first attempt

she wants to meet him.

finally got the urge she was restraining for a very long time. she flew by herself. it was her first time leaving the country alone. she felt exhilarated, a sudden thrill. like that of a kid eating ice cream before dinner. it was blissful. she felt so free. like a bird let out of its cage for the first time. it was intoxicating – her freedom – to  the point of being forbidden, like drugs. happiness. she didn’t know what to expect. especially in a country that doesn’t speak the language she knows.

the plane landed after what felt like years. she couldn’t contain her excitement, her longing. how long has it been? 2-3 years? yes. that long. but she felt alienated when she got down to the airport. panic stricken her. like a noose, gripping her neck, she couldn’t breathe, she felt so overwhelmed.  she collapsed while waiting for her luggage. 30 minutes had passed.

she woke up at an unfamiliar place. white ceiling, wallpapers, everything was white. the brightness hurt her eyes and she closed them again. she heard voices though they didn’t make sense. she couldn’t understand them. then a woman in white uniform approached her. “miss, ah you okay?” she only managed to blink, she tried to sit upright but the nurse held her back and asked her again “ah you okay ma’am?”. she mumbled a “yes”. the nurse called a doctor, it was a relief the doctor wasn’t a native of the country. he spoke perfect English and asked about her condition. after a while, the doctor let her go back, told her that her luggage was already taken care of. it was her first time in that particular country.

an hour had passed and it seemed like so much has happened already. she hailed a cab and went straight to her hotel. she had done her homework. or so she thought. reading about everything that is useful, all the etiquettes, rules and guides for travelling. she also researched how to get to places without getting lost and without asking anyone for help which she had expected already because of the language barrier. she looked at the crumpled map, which had been folded and unfolded for a hundred times already. she reviewed the train stations and bus stops she’d have to take to get to the place she had so longed to be. she opened up her laptop, checked if he’d been online. and got all the courage she’ll need and went outside the hotel.

she ate her first meal. a ramen. she didn’t know what kind it was. she just ate it all up absent-mindedly. walking along the path to the train station, she looked around and saw the beautiful cherry blossoms she had loved since the first time seeing and knowing about them. she took some snap shots and went on her way. 4 stations and a bus ride. that’s all it takes and she’ll be seeing him again. she had planned this day countless times before, even dreaming about it in her sleep and waking up just before she gets to see his face. and now she was living the same dream that haunted her for months. she hopes to finally see him soon. she looks at her watch, only four hours left.

she looked at the signs and their characters. it fascinated her. each character looked like a drawing about its meaning. just like the character of a sakura tree. a woman with a hair ornament(a fancy hat she calls this) beside a tree, ‘that’ she knew. she had read about their written words, meanings and symbols though she still couldn’t read them.

the train stopped. only a bus ride left. she started to get anxious though she didn’t want her heart to beat as fast or she’ll collapse again. she went down carefully and tried to look for a distraction so her heart will stop pounding. she thought of eating ice cream.

there was 30 minutes left before the bus arrives. she sit there waiting. a man wearing a black sweatshirt sat next to her. he had curly like wavy hair. the hair you get when you’ve just woken up and got out of bed. it was windy that day. she was staring at him. she knew it was rude to stare but she couldn’t help it. something about this guy felt familiar. then an old lady came and sat next to him. he scooted closer to her for the old lady to be able to sit so that he was leaning closer to her.

she caught his scent, a familiar scent. a wave of memories came to her like a big flood, like a roaring tiger chasing its prey. it was late afternoon, they just had a long walk, 2-3 miles at the most. it wasn’t tiring though. she was happy. walking and talking about non-sense. and then it was time for goodbye. they leaned over for a hug and she caught his scent, she couldn’t help but say “ooh, you smell good” and he leaned once again to her for reasons she could not phantom. a flash of the memory 3 years ago in a split second. she remembered him completely now. no more missing fragments.

she looked at the guy sitting next to her and uttered the words she never expected to say to a stranger in a foreign land, “kamusta?”.

‘kamusta’ is a filipino/tagalog word which means “hello/how are you”

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