From our seat inside the bus, I retrace Bataan’s bold curves and sharp peaks with curious eyes. The clouds drift slowly in a pale blue canvas with grace and ease, bright as this sunny morning. Today we take our feet outside our tiny home to a coastal town we first visited eight years ago. The last time Lia and I did this, just the two of us, we were cramped in a habal-habal, my arms red, numb, and fatigued from cupping her head to keep her from falling off the bike dead asleep. She just turned nine then.
Now she’s only a few months shy of 11 and each day, yields more into her tweens. The extrovert in her doesn’t fancy spending alone time with her Mama anymore.
We bear witness to the world’s graces with a new set of eyes. Relearning how to be out in it with feet fully dipped in the water, forgotten lessons on our backs. Somehow, this, how we used to navigate it in the old days, feels strange: familiar but quite faintly, some distant memory buried under everyday mundanity, but also quite revivifying. A duality.
It is possible I am being a little melodramatic, but how heartwarming to remember that we’ve always winged life like this. On our own, side by side, in a get-up-and-go sort of way, adapting as shifts arrive, although a little slower now, both terribly out of shape. Being on the road fills one with so many good memories. A kind of pilgrimage to one’s old self and the small joys that growing up and heartbreak threaten to diminish. It feels good to be back.
Lia’s head rests on my lap. An hour more before we get there. I close my eyes and breathe, knowing my breath is a prayer sent out to the Universe. May I regain my footing out there, I whisper. May I be healed in your embrace as always. Rediscover happiness, and self-forgiveness for having a hand in breaking my own heart. When we retreat to Nature, to our old-new like this, I understand: Nature is all-knowing, all-encompassing, all-healing. In Her, we are pure, bare, wildly uninhibited, unjudged, and open to unfolding things, like kindness, between teeth.
I breathe again and open my eyes, the trees receding as the bus speeds off the highway. How can one not be kind to herself when trees, asking none in exchange, are kind enough to lend us our breath so we can blink at first light again?