Move Forward and Never Be Still

That Big White Ship

That Big White Ship

The wind coming from the sea caused my friend’s ticket to go aflutter on the floor, causing a bit of panic in her. If not for the reminder from the kind woman behind us, hers would have been lost in the hustle and bustle of Bacolod City’s port where the cackles of bound chicken and distant barks of dogs were our background music. What happened was funny because that almost convinced her to turn around and flee.

As we boarded the gigantic ship, I clearly remembered my heart began to pound wildly in my ears. I felt the staccato beating of my heart, as it grew louder with each step that I made on the wooden stairs, whilst feeling this weird urge of wanting to drop my heavy luggage to the waters below. I stared up at the long line of people being swallowed into the ship’s swollen belly.  It reminded me of a giant sea creature, lying on the sea shore, diligently waiting to be fed.

We found ourselves entertained in the idea of going on a sea voyage. So it was both exciting and nerve-racking for first-timers like us. After checking into our room, my itchy feet longed to wander and my curious eyes began to roam around. I began taking pictures of myself in the reception area, slipped into the small store nearby and silently cursed after seeing how expensive the prices were. Talk about going on diet that night! Then again, it was a trip that carried a lot of memorable firsts.

I was just beginning to discover the harsh realities of love and life. So seeing my friend crushing on someone was a welcome break for my lonely thoughts. I can not say that I was innocent. But I definitely knew how playful flirting goes when I see it.

Yes, the stranger was attractive. He was tall, dark and handsome – the kind that would make a woman look back twice. So I understood why my friend was instantly attracted to him. His was not the model-worthy-to-be-on-a-fashion-mag kind of beauty. He was just good-looking. He was the kind of a man whom any city girl would fall for. His eyes, when he looked interested, sparkled. With his brown eyes, one would wonder how it would feel to drown in them. His stares were warm and friendly. Yes, he piqued my curiosity. 

We spent the entire afternoon just chatting. He shared his work experiences abroad, while I shared what life in Manila was like. He was amazed that my friend and I were not afraid of traveling alone. I guess he was just concerned or intrigued at some point. 

It was probably because of the lack of boisterous kids being chased by their parents that got me easily bored as the time passed. But the ship, I recall, swayed slightly from left to right. And I just suddenly had this urge to see what was causing it. We could only view the waters and the moon above through a tiny glass window. 

As I was admiring the black seas, I noticed a familiar face on the reflection. Maybe he was silently laughing at my show of child-like innocence but asking for my name reinforced my suspicion that he was starting to like me. Did I get conscious? Yes, maybe. Perhaps. I really did not know. 

He suggested for the three of us to go up on the deck. I got really excited since it would be my first time to be on top of a big, white ship. The moment we stepped on the uneven roof deck, the chilly wind instantly hit me from head to toe. I would have escaped from the cold if it were not for the mesmerizing, black tapestry that I witnessed that night. 

The sky was divine and magnanimous in its entirety. I could not even remember how long we were all standing by the railing just admiring the heavens above. Pregnant silence was punctuated by soft ohs and ahs in between deep breathes. It was a beautiful night. 

I did not know how it all began.  Maybe it was during the first moment when I laid my eyes on him or when we said our farewells that night. Maybe my feelings have unconsciously changed when we had our own Titanic moment that day – a moment that already had a romantic appeal to it. I just realized that I was beginning to care for him. I just did not expect that it could feel so surreal. 

I also remembered my gaze on the brightly twinkling stars. They looked so near that I felt like I could touch them with the tips of my fingers. I suddenly wondered if there were people doing the same thing, at that very moment. For if there was none, the world would surely be a sad place to live in. 

We only spent less than a day together. But he has helped me realize that love, in all its magical form, is here and alive and always well-meaning. It will always provide ‘meaning’ to things, may it be in bits and pieces. 

Sadly, we won’t be able to travel with each other again. For the seas, where we once met, seized him back for all eternity. A ship that he was riding in was met by an angry storm. And the vessel was just too weak to fight Mother Nature. She hastily surrendered her life, along with almost all the souls that she carried six years ago. 

Nowadays, my itchy feet would often lead me to different waterscapes. You’ll often find me in the presence of water, as this closely reminds me of our times together. 

The 20-hour travel that I had with him encouraged me to keep on moving forward – to never be still. And it was in meeting him that I learned that love, though only experienced in a fleeting, puzzling moment, can still be felt as something deep and real. 

#This is my award-winning piece for Wego’s Travel Writing Contest aptly themed: Your Life-Changing Travel Story

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