Now, I am 29

6 February 1991, 2:53AM.

I’m surprised I even made it to this age. I always thought of my life ending at 21, and then maybe at 27. Just in case I seem too optimistic sometimes, this is the very reason why. One does not ever consider how fragile life is, until you see a few years later how the tides turn, and they’re still here.

There are a lot of things to be thankful for. Life’s changing seasons are the sole constants in our existence, yet there are people who will always make the decision to stay.

I want to thank Rachelle, for standing by me and for being my strength, my strongest critic and biggest fan. The last year alone was a year of changing habits: from being perpetually late to coming in early, from being financially reckless to sticking to a budget, from being unreliable to becoming a more responsible person. You never get enough credit for all the good that you do, from pushing me to be better to expecting me to stay better. Among many other things you taught me, you drew the lines between working and a life after work; to trade cabs for public transportation; and to appreciate the simplest of things. Because of you, I now wake up for weekend market days, and keep promises and deadlines to others. You also taught me to be in touch with my emotions, to cry openly and to feel every thing. Grabe, sa isang taon, ang daming pagbabago. For all of that, I thank you. Sana nasusuklian ko lahat ng ‘yun.

I want to thank the family I’ve chosen–the people who, though far by distance and conflicting schedules, never cease to be present and listen and provide sound advice. These are the people whom I know I can run to without prejudice or fear. I want to thank you all for the gift of your time to listen to me, for taking the time out of your day to hear what I always have to say. Life becomes a little more bearable knowing that there are people I can run to without prejudice or judgment. You are my safe space and for that I am grateful. Maybe, someday, when I decide to move away, I would be able to gather you all for one sendoff so you all can meet each other. That much I owe everyone.

Thank you, to the family I was born into. Sometimes, I feel like I take everything for granted a little too much, but a shelter over my head, food on the table, and a space to look after and clean are all privileges I have been given while others struggle to have one. Thank you for bringing me into this planet, for providing what Little Ina needed so that the one breathing here today has the tools she needs to build a kind of life she wants to have. Thank you for my education and values–though fluid and changing because of lived experiences, at the bare minimum is to never to do harm towards others. Thank you for taking away the concept of “worry,” knowing that no matter the weather there is something to fall back on when life gets rough.

Lastly, like Snoop Dogg, I want to thank me. For never giving up on me no matter how tough the challenges became. For being my toughest critic and also my biggest supporter. I want to thank me for sticking around long enough to meet more people, to see what else life could bring. I want to thank me for making decisions, no matter how difficult, to lead me to where my life is right now. I want to thank me for always being grateful, because when I stopped asking for things, I was given more than what I could wrap around in my head. I want to thank me for being brave enough to always leap, for having faith above all things when I do silly things in the absence of a safety net. I want to thank me for allowing my brain to take the backseat, and let my heart lead this time around, because never have I been more at peace with myself than now.

And with that, I am 29. Tuloy ang ligaya.

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