Strangely Beautiful.

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5 Centimeters per Second 

I blame Iqko for making me relive this anime all over again.
I blame Makoto Shinkai for depicting unrequited love so beautifully.
I also blame Masayoshi Yamazaki for singing wholeheartedly.

5cm per second,
is the speed of a falling cherry blossom petal.

Two transfer students find comfort in each other’s precence. Takaki wishes to always protect Akari even with time and space between them.
Kanae falls for the kind yet distant Takaki. But somehow can’t bring herself to tell him.

Fast forward a decade later, Takaki, Kanae and Akari live in the same city. Takaki still obsessing over what could’ve been with Akari. Takaki ignoring Kanae’s emails and phone calls. Akari soon to be married with the man of her dreams. Urban loneliness at its finest.

Makoto Shinkai’s eye for detail and beauty of surroundings wash all around us when seeing this anime.

It’s as if he is trying to tell us to look around you and not just inside your heart. The world is beautiful. It never stops being beautiful. But sometimes, when you focus too much on what’s inside your heart. You fail to let anything else in.

The OST. by Yamazaki Masayoshi – One More Time One More Chance, is equally heartbreaking.

Let me write you the refrain lyrics to get the gist.

Itsudemo sagashite iru yo
(I’m always searching)
Dokka ni kimi no sugata wo
(For your figure to appear somewhere)
Kousaten demo, yume no naka demo
(At a street crossing, in the midst of dreams)
Konna toko ni iru mo hazu nai noni.
(Even though I know you couldn’t be at such a place)

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Hair as Red as Mine 


 Hair as red as mine blowing in the chilly autumn breeze. Tickling my cheeks and ears, every now and then. Her felt jacket sleeved hands circled around my neck, I swear, are the coziest mufflers to ever be worn by man. 


“Yes, Honey?” 

“Why do leaves fall?” 

“Leaves fall to make room for new leaves when spring comes along.” 

“Like Mommy?”

I instantly regret my pathetic poetic attempt of an answer. I must outsmart this 6 year old. But my throat is as if some dentist forgot to take out that saliva suction thingy after the appointment. 

“I miss her smell.” She snuggles her face into my neck. “You smell different.”

“What does she smell like again?” 

“C’mon Daddy. How can you even forget?” 

“Let’s see, bar soap and anti-dandruff shampoo?” 

“Daaaaddyyyyy!” Her small red flats and white stocking covered calfs kick  around at my sides.

“Sorry, I forgot.” I pretended. “Can you tell me again?” 

“OK, but this is the last time. OK?” she moves in till her mouth is almost touching my ears then whispers. “Pumpkin Pie and Purple Crayons.” 

“How silly of me to forget.”  


I was enjoying the view of Kamogawa in front of me. My shoes turning the high stool I was sitting on. Causing it to squeak everytime I half circled left or right. You see, the kid in me always finds his way out.  

It was snowing, but somehow a lot more couples seemed to be out and about. Fashionably warm youngsters in their knit sweaters and down vests jackets. The girls wore knee high boots or snug uggs. The guys wore pointed boots or thick high top sneakers.  

Just as I was in mid-spin to my left, a huge backpack was propped on the counter at my 9 o’clock. So ginormous, I couldn’t see the pretty little red head that came into view after. 

“Sorry, mind watching my bag for a while?” she said catching her breath. Her strong Irish accent hit me all the way home. 

What came to view first, were her olive green eyes. The eyes that I thought only belonged to fairytale princesses. The blood red lipstick against her porcelain skin was a statement of boldness in itself. The snow on her hair reminded me of Aunt Debbie’s awesome Bundt Cake. The one with swirls of magic Raspberry jam inside. 

I nod like an idiot. Still turning my stool left and right. 

I inspect the backpack next to me. Tangled airline tags hang from its top handle. Covered in snow as well. Without thinking, I brush it off. 

“Wow! How kind yet creepy of you.” she returned with a big cup of coffee and a side of pumpkin pie in her hands. “Thank you.” 

“You’re welcome.” I smiled my Kermit The Frog smile, the one mum keeps complaining about, which she says makes me look even nerdy than I already am. 

