Sea Spray and Balloons

I remember my father bringing my brother and I to Manila Bay when we were very little. My mother would have us put on stiff dark blue jeans and cotton T-shirts emblazoned with the popular Japanese robot cartoon of the day. She would then herd us to my father’s blue- grey Opel, and make our way to Manila Bay.

As soon as we arrive, my brother and I would bolt of the car and run around like hounds let loose on a rabbit hunt. The air smelled like seaweed, the spray of ocean mist descended on us like a salty veil. The afternoon sun was warm and the sky cast a buttery-sanguine glow. We were happy — jumping around and enjoying the breeze.

My mother tried her best to rein us in but it was futile. She kept shouting at us to stay close, but my father just laughed and told we’ll be fine.

There were people along the sidewalk selling all sorts of things, but it was the colourful balloons that made my brother and I more excited. We pestered our mother for a couple of them. She would shush us, but she would eventually give in, handing a couple of pesos to the balloon vendor before we grasp the fragile threads that held the balloons.

We watched the sun set over the shimmering waters, the wind still blowing salt in our hair. We all sat on the edge of the concrete barrier that separated the main road from the rocky shore. My parents were having their adult conversation with each other, and my brother and I didn’t really care. We clutched our balloons and talked on top of our lungs. My mother shushed us a couple of times and eventually gave up.


We had a picnic yesterday at Jericho beach with our neighbour Ana. We decided we needed to get out of the house. I didn’t want to hear any more COVID stories, and wanted to feel the sun and wind on my unmasked face.

I packed snacks and drinks, and we headed across town. The day was simply gorgeous — one would think it was a normal summer. We found parking just beyond the Beach Cafe, and settled ourselves under a tree, in front of a huge log. We sat on our chairs, and chatted aimlessly. I wasn’t paying any attention. My eyes were on English Bay, the waters shimmering in the sun, and the verdant hills of the north shore. Further to our right was Stanley Park and the skyscrapers of Vancouver disrupted the placid lines of the mountains.

I closed my eyes and leaned my head back, feeling the cool salty breeze on my face. The sun was too bright; even though my prescription sunglasses were polarised, I was still squinting.

I missed this moment of peace — a moment that all is right with the universe, with the blinding sun heralding a semblance of sweet happiness.

Someday we can have more of this. Someday we can actually get together and hug.