I woke up too early today. I then went back to bed holding Jeffrey Steingarten’s The Man Who Ate Everything. True enough, I fell asleep after three pages discussing The French Paradox, particularly how red wine could be good for the heart.
I dreamed we were at the house where my dad grew up on Pacdal Road, in Baguio. There was a big reunion and Auntie Caring was serving her famous buko pandan dessert. I was minding three small children, when suddenly Lola Mama walked over and put her arm around me. She was speaking in a mix of schoolteacher English and Ilokano, and then she shoved a USD50 bill into my hand. I was surprised, and straightened up, and behind me there was my dad chatting with my two aunties Lota and Josie. At that moment the air smelled like pine resin, and I looked down at my grandma and smiled. She used to be taller than me, but today I was the taller one. I leaned over to kiss her and smelled her hair that had been brushed with coconut oil. That used to be my job when I came home from school, massaging her hair with coconut oil. I gave her back her money and told her to give it to Auntie Caring instead.
Behind me, Auntie Josie was pink with laughter. Lola Mama had gone to the kitchen.
And then I awoke. In real life this sort of gathering happened only twice – once when the Caccams and the Sisons went on a tour of Northern Luzon, and later, when Lola Mama passed away when I was 16; I hadn’t dreamt of her in years. Auntie Lota passed away shortly after that, and Auntie Josie a few years ago. The dream felt like Christmas when I was a kid. The only thing missing was Auntie Josie’s cookies.