Hello, I colored my hair yesterday. I’m now supposed to wear my shoulder-length hair with a shade of brown. But after checking myself in the mirror, I’m not so sure anymore if I got the right color.
I could have been at home with you, hearing you say something like “Anak, I’ve told you many times that coloring your hair might prematurely give you strands of gray hair,” or “Anak, black already looks good on you. You don’t listen to me anymore,” in your authentic, somewhat archaic Southern Tagalog tone and verbosity. Then probably, you’ll tell Papa to help me dye my hair afterwards.
You’ve always known my hair problems from the roots. You try to patiently pull them out, strand by strand, hoping that I’d come to my senses eventually. Case in point: that pixie haircut I suddenly got after thesis continued sending me to hell and back. You made me vow NOT to get that haircut again next time. The conversation ended with your exasperated sigh, resigning to the fact that my hair would grow long again anyway.
You’re always like that, with my problems about life, school, friends, family, love, and everything else in between. I stumble here and there. But you’re standing on the background, patiently telling me where I could have gone wrong, even if sometimes, it falls on deaf ears. It’s a bit funny how you’ve known me to the core. And it’s even funnier when I realize I don’t have to tell you anything just to sense if I’m having a hard time fighting my personal battles – you’ve already laid out a plan on how I could slay the villains myself. But you trust me enough to let me plot my own strategy or the lack thereof.
It’s my first time living a continent away from you. I’m wandering in a place where it’s now spring time, flowers are abloom, and the number of sheep and cows is still enough to fill a city. A part of me convinces myself that I’m here to grow up and start being on my own. A part of me still finds it amusing how strong you are to let me go and leave me to my own devices. I still don’t know how it feels to let go of her daughter and send her off far away, beyond her reach.
But for the life of me, I don’t think I can put into words how you really felt. There’s a tinge of longing, a sting of uncertainty, and heaps of worry. I’ll boldly say this but I think I’m starting to understand how paranoid you feel whenever I’m out of your sight. I wanted to be independent, yes. But hearing you say, “OK lang iyan Anak, ‘wag kang ma-de-depress” over the phone makes me want to go home and hear those words from you in the flesh.
You’ve been incessantly telling me to just go back home since you left me here in Auckland more than a month ago. You still do, right at this moment yet you’re still egging me on to do better, be stronger, and just keep pushing my luck.
For that, I don’t feel like I’m alone… save for your birthday this year.
I’ve always seen how happy you are singing the karaoke and catching up with your family, friends, and loved ones every time we celebrate your birthday. With how things are starting to work between us now, I know I should be contented celebrating your day from the corners of my flat. But true enough, it still falls flat. I wasn’t there to see how you started your day as a 50-year old family woman, who has gone through a lot, who had a lot to give, yet she gives some more to her passions, and a lot more of her to her family.
I know I’m trying to convince the world that I’m now all grown-up who finds numbers sentimental. Maybe I got it from you; I’ve always looked forward to seeing you blow 50 candles (le gasp) on your birthday this year. It’s a beginning of another decade of something new, fresh, and sassy for you, yet I’m not there to see how you’re going to take things in stride. But I know you can do it. Ikaw pa? 🙂 What’s in a number, really? I’ll be able to personally see you blow 72, 83, 95 or more candles anyway.
Happy 50th, Mama!
Your fun-size, wide-eyed baby.