Friday, June 14, 2013

Under Fluorescent Lighting

I shut the door behind me. Scrolled down to a song in my playlist. Stripped my shirt off. Turned the hot water on. Waited for the steam to rise. And then closed my eyes.

The music played, adding one synthesized layer over another. I swayed slowly, then with increasing urgency. The lights dimmed before exploding in color. I broke into sweat, as I pumped my fist in the air.

A knock on the door, followed by a stern warning from hubby. "Quiet down. You'll wake the whole building up."

I opened my eyes, and the lights came back on. I caught a glimpse of myself in the misted mirror, as I pulled back the runaway fist and wound down the epileptic swaying.

Under the fluorescent lighting, I saw the familiar image of my father. Reliving a distant era, as he strutted his stuff. Enduring the taunts of one who, at that time, still took his youth for granted.

Monday, June 10, 2013


Hubby was attending a family gathering, so I decided to wander around the city by myself and play the tourist. I did some shopping, sampled dishes that hubby normally wouldn't order, and people watched.

I quickly got bored without hubby by my side. I felt lonely amongst the crowd in the densely populated Chinese district and wondered - what if I hadn't met him on that fateful day years ago.

Maybe it was the suffocating heat, but the pedestrians and their incomprehensible chatter started to crowd me in. I waited to cross the road for my ride home and ran the same question in my head.

As the pedestrian light turned green, the crowd parted and revealed the answer.

On some other day like today, he'd be waiting across the road smiling.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pink Tank Top

Hubby always tells me that I have absolutely no sense of color coordination. That's why I was quite excited to show him how I've paired my pink tank top with shorts that had tiny winged creatures of the same color stitched all over the fabric.

He commended me for the effort, then asked if I'd be wearing the same shade of lipgloss and blush to round out the look. I knew he'd be uncomfortable the entire time we'd be out, so I changed into something that would attract less attention.

He remained chatty after we stepped out on the street, a sign that he approved of the plain white henley and navy cargo shorts. We were two ordinary Chinese uncles just shooting the breeze, invisible in the afternoon crowd.

As we passed by a popular food stall, we remembered we have not eaten and bought a peanut butter waffle to tide us over. We stood by a busy intersection, as hubby gingerly peeled off the wrapper and offered me first bite.

Hubby held the shared meal, as we took turns with mouthfuls. He was so busy feeding us both while trying to keep the filling intact that he was oblivious to the number of stares that we drew, pink tank top back in the closet and all.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pockets And Passes

I was still half asleep, when I trudged past him and his smile. I managed a belated grin only a couple of rows down the aisle. I looked back, but he was already busy helping another passenger.

I took off my coat, settled into my seat, and studied him from afar. He was tall, fit, handsome, and judging from his accent, most likely Taiwanese. He would sometimes look my way and smile.

While I waited for him to take my jacket, I slipped my boarding pass in its pocket after scribbling my number on it. Turned out he was not assigned to my aisle, so I held on to my coat when someone else came to collect it.

I decided to watch the first episode of a hit show's brand new season. On long hauls, I'd go through one episode after another. I was on a short flight and was considering watching the next episode when he approached.

He smiled and asked for my coat. I desperately wanted to hand him everything I was wearing. But I just thanked him, as I discreetly removed the boarding pass from its pocket before giving him the jacket.

He lingered a moment longer, as I glanced at my screen, the cursor hovering over episode two. I pressed cancel, not wanting to start something I could not finish, before he slowly turned and walked away.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Billboards and Fine Print

I'm at that point again, where I question whether this is what I want to do day in day out. It doesn't surprise me anymore, as I keep finding myself back at this place. What worries me is that the intervals are becoming shorter.

Maybe it's the onset of mid-life. Perhaps I've burned out. I could always move, but life changing decisions terrify me. I don't know if it's the fear of regret, of blaming myself for a wrong decision, so I tend to leave things to fate.

As I walked the rest of the way from the station to the office, my suit hugged me snugly, reassuringly. The rich fabric caressed my legs soothingly, its faint rustling whispered quietly that I was headed for the right place.

