28 — the end


There. I think I've finally hit it—the end.

I've been mulling over it for the past few months. I was turning a year older and it suddenly felt real. I'm getting older.

I see faint lines on my forehead, beside my eyes. I was looking at my hands and I see veins about to bulge from my skin. I'm getting these tiny spider veins on my legs. It was like seeing all these changes up close and I didn't want to believe it, but I do deep inside.

I spent the eve of my birthday chasing the northern lights. My friends and I hopped on the car, put on the Game of Thrones theme song and joked about being ACC: Aurora Chasers Club. It was freezing that night. Winter was just on its way, but I guess that's fall for Iceland.

We were to go far away but then my friend screamed, "Those are not clouds! THOSE ARE THE AURORAS!" And we cursed and screamed our wits out inside the car until we found a spot we can stop at. We hurriedly unbuckled our seat belts, cursed at the many layers we were wearing, and the wind and cold. The sky that night was as wide and far as one can see. It was studded in billions of brilliant stars and shooting stars were a common event. There was no moon, but there were these faint gases of white, changing and moving up in the sky.

I got my tripod, slid my camera to it, and started to press the shutter from my friend's phone. 15 seconds, 16, 17, 18. That sounded like a lucky number. And there it is—the northern lights in green, purple, and blue, moving softly like curtains in the studded night sky all captured in a frame. It was spectacular. There were no words to particularly describe it. We were left in unabashed awe and gratefulness that night.

We went back to our rented apartment which was only five minutes away from where we took the first photos. We gathered in our room and surprisingly my friends did a count down. They gave me a half kilo of uncooked pasta still in plastic and pasta sauce in tetra pack—which I bought and brought for us. Wow.

When I woke up, it didn't feel like my birthday. I was in Iceland, a place which doesn't feel like part of the earth, and it was all I know. I was going to have an adventure day out with friends. And we did! We went to a black sand beach where I got a black stone as souvenir, and glaciers, all the mighty chunks and walls and walls of the thickest ice you'll ever see. Looking back, it's the only birthday I was away from home, and it really didn't feel like it.

I came home after the trip and after days of recuperating from jet lag, it dawned on me that I wasn't 27 anymore. I'm 28.

28!!!!!!!!!!

Yes there is still a slight heart attack whenever I remember it, but I'm unquestionably grateful to have reached this age; not everyone does.

And the most surprising feeling about hitting this year is that... I felt like something closed. I was like reading a book that I just finished and I was closing the back cover, all in a lingering moment. I thought I'm going to feel this at 29, when I'm reading that letter from the 19 year old me, but no. I felt it coming a few months ago and it finally landed on me.

I unexpectedly have a change of heart. My dreams were suddenly not revolving around just traveling and photography anymore, but to new ones that have been bubbling inside me for quite a few years now. I suddenly became aware that that storybook of dreams has been fulfilled, is over and brimming, and will continue as it is part of me now. Without warning, it dawned on me that there's this brand new book in front of me, all pages blank and ready to be filled.

Reaching 28 feels like an ending, but unfolding it certainly feels like a new beginning.

A whole, brand new book of dreams and daydreams.

*****

Special thanks to Nadja Lee for all the photos that really captured all my goofy facial expressions. Thank you, my Amy Schumer, J.Lo / J.Law, and Rooney Mara in one, for the grand time! My belly definitely had abs after all the laughs! (I wish. πŸ˜‚)

*****

Instagram