Monday, July 7


On the first day of the year, I woke up with a debilitating hangover, the unglamorous kind, in which an acidic taste not unlike shame brimmed in my mouth. I plodded over to the common area and found the other residents in a more or less similar state, which is to say, the beginning of a famous John Cheever story--"It was one of those midsummer Sundays when everyone sits around saying, 'I drank too much last night.'" I mindlessly popped an aspirin. The shortness of breath came minutes later, then the vague swelling of the face, then the weariness. I knew I was fatally allergic to ibuprofen, and, well, I'm stupid that way. The administrator, bless him, thankfully had antihistamine--asthmatics of the world unite!--and oxygen, after a while, became easier to come by. But I was feeling so weak, so I asked to be taken to the nearest hospital an hour or so away. At the ER, a judgmental nurse saw the chipped (aquamarine) nail polish and bobbled her head, after which she told me to turn to my side and pull my pants down. By the time we were on our way back, it was near dusk, and I had only one thing on my vegetable-adled mind: KFC.

Flash forward to six months later, a couple of friends and I decided to head over to Baguio for the weekend. We spent it the way I preferred my vacations to be: lazy, libated, and devoid of plans. On our last day, we left our bags at our hotel and hopped over to nearby Vizco's for lunch (where Netty made a surprise appearance two days prior). Full and not so keen on returning to our little lives, we walked down Session Road hours later and saw fire trucks. A curious thing, and--getting closer to our street, seeing the crowd--I thought, No, it can't be, it just can't. When I saw thick white smoke billowing from the ground floor of our hotel--the lobby was on the second floor, customary in the mountain city--I realized that, well, what a year. We watched as one tiny water delivery truck after another zoomed along the cordoned road to help douse the flames, which would've been cute and quaint for an observer, and absolutely depressing if the fate of your bag, which contained your laptop, which contained your backup-less thesis, depended on the paltry amount of water they could carry. When we heard that the fire was under control--our bags in the lobby safe, if, like us, smelling like smoked tinapa--I just wanted to get out of there.

There's been a broad pall over the complexion of things lately, prompted by the obligatory assessment during the year's midpoint. Maybe because we were all approaching 30, a friend points out, and everything was necessarily worse off than we had imagined--we were not as rich, not as smart, not as happy. Maybe the ultimate wisdom is patience, then, I had told her. And she, being rah-rah and all, pointed out that overcoming through perseverance ought to be there, too. Of course. In asking around, I came to find that my displeasure with 2014 is something most friends share, a consolation, a happy-sad occasion, but maybe also a hapless, needless explanation.

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