Tag Archives: family

Today is my birthday

1-25-2016. I’m another year older. Another year clueless. But, I have a more tangible insight as to where my life is going and how I’m getting there. 2015 was not glamorous by any means (besides my trips to the Philippines and to Baltimore with my girls). In fact it was probably one of the worst years of my life, if not the worst. Contrast that to the previous year, 2014, which was undoubtedly the best year of my life. The year of travel, freedom, soulful luxury and wholeness. I felt more sure of my identity than ever before. My end to 2014 and beginning to 2015 were magical. I was able to spend time with some of the people who mean the most to me. For my birthday last year, I got to see some of them in the same room interacting with one another, meeting each other. I love bringing brilliant people together. People I believe in, people who believe in me. After they left I thought about what 2015 would bring; I never felt more unsure in my life. Regardless, I was elated by them caring enough for me to come together and celebrate.

In 2015, I experienced an arduous job searching stupor (still kind of am) which featured very promising interviews and interactions, but outcomes that were only semi-fruitful and not enough. I often felt choked betwixt the layers of reality and fantasy. Doubtful about choosing the necessary evils that would ultimately help me reach my dreams. For the record, I still plan on pursuing an acting career. Where and exactly when I will actively begin my journey is unknown to me (currently leaning towards NYC, who’s with me?). However, I am super close to paying off my student loans and once that happens, I immediately plan on saving enough money to seek the life my soul aches for.

Other things happened last year that I don’t wish to disclose as I don’t wish to reflect on them any further. But I’m praying to God that 2016 is much better. Please God let it be. I now know though, that we’re all on a journey together. I’ve come to realize that I need to constantly work at being who I want to be. It’s not a dream anymore. I’m not a kid in school. It’s become my concrete reality and my youth is gliding on the ice. One of my resolutions for the new year is to say yes to things, invitations, people, I normally would say no to. My world has been too controlled by me thus far. I want to broaden it and my experiences, the depths of my senses and relationships. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll learn.

Studying in Jerusalem taught me the importance of being open to opportunities. When I went to my first ever strip club in Tel Aviv, I initially refused because it wasn’t how I imagined my first experience to unfold. I was with two friends and we had just come from swimming in a gym pool- my hair was dry and unkempt, I was wearing the most basic jeans and a pull over hoodie. This was not how I wanted to feel or look entering a strip club for the first time! But I was convined to stay by one of my friend’s friends. As he introduced himself to me, he looked me right in my eyes and shook my hand, he kept his eyes on me and didn’t let go of my hand. I complained to him how crappy I looked. “You’re hot. You should see how the other guys look,” he replied. My jaw dropped on the inside and all of a sudden I felt ready to go 🙂

I guess this birthday blog post is basically about me using lessons I learned in 2014 and 2015 to guide my 2016. Which actually means I should relinquish some control. This year I want to work harder and stay more focused, but it’s time to let things happen! Let happiness happen. Let simplicity happen. Let love happen. Let friendship happen. Let boredom happen. Let it all happen. But then deal with it. Analyze it. Move on. Start over. 12 months to go. I hope I’ll see you there. xo

The Only Place For Me

I haven’t unpacked my things and I almost don’t want to. At least not yet. My clothes still carry the smell of the room we stayed in in my lola’s (grandmother’s) home. I know my memories will fade, as certainly as I know, the smell of my clothes will one day fade until next time. The truth is, I don’t want to be away from them. We say goodbye, we think see you later, then they’re on my Facebook timeline and in the back of my mind until one day out of the unpredictable blue my mom asks me if I want to go the Philippines. Could my answer ever be “No”? I wish we could go every year. My heart goes out to immigrants everywhere that wish to be with their families but cannot for whatever reason.

