35th: New adventures

Twenty years ago I was teenager preoccupied with only three things : a sexual awakening I couldn’t fully comprehend, a strong desire to get away from the small island where I was growing up, and a wish that my mother would leave what I considered a messy marriage. I thought it was cool to have separated parents, cool to have sex and live in the city.

I’m turning 35. I have had many pleasurable (and a few less exciting sexual encounters), I live thousands of miles away from my island home, my parents haven’t separated but live apart from each other, I am a mother, my married life is opposite my parents’ and I’m married to a man whose stoicism have calmed down some of my wild side. My wishes have all come true after all.

I’m writing this on a plane en route to Riga, for a business trip that’ll take me to three countries in 6 days. This wasn’t part of my dreams when I was teenager and when I think about it, I’m still amaze at how life could take such surprising turns. I am no less grateful for the 20 years of roller coaster ride but at this point, I’ve arrive at the station once again. That place where the rails are straight and the ground is flat, and everything feels safe and cozy.

So I think I’m ready for new adventures. The only question is, what kind of adventures? As a young mother, at 35, with quite a huge mortgage on my name and an equally huge debt, and parents who rely on my ability to earn money, to dream again involves calculated risks.

When I was 17 years old, I made a list of things I want to have when I turn 25. I’ve ticked off many items and crossed out some. And five years ago, I’ve also listed down a few dreams, which took about three years to come true. I feel like I am at a turning point again. So here I am pondering on how I want life to be when I turn 40.

  • A new (Dutch) degree
  • Debt-free
  • Another African adventure
  • An ultra-marathon medal
  • Completely renovated home
  • Less work days, more income
  • A book under my name

I had a death scare recently. Just before our Norwegian holiday, I discovered a lump in my right breast. But I was too busy to go the doctor. Or maybe too scared to have it checked. Three people in our circle died of cancer in the last 6 months, and the possibility of dying was as real to me as dawn breaking tomorrow morning. But if it was cancer and I was about to die anyway, I thought I might as well make the most of those two weeks before I’ll be told that my time is up.

But it wasn’t less scary nor less emotional. In Norway, every time there was a lull from child care and sight seeing, I fell into this depressive rut that sends me to a corner with an irritable mood, if I wasn’t already wallowing in tears. I thought it was unfair to subject my husband and young child to such emotions but I was convinced that I was going to die. The fear was too real.

Who is going to support my old mother and my family back in the Philippines? How is my husband going to survive another loved one dying? Will my child ever going to have a connection with her Filipino roots?

I spent nights agonizing about those thoughts. I prayed that I’d still get few more years to sort my affairs before I go. And if I’ll be lucky that I’m not sick, I made a mental note to get a life insurance.

No I don’t have cancer. The lump was barely noticeable when I finally went for mammogram and CT scan. In fact it was almost gone and I only spent half an hour at the laboratory despite being advised to take the whole day off.

So those things above are but shallow pursuits when one is faced with a death scare. What I really want is just to stay healthy, hopefully until I am 85 years old, to see my child grow up, grow old with my husband, and experience the pain (and there would be many because my loved ones are growing old) and happiness of life.

What I realized in the past years is that living is richer not only with bliss but with pain and suffering. They go side by side, both a reminder that life is fleeting and can be taken away in a snap of a finger. It’s really not up to us.

At 35 I’m just grateful I’m still around. Everything else is just a bonus.