I never really took my travels for granted. But I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much of a withdrawal from it until in recent months. With the restrictions to meet people IRL ongoing since the start of summer, it feels so different looking back at film photos this time last year, when I was out and about the whole time in a completely foreign city, to say the least. I’m thinking about the friends I made on the other side of the world, how they’re doing, and when I’ll be able to see them again (maybe next year? the initial plan was this year).
Weekends used to be spent outdoors, taking the U-bahn to another neighborhood, soaking in the sun. Now, weekends are just excuses to binge more on Netflix episodes and carve out more time for myself after a busy work week staring at laptop and tablet screens until the wee hours of the morning.
Thinking about brunch with Sara, talking about the most mundane things—life, art, the intersection of both, the bigger picture. The things that I never talk about back home. Thinking about my Umma Hyon and her art studio where I used to frequent during the cold November with her preparing a cup of pourover every time I knock on the door.
Missing meaningful conversations with Lei and Emily, who are both in different parts of Germany right now. That peach scene we can’t stop talking about from Call Me By Your Name. Important discussions on race, our futures, the lives we aspire to have. Thinking about late nights out and laughing about things like “why does the bartender take so much time picking out a mint leaf to garnish our drink?!?” and until now, I don’t know the answer to that.
Remembering that day when it was thirty nine degrees and we commuted to Schlachtensee and I was terrified AF of the water or getting caught changing clothes at the back of a tree trunk (there were no public toilets).
Fast forward to October with a quick escape to Singapore (the usual), binge watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, coffee runs with Christie, and movie nights that ended up making us sleep like a baby just in time for Sunday.
Finding comfort in knowing that for a time, hanging out in coffee shops was still a thing. Ordering from a counter, waiting for your coffee to be served in a bustling cafe right smack in the middle of a quiet street in SG.
Throwback to the first weeks in the office, where Sophie and I made do of filming with limited equipment and set ups, back when there was no Internet yet and we barely knew that our last meeting for the year (so far) would also be a filming day.
Honestly feels like I’ve forgotten what it’s like to live outside of my home. For months, it has been an ongoing battle between wanting to be somewhere else instead of here. But let’s face it—reality trumps fantasy, and it won’t be easy to get into the new normal (gosh, I hate that phrase, really). I try to think that I could travel back in time in my memories or maybe take a look at the mirror of Erised—which obviously will show a different Abbey speaking Deutsch and basking in the summer heat on the other side of the world, maybe taking a side trip to Florence so she could finally explore the city unlike her first encounter in 2015.
But that’s not what’s possible for now. Everything feels suspended in time; and maybe that’s what’s the universe is trying to tell us now. To right the wrongs. To fix the errors. To carve out time for self-healing.
Photos taken using my film camera (which is currently rotting at home), 2019-2020—Berlin, Singapore, Manila