Tea, and a friend's letter from New Zealand

Tea, and a friend’s letter from New Zealand

The day is considerably mellow. Or maybe it’s just me. It’s finally rained, thank the heavens. Whenever it does, I could feel it in my bones, especially the shoulder I dislocated a few years back. Also, I’m like a cat; I don’t want to do anything else but close my eyes, stay put, and sleep, curled into myself. Which is exactly what I did. I regret nothing.

I haven’t answered your question about the weather here. When I say here, I mean Manila—we have 7,107 islands so it varies.

We don’t actually have a ‘summer’. It’s a term we mostly use to indicate April and May (these days, might include March as well)—these are the months when people have vacations, as school is finished around this time, and the Holy Week (leading to Easter) usually allows for time off work.

What we have is two seasons: wet season, and dry season. If people ask what’s the climate like, I’d say…tropical monsoon? Mostly, what we have is dictated by/based on the amount of rainfall and the prevailing winds. (I should note that I’m quoting and revising from this and this, as am certainly no expert.)

From December to early May, we have the amihan (northeast monsoon). This is usually dry. It is coolest from December to February (I can actually wear layers of clothing! Always a treat), and is probably my favourite time of the year. By cool, I mean around 24-26°C. Yeah, that’s cool enough for us. We go up to the mountains if we need more. Come ‘summer’, it is always hot and very, very, very humid. (We probably deserve a hundred very‘s.) I suppose it’s because we’re surrounded by the sea from all sides—there’s always a high amount of vapor in the air. So at the moment, that is what we have. Nevertheless, because of global warming, there’s been some weird weather changes lately, as evidenced by the rain we had today.

From late May to November, we have the habagat (southwest monsoon). It’s all rain, rain, rain. Hence, wet. The rains are heaviest around June to September, and that’s when the typhoons come (we get an average of 20 every year). When it’s really bad, the floods are a certainty (our irrigation systems suck here in the city). Classes start in June, and they’re always affected. Suspensions often happen now because it’s getting harder for students to go to school. Thus the recurring debate about beginning the school year on September, mimicking the US system, but also, some argued, for practical reasons.

As for me—I love the rain. Yes, it can get traumatising at times, especially after Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy). These days, if the rain gets heavier, I can’t help but worry if my family will get home safe, or if we have enough emergency supplies. But I really prefer it, compared with the heat. Warm is only good when one is at the beach. And the last time I was at the beach was what, six years ago? Sorry to be a curmudgeon about it, but yeah. Pick any day and go to a random mall. It’s always full of people, at any given time. You wonder, don’t these people have jobs? School? Better things to do? Not all of them are shopping. What they’re doing, is sitting around, taking respite from the heat.

Whew. Okay that went longer than expected. What I originally wanted to say was, what I would give to have your winter. But who am I kidding—I’ve lived at the tropicals my whole life, I would probably need thirty layers of clothes in order to survive. Then again—I want to see some goddamn snow before I die.

I am way behind in my poems. And letters to you. I’m glad we have this.

About motivation: I think you’re doing fine. Truly. Andrew gives such sound advice, I am starting to think he’s a Jedi master in a past life.

I remember a conversation I had with a friend earlier this year. I said, I don’t think I believe in marriage at the present. I mean—I only go by what evidence I have in my life. Based on my history and experience, it doesn’t work. I said, I almost got married once, and my self today can’t even begin to imagine what that would be like. I said, I don’t think I’m fit for something like that, at least, not anymore. I mean—look at me. Damaged goods. Shouldn’t be allowed to have anything. I said, probably the best thing a marriage would bring me right now is someone who will help me pay the bills.

It was admirable of my friend not to punch me in the face. Instead she told me, gently, that it means having a partner in your life who will help you build and move towards the right direction. It means knowing you’re in this together.

What I want to say, M, is—I think that’s what you and Andrew have, and I’m glad that he’s with you (and you’re with him), as you plan your future.

I saw this photo of Edinburgh today. It’s beautiful.

Found it from this blog. I’m going to look at it all weekend.

I tried looking for something similar that showcases my city. There’s not much (or maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough). I found this and this. I don’t know why, but the search made me a bit sad. It’s not exactly known for architecture, where I live. What we have: crowds, filth, rust. If you ask me—I think the beauty is in our people, and our sunsets.

