Day 2: Neighbors

Day 2 of telling your stories: neighbors.

Who were your neighbors? Kids your age? A huge dog? A mysterious Boo Radley type? Who lived down the hall from you in your dorm? Who lives across the street now? What friends have you and your kids made at the bus stop?

The funniest thing crossed my mind the moment I thought of ‘neighbors’: the subdivision I spent my growing up years in is a small, close-knit community in the city with only approx. 300 families who almost knew everyone else in the neighborhood. What came to mind was that, in that same community of 300 families, I’ve been linked to four different boys at different stages of my development (the “crush” phase, the first “true” puppy love, rebound guy, and the “friend into lover” drama stage).

In more liberated cultures, being linked to four different guys, as long as at different stages, in a single neighborhood is perfectly fine. Even if more Filipinos are more open-minded these days, there still are a number who are disturbed by it. So, the streets in our subdivision were currencies and we used to live in Franc Street for a little more than a decade before we moved to Pound Street where we still are now for five years (and counting).

So, my first crush happened when I was in the fourth grade. We were in Franc Street (our house then was in the corner lot – Yen St.) and we had a food cart selling fish balls (a common Filipino street food) in front of our gate. Each afternoon, my crush (who was from Dinar Street) would pass by along with his friends after their afternoon basketball game. He was about four years older than I was – and, for someone in the fourth grade, a four-year gap is huge enough for us to never ever get the chance to interact. I mean, I barely had boobs and he’s got some cute facial hair. I got past him, of course.

When I was in junior high school (2005), I started my first longest relationship (which lasted 23 months). The guy was from Pound Street and he was the funniest I ever hanged out with. I’ve seen him around the neighborhood a couple of times before us being introduced and him wanting to be with me (we had cute moments I used to think are cute for everyone but am now embarrassed to tell about lol). He transferred to my high school (which was an 8-minute walk from my house) and we walked to class each morning together, had recess together, spent our lunch breaks together, and our field trips like dates. Basically, he stole half of my high school social life, but I’m grateful he did. We broke up before college and, to date, we’re very good friends.

I went to my first two-three years in college without getting serious with relationships. It was in college that I had a shift in neighbors (because I had to live alone – a two-hour drive from home) but also found myself getting linked to someone from my family’s subdivision later on. He was my first rebound guy and he was, like my former crush, from Dinar Street. Funny they’re friends and the same age. Disclaimer: I didn’t intend to rebound on him (details when I’m ready).

After our family moved to a slightly larger house in Pound Street, we’ve been positioned right across one of my closest guy friend’s house. He was one of the nicest and, I swear, a boyfriend material who confessed his, you know, L word. We didn’t work out – he’s nothing more than a brother figure to be around with. Besides, he’s a little too good for me.

The thing is, there are more neighbors I have had significant experiences with and funny moments to tell of, but I am using this day’s prompt to show how neighbors can help affect aspects of our lives more than we’ll ever realize. Neighborhoods are environments, and environments are very important especially in developing years. And the most dramatic transitions and pains one will ever have to go through as he/she grows is in romance. I see this blog and my 30 days of stories as an avenue to introduce myself and my past to my future children and younger relatives – at what age the children will be when I plan on showing them, I still haven’t identified…

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Day 1: Saturday Mornings

 Day 1 of telling your stories: Saturday morning.

Write about Saturday mornings, either now or at some time in your past. How late did you sleep in when you were a kid? What did you have for breakfast this morning? In college, did you spend Saturday mornings getting ready to go to the big football game? Do you take your kids to your parents’ house on Saturdays? Do you get up early to run?

Growing up in a family of seven siblings, I rarely tasted boredom. I am the eldest (Sophia Nicohle; I don’t know about you, but there’s something about describing selves–you can get to know more of me later), then there’s Ivan Angela (now 22, the only chubby one among all of us – first to have a child at 21), John Carl (20 years old, video game lover & a sweet funny guy, went to aeronautics school), Dianne (fondly called Wawi at home; 18 year old psychology student, thrifty and smart – you don’t mess with her), Ernesto II (17, named after his grandfather – all 7 of us are from 3 different fathers), Maria Scarlet (16, a beautiful young lady with a brave soul…and some teenage troubles), and Anna Patricia (14, the apple of my eye, my darling, our little angel, and forever baby).

Ivan (r) and I (l) playing

Ivan (r) and I (l) playing; We looked the same age, but I was four and her two here

Except for Ivan who moved in with us 8 years ago (she was with her dad’s family), we all grew up together. Although Ivan was with us almost every weekend back then. Our beautiful mother who had me at 17, is the most adorable person. She loved each of us dearly and dedicated her life to taking care of us. She’s the kind of woman who, for her children’s sakes, doesn’t need a man to complete her. It was our Mom who taught us to love each other (siblings) first, and it was her love for us that never made us feel any different from one another (no half-sibling issues).

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Ernest, Anna, and Wawi

Our Saturdays were full of fun-filled activities that rarely needed spending since (1) there are a lot of us to take on a trip and (2) our mom is the coolest, most creative who always  finds stuff for us to do. Saturday mornings, we usually wake up to Arroz Caldo for breakfast–a Filipino rice porridge with chicken, topped with hard boiled eggs, roasted garlic, and spring onions. Then, we’d either go to Quezon City Memorial Circle (a park where you can rent bikes and roller skates) or our Aunt Joanne’s house in Pasig (or they come over). Our Aunt Joanne is my Mom’s elder and only sister and she has 5 children. Hence, if not biking or rollerskating, our Saturdays were playdates with our cousins. I’ve actually got to admit, my siblings and I like being in the park, having picnics, and biking/rollerskating better. Whatever it is that’s just us. Staying at home, lounging or playing with water guns in our inflatable pool (the biggest you can find) is also cool.

Now, obviously, I grew up to fun Saturdays. It all felt normal back in the day and we rarely felt time flew and situations shifted. 2008 is a very important year for me: I went to college, the University of the Philippines Los Banos–a 2-hour drive from our home in QC so I had to stay in a college dorm, away from my siblings for the first time in all my life. The same year, our family had gone through some trials that led to my Mom having to work overseas, away from us for the first time in all our lives. We were all aching inside, silently. The Saturdays of the year 2008 were my favorite days of the year: I get to come home and see my baby brothers and sisters, spend time with them, and be able to catch up or help out with school projects and homework.

Image Source: Matthew Mendoza

Image Source: Matthew Mendoza

Slowly, each of them went to college or grew up to be teenagers with different sets of friends and hobbies. Each of them had their own busy schedules and we’ve seemed to have gotten used to seeing Mom once, for two months, each year. Although I have my own life I’m pursuing, I can’t help but crave and wish for even just a moment to get one of those Saturdays with Arroz Caldo my Mom made and some crazy, fun day with my baby brothers and sisters.

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  1. […] Saturday mornings […]

Writing Challenge: 30 Days of Your Stories

I found this interesting list from Pinterest that I would really like to start this blog with. This blog is my journey to improving my creative non fiction writing in order to accomplish a life’s dream: to publish my memoir and biography of my grandmother.

Through the most creative of ways I could stretch my mind, I plan to give visitors of this blog and its personal pages glimpses of my life–glimpses that are all tiny puzzle pieces that I hope I could someday get back to, filter, and put together when I have gathered the strength and felt the timing is right to commence on my novels.

As soon as I get to Day 1, I shall ping Sandra back as a sign of my thanks for the step one in my journey that this simple list of hers bring.