It’s my second night here at the condo in Manila. I’ve slept here already in my Dad’s bed, which became my bed after he had left last year. It’s strange being back here. I didn’t realise it would come with so many emotions tugging at me from all sides.
When I opened the door, it was exactly how I left it last October. I was dying and so my sister-in-law and her help just packed up what I needed, emptied the refrigerator, and we shut down everything. I had laundry that had just come in and it’s still there in a plastic bag on the floor. I was going to take out the contents and put them in their respective shelves and cabinets but I woke up that day and I knew that I needed to go to my brother’s place because I was in a bad place, health-wise. It was just there. On the floor, waiting for me.
Everything, every room, exactly as I left it. I came with help, my dad’s assistant came with me on orders from my family. They didn’t want me to stay here without company. He instantly got to work, cleaning out the dust, mopping the floor, and making the place habitable. I tried to get working — throwing useless pieces of paper that I had kept, memorabilia, knick-knacks, and stuff — but at some point, I just sat down and just saw my past life flash before me.
I woke up this morning and I find my mind confused. I know this house. I know my life in this house. But for the past six months, I’ve been moving in my day-to-day life differently. Here I was, back in Manila, and my mind is telling me to do my Bacolod routine but my reflexes are in-tune with the Manila condo.
My body is in total disconnect. I can’t go on auto-pilot. I have to consciously think about what I’m doing. The rhythms are all off.
I wrote a tweet yesterday commenting how it felt like being in two places at the same time but I corrected myself and said: “No. Not place. I’m in two time zones at the same time.” I was in the present and the past at the same time. Chronological displacement. My soul is torn apart. Reflex, comfort zones, routines are all out of whack.
It’s so strange. I was able to see my brother and his wife and their family tonight, just awhile ago. We had dinner together. For lunch, I drove to Bonifacio Global Centre to meet up with friends and it was so amazing seeing them in the flesh. Almost instantaneously, we just started talking, as if we hadn’t seen each other for just a week or something (though we had lots to talk about) and with such warmth and lack of sentimentality, as if we were going to see each other again next week. Just like that.
It was only when I was on my way home did I realise that it was hello and goodbye. I did tell them that I was going back to Bacolod and that it might be permanently.
I think this is the first time I’ve encountered it. Or maybe it isn’t but I’m definitely feeling it very strongly. Maybe because I’m older now so I have a better understanding of the context.
My neighbourhood is different from when I left. Six months can change a city a lot. Six months can change a person’s life a lot too. No one is immune to the claws of time when it rends through you.