Monday, August 24, 2015

Radio's fine, it helps me forget for a while

But not today. Today is all about remembering.

Early this afternoon, I managed to connect the old Sony sound system that's been gathering dust in my room to an antenna. I'm pretty sure I'd tried this before and failed to get good reception, so I gave up and left the sound system alone. Almost a decade since I last tried to use it, it's aliiive!

I'm afraid to use the tape player, though, because when I pressed the eject button it got stuck for a few seconds and I thought it would never close. If there's one thing I hate, it's a cassette deck that's permanently open.

I know this sound system cost a lot of money when my dad bought it. It was top of the line at the time. It has a video CD player too, and I'm pretty sure we used it to watch movies years ago. Unfortunately, now and forevermore, it will function only as a radio. Still, I'm thrilled. I have a radio that doesn't need my laptop to play!

When I switched to radio mode, the station that played was 105.9. Maybe it was the last station I played so many years ago, or perhaps it played because it was closest to my old favorite station (105.1 Crossover). It was a good thing, too, because the DJ was playing some new wave classics and more "music for grownups from the growing up years."

I'm more of a 90s kid, but it was in the 80s, of course, that I first listened to music, so it's 80s music that pulls me back to my childhood, when all I needed was my own company or that of my brothers and cousins, a dash of imagination, and life was instantly magical.

Instead of working on my laptop (checking out job prospects, writing my blog, etc.), I plopped myself on my bed and just listened and allowed random memories to come rushing in.

I remembered when my best friend Sherwil and I would just play the radio and sit for hours, in her room, in her car, in my house, dreaming out loud about our unrequited loves. We were juniors, 15 turning 16, and we were mourning our crushes being on their final year of high school.

I remembered when the first song I learned was "The Greatest Love of All" and I felt so privileged that I was a child (probably 9 or 10 years old) and the song had that line about us being the future and I felt that life was going to surprise me with it greatness.

I remembered one summer, in UP, when I was taking summer classes. Someone I liked was away for the summer, and I had a classmate who, during our break, would always sing Beverly Craven's "Promise Me" and I'd sit and listen, and mentally sing along to the words "Promise me you'll wait for me, I need to know you feel the same way too, and I'll be home, I'll be home soon." Then I'd think, "But I'm not the one who's away, so technically this song is wrong so why am I even singing it?"

I remembered a party in the tennis court of my dad's old company in Zambales. I was about six or seven, maybe younger, and this cute guy who was old (he was, by my calculation, around twelve) danced to "Square Rooms." I had no concept of cute then, but I somehow knew he was special and I was too shy to even go near him.

I remembered when I was in grade school and when the bus would arrive early and I didn't have to catch up on homework I hadn't done, I'd head for the hill near our classroom and play there with my imaginary friends. I knew they were imaginary, I always knew, but I was often happier with them than I was in class.

I remembered the terror of not knowing the language of my playmates. I was a Cebuano child planted in Manila, and I didn't take to Tagalog for years. I made only one friend each school year, I wanted only one, and my greatest fear was her being absent and my having to deal with other classmates seeing me friendless during recess. I realize now that I had no fear of being alone; my fear was of being perceived alone.

I remembered my early friends in school. I can count them with one hand. I remember talking with one of them about our plan to read the whole Bible for the summer, something I never did and have never done, something she never got to follow up with me because we weren't classmates anymore the next school year, and I had to find a new friend again.

Then my eyes suddenly welled up with tears from God knows where, and I remembered who I was: this woman, no longer a child, now listening to old music on an old radio.

And then I remembered I had left my job because I said I was unhappy, but the truth was I was sad. And many times I had to set aside my sadness, because there was no room for the personal in that corporate life.

I remembered I had forgotten to allow myself to be sad over what I had lost, even when I had lost it by choice and with complete willingness. Joy, even.

Then today, I remembered who I was before everything became just tough and hard and bitter to the taste: I remembered I had also always been pure heart. I was always pure heart. I have always been pure heart.

I am always pure heart.

I had always loved completely and given my all in all that I did, with no hope or expectation, except for knowing I gave it all that I could. I used to do that. I did that.

I do that.

I will do it again.