“Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness.”
― Ray Bradbury
February is here and it didn’t come as a surprise. I know it feels like we just spent New Year’s Eve/Day half awake and full of hope but February walked a few steps behind January all month long, looming, peering over my shoulder, getting ready to pick up its pace and race ahead. True enough, February has arrived. It has bulldozed my To Do lists and has threatened me with deadlines front, back, side and center. I am taking it all in though. No sense in pressing the panic button. I don’t want to feed the allostatic load and get wrinkles and heart disease in my thirties. I’ve been here before. We’ve reached the crazy season of being a teacher. But everything will work out, I know it, so I take it all in; even if I have the annual trip to the North with the kids staring me in the face right smack in the middle of report card season. Yup, it’s Sagada time once again, which means, February is HERE all right, exactly where it needs to be.
There’s a lot to be said about these trips to Sagada. The first time a bunch of the teachers went up to do an ocular inspection six years ago, we ended up attending a local baptism where the traditional thing to bring home was a plastic bag of bloody pork. It was an amazing thing to be invited into the locals’ homes, to sit and chat and celebrate and hang out. The multitude of tourists swarming the streets of Sagada that year had no idea what was right under their noses. Then year in and year out ever since, by the time February rolled in, the students and four to five teachers got ready to get on a bus, travel all night long and a day to arrive in one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines.
This year, as tired as I am and as overloaded with deliverables as I am, I don’t care. I can’t wait to get on that freezing bus. To take a break from all major cities and bond with the Grade 8 kids. To take pictures with my prime and my new wide angle lens. To breathe in fresh air and eat yogurt churned with butter (I just found that out) slathered on top of big fat strawberries and granola. I can’t wait to wear fleece and gloves and funky bonnets and warm vests. I can’t wait to spend time with Tommy and Vixenne, Mr. Fau, and the humblest of highest chiefs, Pulat. I can’t wait to see the mouth of Sumaging cave, trek down Echo valley to see the hanging coffins and watch the sunrise from St. Jo’s with a hot cup of Sagada coffee. I can’t wait to see the kids interact with this unique community and learn something new about a place that’s part of where they are from. I can’t wait for the bonfire and the s’mores and the Aha moments, new friendships the kids will make and the many little discoveries this place provides opportunities for. I am harassed with work but I can’t wait to get to Sagada where the trees know so many of my secrets. There’s so much in my heart I want to whisper to them right now. Ssshhh…
Anyway, ironically, at the end of the day what I am really grateful for right now is time. It’s my last year to go to Sagada with the Beacon kids and I am glad I have this time to take it all in. After that, five months and some left. That’s just enough time to fall in love (again) with my complex city, time to say goodbye to my home and say see you real soon to everyone who matter (because Singapore is not far and I predict many visitors often); just enough time to pay attention, to take photos, write and document life as I am living and leaving it. Enough time to sort, pack, throw and give stuff away. Enough time to say it’s been super, but I have to go soon; no matter how bittersweet, no matter how uncomfortable, no matter how scary and exciting. Yes, just enough time to know and cherish what I am leaving behind because I am certain I will miss all of it to bits.
Well, thanks again, G. Sagada always manages to make some kind of statement every year, without fail. Welcome, February. I know you will go by fast but I also know you will be unforgettable.
grateful slice: time and reflection