Dear future self,
For the first time since forever, I pull out pen and paper to write. I do this in my vain attempt to send this letter to the heavens. Maybe I’ll fold this into a paper plane and let the wind carry it away. Maybe a paper boat, so that it reaches the depths of the ocean. Either way, I’m sure this will find its way online — I hope I read this someday, with a faster Internet connection.
Do you still remember why we stopped writing New Year’s resolutions? It’s because we thought we didn’t want to fail ourselves anymore. Instead, we started writing our dreams and goals every beginning of the year. But reading through the first pages of my 2020 planner, I now see fantasies: This year, I will travel more. I will explore the world, discover new surf spots. I will spend more time with people who matter — even if that means leaving the house more often.
Spoiler alert: None of that has happened, because of the coronavirus outbreak.
To be frank, there are many days I wake up feeling frustrated. I am writing this letter in June 2020. It’s only halfway through the year, and the world has already gone through so much. I don’t think I have to run down through everything exactly; but as of writing, it’s officially been three months since the Luzon-wide quarantine was imposed.
Of course, I’m grateful for where I am right now.
I am blessed beyond measure: I’m healthy, I have food to eat, I have a roof over my head, I have a family who I love. These days, I smile more often than I don’t. But then, there are also days that I cry out of nowhere.
This period of crazy reminds me of college, when I had to go through months with a perpetual lump in my throat — I was sad most days, but I tried my best not to cry. The unwept tears lived in my oesophagus for years, until I learned to find strength in weeping. By my senior year, I started crying every day. Comedically, it seemed like a newfound hobby, the shedding of both old and new tears. And it was always cathartic; I healed eventually.
Recently, I read an article about people crying over spilt milk during the quarantine. I’ve said it before: We, who can afford the time to process our feelings or even read about someone else do so, are in a very challenging and unique situation right now. Finding things to complain about gets us guilty for feeling. And so, most of us repress our emotions. Then, we end up crying over the most mundane things — spilt milk included.
Future self, I am writing to you because I want you to remember all that you felt in 2020.
This year has stripped the world of indispensable gifts: the pleasure of visiting our loved ones; the humanity of attending wakes; going to church; going to the grocery; hugging and kissing; holding hands.
It’s also taken away the silliest of things: the awkward elevator chit-chats; our quick “bayad” and “pakisuyo po” jeepney exchanges; even our guiltless routine of complaining about having “too much work.” But missing these ridiculous things makes me just as sentimental.
I’m crying because I can’t travel; and, I’m crying because I can’t attend birthday parties and devour someone else’s lumpiang shanghai and Filipino-style spaghetti. I’m crying because I couldn’t attend my lolo’s funeral; and I’m crying because I can’t go to the mall to try on clothes I’ll never end up buying. Regardless of weight, I miss the normalcy, and even the nuisance, of pre-quarantine life.
Future self, I am writing to you because I want you to remember all that is happening in 2020. I want you to remember all that you felt. And I want you to remember how you survived every bit of it: Some days, it’s easy. Other days, it’s hard. Every day, I try to be the best I can be — first for myself; then, for others.
I’m looking forward to what life has in store for me in the future. If anything, there’s one thing I can be sure of: I’ll come out of this stronger, and you’ll be a better person because of 2020.
I’m proud of you.