It’s been intense at work. Constant travel, permanent jet lag. Asia, Europe, trans-Pacific. Again and again.
Zero blog writing.
My friend Harvey asked me to post here a couple of Facebook stories I wrote after seeing the movie ‘About Time’ during a layover in Bangkok. A ‘romantic comedy’, it was a perfect little gem, delightfully set in Cornwall and London, boxed in a poignant soundtrack … with a heart-warming twist at the end of its necklace.
What if we could go back in time? But only within our lifetime, so we “Can’t kill Hitler or shag Helen of Troy”, ruefully observes the Dad in the movie. Which day would I re-live?
The dawn my son Carlo was born? No ultrasound previews back then. The nurse came out of Delivery and mouthed the word, “Boy”, thumbs up for healthy. I danced an insane jig in the deserted corridor.
Or the day my 16-year old David saw the Eiffel Tower in Paris? He stood there, staring. “Never thought I’d see this in my lifetime, Dad. Thanks for taking me here.”
Or the day I passed by their home, after not having seen Julio for a year. There was a toddler in the garden, lugging a can bigger than him, watering the plants. I had to look twice. My son, Julio.
But then, what if we couldn’t go back anymore? Except for one last time? Which day would I choose?
My Dad worked in an oil refinery in Rosario, Cavite, a three-hour commute each way, every day. Sometimes, after arriving home at 8 or 9pm, he sneaked me out to watch a movie in Quiapo, downtown.
One time it was a war movie. A B-17 pilot flew a one-way mission without his crew, to find an enemy fleet. I can’t find it anymore, even after incessant Googling.
One typhoon weekend, Dad and I watched massive breakers smash against the seawall at Dewey Boulevard. Boys love this stuff. Then a gigantic end-of-the-world wave leaped high over the seawall. BOOM!
In a coffee shop across the boulevard, he ordered a 7-UP and used up all their paper napkins to wipe me half-dry. “Don’t tell Mommy!”
Another movie date was The Godfather. Late for the last showing, we got in after Dad gave the guard a few pesos. Dad slept the whole time, exhausted. Afterwards, at a Chinese restaurant, we ordered chopsuey rice. They were closing, past midnight. They had to re-open the kitchen. It took forever. I was embarrassed. Today I realize it was his dinner.
When I woke up the next day for school, he had already left on his commute to work.
A few years later he was gone.
Moms and Dads don’t get enough thanks. It would be nice to go back, ask him belated questions about work, fatherhood, coping. Laugh about the grandchildren he never saw.
About Time’s real romance turns out to be the love between the grown-up son and his cool Dad, a literary academic who retired early to spend more time with his family. The audience that laughed for two hours unabashedly cried at the end. I couldn’t see much on the train ride home, myself. The movie delivers.
The carefully selected soundtrack features Paul Buchanan, Ben Folds, Nick Cave, Ben Coleman, others.
This is director Richard Curtis’ (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Love, Actually) final film. It nudges us to appreciate the things in life that truly matter more than time.
There’s gold in them hills.
So don’t lose faith
Give the day a chance to start
After all, at midnight, each day ends, gone. The only time travel in this world are the stories and pictures we leave behind, told again and again.
Posted from Singapore, October 26, 2013