Sunday, May 14, 2006
8:58 AM |
The Middle of Summer
Because the days have since bled into each other, no one in Dumaguete knows whether it is a Saturday or a Sunday...or a Friday to look forward to for a weekend away from the "real." What we know for sure is this: the real and the unreal have long since bedded each other in caloric lust, their vapors becoming summer heart, and heat.
Everywhere else, there is a quiet unmitigated by the drones of the slowly dying traffic. There is a tendency now for things to slow down, or at least close for the season. Down the road, in Tubod, right in the very corner of things, the karinderia
has closed shop -- one hopes temporarily (where were we going to eat if things were permanent?) -- since there were no more students, its usual clientele, to feed.
So we grow quiet, too, or close shop. We spend fleeting days and nights in bed, watching TV, or surfing the Internet for things to do. It is like that, and soon, in our haze, the days start to blend.
And so we have then forgotten our calendars, all of us, as we descend into another season of endless sun.
We can only vaguely remember, too, the days before this limbo, when everything had its schedule: our lives around the clock, and then the rewards, like bones to obedient dogs, as in occasional holidays of beaches, or books to cursorily glaze over (but long abandoned in piles of must-reads), or afternoons to laze away in hammocks under acacia trees. Weekends with punctuations. The short squeeze before heartless Mondays. All those things we have come to know in lives increasingly wearied by the drumbeat of citified expectations. We know, by the skin of our rituals, that weekdays have come to distinguish themselves by the precision of official hours, and deadlines as concrete as papers to check, calls to make, people to deal with. These are days that begin with breakfast at 6, Bundy clocks at 8, and commutes through diesel smoke to come home to mindless soap operas by 5 or 6, depending on the traffic.
We made beelines for the crunch of the ending days of March. Your quarter earnings to be soon calculated. Your deadlines soon to be met. Your travel plans soon to be set in stone. Your daughters or sons eager to get into their togas newly-rented from God-knows-where, their mothball smell a condensation of the promise of a non-future. That one, I remember most. It has been half a decade since I've said goodbye to college, and I have yet really to cut loose. Each new graduation that we see brings memories and half-wishes of hopes we have long since abandoned. Now we, the adults, watch this generation's own graduations with careful hopes, knowing -- like reading our own biographies -- the scary lurches through life in the "real world" they will soon know.
And then after that, the nothing.
But the summer has returned, as stealthy as the blue sky that crept from the wetness of February, to lay claim to the air with the familiar descending dryness, and quiet, of a small Southern city abandoned by students. It is a return to the hometown quiet that was once its character, and will be its once again, even if only for a short while, until June. We know by heart that the coming days will pass, and nights, too, in a doldrum of sweet boredom. We will soon forget that there are days with names, seven of them in a week.
So now, no one knows what today is, not even the stray dogs sunning themselves in the cement sidewalks outside my apartment in Tubod: they used to howl every single Friday night, perhaps to serenade some ghost or other, I don't know. These dogs were my marks for the clock in my head. But I haven't heard from them for the last two Fridays, not a whimper or a slight howl. All they do is droll and chase after little boys in bicycles.
There was also a slight surprise today, waking to a Monday without my knowing it. I used to know what day it was -- without glancing at the small calendar that hides among the clutter of my small desk -- by sensing the kind of heat that pervades skin, or by the smell of the earth outside my window: hard and busy for weekdays (especially on Tuesdays), and a kind of gentle musk for Saturdays, which turn bittersweet by Sunday morning. Now, there is only a smell of summer -- sepia, nostalgic, lazy. Full of sun.
Today, I woke up way past noon, something I haven't done in a very long time. Then I scanned the TV for a while as I waited for my sleepy body to catch up with the rhythms of the day (the ramble of pedicabs passing by outside, the shouts of children playing tayokok somewhere, the grumble of my own slowly dawning hunger....). After I showered -- slowly, skin gently soaking up water -- I made plans to lunch at 4 in the afternoon somewhere downtown, where I know that life still remains.
After that, there will be a visit to the Boulevard, if my feet doesn't take me somewhere else. In the seaside Boulevard, I know the sunlight will be golden and gentle. There, they will bounce off the blue-green of Tanon Strait, and will make the horizon twinkle like a mirage. Everything will be perfect and lazy, the way a Dumaguete summer should be. And I will not wonder anymore if God is in His heaven. He is not. He is somewhere in Siquijor drinking a piñacolada, as bright and colorful as the red and blue batik shirt I know He is wearing.
 This is Where You Bite the Sandwich
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