KDramas I’m currently watching

Japanese and Korean dramas are among my guilty pleasures. But I have not written much about the ones that I like. The first and last time I wrote about something I watched was back in 2012 soon after I finished watching Warrior Baek Dong Soo. In the past few weeks, I have been following K-dramas currently airing. Here are my top five picks:

5. Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_Lovers:_Scarlet_Heart_Ryeo
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_Lovers:_Scarlet_Heart_Ryeo

Genre: Historical drama, Fantasy, Romance

One name: Lee Joon‑gi. The first teaser of this drama popped up on my radar a few months ago. And I was hooked the instant my eyes clapped on Lee Joon‑gi. I have been a fan since his stint at My Girl in 2005. There was a lot of hype surrounding this drama months leading to its first episode. I find it a tad disappointing though. With so many actors at play, there were certain episodes that it felt like the lead actor was left at the sidelines. It was tedious and heavy at some points. But things seem to be picking up lately. One thing that keeps me happy is that Lee Joon‑gi never fails to deliver.

4. Moonlight Drawn by Clouds

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_in_the_Moonlight
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_in_the_Moonlight

Genre: Historical drama, Coming-of-Age, Romantic-Comedy

It took me a while to check this one out. I decided to make a quick peek out of curiousity. I was not really expecting to get past the first episode. But I was surprised how it somehow got to me. It has all the makings of a cliche but Park Bo-gum and Kim Yoo-jung pulled it off. I stopped watching on the 10th episode not because I was no longer enjoying it. Limited time and that feeling of dread that it will not have a happy ending made me stop. But only for now. I intend to finish it when I have the time.

3. The K2

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_K2
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_K2

Genre: Political drama, Action, Romance, Thriller

I am a Ji Chang-wook fan so it makes sense that I would watch this. I also like Im Yoona so that makes two reasons already to get me curious. But the biggest draw is that its being an action drama. I am a huge fan of action, adventure, detective, mystery, and thriller dramas so there is no way I am going to miss this.

2. Woman with a Suitcase

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman_with_a_Suitcase
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman_with_a_Suitcase

Genre: Legal drama, Comedy, Drama

This one was another surprise. The curious cat in me just wanted to know what it is about. The lead actors (Joo Jin-mo! and Choi Ji-woo) are rocking it. It has an interesting cast with Lee Joon delivering like he always does.

1. On the Way to the Airport

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Way_to_the_Airport
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Way_to_the_Airport

Genre: Romance, Melodrama

The last drama that I started watching turned out to be the one I like best, at least for now. It took me a while to finally decide to see it. But it has been an INTENSE ride right from the first episode. The extra marital affairs theme is touchy. But the writer and production group seem to be pulling it off splendidly. I am into this for the rawness of emotions it squeezes out and the complexities surrounding the lives of the characters. Kim Ha-neul and Lee Sang-yoon are superb in making their characters come to life. I also love how Lee Sang-yoon does this romance thing. He has a knack of making me fall for him in every role that he plays. I am not sure if rooting for their characters to end together is bad. But that is what I have been doing from the get-go.

Traveling and the Stories it Makes

(Image source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/31947478583587743/)
(Image source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/31947478583587743/)

A friend and I were having breakfast at an airport cafe in Yangon when someone approached and asked if he could join us. All tables were taken so we let him sit with us. We ended up chatting — with the guy telling us about his travels in different parts of Myanmar. He was such a great storyteller and had many riveting photos to show, especially of Bagan. It was a fun conversation that we were truly sorry to leave him to head to our gate for boarding. The guy was on his way to Thailand before he will travel back home to Germany.

Traveling makes good fodder for compelling stories. And this is why I love travel writing. I have always wanted to try my hand at it. Recently, I have written about some of the trips I have had in the past for a travel site (see links). This whole travel writing for me is slow progress and I am still far from good. But doing it made me think that there are some things you cannot unsee or unfeel.

Sensō-ji, Tokyo, Japan

It's crowded when we were there. But I didn't really mind. I could spend hours just roaming around.
It’s crowded when we were there. But I didn’t really mind. I could spend hours just roaming around.

Aizu-Wakamatsu Castle, Fukushima, Japan

There were so many breathtaking sights in the vast castle grounds alone. Fall has turned the foliage into a picturesque play of colors.
There were so many breathtaking sights in the vast castle grounds alone. Fall has turned the foliage into a picturesque play of colors.

Ōuchi-juku, Fukushima, Japan

The cold never bothered me here. So little time, so many places left to see.
The cold never bothered me here. So little time, so many places left to see.

Korean Demilitarized Zone, South Korea

At Imjingak. One of the pit stops of the DMZ tour.
A photo of my friend at Imjingak. One of our pit stops during the DMZ tour.

War Memorial of Korea, Seoul, South Korea

Outside exhibit
Outdoor exhibit

The Kendo Equipment from Our Sensei’s Awesome Friends in Korea Have Arrived!

