What A Year

I’ve been meaning to write this end-of-year post for quite a while now, actually since just before the end of the year. However, given the mess of things (challenges, blessings, what have you) that have happened in 2022, my mind is naturally in a similar state of disarray. All attempt to try and pin down my thoughts have – until now – led to an endless spiral into things forgotten and dying to be said.

In any case – it’s another year completed! We were so sure the world was ending in 2020 and yet here we are, still contemplating the face of doom. I think when the world ground to a halt then, I sank into a quiet resignation. In direct contradiction to Emily Dickinson, I pretty much stopped for death. I did little, saved little, and thought little. I did read a lot, so I at least had that going for me. But when death didn’t come in 2020, I entered 2021 like a drowned man surprised to see himself coming back to the surface.

In complete contrast, this year has been marked by a restless drive to do stuff. I finished my long-overdue masters in 2021 and since then have been itching to kick off the next chapter: a PhD. I spent the first half of the year preparing for interviews, entrance exams, and rounding up my recommenders. We’re not quite there yet, but at the risk of showing my hand when the game is hardly finished, I dare say I made good progress to this end.

Another milestone made this year: our family finally purchased a house. Those that know me personally are aware that our family has been renting for pretty much my entire life, and since then we’ve watched our rent money get swallowed up by larger and larger increments every month by the void. Purchasing a property has always been a goal in our horizon, but until now we’ve been unable to really gather up the courage (and the cash, which is much more important) to pull the trigger.

We were fortunate that things finally lined up perfectly this year. Beginning January we’ve been going around to various neighborhoods and subdivisions searching for properties on sale. We were finally able to settle on a perfect lot in Bulacan, within reasonable commuting distance from where we all worked and studied. I can say a bunch of different parameters that made the purchase perfect, but really what caught my interest was this beautiful chandelier that the house’s previous owners never bothered to take with them.

We are still technically living with the risk of COVID, but at least things have somewhat eased up at this point. Slowly, maybe even foolishly, we’ve started scavenging for some scraps of normalcy that we left behind since 2020 made its epic entrance. Part of that is the ability to move around and travel, which I’ve certainly abused to some degree this year. Besides my regular commute from Bulacan to my workplace and my fiancée’s home, dates at various joints across the city and shopping malls, the fiancée and I also spent the end of the year touring Vigan together.

Before this trip, I had been to Vigan twice, but apparently have never really exhausted the variety of activities and sights it had to offer. With the fiancée, however, I was able to do and see a lot more. From museums and heritage mansions, to a zoo experience where I came within biting distance of a fortunately very docile and tourist-friendly lion.

Topping off our Vigan trip, we came up the Benguet mountains to meet my family in Baguio. Baguio, at this point, we’ve all seen too much off, and our activities consisted primarily of eating, eating, and some more eating. Though of course, I found time to squeeze in another visit to Mt. Cloud Bookshop and doing a book haul. This year I’ll be reading Bienvenido N. Santos’s Brother, My Brother, and Eric Gamalinda’s My Sad Republic. Add to that Richard Bolisay’s Nothing Deep which I actually finished on the bus ride coming down from Baguio.

Stress is normal, at least for me. Stress is the everyday force that drives me day-to-day from one place to the next, from one endeavor to another. So to end this reflection by saying it’s been a stressful year hopefully won’t come across as ending it on a negative note. Quite the contrary, it means it’s been a year of revival, a year of being living.

One response to “What A Year”

  1. Wow! What a year, indeed! Congratulations on finishing your graduate studies and buying a house. 🙂 Happy New Year!

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