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A Sign of Life

I’ve always been drawn to writing.

How a rhythmic blend of words managed to make the mundane look magical never failed to put me under a dizzying spell, and one I had no qualms being bewitched by. Perhaps it was also the idea that just about anything could be romanticized under the guise of a few expertly weaved sentences, as long as you yourself could behold the beauty beneath it all.

Knowing this, it’s not hard to understand why my own writing has taken the backseat since quarantine began. Feeling lackluster and uninspired, there was absolutely no bright side to document, no light at the end of the tunnel to sound the bells for, and no silver lining to celebrate, especially since the days just seemed to get darker with each new case.

But today, seated in a long-forgotten terrace with the first ray of pure sunlight I’ve seen in weeks pouring over me, I come to you with a new perspective. I come to you with a fresh mind.

I come to you with a sign of life.

Like many of us, the isolation has turned me hollow. I’ve always been one to live off the energy surrounding me, and with the telltale signs of a messy room, piles of post-its announcing all the ideas that never came into fruition, and a trash can overflowing with proof of all the comfort food I’ve sought refuge in, it’s clear than my own energy has been drained right to the pit.

Don’t get me wrong– my family and I do what we can to stay sane. We have rather lengthy meal times together where everyone gets to talk about what’s on their mind and get some much needed human interaction, but there’s still that resounding solemness that trails in the air that comes right after a hearty laugh.

We all crave the outside world, we all crave normalcy.

A few weeks ago, I had woken up filled with the sudden desire to set aside my trusty bag of Hot Cheetos and actually start working out again. My daily routine usually consisted of sleeping, snacking, social media, and soaping up the dishes, but once I got the spontaneity to exercise, I heeded that urge. But just as fast as my Chloe Ting mornings began, so did the burn out.

I lost the motivation to continue, and after an unexpected passing in the family, my will to go on fizzled to nearly nothing. Immediately my newfound career as YouTuber took a pause, with my fun Instagram “influencer” role following shortly after. The idea of curating myself to look chic and fabulous online no longer interested me, because I was feeling anything but.

Around this time, I was preparing for the big launch of my quarantine project, Off/Duty Avenue, but once the inspiration was drained out of me, I scrapped all the publicity materials I was working on and went straight for simple advertisements through my Instagram Stories that announced opened slots for orders. For someone as extra as me, this was completely out of character, but it’s all I felt I could offer.

I started busying myself with completing my orders, and admittedly, this at least instilled a feeling of purpose in me every time I woke up. I’ve always loved the thrill of working, so getting up every morning to check on the state of my tie-dyes became my favorite distraction.

By the time I finished all the pre-launch orders, I was once again burnt out. I hadn’t gotten a single hour of rest, and that made me too exhausted to socialize at any point of the day. There was nothing wrong with me being passionate about my business, but I couldn’t keep using it to block out the emptiness quarantine had inflicted upon me. After talking it over with Luis, I realized it wouldn’t give my brand justice to use it simply as means for distraction, instead of a platform for inspired creation.

From that moment on, I decided to take a week-long break, which leads us where we are now.

Yesterday, I woke up feeling like someone had flipped a switch in my brain. I looked down at myself, curled at the edge of my bed still in my clothes from the day before, because I had passed out from exhaustion yet again. What was I tired of? Nothing physical, but a very overwhelming mental drain. I looked around my room and the piles of unfolded clothing that had found residence in the corners of our space, and I knew from that moment on that I could no longer live like this.

I got up, took a shower, and put on a nice dress. I’ve always seen fashion more than a means of self-expression, but a tool for self-narration. With my clothes, I can author who I want to be, not just who I currently am. If I wanted to be inspired by the world again, I needed to look the part.

I started tidying up the room, clearing the floor, folding my clothes, throwing out the trash, and arranging my decor. The sight of a clean and well-loved area fueled me, and I instantly knew it was only missing one thing. If this is going to be my own living space for the next few months, it needed a true sign of life.

I took to Facebook Marketplace and scoured the listings for some fresh flowers. I found a wonderful seller from the Dangwa Flower Market who was selling a dozen white roses for only P250, so without hesitation, I paid, booked a delivery, and within the same hour, I had my beautiful sign of life.

Those close to me know that I adore flowers. They may only last a few weeks, but its their ephemeral characteristic that makes you enjoy their presence even more. Once I had arranged them into my vase, I couldn’t help but tear up at the beauty of it all. My once still and dreary space, was now set alight with my 12 blossoming roses.

Today, I write this seated in my parents’ old terrace that has since then been left unused. I rediscovered this spot about a month ago, and it has easily become my favorite place. There’s just something about making the old new again that makes me feel like I’ve finally broken out of a monotonous routine.

I’ve just finished Pamela Reif’s 10 minute morning workout, and I can’t deny how much lighter I feel. My body has a long way to go before any real results show, but progress is progress, and that goes for everything else too.

Shaded behind all this greenery, I am remind me that my journey to finding hope amidst these dark times will be long and sometimes stagnant. But if these old but sturdy trees surrounding me have shown me anything, it’s that you don’t eat the fruit the same day you plant it.

One day, we will all bloom in the outside world again. But for now, I am finding solace in blooming where I am planted.

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