Saturday, February 4, 2017

My RL


No words :)

I love the library. I loved it more than 20 years ago when I was in college, and I love it now for the solace and focus it continues to inspire in me. 

I was not your typical university student. I was in Ateneo between 1993 and 1997, getting my AB on full scholarship, but at that time too I was undergoing great changes in my life. I had gotten married and had had two babies, born one year and eight months apart. I never had an org (much as I wanted to), never had a group of friends much less a tambayan (much as I wanted to) and obviously not a lot of free time (much as I needed). 

At home -- okay, at my in-laws' home -- it was difficult to study.  I had babies to care for and a husband to serve. So whatever free time I had, I spent in school -- at a wonderful place called Rizal Library. 

In the 1990s, only the first floor, the Filipiniana section at the second floor and the reserve section at the third floor were air-conditioned.  Everywhere else, you got natural ventilation. The campus had lots of trees that lined even the roads, so you could imagine how beautiful it all was from the seats by the large windows. Especially when it rained. I spent all my vacant periods there.

Music usually accompanied me.  I remember lugging around a walkman and some cheap headphones. I listened to the radio if i could pick up a decent reception from where I was. My favorites were City Lite 88.3 and Crossover 105.1. I tried getting into classical music, having read about the wonders it was supposed to do to your productivity, but failed.  I also had two favorite cassette tapes -- Sting's Fields of Gold and Alanis Morrissette's Jagged Little Pill -- with me all the time. 

I did not get much org exposure or any social life, but at least I got that degree in four years along with everybody else. I could say RL was a big part of my education. There, I did my homework, read my books, wrote my papers, but also scribbled furiously on my journal (the old-school, steno-notebook type) and daydreamed about the life that was ahead of me. 

I remember staring out into the tree-lined driveways and wondering: Where am I headed? Where am I meant to be?

Now it's 2017 and I am 40 years old. 

The babies I was caring for? They are now 23 and 21. Both have still yet to get their degrees but have already pretty much found their place in the world. 

There is no longer any husband (*does cartwheels).

I am now editor of a broad sheet, as I have been for the past 10 years. This broad sheet was where my mother used to work, and some of my colleagues actually knew her -- imagine that, actually knew and worked with her, when I barely knew her myself. 

And now I am in school again, in this same school, teaching journ every Thursday afternoon.

The old RL has been converted into University Archives and RL-Annex is now Faber Hall, housing some of the administrative offices.  They did erect a new building altogether to call RL, and it's cooler than ever.  There is air-con everywhere, and CCTVs, and Internet connection, and I can just as easily pick up a device to take a picture of, and write down my thoughts not on a steno notebook, straining my hand, but on the computer I bring everywhere, typing away like a madman. 

There's a lot of work to be done, as always, and quite a number of monsters to slay. I still find myself wondering: Where am I headed? Where am I meant to be?

One thing appears sure. So long as I am able to experience this kind of solace, this ability to revel in silence and beauty and the gift to see the world through window panes, I think I will do just fine.








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