Smell is the closest sense tied to memory. I hope the day never comes that I would ever forget the smell of the Philippines, the different scents of my home and the air. We returned five days ago and my luggage still houses my clothes and keeps the familiar scents embedded in them and I am lovelorn. My wishes are pearls and my tears are crystals that I drop whilst praying for the safety, health, and happiness of us all. I wish I had dollars- mountains of dollars that I could share with everyone so that we would never worry. And dollars that I would keep so I could always visit. Dollars for the things we really need and some for the things we want. I’m always praying- just like Lola every morning. I don’t know what she prays for, but I hope she says some for me. And I’ll say some for her.

There is no full happiness and appreciation for life and beauty without them. I will always pray for us and I will always fight for all of their love, big or small, smothering or invisible, distant or close, silent or loud. My eyes are tired from all the water that’s poured out. We all make mistakes. Lord forgive me for the ones I’ve made, including not knowing how quickly everything would come and pass. Life was dandy when I was 5. But what was it like for everyone else? The adults in my family and the ones to be. Did they also have a candy view of life? We were all much closer when we were younger. Has the fact that we’re not as close or as young changed the way we feel? Or is this how getting older makes all adults feel, that responsibilities that come with age make life less sweet?

I drag things out to the very end. I don’t unpack. I don’t clean. I pack until the last minute. I hope my future partner will forgive me these things. If something impacts me, I’ll hold onto it and I don’t let myself forget about it. My family is irreplaceable. We’re unforgettable. We’re a force for good. You’ll never forget us. You’ll always remember. The silver stars will twinkle and the dogs will always roam. The hearts that I’m surrounded with will always be my home. With you, I could never be angry, I could never be hurt. My spirit wrapped in your tenderness all the times you washed my shirt. Pink sorbet New Jersey skies are pleasant and bring me to the present. They make me miss where I belong. Memories pure in soft rock songs, bouncing from the radio. I wish we didn’t have to go, that instead I’d say “See you tomorrow.”

The night we arrived in the Philippines I knew it would crush me to say goodbye. Out of all the times I’ve ever visited, this time hit me the hardest. I first visited when I was infant, around age one, then when I was five, when I was 10, when I was 13, 15, 21, and now. That place has got a big piece of my heart. I’m not the best that I could be, but I’m trying to be. You deserve it all and I honestly don’t deserve all the love you’ve given me. But thank you for loving us anyway. You’ve all inspired me to love the same.

Love always,
Me.

Gallivanting The Green Menagerie

Yesterday was probably my favorite day so far here in the Philippines. My mom, and sister and I went with our two cousins from my dad’s side to Danasan Eco Adventure Park in Danao City. It was literally our first time spending time with them and having actual conversations. We’re all in our 20’s and never connected until now because we were always shy when we were younger. Now that we’re more mature, it’s easier to let go of that and simply be real and connect. As I get older, I look to remove old layers of myself and my shyness that have prohibited me from growing and expanding my relationships with people and my place in this world. At times I forget that I am in control of my life. But then I have those periodic moments of soul rejuvenation where I realize I am in control of my destiny and that I have agency over how I want my life to pan out when given opportunities. When I’m at a celebratory family dinner and my relatives are in front of me whom I haven’t spoken to in a while, I realize I have the ability to speak and breathe life into those connections. I have a voice, I have a charm, I have a personality, as well as my family in front of me. We don’t have to stay mum and sit idly as time passes us by. We have a choice to make the most out of each day and every moment.

According to the Danasan Park website, it “boasts of 133 hectares of beautiful outdoors. The Park has three (3) caves, a waterfall with three (3) astounding drops, several fresh water springs, and a man-made lake. It also has a wide range of eco-friendly activities that will surely satisfy one’s thirst for adventure. All Park facilities are fully environment-friendly and were carefully planned so as not to cause any harm to the natural beauty of the environment. The Park leverages on nature’s splendor after all.” The activities offered include zip lining, wake boarding, caving, trekking, rappelling, tyrolean, ATV riding, horseback riding, 8×8 off road trailing, and you can also rent a bike, camp, and swim in their infinity pool. There was also a new activity called the SkyDrop, which was basically a launch swing where you’re hoisted high up in the air. I would have done it, but we didn’t have enough time. We arrived at the park at 1 pm, and had lunch at a cute and slightly fancy eatery within the park. We finished lunch at 2 and since the park closes at 5, we only had time to do the ATV trail and the joint activity of zip lining and horseback riding. It was a wild day of many firsts, including hanging with my cousins! It was my first time riding an ATV and my first time riding horseback! Unfortunately, my guide kept smacking my horse in the face with a branch of leaves, albeit lightly. My horse seemed tired and kept lagging off to the side of the path. I wish I knew how to say “Please stop hitting the horse.” [I think I could have said “Ayaw pak-pak si ya.”]

