Mommy Talks

Travelling without the girls

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Sunday, the day after the wedding, we went to a brunch at a house about half an hour from Baguio. It was a beautiful house situated in the middle of a lush forest and we drank in the majestic scenery and the sweet mountain air. A buffet table was laid out in a vast room with sliding doors that opened to a wrap-around porch. We filled our plates and chose to sit at one of the tables on one side of the porch. Lunch was slow and leisurely, and peppered with conversations that ranged from the previous night’s festivities to the latest rumored boyfriend of Kris Aquino.

Sometime over dessert, something hit me on the shoulder and I felt that whatever it was slid down my back and on to the space in the chair between my back and the backrest. I stood up with a jerk and found a bird lying immobile in the chair. I thought it was seriously injured but everyone said it was probably stunned as it must have flown directly into the glass wall of the house. Speedy picked it up, moved it to the nearby hammock and, within a few minutes, the little thing had flown back into the trees. Speedy and I looked at each other and muttered that if Sam had been there, she’d have been so worried about the bird. In the same breath, if the bird had hit Alex instead of me, she would have probably screamed her head off.

The if’s might sound like a trivial comment. But last weekend’s trip to Baguio was the first that Speedy and I had taken anywhere together without our girls. It was supposed to be our time together but the incident with the bird, the way we automatically thought about our girls, was only the first of many similar instances over the long weekend when, wherever we went and whatever we did, there would always be a moment when we’d think of the girls and imagine what if they had been with us.

The next day, we did some shopping mostly mentally ticking off items in the list of pasalubong that Sam and Alex wanted. We saw a toy — a small sack with what looked like the tail of a kitten hanging out and, when touched, or when there was a loud sound, the sack would vibrate vigorously and spew a sound like the cry of a kitten. We laughed at it then I told Speedy that we just had to buy two — one for Sam and one for Alex. And “toy” wasn’t even in their list of pasalubong.

We lunched at a delightful Malaysian eatery and, as we scanned the menu prior to ordering, we noticed the vegetarian items and we agreed that it was a perfect place to bring Sam.

We had dinner at Cafe by the Ruins, saw the list of pasta dishes in the menu, and I remarked offhandedly, almost unconsciously, how Alex would love the food there.

Gee, driving up to Baguio, we were telling each other that, at last, we could eat where we wanted. In the past, everywhere we ate was always in deference to what Sam and Alex wanted, and they often argued because each had her own preferences. And there we were finally, Speedy and I, eating where we chose and we were still thinking about how Sam and Alex would like the food in every restaurant we went to. It was more than a little insane.

And it was really more insane than all that because almost as soon as we checked into the hotel, Speedy was checking the brochure for a larger room for the four of us. And, by the time we checked out, I was asking the people at the front desk for the rates for the family room and the suite. It was really more than a little insane.

I don’t know if it’s something as simple as missing them or, not having travelled together without them before, we were just really unsure how to go about it. Did we honestly wish they were there with us? Did we feel guilty realizing we were capable of having a good time together without them? We did want our us time. And Sam and Alex are at that age when they do travel out of town with their own friends. So, what was it? Why all those recurring moments when we’d mention them and we’d react to situations in relation to what we think they’d say or not say, or what they’d like or not like, if they were there with us?

Strange. So, so strange.

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