Ode to Karen
1095-A Karen was where we lived for four and a half years. Note the hanging bears by the window. Beyond them was my home office, adjacent to the living room. The carport was for our landlady's vehicle.
View of our house from the kids' school just across the street. Note that it is part of a compound. The gate looks so much better now than when we first moved in.
I took this on January 7, just as we were taking the last of our things away. What was once so familiar, now so bare.
Our landlady's mother sells great-tasting native rice cakes -- bico and suman. I took this when I dropped by this week. It is heartwarming to be told you are missed! I noticed only now that her bilao lies on top of my old white board where I used to make a meal matrix, good for an entire week. The rows and columns are still visible.
The kids and I lived in a modest two-bedroom apartment on Karen Avenue from July 25, 2007 to January 6, 2012 -- roughly four and a half years.
We were all so excited about moving to a better address that the pangs of nostalgia did not really sink in until much later, when we were bidding our neighborhood goodbye.
The Karen apartment would always be special because it served as my transition house -- from my old life to the new.
When I moved in, I had practically nothing, not even a light bulb of my own. I had a folding bed, but that one we lent to my then-pregnant sister who lived with us briefly.
I remember many things about Karen. In the beginning, when it was just Bea, Josh and I sharing the bigger room, we took turns using the folding bed while the other two slept on the floor. It took me five months to get us beds.
We shared the same zip-up closet. It was only in 2010 that everybody had his or her own closet.
Our television set was the smallest and the cheapest -- a 14-inch Promac. It served us well until it conked out, terminally, in June 2011.
I remember having no couch aside from two monobloc school desks. It took me six months to get a faux-leather sofa set.
I remember haggling with a junkshop owner for a worn-out electric fan. He wanted to get it for 40, I was selling it for 70. I needed the extra to cover my back and forth jeepney fare going to the newsroom in Port Area.
I remember shopping for Josh's masquerade ball outfit at an ukay-ukay. He became a finalist for masquerade prince, anyway. Nasa nagdadala lang yan.
I remember Josh's 12th birthday. He requested an ube cake from Red Ribbon. I asked him how many friends he would have over -- he told me three. Actually, 22 kids and one teacher showed up. I had to slice the cake so thin so everybody could have a piece.
I remember playing host to the children's many friends. For instance, after an 18th birthday party they attended, a dozen of their friends slept over. Actually, several of them liked sleeping over -- for several days at a time.
The summers were scorching, and especially so because of the wall that was exposed to the sun all day.
I remember being so desperate for personal space that I did not mind not staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning just so I could have some me-time downstairs, watching NatGeo, or CNN, or BBC, or Fox Crime. That is, until a cockroach comes flying or crawling by and pierces my bubble.
And remember the time Bea and I were fishing for keys at midnight, straight from the last full show of High School Musical 3? Somebody just came from behind and snatched her cell phone away.
In another instance, somebody threw a sizable rock to our window. It cracked.
I will always have these, and many other memories.
Where we live now is bigger. The neighborhood is safer. I can imagine where else life will take me and my children -- together, and eventually, to our different directions.
But I doubt whether we will ever forget that house just across the street from the school.