Thursday, November 1

road trips.

the night sky was sparsely illuminated with stars that seemed too shy to shine that night, but i could not care any less. i twitched in my seat as he told me to fasten my seatbelt, because, he added, i always need to be cautious when travelling. that made me smile -- because after long-ish years of being away from home, i was once again in a road trip with my dad.

'how's law school?'

'it's dehumanizing and demanding, but i'm learning to live with the voluminous readings. yun nga lang, nakakabawas pogi points because of the stress', i smiled.

'are you pushing through with that exchange program?'

'i'm actually rethinking that, because i don't want to extend for another year in school. i'm 28 already dad, and i've framed my short- and long-term plans, just like you told me to.'

'but your mom and i will support you, whatever your decision will be. habang kaya pa naming kumayod.'

'yes, i understand that, but i want to finish as soon as i can, because i also want you to stop spending for me.' i smiled, as though to punctuate our conversation.

he smiled.

i looked at my dad, and noticed that his hair now had more white than black, and in my heart, i felt sad. i have not been oblivious to the reality that my dad has aged, but despite that, i still cling on to my memory of him in the early 90's.

back in the day, it was part of our family tradition to go on long-ish road trips, and as we headed to nearby bacolod, ilo-ilo or cebu, my dad and mom would reminisce about the early days of their romance. the sappy anecdotes never failed to trigger snickers from my siblings and myself, but just the same, i always looked forward to these road trips year after year.

as i looked at how his face had changed, albeit slightly, from those earlier days, i closed my eyes as i recalled how, a couple of years ago, i had a fall out with my parents. fresh from graduating from college, i was too bullish to listen to what they had to say, and i spent numerous nights in drunken stupor, disregarding their stern warnings, and wanting to push their limits -- all because i wanted to assert my misplaced independence.

then i remembered the endless nights of anguish, the hurtful words hurled against each other, the brokenness and broken hearts, and the wounds that, back then, seemed incapable of healing.

'so, what are your plans for this summer?' he broke the silence.

'i plan to apply as legal intern, but i'm not sure where to apply.'

silence again.

the night seemed to be darker than when we left, and as i surveyed the vastness of darkness that seemed to envelope our conversation that night, i felt a sudden pinch of sadness, but i did not know why.

'dad, do you remember when we would travel to bacolod when we were younger, and you and mom would constantly talk about your love story back in college?'

he smiled.

i realized, in the middle of that poignant moment, that most of my pleasant childhood memories were spent with my siblings and parents, in road trips, not caring where we were headed to, but relishing the company of each other.

as i looked at my father that night, i realized that i may have drifted several times from home before, and that i may have brought heartbreak to the both of them as i tried to emerge as my own person, but i was, and i will always be, their child. that even when my siblings and i will inevitably take flight and leave, all of us still belong to those poignant road trips.

happy 34th anniversary dad and mom, and thank you for the beautiful road trips.