It’s the break of dawn and I’m standing here, alone on Sabang Beach. It’s dark, not a soul is awake, not even the vagrant dogs I had befriended the night before. Gentle streams of crisp, ocean breeze whistle past my ears as I’m lulled by the steady rhythm of waves crashing onto shore.
Like a lone drop of cobalt dye in water, the first rays of twilight peek out from behind the eastern mountains, imbuing the firmament with rich, illuminating bursts of cerulean and lilac. Clouds stir, a boat comes into view, and like a newly born dolphin opening its eyes for the first time, the universe awakens to a crescendo of rapturous blue.
Staring into the horizon, I realize at that moment that I am standing at the edge of the world, looking at the other side.
Surveying the boat in the distance, I recognize a familiar light at the base of its steps. Glowing brighter, I make my way towards it, and in doing so, revisit the places of my past.
I walk through the schools and dormitories of my youth, climb up the mango tree with beetles in summertime. I revisit places that remind me of ecstasy and regret, of optimism and failure, of unspoken joys meaningless to anyone but me. With each step, thorn-like memories and unyielding resentments fall away like scabs off healed wounds, until all that’s left is a light that was once bright, but dimmed by a lifetime of unforgiveness.
Here, at the edge of the world, like kingdoms razed to the ground and rebuilt, it can shine brightly once again.
Approaching the familiar light by the side of the boat, I recognize her face, and my heart bursts with the boundless joy and anticipation of weary soldiers finally on their way home.
“I’ve missed you baby girl” I say to her, cupping her face in my palm. “Where’s Mommy?”
And with a single, familiar gesture long unseen except in dreams, she wags her tail and ushers me onboard.
*Inspired in part by the opening stanza of Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife.
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Ay kay Layo ng Lamayo!