It’s almost 6 PM and the sun hasn’t set yet. I’m lounging comfortably in front of our house with my dogs Max and Yuki. This is how I’ve been combating anxious thoughts these days, especially now that I’ve been working from home and going out isn’t really a good option because of the coronavirus.

It’s too dark inside my parents’ house and for someone struggling with mental health issues, it’s not helping. The curtains are shut, huge black tiles make up the floor, and the couches, black leather. And so here I am outside. I don’t see any clouds – just the clear blue sky that never fails to remind me of good days at the beach. I am outside in time to witness the golden hour, and it’s peaceful out here. I hear the birds chirping, a lady watering the plants with a hose, and the gentle buzz of the electric fan keeping me cool. I see beauty in the way the sun makes the top of the trees look golden.

I am grateful for this kind of peace. How I feel right now somehow takes me back to that 5-day silent retreat in Batulao, just before graduating uni. Maybe I need another one of that this year, you know, just so I can have some kind of cleansing and reset. 2020 hasn’t been good. 2020 hasn’t been kind, and we have 9 more months of it.

Sitting out here basking in the golden hour glow, I am grateful to know that I can still appreciate nature despite not being my best self lately. It’s comforting to know that it’s not that bad yet. I can bounce back from this slump. I just need to keep going, be kinder to myself, and resolve that childhood trauma.

ANYWAY. Now, the golden hour is over and everything just looks… normal. It’s still bright out. A dog is barking from afar. My mind wanders off to that afternoon in Zambales, watching T have fun in the water, childlike, while I am propped on a chair in the shade, legs stretched out, sleepy and contented. I remember in that moment I didn’t want to think of anything else ahead of us or behind us, especially since the following day it was time for him to go. I remember intently staying in that moment, taking in how nice of a day it was to be outside and the contentment I felt in how simple that afternoon was spent with a man I am very fond of, I could spend days and days with him and I would be good. I remember how he would dive headfirst in the water–to touch the ground perhaps–and since he’s 6’4″ tall, I would still see his feet sticking out of the water, making it seem like he’s doing an underwater headstand. Maybe he really was. I smile at the memory as it flashes in my mind. I still find it amusing.

I remember that after a while I waved at him, both arms stretched out so he could see me. He did. He waved back and motioned me to come to the water. I remember smiling at his invitation as I walked my way towards the water, eyes barely leaving his. He was moving towards me, too, closing the gap. And so, soon enough, I was back in his arms, genuinely content and happy.

The sun is starting to set now, and I am brought back to reality by the dogs barking, the TV turning on in the living room (its volume loud enough for me to hear from here, Jesus), and my parents coming back from an errand.

Guess your time’s up, Alyssa.

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