Long Distance Lullabies

Tonight I will write
Another silly love song
Sing it once again
Out into the air
Wishing it would somehow reach you there
Cause all I have as an audience
Are the stars and the midnight sky
So tonight I will pretend you're here
Hearing this silly lullaby

That is actually the verse of a song I penned way back in 2011. I was in love with a boy who lived oceans away (okay, maybe just a South-China-Sea away). I didn't know if he felt the same way, though. It was only much later that he expressed his intentions of courting me (very Filipino, I know). And so began our long distance courtship. Which eventually blossomed (18 months later) into a full-fledged long distance relationship.

If you counted the years we were friends from far away, we're well into six years plus of long distance somethings.

I'll tell you one thing. LDRs are not, I repeat, NOT for the fainthearted. If God wasn't part of the equation, my boyfriend and I would have probably broken up by now.

I keep a password-protected blog where I pour out all my LDR-and-all-other-relationship-related rants. When I was single, I spent days dreaming of what it would be like to be in a relationship. Now that I'm in one - well, it's not all flowers and rainbows like I anticipated. 

From the secret blog:

"I don’t get the luxury of enjoying Love’s physical presence on a daily basis. I only see him twice or thrice a year. I only get to hear his voice, see his features online if I’m lucky, once a week - that is when the Internet connection and our schedules cooperate. 
I seem to have only a handful of memories that I can look back to - those times that we are physically together… 
…But I guess the good thing about LDRs is that since those memories are only a handful, you have to treat each one as gold - special, precious the way they should be. 
You can’t let the moment pass by. You have to seize it and make the most of it. You have to live in it and understand that you’ll only get a moment like that after five, six, or seven months again. (Addendum: Thank God it's just seven months maximum for us!)
And you have to use the time that you are apart wisely. Are you going to spend seven months in a sad depressive, pining state? Or are you going to make the most of it, use it so that you are the best, most complete person you can be?”

That's me, writing to a not so sane and level-headed version of myself. It's not always, but I have moments when I can be a wise old sage, giving golden words of wisdom to an emotionally turbulent me.

There are perks of being in an LDR. You're independent. You learn to communicate, you learn to be creative and resourceful (movie date over Skype, anyone?), you learn to value trust and commitment. And of course, you feel that whirlwind of tension and excitement every time you find yourself getting on a flight that will bring you closer to your love again. When you finally get to close the distance in, you'll realize being in an LDR was - is - worth it.

So. I'll be hopping on such a plane tonight. Mental note to self: do not take the next few moments - may they be simply hours or a couple of days - for granted.

Carpe Diem, Mari.

Bed and Breakfast + Travel and Tours

I suppose when you live in a foreign, fairly accessible country, you will automatically take on the role of a host and tour guide whenever good friends decide to come and visit. I don't mind. I've seen my pad transform into a Bed and Breakfast + Travel and Tours (thank you, Caleb!) a fair number of times.

"Mamser, our first stop will be at the pink mosque. Yes, the mosque is pink."

I have pictures in the Putra Mosque where you can see me age. Or rather gain weight, then lose weight, then God-help-me-not-to-gain-weight again. But it's my joy to tour people around and show them the fun and beauty Malaysia Truly Asia has to offer. 

"Let's go see the Twin Towers! Let's go to Putrajaya! Let's drive down to Malacca! Do you guys want to go to Bukit Tinggi? Or what about Penang or Laman Seni? Let's go, go, go!"

Much as I love the Malaysian scenery, it is my greater joy, however, to let people try out the local cuisine. Bring in the nasi lemak, the roti canai, the char kuey teow, and the chilli pan mee! You won't want to leave Malaysia after trying those plus the teh tarik from the closest mamak stall!

So, bed and breakfast. Thank God for the abundant sheets and pillows my friends from The Adventure Part 1 left behind.

It looks like we will be back in "business" again pretty soon. We don't charge, though. But you can leave us your smiles and hearts full of gratitude. A free lunch wouldn't hurt either. 

Or you can just leave a tip at the door. ;)

The Lifesquad

We were looking for Indonesian food the other week. An officemate had mentioned there were a lot of those sold in Chow Kit. So, one spontaneous Saturday afternoon (aka Yana's birthday), the girls and I decided to venture into KL's, uhm, red light district to hunt for Indo food. When we got there, we did find our bakso and rawon. But not only that, I happened to stumble upon some heartwarming memories as well.

"Oh, look! There's Krash Pad! That's where we went for our Lifesquad last time. They have a branch for teens in this area, too."

The Lifesquad. Way back in 2011, I came up with the idea of forming a group who could do volunteer services in KL and beyond. The Japan earthquake happened around that time. My heart was just filled with the burden to make a difference in society. Because of what was happening all over the world, the least I - we - could do was make a difference where I - we - was or were at now.

Thus the group. Things happened and we eventually disbanded. But hey, we were able to have four conquests (as we called them then). We went to Fallen Leaves (now Reboot the Roots) to validate and learn from people recovering from substance abuse. We went to both Krash Pad's kids and teens centers to have artistic activities and feeding programs, too.

Anyone could volunteer in our group. There was no such thing as race or religion - just people with a heart for the community, people wanting to learn and share what they have.

I wonder if we could do something like that again. Not really for Lifesquad Season 2, but, you know, just gather and do something bigger than ourselves again. My friends have been going to homeless feeding programs and have been doing some volunteer street arts - I wonder what else we could do?

How about you? Do you have ideas on what you - or we, if you are in KL - could do?