“Owkay..” she says with a half smile and a half roll of her eyes as she climbs on to the stool. 

“What grade are you in?” I jokingly ask her. She must think I’m such a dweeb or better yet, a perv.

“Black belt.” she says curtly, before cupping her hands around her coffee cup. Transferring the heat to her fingertips. 

I retreat in to my imaginary shell.

Not by long, she is sucked by the magic of the view in front of us. White dots falling, floating and twirling against the black night. Reflections of headlights and street lamps twinkle on the surface of the Kamogawa. Couples walking hand in hand, keeping each other warm.

 Our reflections in the glass were even more pronounced due to the dark exterior. I finish my raisin cinnamon roll slower than usual. 

“What’s your name?” she asks all of a sudden. 

“Darren.” I smile my normal guy smile. That was unexpected, I thought. My smile. Her question. 

“I’m Jamie.” 

“Tourist?” I ask.

“Nope. Traveller.” 

“Ow-kay..” copying her expression towards me earlier. 

“Artist. I draw for a living. And you?” 

“Game Developer.” 

“Fucking awesome!” 

“Whoa, that’s one reaction I rarely get from girls.” I thought out loud. 

“No wonder.” she nods knowingly and takes a sip from her latte. 

“Hey!” I acted all cross. 


It was her mother’s funeral. 

We were up in her room. 

I sat on her bed. She last slept here 9 years ago she said. 

She opened her drawers one by one as if checking everything was in the same place since she left them. 

I was silent. The solemn kind. 

“Found it!” she took out a familiar box. Dark yellow and green-striped the size of a cigarette pack. 

“Guess which color is the shortest crayon in this box?” 


“Guess again.” 

“Light Blue?” 



“Give up?” 

“Give up.” 

She tips the box upside down. 

I look over her shoulders. 

There was the smallest piece of used purple crayon I have ever seen. Only the size of a grown man’s pinky nail. She must love purple so much.

“I have it too.” She says after a long silence passed between us.

“Have what?”

“What mom had.” the purple crayon disappeared in her clenched fist. 

I hugged her trembling shoulders from behind. Sinking my tears in hair as red as mine. 


Camilla has been missing for three days now. I hope she’s still somewhere in the apartment and hasn’t ventured out the windows or ventilations or anything.

Often, I end up lying on the carpet tracing all viewable surfaces with my eyes. At times like this I regret my silly choice in pets. Its hard enough finding her as it is with her size and all. Let alone her ability to blend into her surroundings. My silly choices in love too.

“Can I touch?” she said with eyes almost as wide as Camilla’s.

“Sure.” I hold Camilla in front of her.

She carefully strokes Camilla’s spiky head all the way down to her back and her curled tail. Clearly holding her breath.

“Look she’s changed colors again.” she whispers exitedly.

I put Camilla on the couch. She turns blue.

I put Camilla on the bed. She turns white.

I put Camilla on the table. She is checkered red like the table cloth.

She laughs without a sound. As if she is afraid she might startle Camilla.

That afternoon, Camilla was moved around to at least a dozen colors and surfaces for her amusement.

But eventually, after many afternoons, she got tired of my room. Our hiding place. She didn’t have Camilla’s super powers, she wept. She didn’t have Camilla’s patience. She wanted to be seen with me. Out there.

And simply being with me in thought was no longer enough.


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How To Stay Afloat When You’re Falling


  1. Enjoy the high, but don’t lose yourself in it.
  2. Keep your schedule, no matter how much you want to throw it over.
  3. Acknowledge you are under the influence of some powerful hormones.
  4. Get the nutrition, rest and relaxation that you need to stay physically, emotionally, and mentally sound.
  5. When concerns and fears come into your mind about your lover, ask yourself if you are just trying to discharge the anxiety that you feel about the unknown, so that you can stop a personal drama in its track.
  6. Don’t rush to seal the relationship, just because you can’t stand the anxiety of having to go through the stages of falling in love. Accept your anxiety and learn to work with it.
  7. Research shows that falling in love also makes you more creative. So, work out that anxiety and fear through some creative activities.
  8. Don’t lower your defenses, personal boundaries, and expectations to the extent that you are denying what you really desire and need. This never works out well. You want to build an authentic relationship attachment, rather than one based on fantasy alone.

