I would never forget the [[sky|Scars]] that day.
The smell of manure was so strong it penetrated the windows of the air-conditioned bus. \n\nA second later, without warning, the smell of shit was replaced by the smell of smoke, the stench of a long-ago fire. \n\nHave I told you about [[this?|Sky]]\n
[[(1) Metallic gray messenger bag|gray]]\n[[(2) Notebook with watercolor sketches of birds endemic to Southeast Asia|notebook]]\n[[(3) Black laptop backpack|black]]\n[[(4) Silk scarf with peacock print|silk]]\n[[(5) Fitted beanie|beanie]]
But I should have been grateful, you know? Grateful that the pillars were there, grateful that I had the means and the energy to see them. \n\nMy worries and my irritation clouded the precious few hours I had left in a beautiful place I would never be able to visit [[again.|present]]
I hope she finds you safe, and healthy, and I hope you'll [[accept|Love]] this box from her.
This beanie is damn expensive, can I just say?! However the tag says it has "heat-capturing" lining, so I hope it's worth the [[price.|track]]\n\n
I bought that backpack during my trip in Baguio three months ago.\n\nHave I told you about my bus ride to Manila after that trip?\n\nIt was nearing sunset, and the bus passed by several rice fields in Tarlac. \n\nHere in the city, the horizon always looks like it's just a corridor's length away, thanks to the thick haze of pollution. But out there in the province there was nothing but field and sky and clouds, as far as the eye can [[see.|manure]]
I would like to go back [[there|Start]].
I should have been grateful for every joy I have ever experienced, no matter how [[brief.|Start]]
That last fight we had. \n\nI wonder if the words that reached you were just bad translations of what I really wanted to [[say.|Start]]
The guys here at the clinic will have these things sanitized and wrapped, and they'll place them in a box with your name on it.\n \nOne of the nurses promised to [[track you down.|hope]]
<u>(3) Black laptop backpack</u> with a waterproof zipper for the padded compartment, and a removable waterproof gray sheet that you can pull out and fit over the bag. The bag itself is waterproof, but just to be sure I guess? It sounds like overkill, but at least it will keep your stuff dry, even during a [[storm.|lap]]\n
But I didn't know this yet at the time, and so when I look at the backpack I am reminded not of the burned fields of Tarlac, but of Baguio, of my bus ride up there, of the houses carved into the faces of the [[mountains.|there]]
When I die, I want you to have all of my stuff.
I hope she finds [[you.|hope2]]
They say now that the fire started in one of the houses in the area, in the house of the first family that got sick. \n\nThey burned their house first, then their <i>palay</i>. Then themselves. Of course the fire spread with the wind. \n\nThe news kept saying they went insane, but it doesn't affect your brain, right? Just your lungs and your [[heart.|Know]]\n
The torched rice fields, those splotches of black for miles and miles. Like [[bruises|Scars2]].\n\n
If only I could have those hours [[back.|brief]]
<u>(2) Notebook with watercolor sketches of birds endemic to Southeast Asia</u> which I got in a shop connected to an art museum in Ilocos. Did you know that when I was there, the museum owner dropped by? I always find myself unsatisfied and frustrated with my interactions with people I admire. For example: I told the museum owner that I loved the galleries and it's my first time here! Gushing like a [[schoolgirl.|Gush]]
It was an inadequate translation of what I really wanted to say – that I love his art, that the view of his garden made me feel [[alive.|pretense]]
I didn't think much of it. I thought it was just emergency field burning, like what they do during a serious insect [[infestation.|fire]]
<u>(4) Silk scarf with peacock print</u> that I purchased in Hanoi. This was before the quarantine. \n\nI haggled with a woman manning the stall at the street market, and she said even if I bought a hundred of her items she wouldn't cut the price, because she is tired and she has been up since early that morning, don't I know? \n\nI ended up paying the full price because I got embarrassed by the [[drama.|join]] Ha-ha.
It sounds pretentious but it's true! It's true, and I can't say it, and he just gave me a blank look, probably thinking, Who is this crazy person shaking my hand. \n\nWhat an awkward moment. \n\nAnd it got me thinking of my [[conversations|fight]] with you.
You used to say that I was never truly present, and I never understood what you meant. Until [[now.|hours]]
<u>(1) Metallic gray messenger bag</u> that I bought when I decided I wanted to go on several solo trips this year. It has RFID blocking slots for your passport and your credit cards, a main compartment that locks, and even a detachable LED light. \n\n(I sound like a salesman just now. Who'd have thought I'd be nostalgic for malls and salespeople???)\n\nThere is a padded compartment in the back, and this morning when I slipped my planner in there, I realized that it could also fit that leather-bound notebook that you brought with you everywhere. \n\nI thought, hey, I could actually leave you something useful. I imagined you carrying this bag with your leather-bound notebook in it, and it made me happy, as though the bag were eternal [[life.|Start]]\n\n
<u>(5) Fitted beanie</u> that I bought for my now-canceled trip to Seoul, planned way ahead of this mess. \n\nI have never experienced autumn. It looks beautiful in the pictures. Plus: South Korea is a [[safe zone!|expensive]] If your tests are negative you can actually fly there. You should, you know. \n
I joined a group tour and stayed there for three days. \n\nOn the third day, while staring at Ha Long Bay's limestone pillars, I started making lists in my head of tasks I had to begin at the office the next day, and I found myself getting annoyed. \n\nBack to reality, they always say. So what is this? A dream? Back to dreaming for me, really, because I was unhappy at my job. Back to [[sleepwalking.|boat]] \n\n
And so there I was, sitting on a boat in the Gulf of Tonkin, getting annoyed that in a few hours I would have to get back to [[work.|grateful]]