Confused on whether I should stay on, I prayed for a sign that would help me with a decision. I waited for it to rain fire and brimstone, but all that came was a soft whimper, as leather stepped on polished marble.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


He was seated on the cold marble floor. Naked, as he rocked to and fro on an unseen chair. Swaying to his own metronome, as he hummed a looped song. A faint yet familiar score to a grainy black and white movie that he played over and over in his head. Reflecting on each scene, his fingers twirling at measured intervals in the air. As he flipped each unturned stone to find meaning in the grays.

But answers are elusive. And so he endures the cold. Naked, as he rocks to and fro. Searching for balance, but never finding his center.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


I knew you would only break her heart.

I never liked you. I've always had misgivings about you. But you sweet-talked her into being friends. Showered her with attention, which you knew she'd swoon over.

Soon she couldn't stop thinking about you. Our conversations revolved around nothing else but you. And how quickly you wormed your way into everything that we do.

I knew you would only break her heart. And today you did.

Unwittingly, I did too. As I told her how you just tried to get into mine.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


It seems that China has embraced the western concept of Valentine's. The day has passed, and the flower and sweets shops are still doing brisk business.

I smile each time I overhear a cheesy line. But I laughed a little too loudly when a young Romeo beside us surprised his date with flowers and passionately declared probably the most famous statement of all.

"'Til death do us part."

Embarrassed with my behavior, hubby quickly paid the bill and ushered me outside. We couldn't stop laughing, as we traded half-meant sappy Hallmark card quotes on the short walk home.

I then pretended to read from a storybook and recited, "Once upon a time, Sean met hubby, and they lived happily ev..." Before I could finish, we saw an old man being wheeled into an ambulance parked in front of our building.

It is not an uncommon sight, given that the commercial part of the building houses an assisted living facility. But we were still taken aback, seeing the panicked old lady that stood by the curb.

We entered the elevator in silence, the smiles gone, neither one admitting what we both were thinking.

That the young Romeo was right after all.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hot and Spicy

Hubby and I chanced upon this vendor off Silom Soi 2. He was hawking curry of all colors and enticed customers with a spread of veggies and herbs on each table and that one could freely pick off on. We sat among the makeshift tables and chairs with the locals and enjoyed an authentic Thai meal.

The weather was warm, the food spicy. And just when things couldn't get any hotter, a group of hunks walked past. Hubby had to pound on my back, as I started choking on a slice of eggplant. More guys started to trickle down the street, that I had to order another drink to avoid a coughing fit.

We finished quickly and decided to explore the dark road. We almost turned back when the neighborhood started to look sketchy, but then a group of asian muscle bears walked by. It was hubby's turn to get all excited as we walked deeper into potential rape and murder fodder for tomorrow's local daily.

We finally found an apartment where men were gathered outside. We rang the door, climbed the stairs and reached a counter. Apparently it was a sauna, one of the popular ones in town. I was still asking hubby permission to have a quick tour, when I realized he was already collecting change.

As we stripped, I groaned when I realized it was an underwear-themed night. We obviously came unprepared, and we tried, and failed, to make our boxers look sufficiently sexy. There's really not much you can do with Gaps around Aussiebums, Andrew Christians, and Calvin Kleins.

The place was so dark that we had to hang on to the stairs' railings, cling to each other's arms, and feel our way in the dark as we navigated our way around. I kept bumping into walls and had to catch hubby who kept missing steps, that we couldn't stop laughing.

After quite a struggle, we finally reached the top floor. The area was al fresco, which we found pleasant. We sat on a wooden swing, lit up, and just chilled. A local would drop by every now and then but was too polite to intrude on our conversation. Either that or we simply were not attractive.

We laughed about looking out of place, how we were so out of the game, and decided to call it a night. We quickly dressed, politely returned the friendly smiles in the locker room, and surrendered our respective keys to a life that has long run its course.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Touch The Sky

I looked into the distance and wondered to myself what it would be like. To see, to feel, to be in that place, where the ground touches the sky.

When I finally couldn't contain the yearning within me, I set out for the unknown, leaving both familiar and comfortable behind.

I walked, then broke into a run. Each step bringing me further from the past. Determined as I was, I still couldn't close the distance.

I found myself at the edge of water, as I ran out of ground to cover. "Finally!" I said to myself, as I marveled at the sky reflected in its calmness.

But which then quickly faded, swept by the ripples around me.

I looked behind at the footprints that marked my journey and traced as far back as my eyes could see, to where the ground touches the sky.

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