I am writing this as I wait for dinner to be done. Tonight my partner cooks. He is still busy configuring out the basics of bistek, a local beef stew dish. Meanwhile, the kitchen air is filled with the aroma of simmered soy sauce and caramelized onions. The soft hiss of cooking pan is faintly heard next to the croon of his favorite artist.
This has been a typical night for both of us.
It is still surreal that a few months ago, I would clock out at eight and still be at lost as to what I should be doing after work. Well, for one, there was more work— occupied by keynotes needed to be animated, grades that must be computed, assessment tasks that should be drafted or conceptualized. It was not surprising that I have developed a tendency for procrastination— after repeatedly being advised to work smart, not hard. Well, foine. If you really insist to turn off all lights at six, maybe I should get life after work.
The alternative life would mean signing out at five and exploring whatever city life has to offer for a poorly paid yuppie. Having moved out from my parents and settled at my friend’s couch, a fringe benefit entitled me to a lot of unsupervised free time (well, saved from those nights when my host needed me to tutor her kids, but you get the drift). I entered the wonderland of dating, and boy was it magical.
Still, the spell would wear off at the strike of a certain hour or on particular days when a date suddenly ghosts, and I would find myself brooding and listless at social media. What to do now?
It took me three specialists, two mental breakdowns, and a barrage of office memos to finally realize that what I need is more than a break. I need a vacation.
Now that I think about it, I haven’t really had a legit vacation ever since I graduated college. After being hurled out screaming from my alma mater’s, I focused on one thing I was weaned to do: survive. I moved from one job to another, traversed cities, and even entered graduate school— all for the dream of being this sophisticated self-made woman.
What I am right now is SO far-fetched from the ideals I had imagined back when I was a graduate. For starters, I am currently unemployed. I try to scrape out an income by tutoring from time to time. Fifty percent of my purchase power is fuelled by my parents’ unconditional(?) love for me. I secretly live with my partner to regain the sanity I lost when I was teaching. My media subscriptions are all on hold. Aside from some books, I have nothing else valuable except time…
…which I am learning to enjoy indiscriminately. I used to abhor how time runs so fast while I, weighed by responsibilities and personal demons, trudged far behind it. Now that I am on an indefinite vacation, time stretches like a wide paved road, and I have the option to stroll wherever I please.
It is very ironic to have found my sense of routine in a space devoid of rigid structures. Without any morning commitment, I now regularly wake up at nine. I am slow in preparing food, but always make it in time for lunch. Afternoons are spent either responding to mails, playing video games, or napping. At five, I go to my tutee and we would have a productive time learning together. I usually arrive home at eight, just in time for me and my partner to decide on what we are going to have for dinner. My routine is a tad boring than what I used to do, but I overall feel alive, accomplished and happy.
To add, this has been going on for two months- the longest I am able to sustain a routine without any sort of internal revulsion.
Do I want this to last forever? Partly. But I am also aware that there is life after this LIFE. ;). After all, I am an adult who has bills to pay, plans to save for, and places to travel to. Staying permanently in this utopic set-up would prolly defeat the purpose of being human. So yes, I will soon be returning to the throng of mass workers
who digests Metro Manila traffic for breakfast. This time I clutch dearly onto my souvenir: a better sense of what I should do and what my work is worth for.
Meanwhile, I relish the remaining time I have here while ze partner is setting the table for dinner.