The awakening (the fourth mini album)

I could say it's the face mask and the fucking face shield. I mean, they are designed to prevent us from breathing in viruses... and, well, breathing in altogether.

Walking around the mall for five hours isn't unusual for me. Perhaps it's the most exercise I can involuntary make. It would always mean tired feet and tired legs. I mean, I'm also driving to and from the mall. It's nothing unusual.

But a couple of weekends back I felt extra drained when we got back home. Shalla was, too, but then she did a lot of shopping and I did a lot of following around, And carrying shopping bags. But it's not those, and it's not the face mask, and unfortunately, it's not those useless fucking face shields that failed to prevent a surge in coronavirus cases.

I plopped down the sofa bed and realized that I haven't been this tired doing something I've done for most of my life, and something you don't really exert much physical effort into.

I'm 32. I'm old. I'm definitely old. This is a sign of old age.

So what, you may say. I'm just 32 - I'm definitely not old. But, one, this pandemic does more than most circumstances in making you ponder your morality - and, if you've been reading this blog at any point throughout the past sixteen years, you know that I've done this more than most.

Two, I have been seeing a cardiologist in the past year. I think I've talked about this before, how I was slated for some lab tests just before the first lockdowns were announced, which meant everything was scuttled. Anyway, I've spent the past twelve months taking maintenance medicine. An alarm goes off every morning, and I make sure to pop half a pill before I have anything to eat, to regulate my blood pressure, which apparently is at its highest in the early hours of the morning. It helps, kind of, but me being my mother's son, my cholesterol can fluctuate wildly, as I found out just this weekend, when I got my newest test results.

I can still remember five years ago, when I was having conversations with people who were already taking maintenance medicine, and telling me that, while that is inevitable as I grow older, I should still have fun while I'm young, do the things I will most likely not be allowed to do in a decade or so. Well, it's just been half a decade, and here I am.

My doctor once said that having these problems at 32 isn't exactly shocking for my age. Teenagers these days apparently are having holter monitors attached to them for a day or two. Hypertension is a lifestyle disease, indeed.

And three, I guess a part of me still won't let that new reality really sit in. I'm 32 acting like I'm, say, a couple of years younger. Call it arrested development. Call it extended adolescence. Call it reluctance. I guess it'll feel really different when I become a father, for example, but for now, you know. Apart from the new setting, the quarterlife (midlife?) crisis, and the feeling that your peers have long left you behind, nothing much is different. Supposedly.

Shalla and I went walking the morning after we went to the mall. She was invited by her colleagues, and I, inevitably, end up tagging along. It probably wasn't that good an idea, because we were really tired afterwards. It didn't help that we stupidly left our water bottles in the car. It also didn't help that we left our fucking face shields too, which meant no store would allow us to buy water from them. She suffered the worst of it - really feeling down the rest of the day - but I wasn't let off easy, too. There was a dull headache that no amount of sleep managed to diffuse. And I wasn't even working the whole day, which is when I usually have those headaches.

It's a slippery slope from here. Between my existing respiratory issues (I'm an asthmatic), my recent medical history and my paranoia, I am increasingly convinced that I am going to die soon. But I'll save you the extended digression. Nobody wants that. It's always lurked behind us, how the end could come at any moment. The pandemic has made it even more explicit. But fuck those thoughts. Stay in the background. Let's have some fun! As responsibly as possible, and maybe for as long as you can get away with it, or something.

Me, my new definition of fun are certain errands. As I write this, I came from our office, and ended up driving from Ortigas to Sampaloc to send a printer to one of my colleagues. I haven't exactly driven there, so I wouldn't know how to get there without a map. (Okay, I did, once, but it was at night, so I wouldn't say I'm already familiar with my destination.) I didn't have to do it, to be honest. We could've had someone from Grab deliver the printer, never mind that it's a particularly sensitive piece of kit, and you'll never know what'll happen to the print head. But it was a decision I felt that I had to do, just because I could do it. Say it's a change of pace. Say it's a change of scenery. Say it's driving giving you a liberating feeling. I don't know. I just had to do it.

My colleague is 70, I think, which meant she hasn't really gone out of her house much since the lockdowns took place. I think I'm the first work colleague she has seen in fifteen months. The conversation was civil, but then she offered me a cup of ice cream - which, for some reason, I am supposed to eat in the car, while driving, so, how exactly? - and a couple of toasted siopaos and some Almond Rocas for Shalla. But she's deathly allergic to almonds, so they're going to me. I think she's glad to see someone else, and frankly, I was, too. I haven't seen my colleague in fifteen months either, outside of a handful of Zoom calls. You know how that does nothing for our human needs.

I noticed, for the first time, a white strand of hair on her head. I felt sad, but then I distracted myself with the challenge of eating ice cream in a moving car. The answer, as it turns out, is to do it in a stop light. I was stuck in one for two minutes and managed to enjoy the thing nonetheless. Chocolate chip dough, I think? It made for a nicer drive back home.

As I arrived, my legs just started to feel really tired.

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