Heat Wave

It’s tough to write when it’s hot. I fidget and stare, glancing at my book, my hand itching to write, my mind reasoning that I read instead.   It’s May (the lusty month of May) and yet I found myself still scouring the shops for stringy clothes that will take the sweat off my back.  Sandals too. What is there to write about in the summer?

Childhood. Unfortunate how my kids can only imagine about other kids climbing trees and rooftops these days. Because in the summer of my childhood, that’s all we did. We had four rooftops to climb and an abundance of fruit trees to pick. I vividly remember scrambling up the 2nd floor, taking a courageous jump from the floor onto the roof, and having an entire afternoon to just sit.  In the heat. Scorched. Sweating. Lapping up on those pink and red cherries that would leave gooey stuff on your palm. I wonder why the elders let us be. Would I even let my kids climb trees and rooftops? Where will I find trees and rooftops to climb in Makati? I wonder why I never felt the heat, the sweltering heat. I wonder why I lathered up on the sweat, lapped on the cherries, and not mind the gunk on my hands. I wonder at the wonder of childhood summers- danger, heat, sweat and sweet sticky stuff. Easy too. Now you don’t get danger, heat, sweat and sweet sticky stuff so easily. And it isn’t always wonderful.

Rum Cokes. April, we were at a beach, 45 minutes off Cagayan de Oro (some have it easy) and they ran out of Rum Cokes. No Rum Cokes on the beach! But then there’s the splendid thing about being a Filipino in the province. You can simply ask the waiter to run to the nearest sari-sari store and buy you a lapad and a Litro. Our waiter did our very bidding. Even made it special by adding “crushed” ice (frozen off some water you shouldn’t even ask about lest you ruin the experience). And so we sipped Rum cokes and I dropped my guard that day. Forgot that beside the picturesque white sand and turquoise blue, there was snow white and the seven dwarfs in their version of a garden. Forgot to panic about the unfiltered water that was now my crushed ice. And forgot to brood because my drink came in a water goblet. Nothing beats a Lapad and litro by the beach. In the province. Not even fancy drinks served by men in flamboyant tuxedos and adorned with umbrellas.

Beach. Isn’t that truly the only thing about summer? I figure I haven’t been to the beach enough to last me a whole lifetime. I can’t get enough of the sea, sun and salt air.  I still lap up on salt water every chance I get. Well, now I have to pretend it casually found it’s way into my lips. Because who in her adult mind would still drink briny water right? There’s always a need to get sloshed on the sea. Sink myself in it, or drift, be shipwrecked, and then wander about an island. I will always look back on that day of perfect freedom, when I cast myself away from our dive boat, in the middle of Palawan and Mindoro and rowed myself into a small patch of sand. That atoll had a reef enough for a shade and I have never felt as much delight as being beached there, solitary, marooned with only quiet for company. (Meanwhile, hubby and the rest of the dive group were tense fishing for the girl who thought she had sea legs.)

With three more days of summer, I panic. Remind me please, why did waste my weekends in the city? Why am I able to count the number of Rum cokes I’ve had and still have an unopened bottle of Jamaican Rum sitting at home? And why oh why have my kids been stuck playing inside, or worse, outside with insect repellant and yaya in tow? Why did I keep whining about the heat when I had a perfect excuse to dunk myself in the sea? And what’s the use of summer clothes when I had nothing much to do about summer?

Three days to go. Three days too short. The weather bureau just announced that summer might linger a bit longer this year. She gives me another month for frenzy in this heat. It is still summer. It is still tough to write because it’s hot. Precisely. Because I should be elsewhere, doing something else, like drift in the sea.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)

it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.

E.E. Cummings

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