the connector tube

republished from the diary: march 6, 2006

boiled eggs remind me of long bus trips and the odor of a foul vomit. and more. when i was young and life was less harder then, father and i usually went to neighboring towns either to sell our stuff or replenish the stocks. we were running a dry goods business. this was in the late eighties when the local retail industry for dry goods was still strong. in my young half-educated age, i knew we were doing well. i and my sister jesse got to have new matching dresses every two weeks or so. and matching pair of shoes for them. i would realized later, long after the aftermath of the bankruptcy was felt, that my younger siblings did not have such kind of luxury.

father has this serious obsession with cleanliness and hygiene. i told you about that earlier. but this obsession is selective. for one, he considered it a major mistake to enter the bedroom wearing the clothes you wore when you got in. if you want to as little as get into contact with the bedsheet you must do so with a new pair of clothes. that is the main reason why i can never sleep in my bed unless i took a shower and changed into my homeclothes. he doesnt also use public utensils; he’d rather use his hands.

but i remember when i was a kid, he is fond of eating boiled eggs sold by transient vendors during our bus trips. he did reason, however, that boiled eggs are cooked with the shells on. it is clean, no matter who is selling them. after all, it is him that peels off the shells.

and an hour and a half after he peeled off the shells and i ate the egg, i vomited. he always carry a plastic bag and a hanky to prepare us for that. but even then, i can never stand the smell of a vomit— mine or somebody else’s.

i am smelling it now. as i write in this journal while the airconditioned bus was running a 100 in SLEX for Batangas, i could smell the vomit through the sound of eggshells being peeled across my seat. the young couple, perhaps in their late teens, were oblivious to the sour expression i was wearing. when people are in their teens and in love, it is really hard to notice anyone else for that matter. been there, done that.

this is the first time i decided to stay awake for the entire trip. one reason was for cautiousness, the other for the experience. the first i got from father; he was, more than anything else, cautious. he always fear that somebody might mistook his bags as theirs. it is always better to be in the safe side than be sorry, he said. and because i was alone, i find the necessity to feel the same. the second reason was for a deeper reason. i always sleep through out a trip and it was not of boredom. i always feel that whenever i am in a moving vehicle for a long time, my life momentarily takes a pause. it is as if i was transposed into a tube that nothing that matters will happen and that i belong to nowhere until i reached the destination. thus, these trips that i took in my entire life only serves as a connector of multiple separate sub-chapters that somehow doesn’t mix with each other. like my university days at Silliman versus the weekend and semestral break visits at home. like my working days in makati versus the two- to three-week christmas vacations in the province. that the previous life takes a pause and the other chapter comes in, and the former will only resume programming once i am back unto it. and so i slept.

it has always been like this. multiple separate sub-chapters. no wonder i am a weird girl.

but now, i chose to stay awake. the good thing about choosing your state is that it is always easier to do the act. if i have a choice, i would want a small talk to help me through the trip; you know, the weather-kind of small talk. it is amazing how many other topics can sprout out by starting with the weather. perhaps, this is yet not the time. i am just starting my journey and this will be the first of the many trips that i will chose to stay awake.

the old man beside me stirred in his sleep. we were still halfway to batangas and he has been asleep the moment the bus started on its way. perhaps, i was not alone after all. maybe for the old man, this trip, like most trips he took, is just one connector tube.


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