Soooo I’m preparing for my upcoming trip to the Philippines and I’m taking the opportunity to send some old clothes, shoes, and trinkets back home as well.
I’ve created two sections: a balikbayan box (these are the boxes that overseas Filipinos send back to their families in the Philippines… usually filled with chocolates and soap, except mine is filled with hand-me-downs) and my luggage. What goes into the balikbayan box are things that I won’t really need in the immediate. The luggage, obviously, all the things needed for the upcoming epic holiday.
While opening my bulky clamshell Samsonite (the logo fell off years ago), I uncovered some dusty boxes filled with photos from my days working a contract role for a tech company. The box also had pride pens (happy pride!), stickers, and handwritten best wishes from colleagues. As I was sorting which items I’d keep and which items to trash… I found my Passion Planner from 2017. To me, 2017 is aka “the forbidden year”.
I was anxious to open it but I recall that I sealed off an entire section that covered most of those triggering months. The months I’d rather just wipe clean from memory. True enough, as I opened it… about a third of the pages in the diary were sealed using washi tape I picked up at Tokyu Hands. The only thing protecting me from those pages was blue washi tape. The washi tape had dolphins on it.
I did good. I had sealed it from the top and bottom. Even so, my heart started to beat differently… and the anxiety that I’ve learned to deal with, was making itself felt. I had a clear objective to throw away this planner, finally. But I wanted one final look.
The sections that were not sealed included a handwritten note by my friend Rye (who is one of the podcasters behind The Shippers). I read his note… and my bubbling anxiety suddenly turned into some warmth. Here, a friend was writing a silly note to cheer me up.
However, when I checked what was in the inside pocket at the end of the diary planner… I found a printed picture of the guy who made me feel most human… aka the guy I was in love with. There, in his tropical polo tee, aviators, and smirk… with the backdrop of the Ocean Park in Hong Kong. Fuck.
I suddenly remembered that day quite clearly. I remember the umbrella we shared as a storm hit the park. Or walking around with him and looking at the animals in both the aquariums and gift shops. I remember how happy I was to have time with him, away from his colleagues and away from our dragon boat team. Almost like a video game where I’m the main character in an RPG, and he would just follow me around. But that’s exactly it, it was exactly that. He was just there following me around. The Ocean Park, in hindsight, was my idea. I think he was just “supportive”.
I ripped the photo in half. And feeling the heat of the moment, half simply wasn’t enough. I ripped each piece further until the small photo was a small pile that looked like confetti. I sprinkled it into the RedMart box which was designated as my trash.
After taking the snapshot of Rye’s quote, I gave the little planner one last look… and noticed how my handwriting at the time was actually cute and neat. Then finally, something I couldn’t muster to do previously, I put the entire planner in the trash box. There are years in our lives we would like to move on from. And this one, was one of them.
PJ carried a box of old pillows and together we went downstairs to basement 1 to toss the bulky trash into a larger green bin. Back upstairs, I’m washing my hands and moving onto the next thing to clear.
PS: I don’t hate the guy. I just don’t want to be reminded of him.