The ATV was our first activity and definitely the most adventurous. I’ve always wanted to ride one and own one myself, but during my first couple moments of riding it, I was scared I would be thrown off. The path was super rocky and seemingly unsafe, but thank God I never fell. We faced a few metaphoric bumps in the road: my mom initially tried riding with us, but after bumbling to the side only a few meters ahead and being stuck on a rock, she decided not to move forward. At one point, my vehicle uncontrollably veered to the right and I almost crashed into a fully grown albino horse that was eating. It jumped to the side in fear and I thought I would hit and that it would trample me, but I was able to swerve away and back onto the path. We all eventually got a better hang of our vehicles and were able to tear through the edgy terrain in amusement.

Although the park was fun and wonderful, the real adventure was getting there…
From Cebu, there are four ways of getting to Danasan Eco Adventure Park.
1. You can call the park and have them shuttle you directly.
2. You can drive all the way there.
3. Take a bus from the North Terminal to Danao and then walk 25 km to the park.
or 4. Do what we did and once you arrive in Danao, habal-habal, or ride with random dudes on motorbikes and pay them to take you to the park, which is the way most people go that don’t schedule a shuttle.

Riding on a motorcycle was another first. In Israel, many dudes have these cute little moped like bikes, but in the Philippines, we have actual motorbikes that many people buy because they’re cheaper than cars. Once we were in Danao and got off our little van, we walked in the direction of a sign that read “This way to Danasan Eco Adventure Park” and went to a sari-sari store, which is a mini convenient street store that sells packaged goods, foods, and hygiene sachets, owned by many families as a main source of income; you can see hundreds of them in cities here. The woman who owned the store told us that the park was far and that the only way to get there was to “habal-habal” and find guys who would be willing to take us there for a price. Soon enough, a couple guys rode up to us and asked where we were going. “Danasan Park” we said. One of them went off to find a third guy to take us and once they found him, we started to negotiate. It was a very interesting process because it seemed like the men were total strangers who banded together for this job. They said it would be a 2 hour ride to the park, which at first sounded so unthinkable to ride on the back of these bikes for that long, but it was our only option because there is no other transportation to this park. We finally agreed that we would pay 550 pesos per bike for round trip and that the three of them would wait for us at the park until we were finished.

After we did a quick gas fill up with gasoline that amazingly looked like red soda, we were off! I had no idea what to do with my hands when I hopped onto the bike except grab onto his shoulders, because that’s what I always see on screen of people being romantic and in love, but then he motioned for me to put my hands on his waist instead. I was initially scared I would get hit by a car and thrown off the bike because the way people drive in the Philippines looks so reckless and lawless, but there really is a method to it. On a more personal note, my cousin’s father died after crashing into a tree while riding his bike. In a strange way, it felt like all of us riding on the backs of these bikes was a weird step into adulthood and coming to terms with who we were all becoming, especially since we were traveling together.

