The alarm clock rings at 5 o’clock in the morning. Jasmine lazily stretches her arms out to the side table, and turn off the alarm. Once again, she hugs her pillow and folds her legs. She’s still sleepy from last night’s dinner date with her friends. She doesn’t want to get up but she has to. She has made herself a promise. She slowly forces herself to move; she gets up, washes her face and brushes her teeth. Then, she pulls her running clothes from the closet. She combs her hair and pulls it up, and wears her socks and slips her feet into her running shoes. It’s the first day of September and this day will be different for Jasmine. Today, she will not be reporting to the architectural firm which has stressed her out for almost 5 years; she won’t be seeing Paul, and she will be living her life in such a way that she has never lived before. She closes their front door and looks at the purple hue of the peaceful sky. A mild breeze plays with her ponytail. It’s still quite dark and she’s a little scared because she has never done this alone before. Nevertheless, she takes the last step on the porch, gets into her car and leaves.
She reaches the place. She gets off the car. The sky is a little lighter now. She can hear the music-like chirping of the birds, and notices a group of people doing their warm-ups. She distances herself a little from the group and does her own, taught to her years ago by her older brother Dan. It would have been better if she was doing this with him today or with her little sister Micah, or with her best friend Vashti, or with Paul, she thought. But they are not with her now. The two are out for the long weekend; the other one, busy with her growing business; and the last one, Paul, the one she will never have the chance to be with ever again.
After a 10-minute warm-up, she starts to walk leisurely on the paved pathway. The park is neat and clean, peaceful and relaxing. It is a 15- minute drive from her house. She used to come here with her two siblings when they were kids. They loved to run around, play hide and seek, fly kites. It’s a good thing they can still spend time with each other at this park despite their loaded schedules. Just two weeks ago they had a picnic together. They went biking and flew kites. They had fun as always. But today will be different. Jasmine will face her day alone with all her comforts laid on the ground—leaving her job, her old habits, her routine and Paul. She has decided to begin a new life. The wind is so cool that it passes through her white cotton jacket and jogging pants. She begins to jog slowly and carefully. The air that she breathes is so fresh that it brings comfort to her soul. She smiles as she sees the sun peaking behind a huge cloud. It’s almost sunrise. She continues to run as she gradually sees the colorful bougainvilleas along her path. After a few minutes, she stops and stands under a huge acacia tree to see and experience the sunrise. The sun rises slowly and magnificently as though it intended to conquer the world. Jasmine closes her eyes and says a prayer.
“Why close your eyes when the most magnificent sight lies in front of you?”
Jasmine opens her eyes and is surprised to see a man standing beside her.
“Hello, Jasmine.” Dave smiles as he looks at her.
“I didn’t know you’re in the country.” Jasmine says, so surprised to see Dave.
“Are you jogging alone?” Dave asks, still smiling.
“Would you mind if I join you?”
Great, so I wouldn’t be alone this morning, Jasmine thought. She smiles and says, “I wouldn’t mind.”
They face the sunrise once again. This time, their view of the sunrise zooms out making them see the whole picture of the grandeur in front of them—trees, bright blue sky and birds welcoming the magnificent sunrise.
“It’s a wonderful day, isn’t it?”
“Everyday in this hometown is a wonderful day,” Jasmine replies.
Dave gives a warm smile. “Let’s go.”
Both of them start jogging in a slow pace. The sun is already up but the air is still cool.
“I heard you’re working in an archi firm.”
“I did, but I resigned a month ago.”
“Oh, that is surprising.”
“I guess I needed to turn my life a little bit.”
“To make my life more beautiful, I guess.”
Dave nods. “So how’s the newly unemployed girl?” Dave asks with smile on his lips.
“Happy and so free as a bird.” Jasmine smiles almost laughing.
“So what do you do now?”
“Well, I’m starting to paint again and do some sketches.”
“Good. Are you planning to open up a studio soon?”
“Yeah, definitely.” Jasmine’s eyes shine as she answers this question.
“That’s good for you.”
They start to jog faster and suddenly, everything feels right to Jasmine–jogging in her favorite place, leaving behind all the things that bring her stress and looking forward to new dreams.
“I heard you’re doing business.”Jasmine asks.
“Yes and so far, everything’s fair and good.”
“Wow, congratulations,” Jasmine says.
Dave and Jasmine went to the same high school. Dave was a year older than Jasmine. She was a junior when they got acquainted in a student organization.
“So, how are you?” Dave asks.
“Me?” Jasmine gives a short laugh. “I’m… better…”
Jasmine lets out a smile but Dave can sense a tinge of sadness in Jasmine’s face. It may not be that deep but he knows it’s just there, hiding in the sheen of her eyes.
They continue to jog while taking pleasure in gazing at the beautiful sight that they have missed for a long time. Dave thinks about the woman beside him. He wonders how she is feeling now, after all the sudden changes that happened in her life. He wonders how she is coping with all of those things. Is she really feeling better now? He hopes she will tell him something or anything to lighten whatever she is going through.
Jasmine is thinking about Dave jogging alongside her in this perfect place. She’s just glad she has Dave to join her this morning. They weren’t particularly close when they were in high school, but being student leaders, they frequently interacted with each other, like when there were school programs and off-campus activities. Looking back, she can say that she knew Dave as a responsible person, intelligent, humble and compassionate. She also remembers that he’s good in playing the guitar and sings well, too.
After a few minutes of silence, Jasmine starts to jog slower and eventually starts to walk. Dave also slows down to her pace.
