* This is an excerpt from a previous blog dated March 30, 2012. Thought it especially relevant now, on this 2nd year in a lockdown, and international travel seems like a faraway dream. How these sentiments resonate with me now on entirely different level.
I always make it a point to look out the window when the plane begins its descent. Though I usually sleep most of the way, my body wakes when it feels the subtle plunging of the aircraft. To the dismay of the people beside me, I try to peer out the window even if I’m in an aisle seat. Luckily, today I was seated on a K and I got a full view of Tokyo fast growing in sight below.
I haven’t stopped over here in more than a decade, and the last time was not a good experience. Something ruptured in my ear during the flight, and it escalated to an infection. I remember crying most of the way, the flight attendants fussing over me in panic. We stayed in Tokyo for a night but I wasn’t able to go out into the city from being in too much pain. The one time I left the room, I was in an elevator with my parents, and a Japanese man turned to my mom and said, “You have a cute son!” (Or something to that effect, the only thing I remember accurately was that he did, in fact, mean to pay me a compliment but he thought I was a boy; and if my body ever allowed me to blush, I probably would have reddened in that moment).
I didn’t remember Tokyo having so many rice fields, and so close to the airport at that. The stretches of paddies are interrupted now and then by curving gray, paved roads, and dense clumps of gorgeous trees. There are a variety of trees in each clump, some tall and slender, some stout and wide, some have the deep green color of seaweed, and others are the color of limes — but all looked so healthy and thick with growth that they looked like bunches of broccoli from above! I envy Japan for their balance of concrete and lush vegetation. It continues to be one of the countries I want to visit someday: to tie a wish upon a tree or sit in a paradise of cherry blossoms by a pond.
This time, I was content to have been treated to authentic ramen, udon, and a baked cheese snack (called Cheeza) at the airport. The latter comes in varieties of cheeses like cheddar, bleu, and parmesan, and at different percentages of cheesiness. The one I had was at 51% and was so cheesy, I can’t imagine what the 70% will taste like!
Now, we’re off to Detroit, where we will catch our final connecting flight to Newark. It is times like this I wish someone brilliant would have already made teleportation into reality; but then again, in as much as long travel is uncomfortable, it is enriched by the experience of looking out of windows and seeing the world from a different angle. Every time.
After roughly 36 hours in transit, most of us are staying in for the day, if also partly because we’re stuck in the suburbs of NY with no means of getting around, and the buses and trains are too far away.
We were still roused from our beds at 10:00 to join everybody for breakfast, despite having been promised that we can sleep in this morning, to allow us to recover from yesterday’s long haul. Not wanting to be difficult, I got up reluctantly, feeling that familiar tightness in my throat that usually accompanies sleeplessness.
Shortly after first meal, we gathered in the living room to run through some of our new numbers. Within minutes, the production team arrived to formalize the rehearsal. Without realizing it, noon had passed and next I checked, it was a little past 3:00 in the afternoon. I ate a few chicken wings and a small waffle that had been spread on the table, among a variety of other food.
Growing restless, and not wanting to sleep to avoid jetlag, I decided to work out. V, the youngest member of our group who is slowly recovering from a devastating heartache by investing his energies into becoming a mini-Chinese version of a Spartan, has previously volunteered to be my trainer. I was able to kill an hour and a good number of calories.
A little girl named K also came over to rehearse with Mr. C, and we’re sharing one number with her at the Independence Day parade in Manhattan. She is apparently singing the anthem for the next Pacquiao match. To this moment, she’s still singing a string of Visayan songs downstairs. I, on the other hand, have retired to my room and am simultaneously alternating typing and applying nail polish.
If I weren’t in a beautiful city that I’m itching to romp around, this would be a perfect set up; but as it is, I’m simply making do of the circumstance… and yet I’m happy, for not many get the opportunity to have water, rest and mindlessness.
I miss traveling, for work or otherwise.