From Manila with Love

I wrote the following entry on Sunday.  The cows came again this morning.  I went and met with them till Dave came and herded them off again.
 
Our drive home today was escorted by a trusted friend… the rain.  How I love it.  It greened that beautiful valley that vanishes to your left as you leave Manila.  I thought it was answering my earlier tears…
 
It had desisted by the time we stopped at the Evanston McDonald’s.  I saw New Orleans on the TV there.  Back on the road, the rain returned forcefully and torrentially, and I thought it was echoing that hurricane…  It finally turned briefly to hail somewhere around Park City, then was melted again the rest of the way home.  Dear rain.
 
— —
 
August 31, Sunday
 
I’m here in Manila.  Bonnie, Dave, I, and Dozer came on Friday evening.  We watched ‘Phenomenon’ again.  I noticed at the end how the guy told her, "It’s o.k., it’s o.k….", remembering my own losses.  I think that’s what he said.  It was a beautiful ending to that story that showed what a man may become, and what every boy should aspire to ere his story ends.
 
There was a parade in town on Saturday morning, then a smallish parade of boats at the reservoir at night followed by a nice show of fireworks.  I woke up today to a calf munching grass outside my window.  The whole neighbour’s herd was in our back field, with three youngsters roving our near yard.  (Dave scared them back to the field with the others.)
 
We re-arranged the single-bed guest room yesterday and installed this computer here, which my mom inherited from her office.  She brought her lap-top too, and some USB drives that I plan to carry this file with.  In fact, her lap-top detected a wireless network out here, not ours; but it’s spotty.
 
This morning my mother and I went to church (Dave has stayed home for everything), I having been desirous to go for some time now after remembering on a recent trip how I didn’t go with Eunhee.
 
Manila is an old place for me, and this bedroom particularly…
 
Nights are hard here.  Every time I come into this room and sit or lay down, I become very nostalgic.  There’s nothing to do but think, and nothing to think of but the past.
 
I think of Eunhee… that strange privilege I once had of being able to call her suddenly on a week-end and invite her to Manila with us, and pick her up a half hour later and go.  May she be blessed now with ever greater happiness.
 
I think of Tugsuu.  I thought of her at church today… hearing a story like hers retold, a woman who’d lost hope.  May she awake with refreshed and growing strength every day…
 
I’ve newly started thinking of… Alexandra, my former Canadian friend… wondering if I judged her wrongly.  I think that she would’ve liked to come here to this quiet place.  There are horses around here, which she liked — not that we can ride them.  About her, I think… well, I look at what I have done with her, how I’ve not appreciated her, who as far as I can tell was a free gift of sympathy and concern to me… and I think that it’s been me who has chosen my aloneness, every time…
 
May she have better friends than me, who won’t turn her away.
 
I do think of Lam Hoi Ching these days, but not out here at Manila.  Still, let her enjoy the fruits of her many good works, wherever she goes.
 
I think of my friend Heidi, but again, not much, not here.  But I hope God to continually strengthen her faith.
 
I think now and then of Meredith Marshall, somebody I have no reason to think about — but somebody who is as far removed from this foolish world as anybody I’ve met.  May she have some reward for giving me the light of optimism, the thought that there may still be someone on this planet I can share minds with.
 
Oddly, I saw Abbey Marshall in my dream last night.  She’s the opposite of her sister; yet she did send me a card once in Hong Kong.  I thought she was very young then…  Anyway, the dream was an anomaly.  May her desire be inward, not out.
 
And of dreams…  I dreamt of Bomie three nights ago, I think it was.  It was the second time in days.  She haunts my mind and memory frequently, especially in this room… but everywhere else, too, after I saw her on just two days of last week.  It might be futile, but I hope I don’t see her this semester… and after that, it’s much less futile a hope that I’ll never see her again, as our paths stretch out.
 
I couldn’t begin to say how much I miss her.
 
…But that admission is meaningless.  She had no pity the last time I missed her… the last dozen times…  And after so long, how far she must be from pity now; how far down her own path… and alongside the paths of others.
 
I’ve been able to ignore her, I think, this summer… but still, becoming absolutely separate, I still do it for her sake.  Erasing every trace of "love" — even removing every desire to do things "for her sake" — it’s still all for her sake.  I think she’d somehow be happier to think I’ve forgotten her, so that is my effort and my… facade… and my self-deception.  "I’ve forgotten her."
 
On the map of my journey, her highth was the most elevated.  She has been the pleasantest oasis; how quickly I would return to her.  But how different, how eroded and drouthy she must be by now…  Still, most of my tears here are for her.
 
And the rest?
 
Because I’m old.  I feel so old here.  I think about my life, and… it’s over.

I’m writing these chapters, but the book has already ended; the plot came to its completion.  Every character in my script has died.  These chapters are for nothing; they serve no purpose, and nobody will read them.  They shouldn’t even be included.

 

So old…  I’m 26.  In six months, I’ll be 27.  My adventure… has already…  You know, I failed it… but anyway, it’s already over.  I lived it; it’s done.  My game has been played, or my movie watched; the credits have all scrolled past, the music has all played, and I’m sitting here back at the main menu with nothing more to do.
 
…You know what I mean…  Everything valuable and worth writing… everything worth preparing for… has already taken place.
 
It was a short life, wasn’t it?  Don’t some people live longer than this?
 
My only hope is to… oh, no.  That’s only in movies.  I can’t erase my memory.
 
I think it’s a curse.
 
I remember my errors, most of them.  If this is a punishment, or if this is the inescapable effect of my choices, I wouldn’t argue it.  I chose to lose all of them because I was selfish.  I couldn’t obey.  There was a law, and I refused to be governed by it.  So now I sit here alone… my years behind me.
 
I’m so old.
 
My body still works fine.  Sometimes, though, I think I’m sick… with something chronic, something sapping my strength, eating away my energy.  But for now, I seem alive.
 
…I seem alive past my time.
 
…Like that movie, ‘White Noise 2’.  I ought to have died, I think, but I was saved by a serious mistake, and no good will come of it.
 
…But that’s just a movie.  Surely some good will come of me yet.
 
What is it, if I can never love?
 
I read yesterday some of the love letters of Joseph Smith to his first and last love, Emma.  I would have guessed that he wasn’t crippled by this awful dependence; but apparently he balanced it.
 
…Apparently, it doesn’t cripple some people; it strengthens them.
 
…What’s wrong… with me…
 
…Wait… I remember I begged God to give me that movie amnesia… and he verily gave it this summer…
 
I’ll plead again…  I’ll live again, a new person…
 
Forty years I might still have.  How many lives could I touch for good?  Just touch.  Not save their lives, not reform them, not rebuild.  Just… touch them.
 
Oh, I could touch a lot of lives…
 
It’s true, that the things we do carelessly have enormous effects on those around us.  It’s true that each of us changes the whole world in one way or another, just by living our lives according to our hearts.
 
It’s true that we are connected…
 
Maybe my life is lived, but there are still other lives a-living.
 
I wanted to tell Lace in ‘Phenomenon’ as George died, "Be glad it happened.  What a gift you were given…"
 
…Then, if nobody else whispers it to me… let me whisper to myself…
 
"…It’s o.k."
 
Let me be glad that she happened.
 
And may she, that one I miss, find her own life in the midst of service to others, as I hope to find mine.
 
And may she find her Joseph Smith, her one in a billion.  She said once… that she wanted an "enlightened" one.
 
-Steve Foster
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2 Responses to From Manila with Love

  1. Heidi says:

    I really wanted to go to Manila with you. I always wonder what is it like.

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