“I’m sorry. I’m tired.”
“It’s okay. You haven’t jogged for a while, have you?”
Jasmine smiles. “Yes. I guess I need to start working at it again.”
“Now, you have all the time you need to catch up.”
“I haven’t done this since… since Paul… left…”
Paul, Dave thought. Suddenly he feels jealous hearing his name.
“I heard about what happened. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay Dave. I’m not here to grieve. After I left my job and when I left home this morning, I decided to live again–to do the things that I loved doing, to do the things that I would want to do, to embrace life as it is.” Jasmine smiles although sadness is still visible in her eyes.
“Do you miss him?”
“Yes, I miss him everyday.”
I shouldn’t have asked, Dave thought.
They continue walking then suddenly, “Look!” Jasmine points at a flock of birds flying in a V formation. She stops to gaze at them.
“Do you like birds?” Dave asks.
“Yes,” she replies still looking at the birds.
Standing beside Jasmine, Dave stares at her simple yet pretty face smiling up at the sight of the birds. Nobody knew that Jasmine was Dave’s first love. He kept it a secret in high school because he was too shy to let her know. Or perhaps he wanted to become a much better person first, someone who would be worthy of her. So he waited until they finished high school. But he was forced by his parents to study abroad. After college, he learned from his friends that Jasmine was engaged to a man named Paul.
“Do you know that when birds decide to migrate from one place to another, they are actually taking a big risk?” Jasmine asks in a soft voice.
Dave looks at the birds flying farther. “No. Why?”
“Because not all of them will get the chance to get there. Some of them will get tired, some will starve, some will get sick and most of them will eventually die.”
Dave stares at Jasmine once again. She is looking at the birds flying farther and farther in the sky.
“I really hope all of them will make it.”
Still staring at Jasmine, Dave thinks. Jasmine is so different from the many girls he had met in different places. Even way back in high school, and this morning when he saw her closing her eyes with the rays of the sun touching her face, every time she flashes her sweet smile, when she says words with all gentleness and sincerity, Dave knows Jasmine is special.
“Days before Paul died, he brought me to church, just like he always did. He told me that life was a battle of passion. Unless you find that special thing, that very thing that would stir your soul and make you wake up every single day and give your life meaning, then you will never be truly happy. That wonderful thing was meant to be lived for, he said, it’s a blessing from above.”
Dave looks at the sky, thinking how deep the presence of Paul was in Jasmine’s life. Will she ever want to open her heart for a new man to love her and take care of her for the rest of her life? But he’s glad hearing those words from Jasmine. Those words gave him the assurance that Jasmine was cared for by a good man.
Jasmine crosses her arm and looks at Dave. “Have you found yours?”
Dave smiles and suddenly thinks about his life abroad. He was in college when he started to extend help and service to nursing homes and then eventually, he decided to plant and grow the seeds of a business venture which will enable him to support the homes financially. That personal ministry gave him great joy and gave his life a purpose.
“I guess I have” he answers.
“Let’s sit for a while, your legs must be tired,” Dave says, leading Jasmine to a wooden bench a few meters away from them.
“I remember you as a junior student in high school–smart, driven and a dreamer.” They are now sitting comfortably on the bench. “I know you can get through this.”
“Thanks, Dave. You’re still the same Dave I met in high school.”
“You mean I still managed to maintain the youthfulness in me?”
Jasmine laughs. “Whatever you say David.”
Dave is a good-looking guy. He was the campus crush back in high school. But Jasmine only saw him as an older fellow student leader in school. She admires him for his intelligence and his dedication to his principles. More than that, she sees him as a good role model and, perhaps, a good friend.
“So how’s David the Great?” That’s what they called him in high school. “You’ve been away from the country for years and I’m just so surprised to see you today.”
“I’m visiting my outlets in the country.”
“What’s your business, by the way?”
“Oh, so you own coffee shops in the country. What’s the name of the shop?”
Jasmine faces Dave, filled with surprise. “Really?” Jasmine asks, wide-eyed. “That’s one of my favorite coffee shops! Nobody told me you own those shops.”
“Hey, this is my chance to get an answer to my long time question straight from the Purple Coffee shop owner.”
Dave laughs, amused with Jasmine’s excitement. “Okay, shoot!”
“Why Purple Coffee? What’s the relevance of purple to coffee?” she asks, thrilled to know what Dave’s answer would be.
Dave clears his throat, and, with a smile on his lips, says, “Well, I always like to drink coffee at dawn, waiting for the sunrise, when the sky starts to turn purple. It calms me when I’m sitting at the porch waiting for the brightest part of the day to come. It’s like having a new hope and new things to look forward to.” Dave slowly leans back on the bench. “Did I answer your question perfectly?”
Jasmine turns her gaze on the little pond five meters away from them. She imagines a man sitting on a porch looking at the purple sky, waiting for sunrise and enjoying every second of it with a coffee mug in his hand.
“That was so nice Dave.” She looks at Dave. “I like it.”
“So when are you leaving the country?”
“I don’t know yet. Maybe after a month or two, I’m not sure. I missed so many things here. I just… I just want to stay for a while…”
“That would be great, Dave. You should have a break. Life loses its meaning without a great break.” She smiles.
“OK, I’ll take that break on one condition…”
“You’ll give me some of your time spending that break with me.”
“On one condition.”
“You’ll treat me to your Purple Coffee every time you get to steal my precious time,” Jasmine says with a smile. “Deal?”
Princess took up International Studies major in Asian Studies at Ateneo de Davao University.