We traveled winding roads with the island wind blowing in our faces. We ascended and descended upon mountain slopes with the sunlight beaming overhead. My eyes were transfixed upon the picturesque revealed in front of me. I was right in the thickness and glorious beauty of the Philippines. When I turned my head left, I saw elevated fields of green, hillside rice paddies, banana tree farms and young green coconuts crowning palm trees. When I turned my head right, I saw slender trees that stood tall and straight with loose vines that dangled down above the heads of children and delicate wooden bridges drenched with a provocative musk of rustic adventure I so desperately wanted to explore. I wanted to ask my biker to stop so I could walk along and take photos and touch and live inside the scenes I was viewing. The artful tropical landscapes set off fireworks in my mind and left me breathless. I couldn’t believe this was the adventure I was living. From being in the Middle East one year ago, and now returned to my motherland of the Philippines, riding on a mountain on the back of this dude’s bike, holding onto him and passing by the people on the street, life couldn’t be sweeter and I couldn’t have asked for more. My sister sat behind me, my mother rode with my cousin Clifford, and his brother Shane rode alone with his biker. Our biker was the best. He was always first and was certainly the fastest, although he never made it a show to be. He led without trying to lead, and the majority of our ride there and back, we were so far ahead of the others that they weren’t in sight behind us, so we pulled to the side a few times throughout and waited for them and let them pass us until we caught up and led once again.

Along the first quarter of the way, we passed under grey clouds and looked to the rain in the distance. Soon enough, we felt droplets of rain and I imagined we would continue traveling like this: swiftly darting in between the raindrops as the air cooled our skin, our senses delighted in the ever changing atmosphere as I pondered my life and how my cousins felt about our bike ride. But we took cover under a wooden shelter because our bikers sensed greater rains ahead. Then the rain really began to pour and the air cooled down and I was grateful for this shelter and for our bikers and their nuanced senses of travel and the weather. There was a house and sari sari store across the narrow road that housed whom I imagined built this protective space. Residing in the shelter beside us was a slender and playful goat that Micah fed with grass; it kept jumping above the wooden bench and crawling underneath it to come closer. We snacked on syrup encrusted banana chips and spicy chicharon [pork rinds] while we waited and drank water and apple juice wondering when the rain would end. It calmed me to watch the heavy rains pour on the greenery below. The rainfall was so thick, it looked as if massive nets of glimmering water were lashing in the air, pounding the trees and spreading across the fields. For a moment, I was worried that this was what our ultimate hangout with our cousins was going to be, sitting and watching the rain, asking each other questions and exchanging friendly, curious glances with our bikers. But thankfully, rain storms in the Philippines, despite being heavy, are relatively brief, comparable to thunder storms in New Jersey minus the thunder.

Eventually the rain softened and we hopped back onto our wet bikes. We raced through the light rain, as the water pressed against our bodies and into our eyes, momentarily blurring our vision, but never dampening the inescapable air of romance and adventure that soaked into this incredible sensory experience. The rain cleared and the sun was out again with skies of blue as we raced through barangays, or small towns, upwards into the mountains and towards this uniquely remote and isolated park with the weirdest and most unbelievable road leading to it. I felt like a high fashion model beyond the realm of Chanel, working an extremely extended, once in a lifetime, otherworldly photoshoot for Vogue or similarly exclusive ad campaign, proud to model in a stunning location in the Philippines; I wished Mario Testino was there to capture the whole thing. Only those who have habal-habaled to this park know what this was like. I knew once I hopped onto the back of the bike and saw the fields of green, that this was going to be one of the days I always remember. The entire journey was visually and physically stunning, and simultaneously tinged with an extremely personal and intimate layer of what it means to be family. Riding with my cousins on the very cause of their father’s death, truly being with them for the first time, witnessing the irreplaceable land of my roots and the pearls of my heritage, feeling like a world class model, latching onto to the back of a stranger, being physically close as he seamlessly guides us on an enchanting yet obscure road, cutting through rain and mud and mosquitoes flying into my eyes and me blinking them to their deaths, as my eyes lock with the dozens of residents throughout the barangays, wondering about their lives and who they are, them wondering about me and who I am. Yesterday was a blessed adventure I never knew I would have as well as a physical demonstration that life and living is about the journey, not the destination.

