You lie awake at night and think to yourself, “There’s got to be something better than this.” It can’t be just me, night after night, sitting in bed watching in my laptop the latest episode of “Modern Family,” “Grey’s Anatomy” or “So You Think You Can Dance.”
I am 42, and my dreams of that momentous march-down-the-aisle-in-a-beaded-wedding-dress scenes are slowly fading. I’ve always fancied my life as a romantic comedy, with me as the heroine who gets embroiled in one hilarious mishap after another until my leading man walks in front of my grocery cart, sits next to me on the plane, or fights with me for the last piece of pie in a coffee shop. After a series of happy moments with a magical soundtrack, I’ve always imagine that we’d wake up one day and realize that, finally, we’ve met THE ONE and we’d live happily ever after.
But alas, the guy who walked in front of my shopping cart was holding his wife’s hand; the man sitting next to me on the plane has his girlfriend next to him, and the guy who fought with me for the last piece of pie was my brother. In other words, I did not meet my very own Ryan Reynolds, Hugh Grant or Richard Gere. My life was not turning into any of those romantic comedies that fill my iPod.
I think my life is turning out to be more of a sitcom, one that has been around for years with no season finale in sight just yet. I am, of course, the lead character who goes through her hilarious life armed with sarcastic lines and witty retorts. Through the years, my character has gone through career changes – from administrative slave to film production slave to advertising slave, and now a deadline chaser as a freelance writer. I’ve also gone through the ups and downs (literally) of weight loss, suffered (imagined and actual) heartbreak and endured many, many fashion mistakes.
Some episodes take place in the neighborhood coffee shops (think “Friends”) or a favorite bar (ala “Cheers”) or in my case, a videoke bar where everybody knows my name. Here you will often find me hanging out with friends. Some I’ve known since I was a sweet and innocent 13, some I met when I was a snooty, temperamental thirtysomething. These are friends who drop everything when I call, crying because of one family tragedy or yet another heartache. And they’ve witnessed how, just like any sitcom lead character, I’ve fallen on my ass many times after having had one too many tequila shots. They accept me, warts, zits and all. They ignore my bitchy moods or call me on it when I’m out of line. They listen to me sing the same song over and over again and don’t cringe when I can’t reach that last high note. They have been at the receiving end of my punchlines and have fought the urge to punch me back on a regular basis.
Other episodes take place at home or in familiar restaurants, or when budget allows, on out of town locations or abroad where I am surrounded by these quirky and lovable characters that make up my family.
First there are my parents who accept me, all of me, even if I am still several pounds shy of the 75-pound weight loss goal. They loved me when I was fat, loved me when I wasn’t in the mood and when I was crying my eyes out during a temper tantrum. Yup, they’ve even patiently and regularly pulled me out of the financial holes I managed to dig myself into.
Then, of course, there are my kids. I didn’t carry them in my womb for nine months, nor did I go through hours of labor edited into a 20-minute episode to bring them into this world. But they still feel 100 percent mine. They lovingly and affectionately holler “Ninang!” when I walk into the room. They make me cards when I’m sad, eagerly sample my latest culinary concoctions, laugh at all my jokes, invite me to their school plays, and, even if some of them are already teenagers, still hug me when I say, “Lambing Ninang.”
The most memorable lines in my sitcom come from them. Like when my nephew Franco asked me for permission to go to the park to catch grasshoppers. I made the mistake of asking him if there were grasshoppers in the park, and he replied, “Ninang, park, grass, grasshoppers. Hello!” I had nothing to say to that. We recently just welcomed the newest member of the brood. Who knows what mischief and mayhem he’ll bring into future episodes?
My personal comedy show would not be complete without visits from my siblings. Our shared stories have taken place all over the world. In New Manila where we grew up, in New York and San Francisco where some of them live now, at the Araneta Coliseum where we’ve sat in the sidelines of Ateneo basketball games. We make fun of each other, cry with each other, shop together and most importantly, rant and vent to each other and about each other. We share private jokes that no one else will find funny, much less understand, so I think I’ll refrain from including them in this confession.
Because I am 42, inevitably, the main storyline will revolve around my still being single and unattached. A few seasons back, there was a random marriage proposal (oops, not sure my mom knows about this!), which I turned down with a resounding, “Are you insane?” I often fall in love with the wrong man (this time, my mom knows about these!) And I’ve had my heart broken over and over again.
Will I ever find my leading man? I’m taking a wait-and-see-what-the-writers-think attitude.
I could choose to turn my sitcom of a life into a tragic drama in the tradition of some of my favorite shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” or “ER.” I could sit and wallow in misery as I watch other people find their happy endings. But what’s the point?
Instead, I will enjoy every minute of my private sitcom and hit the play button on my personal laugh track as I embark on new challenges and rehash old ones. I will treasure quiet moments alone, savor coffee dates with friends, bask in the celebratory glow of another Ateneo UAAP championship.
In other words, I will accept that I am not Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon or Sandra Bullock. I may never meet my Hugh, Richard or Ryan.
I am only 42, and my series’ final season hasn’t been written yet. So far, the episodes I’ve lived are filled with love and surrounded by people who accept me for who I am. No drama here, just a personal happy ending to a long-running sitcom.