December 7 on my side of the world

IMG2628My alarm clock goes off. 6:14 a.m. I dismiss it, only for it to disrupt my slumber once again. 6:29 a.m. I snuggle in my blanket for the last time and force myself to wake up.

I get off the BART and look at my watch: 8:26 a.m. Perfect. I made it on time. I hurry past the traffic signs and greet my supervisor. She’s wearing a Santa hat and asks me to help lay out nametags on our registration table. Today we have an event in Union Square. The huge Christmas tree makes me think ofPasko at home.

I grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco last year. Every time I walk around downtown, I can’t help but admire its beauty—intricate buildings, cable cars and people speaking different languages, carrying shopping bags. It’s something that I don’t want to get used to. I don’t think I ever will.

Around noon I find myself on our truck parked in front of Macy’s, preparing hot chocolate to give out to passersby. I watch people from my tiny window and occasionally shout “free hot chocolate!” People would stare blankly, mutter in disbelief, shrug the idea off, or talk to me. I liked the people who talked to me. Some would drop a dollar; some would simply grab their cup, smile, and walk away.

Among the most appreciative were the homeless. They detail how great it is to serve a warm cup for the cold day. I happily quip a “happy holidays” after they thank me until this man answered back with: “I am trying to be happy here, okay? It’s not happy…”

His words blur with my thoughts. Maybe I was wrong to greet him. I can’t help him any more than the cup of hot chocolate.

I walk back to the BART and my boots’ heels click against the floor. This sound’s nice, I think to myself. Back home it always felt like summer so I didn’t own any pair until last year.

I hop on my train and hear a couple of Filipinos talking: “sa atin kasi pag Pasko…”

We enter the tunnel and the noise shuts their conversation out.


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