scars are fine, scars are great. Because they are markers you can be proud of. But don't pick at old wounds, they're the worst kind of wounds to pay attention to.
It rained today. Your Grandpa posted a photo of him in the rain on Facebook. His caption said something about summer rain being a sign of luck, and that it's the first time in about 50 years that he's bathed in the rain. He is 58 years old as I write this. He looks happy in the photo. Sometimes I think I have his smile, and it makes me happy. Your Papa and I liked summer rain, too. We would bring out a bar of soap under heavy showers and take a bath right there, in the street. Good times.
Your Papa's childhood is an interesting one, full of life, mischief, tears, but most of all, love. It makes me glad imagining you and him swapping stories, and him reminiscing about his younger years in San Jose Street. His best friends, our patintero sessions in front of the house, the way we would melt crayons on the roof, that one time he drove Mang Batang's owner jeep into a canal, that one time a firecracker exploded on his hand. There were quiet times, too, and those are my favorites. Sticky afternoon naps, waking up parched, yearning for a halo halo.
I'm not the best person to lecture you about love, and this sentence proves my inadequacy on the subject because...who said love can be lectured? Having said this, there is one thing you should look for in a person. I am not sure exactly how to do this but for starters: Find someone who will say goodbye honorably to you. Someone who will let you go with respect. Why am I thinking of goodbyes already? Okay, here, make of this what you will: Find people who do bad things and not make an effort to make themselves look good.
Dear Brysen, it's Saturday. You were born on a Saturday. Today the morning sky looked like an ocean. The clouds were scattered in a way that made them look like sand, and the sky was in the kindest shade of blue you could imagine. If it had personality, it would be that one friend who's always calm, smiling, and knows what to do all the time. I was walking home and looking at this spectacular sky thinking of you and your morning giggles, and about how much I wish the world would be even more beautiful as you grow older.
In college I went to Cebu on a ship with schoolmates for a convention thingy. Anyway, on the way home, still on a ship, I texted your grandma that we'd be sailing in at around 4:30 p.m. I then went about living my oblivious teenage life out in the sea. At 4 p.m. she was already panic-inquiring where I was and was I safe??? She was thinking about me the whole time. Will we ever understand the beautiful startling vehemence of a mother's love? After you read this I want you to call your mom, okay?
The Tip Jar