Header photo credits: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jonicdao/

Back to the Philippines

What does it feel like to be back? It feels like I’m living inside a film and each second is a grain of sand that I can’t get back. It’s crucial for me to always be conscious of my time here and how blessed I am to be here after being away for two years. How do I maximize each opportunity, each moment? I’m going to try to keep my phone and internet use limited so I can spend that time with my family and rooting myself into the reality that I am back home! This time that’s been given me is so precious and irreplaceable, I need to spend it wisely. I believe that means limiting myself to the devices that I’m used to and garner a familiarity with the devices that I’m not as privy to. Limiting contact with people back in the states and increasing contact with people here. Because I’m here right now and I need to live in the moment.

I’m sitting in the kitchen while my uncle is chopping vegetables, preparing today’s lunch and dinner. I just played Mortal Kombat X with one of my cousins on the computer. His sisters are in the living room watching TV. My sister and mother are in our room (my Lola’s room), and the sound of motorcycles whizzing outside perforates the air. Sunlight is pouring through the skylight window and onto the kitchen floor; it is yellow light that I can feel, that has a presence, that provides an eternal sense of calm and serenity. Some girls are singing karaoke from their home in the houses behind us. My lola [grandmother] is basically a landlord and owns housing and people pay her rent. The fan is whirring in my face as I type and it feels so pleasant. I have honestly always loved the heat. Something about it feels so comforting. This may sound kind of repulsive, but when I’m constipated in the summer, it doesn’t feel as bad because the hot air provides a weird layer of comfort for my stomach.

Tomorrow I’ll be flying to Boracay, perhaps the Philippines’ most well known vacation destination, for a few days. Yesterday I was mentally organizing a schedule of places we would be going during our trip and I realized just how short one month really is. I wish we were staying for at least 6 weeks! One month stay is not long enough especially when I’m in a country I consider home and when there are so many places I have yet to see here. I never had the chance to properly explore other Philippine islands, only Cebu, meanwhile there are 7,107 islands that make up the Philippines. I’ve only ever really seen parts of Cebu, and not even the whole of it. So tomorrow will be a new step into cracking the effervescent mystique of this magnificent place.

I will always love travel, I will always love adventure, and I will always be thankful for my family and friends that take care of me and embrace me. I am incredibly blessed to be able to have this chapter written into my summer of 2015. I’m a 23 year old graduated student from Rutgers University, a queer Aquarius, and a Filipino dude lustful of the wondrous world we inhabit and constantly seek to understand. Thank you God for this amazing opportunity. I pray I make the utmost of it while I’m here. xx

P.s. I made a snapchat to capture my travels, so follow me on that! @Nikkobae
And follow me on Instagram as well @seathelife.
Photo credit goes to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/25767209@N02/

An Ode to Demarest Hall

Dear Demarest,

You were never my first choice. When I transferred to Rutgers in Fall 2012, I was confused as to how we wound up together. Nevertheless, we were made for each other. Ever since my first night, I knew I belonged in this unruly house of youth in revolt. I never felt cool until I met people who boldly embraced others as they were. We were the rawest blend of rude kids with sweet hearts who popped cigarettes like candy and burned the trash of racist, sexist, homophobic society. Our sequins and glitter sparkled against the pavement on the nights we got too drunk, but never sick enough to tolerate misogyny and other sins for a second. Amidst the flames, we spilled stories of heartbreak, tales of cheer, and looked at each other in the eyes, breathing with a collective pulse of transparent understanding. Though I despised the grimy staircases and heinous carpeting, I was endlessly fond of the gritty hearts found in you; eventually, every corner housed someone I trusted and considered a friend.

Something in the air geared us towards the political, the fashionable, the vulnerable, the offensive, the artistic, and the strange. It was where I was introduced to social justice concepts and their underlying branches: feminism, rape culture, white privilege, “queerness” and deeper aspects of the LGBT experience. All these conversations had planted seeds that allowed me to grow into stronger political and personal identities. I remember being in the study lounge with two of my friends who had never even met, as it was getting later, distracted from my studies by an intriguing conversation we were having related to women and gender. I tried to bow out of the exchange right as we were getting more interested and involved to return to my studies, until one of my friends said gently, “Isn’t this also a major part of college? To have these inimitable conversations about important abstract matters of absolutely anything?” I had finally felt accepted and rooted into the existential spheres of university and perplexed by the infinite reality of ideas spurred and connections made. Moreover, I will always remember the moment Obama won re-election in November 2012. We all gathered in the basement anxiously awaiting the results, and once they were announced, we collectively hurrahed with spirits full of hope. I cheered to myself as I looked around at the generation I was so immensely proud of– people fueled by the promise of changing times and open minds.

