Relearning the Dance of Cohabitation

[ NOte from NOel : Am momentarily stumped for accidental migrant

topics; I ran out of batch stories a long time ago; and for the

(fleeting) moment I’ve decided to temporarily stop writing senti letters to the anakis. Since I have committed to bother you more often this year (via my crazy site and these quite sociable Yahoo!groups), I have to extend the reach of my self-proclaimed expertise, which you will shortly read about below. Happy reunion to Judenite Batch 82 kabatch at John and Caroline Sy‘s residence, munch munch munch, welcome back to Tom & Ineng Agustin of Johnsonville, happy 18th wedding anniversary to Ambassador Anthony and Mary Ann Mandap, and don’t worry about those temporary stumbles on your way to keeping your 2011 resolutions, the best part of falling down is getting back on your feet ! ]

The past meets the present: Mahal, your crazy blogger and son Nigel

Dear batchmates, schoolmates, brods, officemates, kabayan and friends :

WE ARE, all of us, creatures of habit. Everything that gives us the foothold of familiarity, the rote of routine, the monotony of muscle memory, is what we usually go with, three-quarters of the time. Unless you’re the flaky fellow who does the same thing 99 straight times and expects a different result on the hundredth, we are nearly everyone of us addicts to repetition, human GPS jitterbugs when it comes to our regular haunts and places of work, residence and repast.

For this reason, I have had to unceremoniously unlearn all the things, habits and quirks I had accumulated when I officially re-tied the knot after 10 years of binatahood. For reasons of modesty, I refrain from mentioning the other half of my new partnership (unless totally necessary). The most symbolic of reminders, the ring that sits on my finger, is there everyday to tell me that my life is no longer just mine, but there are other things I must get used to.

SLEEPING HABITS. What has taken the most out of the way I have expected to live with myself is the way I sleep. This is harder than it sounds. Do you see in cinema the way some comedians toss and turn as they zzzz through their eight hours? How about the inert way some sleepers just curl up in a corner, hibernating between midnight and dawn?

Well, I’m somewhere in between, not needing a whole length of mattress as I’m not an “active” sleeper, but not a single-position “mantika” sleeper either. I adjusted somewhat the last few years of being a stowaway, hitchhiker and parttime rodent wherever my gigs have taken me in my temporary adopted land;  taken whatever bedspace available, whether it’s half a single bed, a sofa, or the unoccupied corner of a Pinoy boarding house, having learned not to move too much wherever my back hits the bedding, never to complain, and to wake up whenever my snoring gets too loud.

As you can imagine, this bohemian lifestyle has presented some practical problems as soon as I decided to remarry: in the first place, the marital bed can no longer be the solitary hole-in-the-wall I have gotten used to.

Now, whenever I turn, I consciously rotate on an invisible axis without taking up any more space lest I disturb my nighttime companion; I try not to flail arms and legs too much despite the natural need to stretch and curl even while in deepest sleep; I tended to do this as evidenced by memories of my teens and 20s, when upon waking up, I would see blankets, pillows and even books and magazines flung to the floor. My unruly limbs no doubt being the guilty parties.

This deserves a separate paragraph : Most of all, I have told esposa hermosa never to hesitate and wake me up whenever my snoring bothers her, I have even contemplated those devices that inhibit or totally prevent snoring, my sinusitis, semi-obstructed airway and probably the reality of aging have aggravated this somewhat. She has gamely complied, and has even taken to taking her revenge during our waking hours. I just have to be on my toes for a night’s raucous snoring.

EATING HABITS. But there has to be a high point when you shift your paradigm of living : since getting re-domesticated, I’ve been a spoiled sow, running the gamut of Pinoy turo-turo : adobo, sinigang, menudo, kaldereta, paksiw, binagoongan, you name it, I’ve had it. It’s just my luck that asawak (Pangalatok for the wifey) grew up watching Mom work in a karinderya and has itchy cooking fingers all the time, every time.

To allow me (and herself, by extension) to go hungry is unthinkable, and she constantly thinks up and revives every recipe you can think of, my tum-tums and I can’t conceive of a more ideal situation.

For perspective, I went to McDo probably five times a week prior to her arrival, and it wasn’t just for the free morning paper. The last three years in NZ I’ve never gotten tired of the McDo merienda of cheeseburger, fries and frozen Coke, the McDo Big Breakfast of hash browns, white coffee, bacon McMuffin and jam on toast, it was Ronald McDonald, HamBurglar, Grimace and Birdie all the way, every day. Would it then be a surprise that I’ve gained at least five kilos of “happy fat” since the Big Plunge?

Obviously I have to strike a balance between eating happily and living healthily, but for now I am not complaining. It’s just that for every hard run or grueling night at the mill, I end up with comfort food of my childhood, a mountain of rice, and I end up fighting a losing Battle of the Bulge. Oh well, there are worse problems.

FREE TIME. By far the most dramatic part of getting married again is the realization that your time, especially your free time is no longer yours to spend. Those endless hours reading, watching every stupid rerun on TV, watching mediocre sports matches just because your favorite team/s is on, and playing Mahjong Solitaire and TriPeaks Solitaire are no longer lazy options (thanks for reminding me, Atty Lilibeth Cueva ) whenever you’ve got nothing better to do on the rainy weekend.

It’s a fair exchange really. You go on endless window shopping sprees, stalk weekend markets for knick-knacks and bric-a-bracs that no one wants, take endless walks on hillsides and meadows, in short drive yourself crazy when you should be napping to your heart’s content.

In return, you get to live with someone who knows how to make you happy, and when you grow old, you get help when you misplace the dentures or forget your daily medication.

**               **               **                  **

In our day and age, we no longer expect our kids to take care of us after we get sent out to pasture, or even depend on the tender mercies of extended family when the haze of forgetfulness sets in. In the end, we either look out for ourselves, or tough it out with the love of our lives.

 More than a fair exchange, really.

Thanks for reading !