Personal: From A Distant Hilltop

A horn sounded. I ran down the hill in an attempt capture a good picture of a passing train. Local Japanese turned their heads to the window, curiously watching as an asian girl in a striped blue shirt with grey jeans tucked into black boots sprinted towards them with a DSLR.

After the scene had passed, I turned back around to re-orientate myself after the sudden, unexpected flurry, and found my family at the spot which I’d left them at – still far away, standing at the top of one of the hills in the garden. I lifted my camera.

My uncle noticed me first and started waving. Then my parents and other aunts and uncles began to look in my direction. They waved enthusiastically and as I adjusted the lens, faces flushed with broad smiles and laughter came into clearer focus.

The itinerary for this trip was left largely to my cousin and I, and I was definitely the more particular of us both. Armed with TripAdvisor, trusty Google, and advice from friends, I’d mapped the routes, booked everything from hotels to restaurants, and read reviews and articles over a period of 2 months prior to the trip – I know that probably sounds crazy to most people, but I just wanted to make sure everything was as perfect as could be, you know?

Everyone knows I’m big on planning – from whom I need to catch up with and when, to places I want to go, etc. By any date, I usually would’ve mapped out my schedule for the next 2 weeks or so, and I typically kickoff each year with a list of projects and things that I want to achieve in the next 365.25 days. Most of my “free time” (to do whatever I might feel like doing) or personal time is planned for – “planned spontaneity” is what I call it, oxymoronic as that sounds.

When I look at this photograph, reward – that’s what it means to me. All that planning, researching, everything- that was all made worth it. My family- smiling, waving, sharing a good laugh, on the hill top of a garden in Abashiri, midway through our roadtrip in Hokkaido.

June 2014, 網走国定公園小清水原生花園 (Garden opposite Lake Tofutsu), Abashiri, Hokkaido, Japan

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Reward.”

Personal: Love Is

Love is

The breakfast of tuna and eggs that mom makes every weekday morning. It’s dad falling asleep on the couch while waiting to give you a ride to the train station at 10.45PM because you’re heading out. It’s the texts you get at 3.30AM asking whether you’re on the way home. It’s when you wake up to find your curtains magically drawn so you’d have an uninterrupted sleep. It’s why grandpa used to bring back toys from McDonald’s every few days without saying much – I’d only later realised what it’d all been about, many years after he’d passed on. It’s also when everyone says they’re full because they know you’d like that last fillet of salmon.

Love is

The warm hand that holds your cold one. The sweater that you’d come home with but had left the house without. The knowing glance from across the table that tells you you’re both thinking the same thing. The knee that accidentally touched yours but that you both let stay. The things that make you laugh- and later, when you recall them again, you’d smile to yourself. It’s when someone insists to take you out to dinner or drinks because they know you’re feeling down- or when someone tells you you’ll be better soon and promises they’ll stay, even if they don’t know exactly how long it might take.

Love is

The tune that you both dance to- the rhythm of your hearts. The shared experiences and all the memories, and promises. The same passion and shared enthusiasm for life and what lies ahead- to chase dreams together. It’s having someone cover you while you bazooka the crap out of the damn enemy to complete that mission that you’d otherwise had to do over and over again in solo campaign.

And although I still have much to learn, this much I know – Love is always there, whether or not you notice it. Happy Valentine’s day (: