Young Star

Bridging the distance between us

Karen Racelis - The Philippine Star
Bridging the distance between us

Teleportation would be a great superpower right now. Regions away from classmates who kept us awake for lectures and countries away from family, we’ve all been pushed into unplanned long-distance relationships by the never-ending story that is quarantine.

As with any LDR, we are struggling to be present in the lives of our loved ones. Unlike the typical LDR, we do not know when we will see them in person again.

At a time when we cannot just hop a jeepney to our last-minute dinner date or text “San ka?” from school, we find ourselves having to get creative in showing affection. Love no longer comes in ways we are used to. In my past five months, love arrived in five quarantine-translated languages.

While we cannot teleport into the arms of our loved ones, love finds another way. Love has to. To everyone here, and to the friends still checking in every now and then: I love you from the bottom of my heart. I may not be able to show it in the same way as before, but rest assured that I am behind this screen and behind you all the way — always.

I like to think of my life as one long, topsy-turvy, continuous love letter. This one in particular is a love letter of quarantine proportions.

To the high school barkada that makes e-numans feel like the real thing

Sometimes quality time is 11 p.m. to 12 a.m. Whenever happy hour is really supposed to be, the hour is incomplete without you behind the screen. Right now, you are mourning the closing of our favorite neon-lit hangout venues, but those places did not make the party. You did. You continue to do so now. For bringing the kwento evenings to the digital sphere and lighting up my weekend life, thank you. And yes, you may celebrate my current lack of a dorm curfew.

To my adulting buddies

Two Scorpios and an Aries, you three always push me to shoot for the stars. You confirm that I am ready for interviews. You tell me that my résumé looks cute. You remind me that I am worth more than my productivity. When I need words of affirmation, your voices, in the form of messages, are always at the ready. We met as kids, and I am so lucky to have you in this stage of life 14 years later. Thank you for adulting with me and making the big world a little less scary.

To the schoolmates who gave me a song

They say gift giving is an art. You two have mastered it. The clock had just struck 11:59 when my phone rang. You said in perfect chorus: “We wrote you a song!” and I cried while listening to your voices. Yes, both of you, even the one who claims she cannot sing. It took one minute. One minute before I turned 20, I received the best birthday gift of my life so far. You are master gift-givers because you pay so much attention to detail, and it shows on the most average, normal days. It must take magic to know exactly when I need cute pet videos. I love you both for being the little sisters I never had, and for reminding me every day that I have all I need.

To my best friends who still find ways to hug me

Research says physical touch is the hardest language to speak in an LDR. My best friends never let research stop them. Even if the winding roads of EDSA separate us physically, you still reach out to give me the hugs I need every single day! In quarantine, though, you do it through video call. Digital embraces do not knock the air out the way physical ones do, but yours still keep me warm. Seeing your faces and hearing your voices is the perfect end to long days of back-to-back meetings and intense eyestrain. I’ve heard “I miss hugs” in almost every video call since March, yet I am satisfied with your big digital bear hugs. I am hugging you right back digitally from home — at least until I can hug you for real.

To the co-captains of my baking adventures

Mom, you’re my human oven timer. Thank you for reminding me not to burn the house down while I attempt cinnamon rolls yet again. Dad, you’re my Superman in the kitchen. You make sure that my cookies are always consumed to the last crumb. The extrovert in me may say that I’m tired of being stuck at home, but I am very fortunate to be stuck in a house where we speak love in acts of service. I am very happy to be stuck with you.


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