LOLA GOT’S LUTONG BAHAY IN AMERICA: Senior Citizenship

HENDERSON, Nevada (MindaNews / 21 Feb) – Some weeks have gone by since I came back from Davao. The bad headache of the long travel time has dissipated into a buzzing, lingering jet lag. Maybe age has something to do with it.

The house seems to have missed me. The hall mirror reflecting the passageway to the kitchen, a little dustier maybe. The room we share, my friend and I, just a little worse for wear. The bachelor keeping watch while I was away. Just shy of a total takeover, I am grateful things are still where they belong.

In the days that follow, shaking off the time zones tracking the body clock hampers the need to feel, again, that sense of belonging in another set of familiar surroundings. The cold, dry air is a pleasant difference from the muggy heat of Davao. Having to use the heater when the sun goes down though, isn’t enjoyable at all.

Henderson, Nevada is not Las Vegas, I try to explain this to a fellow passenger who got off in LA. While its close proximity to the valley does seem to give it that mis-identity of being a “suburb” of Vegas, it’s not. Probably like getting the impression that Las Vegas is nothing more than the strip….

Okay, so these random thoughts finding themselves here, as another bout of acclimatizing struggles to set itself in the right round hole again, is something I must suffer through. Crossing the dateline too often scrambles the brain. Too often being four times at least (in 2015), for this senior citizen.

Senior citizenship. I have crossed that line too. I now carry a laminated white card that clearly designates me to the privilege of twenty per cent discounts, and, maybe an invisible medal of honor for surviving (this far anyway) the drama of life. Just a thought.

Let me share the first time I used the card.

It was a Friday. I was invited by a friend to have lunch. It was a pleasant surprise to see that Gertrude was also going to be with us. We had been classmates in high school at the Philippine Women’s College of Davao. Gertrude was the valedictorian, and Agnes our salutatorian. Gertrude is married with three kids, and friend Agnes is married too. Her work as choreographer has begot her more children than most mothers can have.

Seeing how I could not get enough of Filipino food, since I was just visiting, it was with a sense of excitement that we went to have our repast at a purely Pinoy restaurant at the SM Lanang mall.

Yes, I miss the food most of all. The real authentic way we do our food from scratch, which I presume is also done in these establishments. Because they taste like they are, in my opinion. Everyday that I spent in Davao, there was this sense of looking forward to what was going to be for lunch, or dinner.

In the holiday parties, the one that stands out for me was the dinuguan of Tita Dali. And, now that I mention this, I am missing the puto bumbong of Jaltan, the pansit of my brother Sim, empanadas, and ensaymadas and even the adobo and lau-uy of Lani and Bing. My sister’s durian pie filling….

I digress. As so often seems to happen when I enter food into the page. Apologies. Let’s get back to the meat of the story.

It was a good lunch. Enough left-overs for us to want to have coffee and dessert at another place. I suggested the chocolate place in Abreeza Mall. Friendly and really good churros, the way I remembered my mom used to prepare it. With real chocolate to dunk the churros in. Well, not exactly like my mom’s but good anyway. Great difference from the ones you get stateside. Giant sized fingers smothered in white sugar and cinnamon.

We stayed and chatted till past four in the afternoon. We saw tables around us occupied, cleared, and re-occupied. The waitress didn’t seem to mind. (I hope.)

So, before this, even when I had my senior card with me (with a booklet even), I always forgot to bring it out. This time, I didn’t forget. I was curious to see if they would honor it. Yes they should, you say, but picture a first timer, in a role less popular than most. To be a senior citizen when your head has not gotten the message yet. When old lady used to mean being referred to as the female half of a relationship; old bag was just an overused purse….

And, don’t say sixty is the new forty either because the face you see in the mirror could not be forty. The way you have to make sure you do not stand up too quickly lest you hurt yourself, is not forty. The way your energy is not in full tank mode, sputtering sometimes to a much needed halt when you try to do the very same things you used to do in a few hours in the morning, is not forty. Having to chase down your blood pressure, and diabetes and cholesterol, and Lord knows what else, to its normal range, is not the state of being in your forties.

It was an admission of the inevitable, I guess. To hand over that white card. An admission of age. An admission of guilt – of vanity. An admission that, since you have reached this milestone, and, realized you are now a century older than your father was when he passed; that, it’s still all good after all. That, when you look back, you are not defined by the years you survived this life, but how you had lived the years you were blessed with. And you thank the Lord that no matter what, it has indeed been all an astounding feat of fortune for an “underachiever” no less.

To everyone out there. February is valentines month. Take the whole month to celebrate, love is the most beautiful thing.

(Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews’ effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries. Margot Marfori is an author and visual artist from Davao City. She is currently based in Henderson, Nevada.)