Apparently, our sensei has been quietly finding ways to get some equipment (i.e. bogu) for the club’s use. The club’s officers have been working for a few months already to do the same thing to help those who do not have their own bogu yet. But all of us had no inkling about sensei’s own arrangements up until the time he told us that he was already arranging the shipment for the bogu sets that his friends in Korea gave him.

And just a few days ago, Lim sensei sent us these photos to inform us that the shipment has arrived:

(photo credit: Phillip Lim, DKC head instructor)
(photo credit: Phillip Lim, DKC Head Instructor)
(photo credit: Phillip Lim, DKC Head Instructor)
(photo credit: Phillip Lim, DKC Head Instructor)

Yesterday, Lim sensei sent another message to ask us to help him bring the equipment to the dojo. Our club manager along with other members immediately went to where the bogu sets were temporarily stored and brought them to the dojo to be sorted out.

(photo credit: Johnny Lardera, club manager)
(photo credit: Johnny Lardera, club manager)

We received a total of 33 bogu (men, do, tare, kote) and 3 extra men.

To Lim sensei’s friends in Korea, 감사합니다 Kamsahamnida!

A Fall To Remember Photo Journal #2: Seoulful Wanderings

The trip to Seoul from Chungju after the rowing events at the 17th Asian Games was something I was really looking forward to. Fall was just beginning, but I can already see the hint of beauty it will bring during my wanderings.

~  Day 1: From Chungju to Seoul

Finally leaving Hotel the Base in Chungju which has been our home away from home for over a week.
Finally leaving Hotel the Base in Chungju which has been our home away from home for over a week.

~ Day 1: Gyeongbokgung Palace (Northern Palace)

Touring the palace on my own. View while waiting for the English tour to start.
Touring the palace on my own. View while waiting for the English tour to start.
Tour guides in front of the Information Center at Heungnyemun Gate
Tour guides in front of the Information Center at Heungnyemun Gate
Cute kindergarten students about to start their tour
Cute kindergarten students about to start their tour
Geunjeongjeon (Imperial Throne Hall)
Geunjeongjeon (Imperial Throne Hall)
Gyeonghoeru (Pavilion)
Gyeonghoeru (Pavilion)
I forgot the name of the hall but I think it was inside one of the buildings in the Geoncheonggung (Palace). It is said to be where the King meets with his ministers.
I forgot the name of the hall but I think it was inside one of the buildings in the Geoncheonggung (Palace). It is said to be where the King meets with his ministers.
Walked past this area, which was no longer part of the guided tour so I don't know exactly what this place is. But it's one of the quietest places I've seen while doing my solitary walk in the palace.
Walked past this area, which was no longer part of the guided tour so I don’t know exactly what this place is. But it’s one of the quietest places I’ve seen while doing my solitary walk in the palace.

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Juxtaposition of the old and new
Juxtaposition of the old and new
Gwanghwamun
Gwanghwamun
After the changing of the guards at Gwanghwamun
After the changing of the guards at Gwanghwamun

~ Day 1: Insa-dong

I have visited Insadong very briefly two years ago with my friend who’s based in Seoul. But I did not get the chance to walk the entire stretch of road that’s the heart of Insadong. From Gyeongbokgung Palace I headed to Insadong and enjoyed a meandering walk (despite my sore feet). There is much to see and soak in. I was not able to take a single photo of this walk though.

~ Day 1: Donhwamun-ro, Jongno-gu

Finally met with my friend Bixie after her work. We had dinner at a restaurant a few meters from where I was staying.

I am not really a bulgogi fan, but this one was the best I've tasted so far.
I am not really a bulgogi fan, but this one was the best I’ve tasted so far.

~ Day 2: Suji’s Deli and The War Memorial of Korea in Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu

Brunch at Suji's Deli
Brunch at Suji’s Deli
View from our table
View from our table
We both ordered the lumberjack, but mine's with iced cafe latte while my friend opted for the orange juice. Love the food!
We both ordered the lumberjack, but mine’s with iced cafe latte while my friend opted for the orange juice. Love the food!
At the entrance to the War Memorial of Korea
At the entrance to the War Memorial of Korea

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Countries who helped
Countries who helped

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Went to a place 2 or 3 bus stops away from the War Memorial to meet with my friend's German friend who's renting out his home. My friend wanted to check so we took the (very) uphill trek to his place. We passed by to what the German friend said to be the house of the richest man in Korea. The house occupies a whole block and this is just one part of it.
Went to a place 2 or 3 bus stops away from the War Memorial to meet with my friend’s German friend who’s renting out his home. My friend wanted to check the place so we took the (very) uphill trek to his place. We passed by to what the German friend said to be the house of the richest man in Korea. The house occupies a whole block and this is just one part of it.

~  Day 2: Myeong-dong

From Yongsan, we went to Myeong-dong for more sightseeing. We explored most of the area and ended up shopping. Enjoyed huge discounts on my favorite face care products. We also tried some of the street food and bought some cheap trinkets at the sidewalks. A pleasant albeit tiring detour with no photos to speak of.

