First posted 07:16pm (Mla time) Aug 27, 2004
By KC Concepcion
Editor's Note: Published on Page I1 of the August 28, 2004 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
JUST left the Philippines, the islands that I love!
I'm back in Bohemia and the neighborhood of kings. I believe the time has come for another one of my mildly entertaining updates. Many asked when my next Super! essay was due. The gap was something I did not anticipate at all. However, in the course of my absence I landed in Tim's Yaparazzi almost every week (there is a reason for everything)! And because both Paris and Manila restlessly and effortlessly churn out never-ending tales, nothing can stop my hands from typing away as they're doing now, as though this were a personal blog (is that still the word used?).
So fret not. And thank you, Inquirer, for this very public private space that allows me to reach out to the world with hopefully informative and in-depth randomness. My pursuit of excellence involves eliminating the definitive art of selective hearing, selective thinking, and selective Saturday-Super-ing. Let's give a big kiss to all of life's imperfections, celebrate happy thoughts, and smile. This is my way of thanking my dear readers for their loyalty. it's great motivation to know you are riding along!
Still on the road to discovering my Personal Legend. It is strange that, embarking on the journey away from life changes so quickly, and quite drastically, from point A--curfews, gated neighborhoods, bodyguards--to point B-"Bahala ka sa sarili mo!", "Gumawa ka nga ng sariling diskarte."
I must admit that plane rides are starting to get scary. I think traveling alone quite a bit these days is making me even more paranoid that the more often I ride a plane, the more chances of some mishap taking place.
Just before I got into panic mode, the smell of peppermint oil permeated the cabin. This either distracted me or calmed my senses. Having transited through Bangkok, where people seem to become more and more laid back, nature-loving and soul-centered, I was pleasantly culture-shocked to find a Parisien couple seated three rows in front of me. Girl had her feet up, baby chuckles filling the air as Boy gave her a (presumably) free, if second-rate, Thai foot massage. The peppermint oil!
It got me thinking: there are times when we get sucked into the typical, the scripted, the routine. Until one little thing happens that makes us see through a child's eyes again. For Girl, it was forgetting urban stresses, kicking off her shoes and indulging in a simple pleasure. For me, it was realizing that I was on the upper deck of a plane for the very first time in my life, having had to climb a little stairwell to get to my seat. It was, I suddenly remembered, something I always wished to do as a child.
During take-off-hands shaking stupidly as a result of an irrational phobia for flying that was never there before--I managed to pull out a letter from my parents. It could be only one of two things, I thought: a literary masterpiece constructed to reprimand, or the usual parental love letter filled with wisdom, advice and all the mushy stuff that make children cry. I realized I didn't fear flight turbulence as much as I feared being freed again. As a defense mechanism, I started being afraid of acknowledging, and appreciating, the support and love that comes only from family. Ay senti!
48 hours after
Two mornings after the landing (yes, the plane did touch down in one piece, phew!), a sucker for sunlight couldn't possibly be disappointed. It was nice and warm and even more beautiful in the city! Surprisingly enough, things were slightly slower-paced, since most Parisiens had gone out of town. I must say it was sooo good to see that even this highly stressed society knew when it was time to take a break, and come back tan and happy!
On my way back home from the supermarket G20, I spotted a print ad at the bus stop which said, "Paris-The City That Protects Love (Paris-La Ville qui Protege L'Amour)." The first 20 weeks that I lived here, I wasn't sure that this place wasn't too harsh for me. The next couple of months were more like, okay, people seem lonely here, and they find it suspicious when you smile. When April came, apart from the fact that my heart melted after 13 of my newest friends threw a fabulous surprise birthday cruise for me down the River Seine, I knew that things would get better as soon as I came to terms with, and then thrive on, my love for new worlds, eclectic people, languages, the arts and the fact that I am living where many artists came to be inspired.
The first year of being alone was like being put under construction! So many things had to be learned, that my heart and mind were taking such big bites at life. No rest, no room to taste and enjoy everything that was coming my way as a teenager discovering life as part-tourist, part-local and full-time college student. But, one carries on like the rest of the populace! The ad was comforting despite a cheesy quality to it that could make people squirm. But then, that's Paris. Either you take it or ya leave it!
Time to do some household chores. I noticed that my neighbors were doing their own home-improvement thing. The lady in the apartment across mine just let out a melodic scream. "Ooh la LA!" She probably crushed her thumb from too much hammering. The French manage to make even hard times sound sing-songy. It was also like being a kid again, to learn to laugh in certain situations and take things with a grain of salt, to get things done no matter what, and move on. Here I shampoo my hair and scrub the bathtub at the same time (Scotch Brite on one foot does the trick), or answer the door while brushing my teeth because someone just popped up or sent a giant FedEx box. Which reminds me, I have something frying in the kitchen! Catch ya Saturday!
"Sail on the wings of a cloud where to well nobody knows
And cry, cry if you want them to see, die every day to be free,
Be proud, to wear the colours that you call your own
Be loud, speak out when you want the world to know
Be strong, hold the flame for everyone to see
Be weak, if you want to love" [portion of lyrics of "Light and Shade," Fra Lippo Lippi-INQ7.net ed]
Copyright 2006 Inquirer News Service. All rights reserved.