Where I want to be

As the year ends, I think about why I moved back to Manila and why it is so important for me to be in the middle of the action. And why, after such a move — just a little after a year from almost dying of kidney failure — I flew to Boracay to celebrate New Year’s Eve to party in a beach.

The past ten years of my life, death has been a major aspect of my being alive. In my head and in my heart, and I know this now, I feel like I shouldn’t be alive. I talk about it nonchalantly and as if it were such an ordinary thing. It’s not normal for people to talk about their own death so naturally and casually.

My second beach trip in 2017, after eight or nine years, I’m finally back in Boracay to celebrate New Year’s EveBut I have faced death thrice. All three times, in a hospital room with IVs sticking out of my arms, and I’ve made peace with the world and everyone around me. I fought to stay here but if I didn’t win, I was okay. I would’ve been okay with that as well.

To still be here, it’s such a gift, and it seems so wasteful that I spend all this extra time not living the way I should be. So many people have fought for me and sacrificed so much to keep me here and I have tried to balance what they want and what I want.

And I want to live. I want to live to my full potential. I don’t want to squander away my time like I did in my twenties being so afraid of who I am and what I can do.

I cannot help it. Death defines me in a big way. It has no hold over me. It does not frighten me. I am more afraid of living less than I am able.

And I can do so much still.

I can live alone. I can write. I can make movies. I can write poems. I can’t teach. Fuck, I love teaching! I can still travel the world. I can still make new friends. I could still fall in love.

There’s still so many things I can do and I want to do them. And it will be hard but I have no regrets because time is no longer my enemy nor is it my friend. I don’t think of the finish line. I’m thinking just of the race. And the fact that I’m still in this race.

This is a very essential part of me. Death and dying is an essential part of who I am now. And I eat more with such ferocity and take my meds and exercise and dream and hope and persevere because I can.

This is not borrowed time, like I first thought, but extra time given to me.

And I’m going to take it and I’m going to do things that make me happy.

I fight these feelings that my choices have made me ungrateful. But living to my fullest potential is the best way I can repay all those who have helped me and sacrificed for me to stay alive.

I’ve been struggling with that since 2010, the second time I almost died. I’ve always felt like my life wasn’t mine anymore because I had so much to repay. But in that thinking, I’ve trapped myself into living my life to pleasing others and not myself.

This is the first time, in a very, very long time I feel like I’ve put myself first. And I’ve made mistakes and I’ve stumbled but I truly feel happy.

I am in Boracay right now and the year is ending and I realized I am where I want to be. I’ve finally come to terms with who I am and how I can be truly grateful. I can be happy and that would be the point as to why so many have fought for me to still be here.

I am still alive. Who knew? I am so happy to be alive. And I’m not ever going to waste a God damned day of it not being everything that I can still be.

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