My clothes and shoes might be wondering why, all these nearly seven months, they have languished in their closets unworn, unused, untouched. I do look them over occasionally, wondering myself not only when I’ll wear them again, but whether I’ll still fit into them.
This pandemic is not exactly conducive to calorie-burning activities; in fact, our stomachs might be the most overworked organ in quarantine. To make up for the lethargy and the overeating, I take 6,000 brisk steps every day, such that every bit of floor space of our 180-square-meter unit is walked on five or six times with each session; to avoid collisions, Vergel himself runs in place in front of the TV for at least half an hour.
We have the advantage of a low-density population—there are just us two and a kasambahay, although, with the easing of lockdown, depending on what’s cooking, we get an addition; a son who lives a few buildings away visits.
Vergel has happily resumed his tennis and I my life-saving, morale-lifting aqua aerobics, but home exercise continues. The one hour of sweating under the sun is a definite health boost, but I miss face-to-face interaction with family and friends.
Smell the flowers
Confinement, though, has given me a fresh perspective on home. I notice and appreciate more the things in it, the way one is suddenly inspired to stop on a once-familiar walk to smell the flowers. Some possessions bring back interesting if not cherished memories.
My dad’s escritorio of dark wood with beautiful Chinese carvings is now Vergel’s working desk. Mom’s Chinese cedarwood baul accents the guest bedroom. A silk Persian carpet from our house in Corinthian Gardens not only breaks the monotony of parquet, but continues to bring subtle comfort under our feet.
Paintings from our old White Plains home mix well with latterly acquired ones. And, for some strange reason, my ex-mother-in-law’s filing cabinet from Dasmariñas Village, modernized and repainted lime green, the color of our bedroom, finds itself appropriately useful.
There are things, on the other hand, I have neither the space for nor energy to maintain, or clean at all; they are stored in a rented bodega in Pasig. Is it any consolation to them that their new home is the envy of our driver, who claims it is nearly the size of his rented room in Makati, but cheaper and air-conditioned, too? I needed the bodega after I sold the house in Valle Verde three years ago. After this lockdown, I’m determined to simplify my life further and part with those things, pass them on to new owners—new loving partners.
Vergel will never have that problem; he is lean in both physique and material possession. He has never allowed himself to accumulate or horde anything. Quite orderly, too, he knows where everything of his is.
Well, not me, but, no worry, Lanie is here. Our conjugal treasures, our defining his and hers, are books we had owned separately before we got together, and those we have acquired together through the years. We have given away books we know we will never read again; Vergel has determined that our little place can hold no more than 800 volumes for both our own home-operating comfort and proper book care.
Vergel and I are grateful we’re locked down with each other, which doesn’t mean we don’t get in each other’s hair—but that happens very rarely.
Open to God’s grace
All that isolation has given us the time for a daily TV Mass, a round of rosary and conversation, lots of it. God has a way of letting good come out even in the worst of times, provided we remain open to His grace, and willing to make changes in our lives.
For me it isn’t as much about making changes as about learning to love certain things Vergel has loved. I listen to his running commentary watching endless tennis matches on TV, and have learned to enjoy both the watching and the listening. I now know who’s who in tennis. Hopelessly unathletic, I’m also happy to watch and shamelessly cheer for him at his own club tournaments.
A deeper appreciation for classical music is another thing. He has taught me about musical instruments and urged me to read his books on music and composers. He has trained my ear to differentiate between sounds, tones and their different qualities. Alas, I miss more notes than hit them, so I leave the singing and guitar-playing to him, happy to feed him the lyrics in case he forgets. Our condo is filled with all kinds of music, indeed.
We may enjoy many things together, but it is equally important for us both to stay informed.
The closure of ABS-CBN has us starving for local news, while overinformed by US TV networks. We seem to know more about the American than local goings-on. We envy the Americans their free and varied sources of information, and the expertise in analysis and commentary they add to it. We get a continuing education as well as entertainment from the consummate BBC and Netflix. Vergel stays connected to news and with his news sources online.
This is our small but dynamic world, kept lively with exchanges of ideas and sounds of laughter and music. Not to mention, we have each other, which turns out to be, if not all we need, the determinant of contentment in confinement.