Personal cultural highlights from our trip:
- Exploring Arashiyama
- Enjoying food at the Tanabata Festival (my first festival in Japan!)
- Witnessing the Makura Daiko during the Ikutama Summer Festival
Personal cultural highlights from our trip:
In between transitioning jobs, I asked Charlie to go with me to Osaka (and tour the nearby prefectures) since it seemed like the perfect time for vacation for both of us. It was the first time I’ve visited Japan in summer (an earlier trip with family happened in May, just as spring was ending, where the weather was cool and perfect). I may have gotten feet tan lines and facial irritations (getting better now, thankfully!) but experiencing two summer festival events made the trip worth it!
Of course, it needn’t be said that everything was made better because Charlie and I finally get to take a break from this Long Distance Relationship thing.
We just stayed at an Airbnb in Osaka for all eleven nights, then went out on day trips to Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe. We took it slow because it’s supposed to be a vacation, and I didn’t want to be too exhausted just before I start my new job, heh.
I’m not used to planning surprise parties and OH MAN it is one of those more stressful/paranoid-inducing things a person can experience. Emile and I had our “HE-KNOWS!!!” moments, but Charlie was so overwhelmed by the surprise that it was just so worth it.
It was Charlie’s birthday last Thursday (11th) and I thought of maybe surprising him with a party at his place. But I couldn’t do it alone, so I got Emile to help me as co-host (and co-provider of food — i.e. alcohol and cocktails). He also picked up the customized Doctor Who cupcakes I ordered from Love Lots Cakes, so I really couldn’t have done it without him.
The Party Menu
How the surprise happened
A few weeks before the birthday:
On the day:
I went to work as usual, but stayed only until lunch. As soon as the carbonara was cooked, I went to Charlie’s place to meet up with Emile (who also just picked up the cupcakes). He parked his car in the condo parking, but opposite where Charlie usually parked. Because they wouldn’t let him park on a different floor, I had to be sure that when Charlie and I come in later in the evening, he wouldn’t notice the car. I got to the place first, so I dropped by National Bookstore to get some things:
When Emile got there, we dropped off the cupcakes, alcohol, liqueur, and glasses at the condo before going to the grocery to buy additional stuff. I got some disposable utensils, and we bought some lemon, the vanilla pudding, additional mixers and vodka for the drinks. Right after paying, I got a cab to go back to Ortigas since I usually ride with Charlie after work. It had to feel as NORMAL as possible.
One thing that wasn’t part of the plan: Charlie’s car was coding. I had to text everyone to say that we’ll probably be arriving around 7.20 PM instead of the originally-planned 6.30 PM. All the while I was worrying that Charlie would want to have dinner at Ortigas instead, since we’re going home later than usual. Good thing we had a late “merienda” at KFC, which meant he’d still be good for dinner afterward.
On the way home, he asked me, “What do you want for dinner?” and I could only say, “I’ll think about it later!”
On the way to the condo, Angelica also texted me asking where we were, and for some reason Charlie chose it as the time to bug me about my text and what Angelica was messaging me for. Good thing I replied quickly about thanking her for the gloves she gave me, which I used in Shanghai. A conversation that actually happened, except it was a few days earlier. :P NICE SAVE.
But that didn’t stop me from worrying how I’m going to pull off the surprise successfully, because I was actually thinking, CHARLIE KNOWS. lol.
Anyway, I HAD to make sure we didn’t go straight out for dinner after parking at the condo, so I told Charlie I needed to poop first. I can’t say I wanted to pee, because you can just pee at any bathroom. But everyone knows you can only poop comfortably at your own place, or in a house/condo — not a public restroom.
So we were going up and I was updating Emile and Peter every minute. FINALLY we got to the floor and Charlie opened his door and he noticed the post-it notes on the wall, but didn’t think much about it yet until everyone got to say, “SURPRISE” and someone opened the lights and Charlie was successfully surprised, except it was so unexpected that he also thought: “Dammit, I was planning on working tonight.”
Later on, Anton and Paoie surprised us (again) by making us think they couldn’t go anymore. Cholo feigned having something wrong with his stomach and Charlie accompanied him to the bathroom where Anton and Paoie surprised him with raisin bread from Baguio (lol).
AAAAAND, that was it. I am so relieved it’s over. :D Although we missed some people who weren’t able to go, everyone had fun. I’m so so thankful for Emile, Aldous, and Donna who helped with the preparations, and Cholo who also arrived early, and everyone else who made it. You guys made Charlie a happy bear! :)
my relationship with charlie is the opposite of my parents’. when I’m home and when my parents are home, I hate what I see and I just
want everything to be different with us.
it’s great that it is.
When traveling, it’s really not just the place that makes the trip but the people you travel with. I would love to go back to Hong Kong again and do more things I wasn’t able to do, but all in all it was a memorable trip. It now feels a bit surreal to be honest, because now I’m back to adjusting to work and responsibilities and clients that it seems like those days filled with crazy and exhaustion and tension and fun didn’t happen. But it did and I have all the memories and the photos and the tiny life-changing moments to prove it. I just can’t wait to do something similar again: to go out for another few days and leave work behind in order to embrace newness and all the fun foreign things.
Traveling with friends is great; traveling with that one person you love is amazing. A little over a year since we started dating, I’ve traveled with Charlie to a country abroad and it’s a different experience. Different anxieties, different problems, different fights, different firsts. I’ve come to realize more things about myself and more things about us that I believe the trip made our relationship stronger since we’ve returned home.