5W + H 

She plays with her bangs. Not sure if she should swipe them to the left or to the right.

“I think it’s getting too long.” she says as she finally gives up and her bangs fall limply over her eyes. She lets out a light sigh and looks out the window.

The rain is letting up. Several sun beams pierce through the clouds.

“Have it trimmed then.” I said, as I began searching for a possible rainbow.

“Nah, it’ll cost the same. And I don’t want to go to some cheap salon. They rarely know the tricks.”

“Wait.” I say as I search through my sling bag pockets. “Found it!”

I open my fist in front of her. Grinning from ear to ear.

A plastic frog hair clip. My daughter’s.

“Gia’s?” she asked weakly. “No, thanks.”

With that, I initiated another half an hour of unbearable silence.

The bell dangling on the front door chimed everytime someone entered or left the cafe. Soft music playing in the background. Hushed conversations coming from every direction.

I understand completely how difficult it is to be with her in the open like this. How rare and how dangerous the opportunity is.

As if realizing that time is of essence for us, she opens her mouth for me again.

“Let’s play a game.” she said with a mischievous smile.

“Okay.” I close my sketchbook.

“I will ask you the 5w + 1h, but without any context or topic. You must answer each and every one of them, with what you think I want to know at the moment.”

She pauses. Looks into my eyes.

“Are you following?”

“I am, but a bit lost here. You mean you will ask me, for instance “Why?” and I can’t say, “Why what?”. Instead I have to just answer with what I think caused the ‘why’? Am I correct?”

“Almost. Let me give you an example of how it goes.”

“I ask you, ‘Why?’. And then you answer, ‘Because I need options in life. I need to feel that if plan A doesn’t turn out well then I have plan B, C and K.’ assuming I am asking you about your work ethics. Something like that.”

“But that’s not what you really want to know about right now, right?” I shoot her a wink.

She blushes.

“So shall we begin?”

“Wait.” I close my eyes and take several deep breaths.

She laughs quietly.

“Okay. What.”

I think before I answer. Finding the right words to make her smile in no time.

“Northern Lights.”

Bingo! And with a bonus twinkle in her eyes.

“Next. When.” now she’s doing that thing I can’t handle; propping her chin on the bed of her palm and looking intensely into my see-globes.

I feel a ticklish twinge in my abdomen. I almost lose it. You know you’re fucked when just looking into someone’s eyes give you the naughty tingles.

“When? Hm. Let’s see.” I try hard to concentrate on my answer.

“When we were standing too close for comfort in that crowded elevator one morning? I could hear the drum beats and snares coming from your loud earphones. I could smell your perfume. Vanilla by The Body Shop, right? You smelled better than the bakery in the West lobby. All of a sudden I was hungry.”

She was beet red and struggling not to smile at my answer. Failing miserably.


“Easy. A secret place in my heart. Hopefully not even God can find.”

She bites the sadness from her lips to this.


I thought I heard her voice tremble a bit. Please don’t cry. It’s the last thing I can take right now. Please? I plead with my eyes.

“Because, just knowing you exist in this life makes me happy. Because, my sanity counts on it. Because, just knowing that you know I’m happy simply by knowing that you exist is all that matters to me. Because..” I dropped my words somewhere along my efforts trying to convince her with something I myself am not yet convinced enough to say. “’s. Just. Because. OK?” is all I can muster in the end.

“How?” she whispers her final question. By now, two clear rivers have formed on her cheeks.

I slide a napkin next to her hand. She takes it and wipes the rivers away.

“Breathing. Keeping our hearts beating. Living. Eating. Laughing. Loving and making sure nobody else gets hurt because of fate running late. Nobody except us.”

“Yeah.” she adds, “because clichés are for wimps.”

The rivers have disappeared.

Her cheesy adorable grins reappeared.

Thank God.