Tomorrow, or perhaps on Monday, my brother RJ and my cousin Jester will be moving in. My two-week solitary living in my condo unit (or rather, our condo unit) is about to end. Am I prepared to take on the challenge of looking after those two guys?
Two weeks ago, I felt like some sort of transformation took place. After having dinner at Yellow Cab, which is just at the lobby of this building, mom and dad accompanied me back to my room and left me alone to clean the still dirty unit. “Kaya mo na yan,” I remember them saying after bidding goodbye as they were walking to the elevator. The “na” in that statement is of utter significance. To me the underlying idea there is that now I have to grow up and start being responsible. It also speaks of me leaving my ever-dependent, childish self to be a more independent young lady. The “na” implies their acknowledgement of the fact that I’m not used to being left alone to take care of everything; nonetheless, it’s a way of saying, “It’s about time.”
Truly, it was about time. After all, I’m already a college junior; halfway through my undergrad, halfway to my elusive UP College of Law dream. Yet I still act like a child most of the time. (Let’s not talk about how I also still look like a kid. Haha).
So as I locked and double-locked the door, I stared in front of me: it was an extremely empty room. I had no company save for the two purple sofa-beds that perked me up a bit, the eyesore of a floor covered in dust, the fan (yes, dad denied me an aircon even if there’s an extra one at our house), the dish rack with the colorful plates, bowls, and tumblers, and a few other things. From that moment on I felt like a teenage drama queen again--- alone and left with so much to do. I kept wondering why it had to be the Sunday when Ate Neng takes her day off. It would’ve been way easier with our house helper to clean the place for me! Perhaps you’ve been a really naughty girl, Rhea, that’s why you’re punished like this, I thought. Actually, it was like one of the highlights of my life- no exaggeration. It was a perfect scene for a chic flick where the lead character is undergoing some inner transformation.
First thing I did was to mop the floor. I’ve never mopped a floor in my entire life! Ever. I was totally clueless. Dad told me to wet the mop, spill some amount of water, and sprinkle detergent all over. And I did just that- on barefoot! Can you imagine how sorry I felt for my precious feet? Ugh. I can’t help but imagine that that was really a scene on a movie where there's no dialogue but just scenes with matching girl power music. While mopping, I couldn’t help but utter, “I’m Rhealeth Ramos. I don’t mop floors.” I don’t know how many times I wished on the stars outside my window, facing Ateneo with their Church’s cross visible through my left window, that Ate Neng was there instead to do everything for poor little Rhea. But Rhea had to be strong. Rhea had to grow up. Rhea had to learn. Because she can’t be Daddy’s and Mommy’s little princess forever. So as I was mopping (and inwardly moping), I was listening to Jade, my dear laptop, as he (yes, Jade is a guy, ok?) played songs from my playlist. And then one song perfectly captured the moment and reminded me of high school graduation- Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway. It was just so apposite for that scenario. And in a way, it being our high school graduation song, it somehow told me that I was, at that time, “graduating” from my helplessness to a new chapter of my life.
Sure--- I almost slipped a number of times, called my dad just to ask how to do it because simple as his instructions were, I couldn’t imagine how to do it right, and took more than three hours to finish cleaning the place including the disgustingly dirty toilet (another first! Sorry, segue again: you know, I even asked my dad if Ate Neng could come over at least twice a month to clean the bathroom for us. And all he said was, “madali namang maglinis ng banyo.”). But never in my life have I felt so proud of such good results from such hard work. I was teary-eyed upon seeing the white floor shining and shimmering in front of me. It was gray when they left! You know, I mopped the floor for about four or five times!
My routine has changed ever since I moved in here. 30 minutes or so has been dedicated to cleaning the place. I sweep once to twice a day, throw garbage regularly, fix my stuff so the room looks presentable… The people who know me would know that is really a big change for Rhealeth Ramos. I felt like how the room looks reflects how I am like as a person.
One night, my parents came over to check on me and stay for the night after Dad’s meeting in Zambales. Boy, was I so happy and proud and fulfilled to see the smiles on their faces and told me, “wow. pumasa ka!” I still feel like that each time I remember how I made my parents proud. See, it wasn’t too late for me to learn household chores, after all.
Admittedly, I despise doing chores. I wasn’t brought up to do those things. That Sunday when I found out I would be left alone to clean the place, I thought, “waaa! bakit nila ako papabayaan? waaah! poor me, kawawa naman ako.” I wasn’t accustomed to those things. But now I can see that they left me to learn those things for the better. Now I can earnestly say I’ve become a better individual. I was left alone with no one to call on to if I feel maimed and unable to finish the work. I had to persevere lest I could stomach sleeping in such a dusty place and take a bath in such an icky bathroom.
When RJ and Jester arrives here, it would be an altogether different scene. Now other than keeping the place clean and tidy, I have to look after them as well: I have to see to it that they go to class, that they look presentable before going to class, that they get to eat breakfast and dinner, that they study regularly, that I know where they are if they aren’t home by 8… Of course at least by then I would have two other people to share my load with. We’ve already discussed taking turns cleaning the unit.
On a lighter note, before I click the save button and go back to studying, let me just state this: I still think life would be easier if I’m alone here. Because when they get here, that also means I have to go home early or at least account for my late night arrivals. Hahaha!