For the First Time

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I finally did it! I stepped up a jeepney, took a seat beside this old man, and extended my P7 fare to the driver. I leaned back, clutched my shoulder bag to my stomach and gazed outside to allow dirty air to blow on my face. And there, amid the steady silence and passivity of co-passengers, I enveloped the reality of what I did. I was riding a public jeep on my own, for the very first time in my entire life!

I tried acting normally, as if I was a veteran in taking public rides. But I guess there was something that gave me away easily. Maybe it was the way I was interlacing my fingers in self-consciousness. I was surveying every passenger’s face, as if trying to communicate with them through eye-to-eye contact that, “Hey, this is my first time! Look, I’m unaccompanied yet I did it! This feels so liberating!” But I know none of them really cared. They all looked tired of their public ride routine. So I forced a stoic look, tried to look bored and sleepy like most of them but I couldn’t. I was excited, and was obviously relishing that short ride to my destination.

I exercised precautions strictly as advised. I didn’t wear any jewelry, I dressed up casually and never took out my cellphone from my bag. In fact, when my phone inadvertently rang to the tune of Ciara’s Goodies (hahaha!), I didn’t bother to answer. Such obedience!

It took two rides to get to SM City The Block. I memorized it by heart. After all, we had several dry runs before he finally “unleashed” me. First, I rode a jeep en route to Pantranco. I went down in Quezon Avenue then rode a jeep bound for SM West/Project 6. Chicken! I got out at Trinoma, crossed the street to SM City and felt my feet rushing on our meeting place . This was no small feat for someone like me who, just a few months back, was oblivious of the jeepney fare. This was my first independent public ride adventure and I was hurrying already to tell him my story, like a kid who learned how to tie her shoelace for the first time, hahaha!

I know I may sound weird to my handful of readers, but commuting is one thing my parents never taught me and my sis. Sure, I take public rides once in a while, but always with a companion who does the nitty-gritty for me. Last night was different. I was on my own! I had to flag down a jeep by myself. I had to give my fare to the driver by myself. I had to watch out for my belongings. I had to say “Para po!” by myself! Believe me, this feels so liberating. It’s like I conquered independence in that brief ride. I’m so glad that for this year I resolved to learn how to commute.
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