Back in college, specifically my last year in, I used to live in a dormitory near the university where I was studying. I would roam around the streets of Balanga City whenever I needed some fresh (or rather, slightly-polluted) air to take a break. I preferred having no roommates so I could focus on studying, but it eventually got lonely especially during those days when I have nothing to do. So out I go.
My mother was very strict when I was in high school and would not permit me to go out of the house if it’s not school- or church-related. You see, I am an only child, and a girl at that. I’d tell all kinds of excuses just to get permission to hang out with my friends, who were also my classmates. So when I went to college, it felt so thrilling and liberating to be able to go out as I please.
I knew the metro area of this city like the back of my hand. I’ve seen it evolve from an ordinary city buzzing with the sounds of daily commute and food peddlers into a breathtaking plaza complete with a changing-lights water fountain and Victorian-inspired buildings.
I can feel the nostalgia surging through me as I walk its streets now. I was just a young student full of dreams and hopes for the future before, with nowhere to kill time except on Jollibee or McDonald’s, watching passersby go on with their mundane lives. When the Robinsons Galleria mall was built, it has become my go-to place for taking breaks.
I’d go window shopping and try on clothes and makeup from the department store. But my favorite is scouring the ukay-ukay, or a thrift store/secondhand store, for super cheap items. I’d spend hours trying on dresses, blouses, and pants. I also loved grocery shopping… but without actually buying. 😅 I just go from aisle to aisle, reading the labels, checking the prices, and mentally taking note of which product I should get next time I’d actually do “real” grocery shopping. As I’ve come to realize now, that has been an amazing learning experience for me. Now I can create meal plans with an almost-accurate budget figure supporting it.
Sometimes too, I’d go to Vetaf’s and spend hours reading on its Book Sale stand, checking out the notebooks aisle, testing pens, or trying on hair accessories and earrings. Sadly, they don’t have the Book Sale stand anymore.
Now that I’m no longer a student residing there, I only get to visit the city whenever I need to buy something that’s not available in our town or when we have extra money to dine out, shop, or simply have fun. We went there last January 6 and fortunately, the plaza was still decorated for the holidays so we were able to take some nice photos.
My little boys enjoyed running around the plaza. They were all excited when the lights were suddenly all turned on! After taking photos, we had doughnuts + coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts and went home.
Okay. Wow. It feels good to reminisce those memories of freedom and long me-times. How I wish I could go back to those times, even for just one day, and get completely lost in my own world. My little boys, Mommy loves you but I really need a little personal space. Lol.
How about you? What fond memories do you have when you felt the most like your true self?