Sunday, March 30, 2008

Trailer Park Woman

Today I saw you looking out of your window, chin in hands, your lined face encased in a mop of lackluster gray hair. The old paint coat on your trailer matched the color of your hair, while its shabbiness matched the sadness in your eyes.

I knew why you were sad. The trailer park was deteriorating, families had been leaving, and the place had more wild growth than people. I myself was there to help one of your last neighbors to move out while you were watching.

You must have felt lonely, or worse, abandoned. For others, the trailer park was just a temporary phase, and there was always a future elsewhere. For you, it was the end of the road which you had to live all by yourself.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


When I think of you, I think of something bright and cheerful, like a postcard. For your colors are still vivid in my memory -- ivory complexion, blond hair, scarlet lips. You looked so striking that everyone and everything else more or less faded into the background.

Ironically, it was an ardent suitor who brought you close to me. For he became so obsessed by you, following you around with that besotted puppy look in his eyes, so you got scared and came to me for advice. I still remember the night you knocked on the door of my dorm room, as badly frightened as a child woken up from a nightmare. I led you to my chair and comforted you in my very correct gentlemanly manner, but at the back of my mind I was idly wondering why girls kept coming to me for advice and comfort but not so often for love.

I found your sweet disposition pleasant, I was also astonished by your complete lack of worldly wisdom. I listened to your many reflections and ponderings and sometimes was even more confused than you were, but we got along all right.

You asked me to go to church with you one Sunday morning. It was the first time I ever set foot to that respectable-looking United Methodist edifice downtown. The congregation inside was dressed up to the nines, and I was feeling a bit embarrassed in my threadbare jacket when you told me you were proud to be seen there with me. Needless to say that my affection for you went up a few notches.

In the meantime you had considerably softened towards the suitor who had once scared you into knocking on my door. You were moved by his persistence and started to accept his gifts. You excitedly told me about your visit to his home and the warm reception his mother had given you. You so anxiously sought my approval that grudgingly I gave it to you.

You left the campus to spend six months in Spain to get your exposure to its culture and language which you studied. Once in a while you shot me an email describing your amazement at the totally different lifestyle you were witnessing in some small village outside Toledo. Once in a while I felt like I might be missing you.

You came back in spring, and while I was taking your pictures with dogwood flowers blossoming above you and colorful tulips blooming at your feet, I thought you were exactly where you belonged, right in the midst of nature's spring beauty. I started toying with the idea of courting you myself, but I was afraid that you would have been so confused with two concurrent suitors that you would have sought out a third person for advice and turned the whole situation into a convoluted farce.

I graduated when summer showed up that year. Armed with my degree, my youthful earnestness and a job offer, I moved to Washington to start a new, fast and zestful life. As time went by, our exchange of messages was reduced to a trickle then ceased completely. I had no idea about your life after college.

It's been ten years now, yet I am sure you are just as sweet as you used to be. Thanks for a memory that always brings a tender smile to my eyes.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Another Suitcase

Last night I re-watched Evita and was struck by a couple of lines from the lyrics by Tim Rice:

Another suitcase in another hall
Take your picture off another wall...

It is an astonishingly apt description of the end of a stage in life. In me, it evokes a mixed bag of emotion ranging from regret, reluctance, uncertainty to eager expectation and elation, depending on the circumstances under which I removed my pictures from a wall to pack them in a suitcase. Regardless of particularities, change is the theme.

Not necessarily a change of physical location. Losing something and gaining something else, it happens all the time. Family and friends, job and relationship, health and wealth, all are subjected to time-induced fluctuations. For better or for worse, change is intrinsic to life.

And so whenever I start feeling settled and comfortable, I know it is about time to get me another suitcase.

Monday, March 3, 2008


I love peaches, but buying them from supermarkets is tricky business. Supermarket peaches may look ripe, fresh and succulent, but inside they may be dry, stale or even rotten. After years of selecting peaches, I still depend on luck to get some good ones.

Just like my haphazard relationships. They all looked beautiful at the outset, but there was really no way to tell of the outcome, which could be heartening, harrowing, or simply tasteless and a waste of life.

I wish I could do as a band plays in their song:

Moving to the country
I'm gonna eat a lot of peaches
Peaches come from a can
They were put there by a man
In a factory downtown
And if I had my little way

I'd eat peaches everyday
Sun-soaked bulges in the shade.

But in real life one cannot move to the countryside just to eat a lot of fresh peaches, neither is there any warranted peachy relationship growing in some orchard waiting to be picked. I suppose I still have to try and hope that luck will eventually bring me my "sun-soaked bulge in the shade."

Quite unlike my buddy Joe, who depends on no luck to get his tasty peaches. Recently I was with him at a supermarket in Palm Coast, Florida and he was eyeing a box of peaches on display, so I remarked to him how tricky it was to pick out the good ones. He looked at me like I was an idiot, wiped a peach on his sleeve, and to my consternation bit right into it. "Very sweet and juicy," he declared while happily chewing. "I'll get some of these."

On our way home he kept smirking at me while I was asking myself how come I had never thought of that simple solution, at least for peaches.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Kids Who Rang My Doorbell

It was Halloween night. I had made a last-minute rush to the local supermarket to get some bags of candies, emptied them into a big glass bowl, put the bowl near the front door and turned on my porch light.

The doorbell rang. My first visitor was so small I had to sit down on my heels to talk to him. He was wearing a superman custom without a mask, for his dark glasses had fallen to his feet and each of his tiny hands was already busy holding an orange pumpkin-like lantern. He did not answer my greetings, just gazed at me with his solemn blue eyes, so of course I obediently stood up and put two fistfuls of candies into each of his pumpkins. The two ladies escorting him thanked me and led him away while my eyes were longingly following his small figure in the red cape.

Little Superman had started an unusually busy time for my doorbell. In the next couple of hours my porch was full of laughter, girls giggling and boys bantering, and I had to refill the glass bowl with more candies.

Gradually the doorbell sound became fewer in between then stopped completely. Only a few candies were left in the bowl. It was late, and I was thinking of turning off my porch light to signal the end of Halloween night as far as I was concerned. Then the bell rang again.

Waiting at my front door was a little boy in a wheelchair, looking pale and tired under the yellowish light. He uttered "Trick or treat" without much enthusiasm while his parents were anxiously watching him. I could feel the love and sorrow for their son emanating from the middle-aged couple standing aside in the dark.

I gave him my last candies, squeezed his hands and said "Have fun." I was startled to see his downcast countenance lit up with such a bright sweet smile when he said thank you to me. His parents gave me a grateful look and repeated their thanks, while I was still amazed at how little it took to give someone a happy moment.

Later that night I was still wearing a grin to bed because of the kids who had rung my doorbell.