I was in my third year of teaching when Kei and I looked for another apartment.
Together with then newly-hired teachers, Janette Malata and Buena Carla Ferma Zaldivia (my quirky friends in college), we landed on a spacious, elegant-looking, 8000-peso-unit near the University. Expensive, I know, because our taste is.
Our unit sits on top of another. Imagine a two-storey house, with the stairs outside. I think we own more area than anyone else because the staircase is a tambayan (yosi area sometimes) by itself, a small terrace right in front of the door, and another, halfway through the stairs as it bends down, opposite direction (others dont have “terraces”).
Inside, floor is covered with immaculate tiles, and walls are painted with white that FEELS like pink or mocha or something between. Large windows surround the sala-dining-kitchen stretch, and since my mother has a collection of curtains, she gave us one set. A cream and green match. And one particular window won my pink sarong from Boracay because they fit. I almost forgot, there too are the rattan balls of impossible colors hanging in one corner-Kei and I bought in Bicol. In the empty walls, the ones perpendicular to the hallway leading to our rooms, I taped Kei’s extra large pictures of sceneries in Bohol, Palawan, and Cebu when she and I went playing tourists there.
I so loved the house that I bought a glass table with a mirror (kei calls “vanity desk”) with a partner chair for my room, a shoe rack which chokes off our competing sandals and shoe collections, a second-hand mint green refrigerator, and an enourmous bottlegreen sala set, which so many people just adore and plan to steal, and which casts a sleeping spell on anyone who experiences its sinking cushion.
Kei brought her pc and a Jap surplus TV, and Janette bought another desktop with a printer. We all contributed to get a 2-burner stove and gasul. Then everyone would bring pots, pans, plates, and kitchen must-haves.
And so, whenever a visitor enters our place, s/he’d always go “WOW”. It never fails.
The three shared a room so wide a family could fit in, while I had this lovely, quiet room to myself.
I put on curtains of light earth colors that remind me of a windy countryside. On my walls I posted my drawings and sketches and theories and sentences and phrases I fished out of a sea of novels and books that I buy or borrow.In my spacious cabinets, (I have four!) I posted different pictures of mine, all of them narcissistic.
In one cabinet all my dresses are hung. In another portion, all my toiletries and kikay cosmetics are lined up in a neat assembly. In another, my bags. In another, my other bags. In another, all the papers and notebooks and envelopes that I happen to keep since college.
The other room? Other than the beds and books I do not see anything else from outside. Perhaps they have an extra room for boys inside. Haha. Or a cabinet of dead bodies, you know, students they have killed. yick.
The fondest memories I have of that house are quite a lot!
The four of us would collapse on the sofa, with exhaustion written all over our sexy bodies, and chat for hours while one is cooking dinner, or while a movie is on, or while our “checkables” are scattered on the floor, on the seats, all over the place. We would tirelessly gossip about our colleagues or our students (and there was a time when the three had a stupid habit of speaking in Korean English when they tutored Korean students).
Every morning, we would drink coffee, buy pandesal downstairs, and take a bath one after another, like zombies; or turn on the pc, check Friendster, type a paper, or print handouts, like zombies; or wash undies, pack/pick up laundry from Kuya, and put on a fashion show of what-to-wear-today, like zombies; or sweep the floor, wash pans, and cook breakfast, like mother zombies.
Every weekend, Ara goes home to Tagaytay, Janette to Lipa, and Kei to Sta. Rosa. Every Sunday afternoon, they return with delightful pasalubong or new domestic props.
For several weeks or month, I could manage not to visit my parents because I love staying there, cooking, reading Time magazines that I subscribed to, cleaning the shower room and all of the bathroom, taking long baths, and watching movies and series.
It was a place I called home.
Then problems started coming in from different directions and we were caught off guard. Janette and Ara decided to rent another place, a cheaper one. Kei saw a single unit. And I… I became homeless after that, I think.
I lived in Laloma (QC), Pasig, Sta. Rosa, and Commonwealth, while traveling to and fro Los Baños to teach (sometimes sleepover at Kei’s, or Janet’s, or Gisel’s– Ara has resigned btw).
I felt so lost all these years of never staying in one place. As if I live on the road. But I love it! Always going places, never being stuck.
This is why I have mastered the art of saying goodbye.