It has to be you
When I first saw you, that lipstick was red as it can be like the wide bands of your shirt. You were young, on the go, plucky like Sally Field, and can talk straight and true. While I could not stare people in the face. Bumbling student, that’s what I was who loved wearing dull pink cotton long sleeves with Mickey Mouse prints, a gift from my aunties in America. And there you were, quick, and sharp and would not bog down in arguments as long as you’ve not finished your piece, although I know you’re not always right all the time. You are still the same, a bit mellowed perhaps, while then my ‘truth’ was more hidden, behind black rimmed plastic glasses, that Clark ‘Superman’ Kent look, a charitable moniker but nice to hear nevertheless.
When I met you, you were already ‘made,’ widely traveled and grown. You’ve been farther north than Aparri, where you had that photo at the beach sitting legs straight on the sand, chin pulled upward, right hand cupped at the back of your head and that toothy smile. I placed it at the front page of our photo album. What a perfect shot of a magic moment and confident subject! How patient you were to see through my slouching, and stuttering, the obvious half-lies and alibis and youthful indirections. Somehow we managed to bridge them all, these discrepancies like we don’t mind them, or when we don’t quarrel at the differences we laugh. We still find ourselves giggling before TV and movie shows, sometimes cry little when we hear Bette Midler sing ‘you gotta give a little, take a little and let your poor heart break a little.’
I remember the time when I thought, and said to myself it has to be you. Was it some hill or island or leaf fringed porch and moonlight? The shady forms and twigs and leaves interplayed on your face like dancing wayang puppets of Indonesia, so real yet dreamlike, clear cut yet ungraspable as the half forming shadows of the mind.
When you told me you took care, bathed and cleaned your ailing grandfather, I knew somehow. I remember when you were pregnant and my Rayban was snatched how you shouted at the hold-upper so loud the shades fell from his grip. Or the time we brought our students to a luxury hotel on a field trip and were not allowed entry by the guard maybe because we all looked like non-tourist ‘provincials,’ and I told you let’s just go home. Yet, you convinced the guard to allow you to talk to the manager, and then we were not only granted the tour but given the hotel’s best guide - a resident Japanese tour guide. Pictures of your brave moments are what I shall always keep - from you my helpmate.
How grateful am I to be given chance to interact with you in this lifetime. Just to be with you I am happy. If He wills it, beyond we shall be consorts. Read a poem yesterday by Yeats and thought it is so you and so me that little teardrops fell on my cheeks as I read thus:
When You Are Old
When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
(ps. happy anniversary!)