Speaking of cities:

“At some time all cities have this feel: in London it’s at five or six on a winter evening. Paris has it too, late, when the cafes are closing up. In New York it can happen anytime: early in the morning as the light climbs over the canyon streets and the avenues stretch so far into the distance that it seems the whole world is city; or now, as the chimes of midnight hang in the rain and all the city’s longings acquire the clarity and certainty of sudden understanding. The day coming to an end and people unable to evade any longer the nagging sense of futility that has been growing stronger through the day, knowing that they will feel better when they wake up and it is daylight again but knowing also that each day leads to this sense of quiet isolation. Whether the plates have been stacked neatly away or the sink is cluttered with unwashed dishes makes no difference because all these details—the clothes hanging in the closet, the sheets on the bed—tell the same story—a story in which they walk to the window and look out at the rain-lit streets, wondering how many other people are looking out like this, people who look forward to Monday because the weekdays have a purpose which vanishes at the weekend when there is only the laundry and the papers. And knowing also that these thoughts do not represent any kind of revelation because by now they have themselves become part of the same routine of bearable despair, a summing up that is all the time dissolving into everyday. A time in the day when it is possible to regret everything and nothing in the same breath, when the only wish of all bachelors is that there was someone who loved them, who was thinking of them even if she was on the other side of the world. When a woman, feeling the city falling damp around her, hearing music from a radio somewhere, looks up and imagines the lives being led behind the yellow-lighted windows: a man at his sink, a family crowded together around a television, lovers drawing curtains, someone at his desk, hearing the same tune on the radio, writing these words.”

— Geoff Dyer, But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz

You wrote the other day, “Reacting to a situation from my past with my past self’s characteristics is a form of fraud. Reaching for the future with old fears of the future is just as deceptive. All we can do is stop now, in a safe holding place, take stock of where we are and where we’ve been, then let it go and continue on in the direction in which we are currently moving.”

It’s stayed with me. I’ve been thinking about it. My past is a big part of me. It is a weight I carry. I’m not sure I know how to let go of it, or if I even want to. As for the future—I seldom see myself in it. Oh, it’s easy to imagine scenarios. If you want something bad enough, it’s not difficult to come up with a desired picture. But I rarely see my actual self there. What does it mean?

Also: what about writing then? And keeping a journal of what happened? Of reading it in the future? These—our letters to each other, to ourselves, our poems? The world we create with our words, putting memory to paper—is it a form of delusory pleasure? How different is it, when we physically react to a person from our past or actively plan towards the future, versus writing about it? What do we lose when choosing one over the other?

More soon. To end, here is a song, which I have fallen in love with: Hear The Noise That Moves So Soft And Low by James Vincent McMorrow.

Good night, M.


5 thoughts on “Mellow

  1. Yes, Edinburgh is a city of beautiful architecture and many layers. But looking at the first link of Manila photos (the second link didn’t work, don’t know why), I recognize what Edinburgh is missing: produce. Food. Fresh food. We have a nice farmer’s market, but it’s mostly meat and grains and soap and alcohol. A few sparse veg stands, but nothing worth the colors and appeal of some of the pictures on the site about Manila. Even Amsterdam had more food than this, I think, in the moments when I miss picking up and handling food. I miss rows and rows of plants, fruits, flowers of the earth. I miss the choice, the multitude, the availability. Vegetables in the UK are just something you cycle through. We have a pumpkin in our kitchen right now, which is unusual. Potatoes are far more common, but there are only so many potatoes I can eat.

    I’ve responded to more of your questions in the letter book I’m writing to you. Sorry to make you wait, but some thougths are better in ink and paper.

    • The link is working now, sorry about that.

      Most of our vegetables come from the mountains, so there are a lot more produce and vendors when you venture up north. I’ll see if I can share with you more photos, as I went there last December.

      Thanks for sharing. I’ll have a think on this. Don’t worry re: your replies to my questions or anything else I’ve written here. Like you I am writing in the journal I’ve started, so I figured our answers will find their way to each other soon enough.


    • I have no idea actually. I like seeing photos of the architecture, and sceneries, I suppose. I enjoy looking at everything you post, so it’s all fine.


  2. Pingback: Must You Smell Everything | Awake & Asleep

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