By Julie Javellana-Santos

Without my daughter, the 40-minute commute to work seemed longer than usual this morning. I felt lonely and deserted traversing the kilometers between my home and the school where I work and she studies. Up until last June, however, I had been going to work alone. It was only when she began going to the college where I worked that we “bonded” while commuting.

The long (not that long) train ride was most conducive to chatting about inconsequential and mundane things. Things like the state of her wardrobe, how her blockmates annoyed her, the books she wanted to buy and the fast food she wanted to sample on a daily basis.

Our conversations inevitably turned to more serious matters — how she was getting low scores in Math but which she vowed to make up for with higher scores in English and Literature and how she was enjoying college.

It was during those times that we talked about my health too, and how I felt about my job.

There were also times when nary a word was spoken by either of us. The only sound she made would be the rustling of the innumerable papers she had to read for class.

Midway through the train ride, she would always lean her head on my shoulder to take a short nap and catch up on her sleep. By virtue of her larger size, this sometimes made my back ache, but what the heck, anything for my “baby.”

My “baby” is now living temporarily with my sister, whose house is closer to her college. As school is not far away, she hopefully will have more time to study. And I, I will just have to learn to live with commuting alone, having these conversations in my mind.

Time has flown so fast from when she was a babe in my arms to one stumbling through her first steps. I realize that soon enough I will have to say goodbye on a more permanent basis so this temporary separation is a “dry run.”

Yesterday she dropped by my office because she had forgotten her vitamins at home and it was all I could do to keep myself from hugging her.  I now understand why my mother visited me often at my own flat.

My feelings are also silly because she will only be away to study for her final exams next week.

The week after, she will be back home for her semestral vacation. And then the new semester will start, and we will be commuting together again, taking those long train rides together again and chatting about inconsequential things again.