This is a short story I wrote (the only one I wrote so far) back in 2015, edited by a former boss and friend. Happy to share with you sisters because it shows contradictions career women face including me.
Dreamers' Night Conversations
“You see Boss, I can write a novel about this.”, she said, sipping rum coke, while sitting on the soft couch, next to him. She thought about it when she realized that the life she is living is a more recent version of the life he had lived already. The struggles she’s having might be the same struggles he had already overcome in his younger years.
Their conversation started earlier that Thursday night. They’ve known each other for around five years now, and they have become dear to each other through the years, a range of bitter sweet memories of places and circumstances and people they have known together bonds their relationship they both know would last till death.
She’s in her late twenties. He is in his late forties. Almost two decades of lifetimes apart and there they were, in one room, talking about their lives, and the great transition that both of them are going through at that period.￼
“Yes you can, but our lives are different in a lot of ways, you have to remember that“, he answered, in a gesture of certainty which always amuses her.
They were co-workers in her past work experience, she was his prodigy, he was her Boss. They had humanitarian missions in the field for less than a year, traveled from one province to another in the northern regions of the Philippines for relief aid work. They had numerous good times. One evening they are sipping beer at a country bar in the mountainous town of La Trinidad, another day they are trekking the rice fields of the local indigents of Pangasinan, next afternoon, they are sweating checking files of paperwork at the local chapter, and another night, they are sitting by the black beach of Zambales, watching the dark horizon and the starry night.
She felt that her life started the moment she joined humanitarian work, and he had been living the life of her dreams for years, doing development missions in different countries. They both knew the first moment they shook hands, they already felt the connection that binds them forever, not only in this life, but maybe in a past or a future life. An array of whirlwind adventures of wild encounters, not so common for earthly souls.
“Well, can you just stop doing missions? Is that what you want?“, she muttered almost teary-eyed, in disbelief of his expression that he will not be extending his mission in the country anymore, but would have to go back to his country home to take responsibility for his life there, his family.
“I know I still want to do it, and I have to go home to figure out how to deal with it“, he struggled as he answered her question, like thinking out loud the war inside him as well, which haven’t surfaced yet until that moment he spoke to her.
It was a romantic night for both of them. They decided to meet before his scheduled flight back to his country the next month. Their friendship has been a series of welcoming and goodbyes, and she felt it was more sad for her, for she was the one being left, but she’s sure he would disagree, for it is also painful in his part. He fell in love with the country, seduced and enchanted by it. He fell in love with the country people, their smiles, their sorrows, their strength. The sunlight that warms and burns his skin every time he is in the field, the sand on his feet, the smell of the earth – all these he love, and he imprints them on his soul so he would remember it when he’s back home, on the other side of the world.
For her, that year is a start of a new era in her life. She would pursue a career in the humanitarian field. He has been on this field for decades now. She’s too excited about it. And hearing that there might be a possibility he wont be doing missions abroad anymore saddened her. He has been her role model ever since. She loved his kindness, his wisdom, his discernment, his passion, and his spirit. He never failed her. And she never failed him. He was surprised about the impact his life and style have had on her and he was proud of her achievements and development. Having no own children he felt like having handed over a heritage to someone, dedicated as much as him and cherishing the same ideals and values.
“You can’t do that. You will die“, She is an idealist, and so is he. Their personalities converge so much they felt like either they are lovers, he is her father/ she is his daughter, twin souls, they themselves find it too complicated to label they’d rather not settle for one.
“I understand what you mean my dear, and I know that you know how hard it will be for me, if that will be the case.“, and he puffed his cigarette, to help clear his head, for he had drunk quite a considerable amount of rum already.
“You have made her too dependent on you!“, she almost screamed, like a mistress angry at her lover who will leave her for his wife. Some seconds after she said that, she realized she shouldn’t have said it. She’s still selfish in a lot of her ways, even in love, friendship, and still is judgmental specially to people close to her.
“Enough of your feminist remarks, you know we do not have children, we only have each other.“, he said, explaining, for she’s starting to ask the hard questions. And not for the point of argument, but for further discussion, and opening up of issues that only real friends can talk about.
“Boss, a partner should not avoid you from reaching your dreams, and living the life that you want…“, she said it like a whisper, unsure if she herself is living it that way. He smiled and replied “It is not her, my dear, it is me. I have to face the responsibilities I chose to take over. We are together since more than 23 years. If I do not live my values in private life they become just phrases …”.
He sipped another rum in his glass, puffed his cigarette, and said, “We cannot always be dreamers, my dear. Most of the time, we soar high, like eagles, into our own ideals, but we need someone to pull us down, and make us realize, that these are realities, we have to face. Now it is up to us to choose a decision.”
She’s still sad even though he assured her he will be back no matter what and she knew that he will be. Another one of those goodbyes. But they both know that separation is just an illusion, when they know their hearts can belong to those that matter to them.
When he felt asleep that night, one vison made its way through the rum-fired emotional jungle of his mind: He inspired a young woman to explore his world. She had more potential than him and will make different decisions, choose different ways, find other solutions but carry on that particular spirit. She will keep something of him alive, when he is already gone. He had a deep and relaxing sleep that night – a rest full of gratefulness and the knowledge of being blessed by life.
January 2015 | Writer: Joyce-Ann Dumayag | Co-writer: Joerg Ben Fischer