Living in Demarest eased my transition into adulthood whilst never extinguishing the chaotic and fragile element of brazen college fun. It was the first and only place where I felt comfortable enough to unleash my inner ratchet bitch for all to see. In this kingdom, I freely twerked, called people “betch,” wore makeup, shared my art and writing, and stayed up until morning creating memories I could never forget with people I will always appreciate. I tend to make embarrassing life choices, so thank you for never judging me. Thank you for your never ending Brower trains and for always making room for me when it looked like there wasn’t. Thank you for your patience every time I fell in love with a hot guy in Brower. Thank you for introducing me to alternative music and thought, essential tea, Hipsterism, and Christmas light magic. Thank you for the monthly coffeehouses that gave me something to do on Thursday nights besides eating take-out vegan nuggets because I was rarely ever “thirsty.” Thank you for continuing to be brave in your polarizing, sometimes notorious reputation when many unfairly debased you. Thank you for constantly surrounding me with beautiful minded individuals who were free to chat and philosophize at any hour of the day. Ultimately, thank you for helping me feel brave in my weirdness.

As my beloved and irreplaceable home, I ask only one thing: please keep your doors open to all, and remember to let EVERYONE be who they are, not only those who fit a certain shade of “different.” I believe in an inclusive Demarest that strives for jolly times for people of all backgrounds and I pray you live on as a legendary community that wholly celebrates peachy love, fizzy dreams, full acceptance, and unique identities. Whenever I write my future novel, I promise to mention you at least once, à la Junot Diaz.

Love forever,
A (still) wide eyed Demarite navigating the “real world.”

dem

“Glee is about opening yourself up to joy”

2009

I started watching Glee during Season 2 when I was an 18 year old freshman at community college. Life was simpler then. Since I wasn’t living away for university, I would go to my classes every day and come back. I began watching Glee because I heard great things about it and I was also talking to a boy who was a big fan (I think he stopped watching after season 2 but I still thank him because his greatest contribution to my life was introducing me to Glee in the first place). Since I had no life outside of going to school and because I had plenty of free time, I wanted to invest it into following a new show. So I gave Glee a chance. As I discovered what it truly was, I fell so deeply in love and instantaneously became a fan.

Blaine

Glee has chronicled an entire five year era of my life post high school. From graduating high school in 2010 until the airing of last night’s finale on top of having graduated from university in January 2015. At the beginning of this era, I graduated high school without genuine friends. I didn’t go to prom because I knew I wouldn’t feel comfortable. I wondered who I would be dancing and having fun with and who would be sitting at my table, because I never found my group of people. Then I started college in the fall, determined to start over with newfound confidence and feeling like I could run the world. Yet it would still be a while until I made friends like I had hoped. In the meantime, the characters of Glee became my friends, dear ones that accepted me for everything I was and am, which was everything I concealed from the people in my real life.

Glee was there when I was just beginning college and essentially only had myself. When I was growing into my sexual identity and young adulthood. When I was learning to be brave and proud of who I am. My worldview has been permanently influenced by the life lessons attained from Glee and I am incredibly proud of that. I am an absolute Gleek and will be forever. Being a Gleek has been to tied to my lifelong identity as a gay outsider, someone who never fit in, a weirdo, a loser, a theatre nerd, someone who was seen as inferior, but someone with so much love and passion for joy.

