The park, The past
John was drenched with sweat, his shirt clinging to his body in the hot tropical sun. Dressed for a California spring day, not a hot, humid day in the middle of the Philippine summer, he look around the park plaza for something cold to satisfy his thirst. Alone, his friends left far behind where they sat in the local bars, satisfying their thirst with cold San Miguel beers, and satisfying their physical needs through multiple bar girls who flocked to their sides, he had decided he wanted to do something different, not follow the same routine and had walked out into the city. He had left high school not that long ago, and was still amazed at so many things he had experienced in such a short time, and was still learning about this world beyond his own.
Walking down the street, he noticed an open plaza ahead, with a small park in the middle. Benches were located throughout the park, forming a circle around a small fountain, which sprayed water into the air, causing the many small children playing near it to squeal in delight. As he walked towards one of the benches, shaded by one of the many large Banyan trees located throughout the park, he noticed a small sari sari stand, located between him and the bench, so he stopped to buy himself a cold coca cola and some chips.
With the cold drink in one hand, and the chips in the other, he walked to the bench and sat down, happy to feel the shade of the tree above him, and the small droplets of water from the water fountain spray cooling his face. As he sat there, he mind absorbed not in the present but the past. He thought about the wife he had left behind, so many thousands of miles away, and the ongoing problems they were having in their relationship.
He was brought back to the present by the shrill yell of delight and a young woman's question "did you see that, did you see how far that bubble went Mr.” He looked down and saw this young lady looking at him with open expressive eyes and a energetic smile lighting up her face. He looked in the direction she pointed to, and saw small bubbles drifting in the sky above. He noticed that each bubble was shaped differently and wondered how this could be.
Brought back to the present, he asked the girl, "what is your name?” She replied, "My name is Maria". He then asked her “why so many shapes in your bubbles?” She whispers to him, almost in a conspiring tone, “You see, each one is special, each one has its own world, its own life in it. When I blow into the wand and the bubble, whatever shapes I have chosen, comes out, I am blowing a new life into it, a new world. The circles represent harmony, and all the people that live in that bubble live in a world without hunger, without war, without hate”. “Oh” says, the man, chuckling at the eagerness in which this girl tells her story. “How about the squares” he asks. “Well” says the girl, “the square ones have people that work hard, they are industrious, and also live a happy life, but in their world they go to jobs every day, and they have responsibility, but they are happy.
Finally he pointed to the two heart shaped figures in the wand, side by side and said, “and these, what do these symbols represent?” She looked at him, almost in a way that could be portrayed as happy but sad, and said, “well, I will show you these, for these are very special, the most unique of all, for these two represent the union of two hearts, coming together and rising as one.” With that she dipped her wand into the soapy mixture, and gently pulled it into the warm summer air. The moisture clung to the wand, almost in a fragile manner, and she blew ever so softly into the shapes before her. With a slight tug, almost as though they feared release beyond the comfort of the wand in which they resided, two heart spheres launched themselves into the afternoon sky.
He watched in amazement as the two heart shaped bubbles, joined as one, blew ever higher, until at last, he could no longer see them. When he looked back down, the young lady had gone.
The Park, The Present
John walked down the busy street, dressed in loose fitting khaki pants, and a light cotton shirt. The warm summer heat, beating down on him, brought him back to his past, when 20 years ago, he had last walked down this street. Now in his early 40's and not the young sailor he had once been, he had taken this side trip for a reason he could not quite figure out. John worked for large company, and had come back to the Philippines for some meetings. Though the meetings were being held in the plush 5 star Marriott Hotel, he had a light schedule that afternoon, and decided he wanted to take a break and go visit the park he had last visited over 20 years ago. He could not figure out why it seemed so important for him to go back to this place, but John was a man that followed his heart, and intuition, as much as he followed his mind.
He recognized the entrance to the park by the tall blast of water that sprayed from the fountain. Though there were more people, and the streets were crowded with Jeepney's, motor scooters and sari sari stalls, much of the park itself remained as it had been over 20 years ago. He noticed the bench that he had sat on, by the large Banyan tree branch overhanging it.
He approached the bench, watching the small children laughing and playing as the water from the fountain sprayed them. He sat down, and immediately his mind drifted to the past. Over the years, John's life had resembled a roller coaster ride, with the high point of his life being the daughter he had raised, and the low point the painful separations from those that he had once loved.
His mind, lost in the past, did not immediately recognize the voice, though now changed, asked him the question "Sir, did you see those bubbles". So caught in the past, he had not noticed the lady that had come to sit on the bench by him, but the words, so familiar, made him catch his breath, and he remembered that young voice asking him "did you see that, did you see how far that bubble went Mr.” As he looked at the woman sitting next to him, the wide expressive eyes, the long dark hair and the energetic smile on her face, he realized that he knew her, had shared something special with her those 20 years ago, that this woman sitting next to him was Maria.
John walked out to the front porch, and looked out over the painted landscape that Mother Nature provided him and Maria every day of their life. Never the same, always changing, the rich color of the flowers, the soft rustle of the trees, the sparkling waters of the lake, the world he and Maria lived in was indeed one of pure beauty. As he listened, he could hear Maria in the house, working on another painting of the ongoing show that Mother Nature provided every day of the year, looking through the large windows that provided an uninterrupted view of God's creation, the beauty in the nature around them. He listened to her softly sing to herself, her soothing voice so sweet to his ears. His life was good, and he and Maria had been blessed with many happy memories in this place they called home.
As he looked at the surface of the lake in front of him, he could see bubbles rising from the top, a result of the difference in the cold lake water, and the warm sun rising over the hills. Every morning, he would come out to watch this, to see the small bubbles lift from the lake, and rise towards the heaven above, and every day, he would remember what she first told him ""did you see that, did you see how far that bubble went Mr.”