Finally, after all the unexplained & unnecessary stress and my bothering of friends online, like they were stress relieving pills, I received my temporary driving permit just almost two weeks ago. The relief is explainable especially after 4 years of procrastination. After a little over two months of audiovisuals of France's road rules known as the "Code de la Route," I passed the written exam on the first attempt. I was glad that I painstakingly went everyday for 2 hours to the "autoecole" because it all paid off - I actually find the actual & official exam ridiculously easy compared to the driving school's - which was logical. Then a month & 20 hours of driving after my written exam, I likewise bagged the driving exam on the first try. My 10 years of driving experience in the Godforsaken streets of Manila must not be left unacknowledged. I've finally obtained the independence & freedom I once had - infinite like space. It's like finding a once lost leg or arm. My now renewed independence & freedom would be so much sweeter if I can get a car of my own as soon as possible - and I would need a kick in the ass for that. Then you wonder which is better, having a car before having the driving permit or the other way around? *Thanks again, Kala & Hazel - after you finally get your permit, you can instantly drive anywhere & anytime you'd like, Hazel. I have to wait for weekends!*
More beautiful women gathered in the city of Marseille. After months of unfruitful planning to meet up, we finally pushed through at Hazel's for lunch. Two bottles of Clairette & a bunch of Chinese take-out to celebrate friendship & my gratitude to them for sharing my "papier rose" adventure. Time really is speed when you are surrounded with familiarity. In a strange environment, friends do make everything bearable & survivable. I hope that somehow, if our winds does not change for us, we can all grow together in our host country & truly create our little Pinoy corner. Then France for another 5 to 10 years would not look too bleak afterall.
"I have something to tell you. Call me," was the message on my cellfone on a beautiful saturday afternoon. My brother never calls me & surely not with a lack of sensitivity by this short, vast & unexplicit group of words. Not to mention, a perplexing tone of voice that was hard to decipher although my brother have always spoken in a flat, monotonous kind of way. It instantly bothered me & my heartbeat began racing back to Manila. I tried to stay calm, picked up the phone & dialed his number. It kept on ringing but there was no answer. I tried a couple more times but to no avail. I was beginning to freak out. I can feel my ears getting all red & warm. "Ok, calm down & just keep on dialing the phone," was all my french fry could say. I then tried my sister-in-law's cellfone & still the same ringing & no answer. I finally gathered the courage to call my parents but still the ringing & no answer. The waiting, the dialing made my imagination run wild to a moment I was hoping not to arrive. I finally had my sister-in-law who quickly passed me to my brother. "So what's up?" trying to stop an outburst of tears, "It's about dad," my heart literally stopped beating, "remember he has a hearing problem for quite a long time now...." Interrupting him with an eruption of tears, almost into fainting, I couldn't contain an almost violent emotion. All he wanted to tell me was we, three siblings, will try to help my dad with his hearing problem, which apparently made me cry even more. Fortunately, everything is fine & I told them to leave a clear & complete message next time. I was terrified. It's a moment I don't want to experience but given the situation we have now, there will be no other choice. Phonecalls from home can be good news as well as bad news. I just realized it when my brother unconsciously freaked me out one saturday afternoon.
After going around it & a chapter a day of the book The Beach, I finally found the big difference between the movie & the book. Not that I think the movie is better, it's just that I saw the movie first before reading the book so the interest is not much into reading especially when all you see in your head is Leo. Plus some of the characters are all completely wrong in the movie which on the other hand saved the book. So last weekend, I just couldn't put it down. I was more into it because it made me miss Asia. It made me miss those little Asian details in the book like the "tabo." I miss the simple yet profound way of life. I miss the warm sand on my feet. I miss home. It made me confirm that I could be just like one of the book's characters. That I really prefer, hands down, to live the rest of my life anywhere in Asia. The paradise beach on the book might not exist but the characters definitely do. And that made me feel good. *Kala, it was a good idea that you lent me the book. Thanks!*
Yesterday, Kala reminded me that we are only in our 23rd day of the new year & that it felt like forever. Strange enough, I believe that I am going through this winter just fine. Weather is just great for an end January although the mornings do freeze my butt. Malou have always told me that when January comes, winter will be a breeze. And after my 4 winters, she's actually right. Time is so speed. I guess having 4 seasons give us the impression of flying time. The concrete changes that tell us time is ticking. Think spring. It is amazing how I look forward to a new season. It's like getting on a train & looking at each stop. A destination. The sensation of movement. Think spring.