I’ve never been an envious person. When I was younger, my parents would leave me at home when they went to the mall. They told me I had to earn trips like that. Truth is, they didn’t want me pointing at each shiny object we pass by. When I was a little older and the tantrum-tendency wasn’t so high, I was allowed to buy one thing from the toy store as long as it wasn’t too expensive and as long as I didn’t cry.
It was small things like that that made me who I am now. I understood that things are earned. Nothing is ever simply given to you. You have to work for it. Instead of money, I would pay my mother with test papers and report cards. Quid pro quo, as they say.
Since then, I can’t say I’ve ever been jealous of anyone. If I want something, I save up for it so I can buy it. If I can’t save up for it, I’ll give my mom a really good reason to buy it for me. Even when my mom moved up the corporate ladder and our family could afford more things, I never asked for much. She raised me to know that it means more when you work for things and if you can’t get it, perhaps it just wasn’t meant for you.
That’s why I find it a little funny when I see children throwing tantrums at the mall. We all know that kids have such a high capacity to create drama. This here’s one for the books. I saw a kid crying, rubbing a jar of Smucker’s Goober Grape as she put it back on the shelf. She was sobbing real hard and it was annoying and stuff but if you listened closely, you could tell she was saying goodbye to her beloved spread. From my little spot in the aisle, I went a little closer so I could hear what she was saying.
“Sorry ha,” she began, patting the poor jar of peanut butter and jelly which was now on its rightful place in the shelf. “Tinanong ko naman pero ayaw niya talaga eh.”
This kid was seriously deranged. I’m guessing she wanted her mom to buy her a jar but she said no. I wanted to give her a lesson the way my mom did but I didn’t want to interrupt her little drama session. I took a jar myself, strawberry not grape and I could literally feel her gaze burning my nape.
It’s little thoughts like this that come out of nowhere when I walk around Makati. A few days ago, I was walking near the park in Salcedo when my iPod conked out its last note. I took it as a cue that it was time to rest so I bought a bottle of water and settled on one of the park’s stone cold benches.
I was trying to clear my head when a big yellow ball hit me from behind. My assassin was a little boy, perhaps not older than four. I picked up the ball and with a smile, gently threw it back at him.
“Pasensiya na ha. Natamaan ka ba?” asked the boy’s father.
I assured him I was okay and after playing catch with the boy for a few more rounds, they sort of wandered off into a different corner in the park.
I couldn’t help but stare at the boy and his father. I’m guessing he was about five or six years older than me. How was he able to fit life’s puzzle pieces together so easily? I also saw the boy’s mother. She was dressed in what looked like a bank employee’s uniform but was more than ready to play with her two boys the moment she spotted them. They couldn’t have been that old. They were so young but there they were, in love, settled down and everything. I’m turning twenty-four in six months. This isn’t where I pictured myself to be when I was younger. For one thing, I was pretty sure I’d be married by now.
And suddenly, a strange feeling bubbled up from under me. I could feel my toes quivering with each shake. Envy crept from the grass to my toes until it took over my whole body. I stared at the boy and his father as they roughhoused around the park. Why can’t I be more like him? Won’t I make a good dad? I looked at the boy’s mom as she sat on a bench with a sandwich in hand. Why can’t I have their life? Why am I stuck living mine?
I wasn’t used to feeling like this. It almost felt alien to me- to covet my neighbor’s life. I took these feelings and bottled them up. I walked to my metaphorical grocery aisle and prepared to say my goodbyes.
“Sorry ha,” I began, patting the poor jar of envy and dreams which was now on its rightful place in the shelf. “Sinubukan ko naman pero ayaw talaga eh.”
I questioned the fairness of the world. I questioned the choices I’ve made and when I could not ask any more, my feet led me home- to the house I share with my parents, to the room I share with my sister and to the bed I share with no one.
I understand that things are earned. Nothing is ever given to you. Otherwise, it’s not meant to be yours. But what do you do when you want something so bad but you just know it’ll never happen? Don’t we all deserve to be happy?
|Joshua Radin & Schuyler Fisk|
Dear John: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack