Why is it that when I miss a Sunday column I feel like I played hooky? Now it’s almost like I need an excuse slip to get back in class.
I had family visiting from Australia, and it was impossible to resist spur-of-the-moment fun time. I was suddenly unable to multitask, to schedule road trips or plan menus after all-nighters under a huge comforter, sharing stories of our childhood and recalling the dread of war. Must be age-related.
My cousin, her children and grandchildren came home for the holidays. It was the first Christmas without her husband. She stayed in her grandson’s beautifully decorated pad at the Rosaria Apartments on Adriatico (before the war, known as Dakota) in what was then the residential and sometimes snooty Ermita district.
Her stories about police sirens blaring and loud carousing in the middle of the night reminded me of my unforgettable stay almost three decades ago in a friend’s posh 58th and Park Avenue apartment in Manhattan. I was on the second floor, and there were nights I could hear people talking on the sidewalk under my bedroom window; some were romantic conversations, but most were sinister transactions between suspicious characters. Interesting, but often scary.
A sad goodbye
I watched President Barack Obama deliver his eloquent farewell speech. I was moved to tears. I was inspired all over again, just like the first time I listened to him say, “Yes, we can.”
And I was happy to realize that no, I have not become jaded nor cynical. For a while there, I thought that all the hatred and venom of the past several months had hardened my heart. God knows there was reason for that. But Obama was at his best; a class act. His grace, his calm, cool demeanor, and his sense of family and patent love of country awed me.
My granddaughter was in tears as she quoted: “It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.”
Of course there was the usual noise from bashers. But like him or not, Obama’s words resonated in millions of hearts—not only in America.
Time to de-clutter
Every year I think of opening wide all my cabinets and closets to air them and sort things out. I want to get rid of stuff I haven’t used or seen in the past couple of years, trim down my wardrobe and finally give up on my “someday I will fit into this again” outfits; throw out shoes with heels too high for old and wobbly me to safely walk in, and get rid of creams and cosmetics that probably smell rancid by now.
I am amazed at how little we need the older we get. But I know some friends in my age group still shop till they drop. I recently went to a cousin’s 86th birthday and she was adamant about her “no gifts, please” request.
I loved giving my father pajamas and lounging robes. But he would argue: “Again? Mine are still good. I don’t need new ones.”
An orphan, born and raised in utter poverty, Papa was perfectly content with “just enough.” This was his measure of being wealthy.
I have planned this project carefully and don’t intend to just go through the motions. I have taken one of the pretty pink Moleskine journals I got for Christmas and told myself, “This is it. I must put it down in writing or I will never do it.” I even took out a brand new Precise V7 black ink pen. I like to do that. I believe it confirms the sincerity of my resolve. Besides, when you use pen and ink, there is no “delete” button.
My daughter promises to help. She is OC (obsessive, compulsive) about her closets. She needs to get in there at least twice a month and “touch everything.” She wants to know what she owns and where it is.
She suggests I give away or sell all my discards. I thought, another garage sale? I have had a few in my lifetime. In the US, whenever I needed to dispose of things, each time I moved or had to downsize, I staked my garage sale signs on every street corner. It was fun. I became quite the expert. But when I closed down my last home in Hawaii, it was rather sad and I swore, never again.
My sister has started a diary of blessings received.
“Gratitude not spoken is ingratitude,” she writes.
With that in mind, I have taken out another bright pink notebook.
Here we are 22 days into a new year, and my list grows longer.
The guard in the mall said good morning with a big warm smile. He made my day.
Had a fun sleepover playing catch up and sharing memories with a cousin.
Enjoyed jokes and laughter in bumper-to- bumper traffic in Santa Rosa.
Watched the waves and ate lobster in Kawayan Cove, and later stood at the edge of Meditation Point waiting for the sunset. It was cloudy and we didn’t see the fiery red ball descend into the sea.
Ah, but the afterglow was glorious, a blaze of gold, orange and magenta on an indigo sky.