Maybe the best thing about traveling with your significant other is that no matter what happens, you know you’ll always have somebody. Sometimes it means getting lost together, or ordering the worst (or best) food together. Sometimes it means sharing your funds and budgeting together or worrying about airport taxes together. At one point it doesn’t matter whose money was whose, whose food was whose, whose baggage was whose. You’re in that new country together and the whole trip is something you share and experience with the person you love and it makes everything extra special.
I enjoy traveling to new places alone, but there are things that makes the trip more exciting with a special companion. Someone will challenge what you think or comfort you when you’re disappointed over something, or share your burden when you’ve made a mistake. It was so wonderful spending four days in a different country with Charlie that we’re going on another trip on November. I need to cherish these opportunities because at one point we’d both have to spend a year or so apart for graduate studies. We’re just lucky enough to be enjoying this together at this point in time.
To my past self: things do get better. :)
I don’t know why, but it’s those small moments that create the heavier arguments. In the aftermath, the divide is a little bigger than what I have expected and somehow it feels as if it is my fault for feeling these things too keenly.
Why do I take those sad little moments to heart?
You asked me out for our first date on the night of Angelica’s birthday dinner. I was crying from a confrontation with Chyna which happened just before I was going to leave with Angelica so I broke down in front of her and I ended up sobbing in her car. I can’t remember right now if it happened before we went to her house (so she can pick a dress) or on the way to the restaurant (I think it was before).
It happened in the car and I was still crying while telling Angelica everything (from the shoot to the kiss and to the I-don’t-really-know-what-to-do-but) when suddenly my phone beeped. I opened the message and shrieked (in pleasant surprise) and showed the text (you sent from Singapore) to Angelica and she said that made her giddy too.
I think I wanted to go mostly because I was so sad about what Chyna thought and assumed like she’s never known me for two years. I was thinking, well there’s this boy asking me out and it’s probably not something serious but it’s not so bad to have some fun and cheer myself up.
I asked you if I should ask permission from your ex-girlfriend first but you said, no, let’s talk first. I was so easily swayed.
Maybe it was a selfish decision. It was the only thing stopping the tears from falling in the middle of Angelica’s birthday dinner and I was so depressed over my own “celebration” from a few nights before plus the real birthday night that was tomorrow. I only wanted to be treated nicely, sweetly by a boy and that boy was you.
Lles and I disagree about a lot of things and agree about a few things. One of those few things we agree about is not being able to write when we’re sad, and possibly being in the best mood to write when we’re in love. So when I was reading Why We Broke Up, with all the words weaving a story about love (albeit a bittersweet one, because everyone knows they broke up) I sort-of felt that I wanted to write a story (again) and it’ll be about us except, hopefully, a happier one.
“Every ending is a beginning,” or some form of that phrase is such a cliche. But it’s true. I ended a fling and your ex-girlfriend ended your relationship and, maybe, I was done being stupid and you were done being sad.
We’ve been almost-friends for two years before. Not really close. You told me you saw me as an acquaintance even, and only as a friend when I started asking you for advice. The whole romantic thing between us felt so out-of-the-blue for me and I don’t think anybody in that old org circle believed that I didn’t like you didn’t want you before really, anything actually happened. Ending up with you was not even on any kind of list that I’ve imagined for myself before graduation. Amidst all the rumors and all the names I had almost nobody to believe that I had not planned anything never imagined anything had never ever foreseen anything happening until one night — the night before you kissed me.
So I guess we were really fast (you were really fast) at first but that’s still not the beginning.
My first unforgettable memory of you was of you singing and playing songs on your ukelele to cheer me up. We were still (just) friends then and I went to you with my confused feelings for a different person because I was being stupid and you told me I wasn’t that type of person. We rode a trike to that burger place across the school (which you haven’t tried) and hung out for maybe an hour while I poured out my jumbled thoughts and feelings and then you shared a little about yours.
(I also remember some of the older alumni passing by and seeing us and Mikko giving me a teasing look which I dismissed because it was so ridiculous then.)
Every time I asked you, you told me the it started for you somewhere around the time when I gave you a letter on my (advance) birthday dinner (which I gave to everyone anyway, except it turned out that ‘everyone’ else hated me but I didn’t know it, which really is a different heartbreaking story and I just can’t ever forget it). I didn’t think it was special and all I remember from that letter was a gesture to cheer you up a little because you were so…lost, and I knew a bit of that kind of feeling. It had a bit of the other letters (apologies and gratitude) and at that time I didn’t know things will change drastically between me and each person I have invited (stupid birthdays, really) but it felt sad already and when everyone was gone and you told me that the letter helped, I said that at least there was one good thing that happened that night.
But for me. I only ever entertained the possibility of falling for you a night or so later, when Angelica asked us out for some drinks and everyone in their season of sadness was trying to get a little tipsy and we were all heartbroken in our own way. After we, as proper friends, got her drunk enough I started sharing with you a couple of morbid thoughts except you smiled and I thought you understood and before the night ended you asked me to go to a shoot for a film that wasn’t yours. I was hesitant but you called me up when I got home (or maybe you asked me to call you? Because I don’t really remember) and told me you’ve cleared it up with the guys and you would really want me to be there.
And I guess that was it, in the beginning. I was wanted and needed by someone (even though not necessarily in a romantic sense) and I had such a big desire to feel helpful and significant. That was the night that I felt a little…weird about something, which I dismissed pretty quickly, until the evening that followed after.
That night was when I felt the first sense of doubt and wonder (did I feel something between us or was it the alcohol and my natural weirdness?). It was more like a trigger for something bigger and messier. At that time I still had faith in most people so I never really thought that a start of a romance would bring so much trauma and sadness.
But it did and it took a lot of crying and getting-over-things before I truly felt happy.