An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Location: Philippines

Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

09 July 2010

At the bottom of my bag

One afternoon, while I was looking for a file inside my storage room, I came across an old canvas tote that I remember using from six or seven years ago. At the time I was still living in my old apartment and didn’t have a car yet. I was also still a full-time graduate student (as opposed to my current status of being a part-time, fallen-away, grappling-to-get-back-in-the-program graduate student), and living a vastly different life. I still lived along Evangelista St. in Makati, and my life revolved around the Camarines Sur and Makati offices of then Camarines Sur Governor Luis R. Villafuerte, for whom I was writing, and the subsequently his son, L-Ray, who became governor after him, Naga City, UP Diliman, and my old apartment, the College of Chaos.

This old canvas tote was huge! During its heyday it could fit my 12-inch Powerbook inside a padded sleeve, various chargers and cables and flash drives, two or three books, a stack of CDs, a thick sheaf of handouts and a handful of file folders brimming with even more files, a jacket, a folding umbrella, and a bottle of water. It’s a testament to its very good make that not a single stitch ever broke on me and my daily load within the months that I lugged it around the city, inside MRT trains, jeepneys and cabs and buses, elevators, classrooms, and offices. And for the past few years it has lain empty and quiet inside a large plastic storage box inside a storage room.

But not quite completely empty. As I fondled the material I felt some bumps from inside, and unzipped the bag. Inside I saw a wealth of small old things, the usual flotsam and jetsam from my life of six or seven years ago. There were old crumbling tickets from Baclaran-Novaliches buses, three Mongol # 2 pencils, a sachet of instant Nescafe, its contents as hard as stone. Inside I also found a handkerchief, two Yale keys I couldn’t identify, several paperclips, a small purple stapler, and three Globe prepaid load cards from when I was still using a tiny silver Samsung flip-phone with two green screens.

There were several crumpled Post-It notes as well, a few blank, but several containing names and numbers and email addresses of people, some of whom I can even remember, and short reminders of files to be sent, amounts to be billed, and places to be photographed. There were old tickets from Isarog Bus Lines for when I would travel from Naga to Manila and back, eight-hour trips I would take overnight, sleeping snugly under thick pants, two jackets, and a soft warm flannel blanket. And when the memories start, there’s no saying when they would end, because I don’t live that life anymore, and I am someone else now.

At the bottom of my bag there are fossils that contain a world inside them, a world that I no longer inhabit, but which I still recognize from a past era. If that world is not mine anymore, why then do I feel suddenly misplaced where I currently am? Why is my heart yearning to live in it once more? Has a piece of myself fallen off and embedded itself into one of these relics, and shall I always keep trying to find that lost part of me? Why am I dreaming of spending even just a day in that old world? And why am I imagining that, once I am back there, I shall overstay my welcome and not leave at all?

[Image credits: 1, 2]


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