Tuesday, July 7, 2009

One Hundred Five Minutes of Solitude

I take my 4-year old daughter Isobel to school everyday and wait until dismissal time. It's a long wait, but I have extreme separation anxiety and I can only renounce, albeit partially, my motherly paranoia when my kids turn 6. At that age, I can resist the urge to camp out at the school's waiting area. Instead, I sit at home and bite my nails while looking repeatedly at the clock until the school service brings them back home.

Now that I'm playing bodyguard to Isobel, I'd like to think I at least seem more sedate, given that she's my third child. She's very independent and has assured me that I need not be there every minute, but that I can just come back for her when class ends--- a plea that falls on deaf ears because my presence is more for my peace of mind than hers.

So there I am, under the waiting area's useless roofing that, instead of providing shade from the scorching heat just gives the sun's rays a sick green hue. It's hot, giving me a daily headache that sometimes evolves into a full-blown migraine. The benches and monobloc chairs have no ergonomic merits whatsoever, compelling me to change my position every once in a while to prevent bruising and those unsightly marks at the back of my thighs when I'm wearing shorts.

To pass the time, lest I fall shamelessly asleep out of sheer boredom, I bring a book to read, reserved solely for the interminable hour and 45 minutes of waiting. In about a month's time, I have finished Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic, Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, Shopaholic Ties the Knot (I finished Shopaholic and Sister a year ago), my friend Cyan Abad-Jugo's anthology of short stories entitled Summer Solstice, Isabel Allende's Stories of Eva Luna and am around 20 pages deep into Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo's Live Right for Your Type (which I'm thinking of changing to bedtime reading status because it makes me nod off). I have written 2 essays and have produced pages worth of doodles. I have completed a bunch of crossword puzzles from the Philippine Star which I buy only around 3 times a week, avoiding issues whose featured puzzles are labeled Saturday Stumper. I have written drafts of 2 Tagalog romance novels, an idea which I have been toying around with for quite some time but have acted upon only in June. I have sewn and stuffed 2 dolls in the image of my sister's friend's daughters, which she'll be giving to them--- along with blank journals and pencils with felt animals at one end (which I made as well)--- as presents.

The one thing that I can't seem to be able to do is make any friends. There are more than 20 of us in the waiting area at any given time--- some are moms, others dads, around 3 are grandparents and approximately half is composed of yayas who betray their province of origin when, in their excitable nature, they belch out expletives in their local dialect. One would think that making friends can be easily managed. But I've discovered that it's not that simple. It's like back in college, when I thought Math 1 would be a breeze because it was supposedly more elementary than Math 17 which I had already taken and passed. BIG mistake. I can't understand why I can't seem to fit into any of the loosely- and newly-formed cliques at my daughter's school. The other day, I attempted to engage one mother in conversation. She was reading a book and I asked her about it. She talked animatedly until I told her what books I like to read, at which point her eyes glazed over and that was the end of our potential rapport. Initially, the men seemed interested enough when they see me whip out a broadsheet to work on a crossword puzzle. When I complete the task in a few minutes, they stand up and sit elsewhere, refusing to look up from the tabloid crosswords they had been hammering away at for the past hour or so. I try to tread even more carefully around the yayas, because they're an emotionable, appraising sort. But they often slip so comfortably into dialect, with no intention of being disrespectful, and I'm rendered clueless as to what they're talking about.

Tomorrow, I'm bringing Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat. I have a pretty busy morning ahead of me--- plotting out its rhythm and determining its rhyme scheme, attempting to verify whether this is an example of Dr. Seuss' work written in anapestic tetrameter which he maintained quite meticulously for the greater part of his career.

I doubt if I'll be making any new friends tomorrow.


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