At crossroads

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By Eldric Paul A. Peredo

I FEEL so old. At 20 I started living alone, renting a second-floor room in a wooden house along Laon-laan, with only my clothes, my faithful books, a beaten-down but likewise sturdy FM radio, and my laptop in tow. The year before, I received the greatest blow life has yet dealt, and I was then embarking on a whole new journey. I just got out of college, and was set to take up the law course. To complicate things further, I chose to study in UST rather than a much cheaper and much more acclaimed school of law, where I also qualified. What can I say? I love it here. But that’s another story.

***

Three years later, I sit before a computer, reminiscing about everything that has happened to me, or that I have caused to happen, so far. I sound so old, don’t I? A poet-friend confirmed it over Yahoo Messenger two weeks ago. I don’t deny it. I feel so, anyway.

***

When our diminutive Literary editor told me that this year’s Montage theme would be travel, I immediately agreed, being a nutcase for adventure myself. To illustrate, by the age of 10, I had almost drowned in the river near our home twice, both times attempts at crossing to the other side, where abounded spiders to battle my friends with. All I had to do was go find some. Other than that, I am always fascinated by what lies beyond the places I go to, or what lies beyond what I see.

***

I blame my not winning in any of the National Schools Press Conferences I attended in high school to the fact that I was not paying attention to the contest—watching out for who our lecturer/examiner was in order to adjust (or try to) to his style, employing related tactics like reading up on the examiner’s published works. I spent most of my time exploring nearby towns and cities, never mind if I did not know the local dialect. I’ve been always of the reasoning that I’d be still within the Philippines, anyway.

***

Almost all my travels so far and the experiences they contain have been reduced into writing. I just have to find the old notebooks I used as journals. Other travels have been the subject of my amateurish stories. But sophomoric or not, I’d like to publish a book soon. It’s about time. I’m 23 and I’ve planted countless trees already.

***

If time and resource permitted it, I would just travel and write. I have chosen, however, to first pursue further studies and perhaps secure for myself a better life. Then we’ll talk about travel and writing.

***

But recently, and looking at younger counterparts, I have been wondering if I have made the correct choices. Either I miscalculated things, or they are better to be where they are so easily. I’ve almost always earned the simple things I now enjoy, including travel, while they are given them as gifts. Even gifts given me I consider to be investments of people in me and my eventual success, because I have shown sufficient cause to earn that trust. I guess since parents stopped using canes and whips, the idea of rewards for excellence has also gone. I’m bitter. Sue me.

***

That adds to this overall feeling of age. I feel I shouldn’t be here. That I’ve wasted time pursuing the things I am presently pursuing. I should be a manager or employee in some office working for a salary that is congruent to my knowledge, know-how, skills, and whatever else I do for the job. Friends are always encouraging, though. Soon, huh? Okay.

***

The journeyman in each of us, I guess, just has to stop at some points to ponder directions or the next logical step. For now, let it be said of this journeyman has stopped to ponder, but that there is nowhere to go but on, forward. Maybe, several years from now, I will stop again and reminisce. Maybe by then have bettered myself, cleared myself of these toxic thoughts, cleansed myself emotionally and spiritually, and enjoying enough financial security to warrant travel and writing. But to get to that story, I’ll just first turn the page.

Montage Vol. 9 • February 2006