Days in the sun

Beauty and the Beast

I could sing of the pain these dark days bring
The spell we’re under
Still it’s the wonder of us I sing of tonight

Days in the sun will return
We must believe, as lovers do
That days in the sun will come shining through

Like most people my age, I watched the live-action Beauty and the Beast during its opening weekend in my country. Even though it premiered here a good two weeks after the worldwide release, for reasons so insignificant you wouldn’t know it until they had passed, Eza and I caught it on the second day of screenings (mainly because I couldn’t make it on the first day).

Going by the assumption that most of my readers would either have seen it or not be interested in seeing it, I won’t attempt to review the film here (not that it needs it). Suffice to say, I’ve watched it twice in the theaters, many times online — because I’m Asian and I know that there is nothing that can’t be bootlegged these days — and listened to the (legally downloaded) soundtrack every single moment that I’ve been alone, and all in just the last 10 days.

Also like most people my age, I’ve watched the animated Beauty and the Beast more times than I can remember since its release back in 1991, and as recently as this February, after learning of the live-action remake’s release date. The animated film has always stuck with me because it came out when I was old enough to have read the original Villeneuve fairy tale, understand the story and appreciate the music. But watching the live-action film has struck a new chord in my being, and almost obliterated every feeling I’ve ever had for the 1991 cartoon.

I think what made this new version resonate in me is one of the new songs written for the film, Days In The Sun. Its lyrics on keeping the faith and staying hopeful amidst all the sadness and despair have stayed with me ever since I heard it the first time, and it is this song alone that epitomizes the spirit of the entire film. It also makes me think of the times we live in now, and how important, no matter how difficult, it is to remain hopeful that one day, we will find our way out of these dark times, and stand in the sun again.

Nine years later: Home stretch

Larnaca, Cyprus

Firstly, I would like to apologize for my absence on this website. To those of you who sent me messages, emails and even Tweets asking if something had happened to me, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your concern, especially since some of you told me you’ve been a reader for more than a decade. I’m aware that my responses were somewhat vague and perhaps a little generic, but I do assure you that I’m fine, health-wise.

What I did not mention in my responses is that for the last three months, I have been in a transient phase of sorts. Dani and I have been trying to figure out our next step in life, exploring any avenues we can that will allow us to tie up our existence in this country as neatly as possible, set it on fire, and rebuild our life in a different part of the world. To that end, my mind has been on anything but writing, and I probably would not be writing this today were it not a very important milestone.

For today marks the end of my ninth — NINTH — year back in this country, and the beginning of the end of my life here. When I left my lonely but independent life behind in New York, nine years ago, and came back to an even lonelier subsistence here, it was with a vow to myself that, within a decade, I would find my way out again. Not to New York, if I couldn’t make it that far, but to anywhere else where I could start a new life on my own, away from all the reasons that I left here in the first place.

This date still holds its importance for me, because it is a constant reminder to myself to never get too comfortable here, and to never back down from my goal to be out of here before my 10 years are up. And if the last three months are of any indication, it’s that I have definitely overstayed my welcome in this country, and the time has come for me to let go of all the things I once thought I needed to live a life that meant something, but now seem so insignificant.

So here we are in the home stretch of our tenure in this country. We came, we saw, and we did conquer it for a little while, but we’re ready to go back under our rock now.

The first step

In looking back at my previous posts, I realized that my annual New Year’s Eve post came up very short. Although I’m not sure why at the time of that writing, I think now that I was probably not in the right frame of mind to write it, as I was distracted by everything that I had been doing in the U.S. But as always, in keeping up with my obsessive-compulsive need for consistency, I wanted to do, at least, a brief review of the year that had been.

Now that I’ve been back from New York for nearly three weeks and more or less settled back into life at home, I’ve had time to really process everything that transpired in 2016, and in fact, having lived through the first month of this new year, I can look back even more clearly than I did in the previous years. That makes this my continued — and hopefully a little more in-depth — stock-take of 2016.

More than just my relationship issues, 2016 was also the year that I decided to shift my work priorities, at least for now. I put my writing and public relations consulting jobs on hold, because I wanted to channel my energies in that towards the restaurant and jewelry businesses, and also because I realized that the value and credibility of what I was doing was becoming greatly diminished by a new breed of sycophants who, though grossly unqualified and inexperienced, were adding my profession to their portfolios.

The upshot of this change in my work is that I rediscovered the satisfaction and gratification that come with working purely for yourself or the people you care about. And in an odd, roundabout way, it also helped me rediscover the real meaning of friendship and what I wanted out of it, because nothing helps you weed out your true friends more effectively than business and crises. To this end, I resolved to only surround myself with people who lift me higher, and make an effort for those who are willing to do the same for me. I have no use for people with whom my conversations will only ever be about who attended what events and what they wore, who has more Instagram followers than whom, and how to raise social media profiles and monetize them.

Now that we’re a month into this year, I know without a doubt that I made the right decision with said choices. My social circle has been whittled down to a handful — literally one hand-full — of people, and I’ve never been more content with it. My insecurities and trust issues remain as unresolved as ever, but I’ve learned that, for the time being at least, I just have to maneuver around them as opposed to actually overcoming them.

Having hit rock-bottom in 2015 and begun taking the road of recovery in 2016, I can only hope that 2017 will allow me to continue on that road. As I wrote in my previous post, I had to do without a lot of things and let go of many people in the past year, which only served to make my bubble smaller, but if in exchange for that, the world can open up to us again this year, then all that downsizing would have been worth it.