It is with complete and utter love that I bid Glee farewell. Saying goodbye to Glee is like saying goodbye to my friends– friends that have grown with me for the last five years. I wouldn’t be who I am without this show. I wouldn’t be as happy or as confident or hopeful about my life and the world were it not for Glee. I wouldn’t be seeing the world with as much colour as I do now. Thank you Ryan Murphy for creating a world full of love that I was blessed to feel part of. A world that kept my dreams alive. I honestly wish the series hadn’t ended just yet. I wish this last season wasn’t shortened. I wish there was another season after this one, or at least a spinoff so that I could still see everyone. Glee has taught me beautiful, invaluable things about being myself, the world, love, compassion, family, humanity, the arts, and the essence of performing. I cried so much during the finale that my eyes are still sore. As I watched all those beautiful final moments unfold, I realized exactly how large of an impact Glee has had on my life and everything that I’ve experienced the last five years. All my memories of watching Glee and its connection to my life ignited floods of cathartic sadness with the realization that it’s all finally over.

Klaine

Dear Glee, you have me as a fan for life and I couldn’t be more proud to be who I am because of you. I used to feel like such a loner, a loser, a girly dreamer with low self esteem. I hadn’t found myself in 2010. I was lost. I wasn’t true to myself. I wasn’t open to the sound of my own beat. I didn’t live life with a gleeful sparkle in my eyes. I was content to be hidden in the shadows of others, content to feel brushed by and unnoticed. But you gave me so much joy and helped me find my shine from the inside out. I will always sing your songs and I know they will always fill me with love. In the final words of Sue Sylvester:

“It takes a lot of bravery to look around you and see the world not as it is, but as it should be. A world where the quarterback becomes friends with the gay kid. Or the girl with the big nose ends up on Broadway. Glee is about imagining a word like that. And finding the courage to open up your heart and sing about it.”

Brava and farewell to the cultural phenomenon that is Glee.

2015

Love in the Laundry

There is unconditional love in the folding of clothes. Sometime last week I did laundry in a batch mixed with my own, my mother’s, and my father’s. As I was folding my laundry to my Beyonce soundtrack, I was ready to just return the laundry basket to their room unfolded because they’re clean anyhow and they can fold it themselves. But when I picked up my last piece of clothing from the basket, I realized something quite startling: my mom would have never done that. Whenever she gets her hands on my laundry, she folds and irons everything; it doesn’t matter whose it is. Sometimes there are certain shirts I’ll ask her to iron because I’m too lazy to do so, but she always folds my clothes the neatest way I’ve ever seen. I’m grateful for that. I realized that this is one way she gives me and my sister unconditional love. I started to cry in this moment. It’s after midnight as Beyonce continues to play from my Mac downstairs and I look into the basket at my parents’ clothes and hesitating no further, I fold them; mind you it wasn’t a full basket to begin with so there wasn’t much to fold. The realization just kept repeating in my mind: this is unconditional love, this is unconditional love. She treats our clothes with care without being asked to do so because she is our mother, we are her children, she loves us, and that’s the role she wants to play as a mother, a mother that wants to take care of her kids.

laundry

Most of my mom’s laundry was her underwear. I am usually averse to touching any of my family members’ underwear because they’re soiled, but that never stopped my mom from washing all of our clothes. So I folded my parents’ underwear from the light in my room while my dad slept with his door open, light splashing onto his tired face, and I did it happily. “XO” by Beyonce came on as I finished up, and when I had one foot into my parents’ room to place their clothes on the bench, Beyonce sang out the second verse, “We don’t have forever. Ooh, baby daylight’s wasting. You better kiss me, before our time has run out.” I quickly took a step back into the lit hallway and gasped at the intensity of which that verse hit me and sobbed as quietly as I could without waking my dad. This song especially makes me feel the shortness of time and when I heard that second verse, I thought of the distance between my parents and me and I didn’t want it there anymore. I want them to kiss me before our time is run out. We have our problems just like any other family, but being back at home has made me realize and see things I never did before. A new intimacy lingers in the solitude. Coming back from study abroad and completing my college career has made the opaque a little clearer. I feel more connected, or at least I want to, and wanting that means so much to me.

Now I know: there is unconditional love in folded laundry.

*First photo by Charlottine
*Second photo by Fins