"I am large. I contain multitudes." - Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Monday, November 02, 2009


I have this old friend from the neighborhood I grew up in. Her name is Vicky. My sister Piglet and I were friends with Vicky and her sister Mia. They lived a few blocks from our house, and we spent summers together and went through puberty together too. And friends you go through puberty with, well, they're just special, you know? How can they not be? They stuck by you (and you stuck by them) while all those changes in your body and mind were reaking havoc. Those first crushes, and that first dance - these friends had front row seats to all that.

It was at Vicky's house that Piglet and I had our first sleepover. Our parents came to visit that night, it was really bittersweet. An emotional tug-of-war of sorts. Our folks silently grieving the end of our childhood and we yearning for it back. Such a rite of passage.

You're probably wondering where this is going. I know my segues are askew! Please pardon me. Vicky was part of a lot of my memories and they are hurtling into my consciousness right now at breakneck speed!

Well, it was Halloween two days ago and I always think of Vicky and her family during Halloween. In particular, Vicky's mom, Tita Chris comes to mind because her birthday falls on Halloween. I always think of her and pray for her every time October 31 comes around. And when I think of her, I can't help but think of another first - another milestone - that also took place in their home.

It was my first stage performance.

Ok granted, it wasn't on a real stage (more like a platform) and sure, it was only in their living room in front of their whole family. But we were charging two pesos a pop! So of course, we had to keep to a certain standard. And we had to prepare.

And prepare we did! I had a solo number. A song entitled "I Am a Pretty Little Dutch Girl," which in retrospect was really weird given my dark complexion and Asian features. But that was my song. We had a group number too, a song and dance act, if I recall correctly.

Well the other day on Halloween, I was reliving this memory. How we dimmed all the lights except for a few bright lamps. And how the audience really gave each of us their undivided attention. How silent the silence was in between applause and performance. And the one thing that stands out in my memory was the soft yellow glow of light on the smiling, happy, supportive faces of my friend's family egging me on while I sang. And I remember Tita Chris especially. How warm her smile was. How beautiful she looked. How contented she seemed, surrounded by her family.

Tita Chris has Alzheimer's now. And I don't know how much she remembers. But every time her birthday comes around, I remember her. I always send a text message to Vicky greeting her mom and asking about what costume they'll wear for trick or treat this year. I hope I'll be able to see her when I go home for Christmas. That would really be nice.

As for Halloween, it will always be more than just Hallow's night for me. I will always think of Tita Chris and Vicky's friendship. I realize once again that I am blessed with wonderful childhood memories and I vow to remember them every once in a while, even as time continues to soften the edges of my recollections.

(Photo credit: carf)

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