~ Day 3: Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and Hapjeong

The DMZ was in my list of must-see places for this trip. I initially planned to take the train from Seoul to Dorasan station, but my friend said it would be better if we join one of the many tours being offered. We were picked up by the tour operator from my place then we transferred to another bus where we joined the others. Looking back, I think it was a good thing that we opted for the tour. There were certain areas where taking pictures is not allowed and that includes the 3rd tunnel. The said tunnel was bigger and less difficult to squeeze into unlike the Cu Chi tunnels in Vietnam. But for some reason, the trek back out drained me out. So if you are planning to take the tour sometime soon, a little endurance training would help.

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Looking out to the north
Looking out to the north

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Inside Dorasan Station
Inside Dorasan Station
Lunch at Hapjeong
Lunch at Hapjeong
Coffee time
Coffee time

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Cafe across us
Cafe just across from us

There were several other places we went to or passed by briefly that’s not on this journal. I have had a tiring eight days before the Seoul trip, but I somehow managed to muster the energy to visit as many places as I can. I was not able to go back to Gwanghwamun Square as  planned. I am glad that I was able to go there during a previous visit. There are many still I have to see. I hope I get to visit again soon. Fall, indeed, is a great time to see Korea.

I left the hotel at 4AM to catch the bus to the airport on September 29th. It was drizzling outside. I did not have my umbrella with me and there was no one for me to borrow a spare umbrella. So putting my coat over my head, I started the roughly 300M trek to the airport bus waiting shed. A few meters from the hotel, an ahjussi with a big umbrella came out from one of the buildings. He saw me walking in the rain with my luggage in tow. But he did not stop. I was following him the whole time and even stopped beside him while waiting for the green light to cross the street. I suddenly thought that if I were home, I am sure that anyone who would see me in that situation would offer to help. Still, despite the drizzle and all, there was something soothing and peaceful walking in the rain lugging a suitcase. I wish that I could do the same at home and feel as safe as I did then.

 

 

 

 

 

ITO Duties at the 17th Asian Games Incheon 2014

Serving as International Technical Official (ITO) for Rowing at the 17th Asian Games Incheon 2014 from September 17 to 25 was the best experience I have thus far since I got my international umpire badge. I have had my share of good memories in past umpiring stints, but my Asiad experience improved my confidence in carrying out our various duties. All of us rowing ITOs likewise developed a camaraderie that far exceeded the usual ones I have experienced in the past. I felt the pressure of performing at my best easing off on our first day. It is truly much easier to accomplish things when you are enjoying every moment. While I have always known that, I used to worry about what my next assignment/rotation would be in the past. I was anxious about commiting mistakes in critical posts. This time though, I did not think much about what my next tasks would be. Stoic acceptance of whatever comes my way. I think it is one of the things Kendo honed in me. And it worked in keeping me grounded and focused.

The Asian Games is the biggest sporting event in the region, second only in scale and prestige to the Olympics. This year’s host, the Republic of Korea is highly experienced when it comes to hosting sporting events having previously hosted the Asian games, an Olympics, several World Championships for different sports, and more. Despite knowing that they are quite experienced in organizing these events, I was still impressed by the efficiency by which the host city ~ Incheon~ handled the preparations. Both IAGOC and the Rowing Organizing Committee handled the communications and all preparations smoothly thus ensuring that we have our accreditation (AD) cards and etickets on time.

The trip was filled with unexpected but pleasant surprises since Day 1. I read somewhere that the organizers aimed for a more cost-efficient Asian Games that could be used as a model moving forward. I do not know if they managed to make it the cheapest Asian Games hosting, but I can say that whatever measures they have taken to keep the games simple and cheaper did not diminish the beauty of the various experiences anyone can get from it. And I for one could stand behind any initiative that would make multisporting events more cost-effective to encourage more nations to host the games in the future.

Photo credit: Mon Mon Khaing
Photo credit: Mon Mon Khaing
Finish Tower ~ Lake Tangeum International Rowing Regatta Course, Chungju, South Korea
Finish Tower ~ Lake Tangeum International Rowing Regatta Course, Chungju, South Korea
In and Out pontoons (photo credit: Mon Mon Khaing)
In and Out pontoons (photo credit: Mon Mon Khaing)
Start Tower
Start Tower
TISSOT Swiss timing system ~ Start Tower
TISSOT Swiss timing system ~ Start Tower
Boat Weighing
Boat Weighing
Athlete Weighing
Athlete Weighing
Day 2 of competition ~ Judge at the Finish (photo credit: Kin Wah Siu)
Day 2 of competition ~ Judge at the Finish (photo credit: Kin Wah Siu)
At the start area
At the start area
Traffic Rules
Traffic Rules
Out Pontoon
Out Pontoon
Umpires' parade/salute after the last race on the final day of races. (Umpire 1~Mon Khaing, Umpire 2~me, Umpire 3~Youngsang Hwang, Umpire 4~Ying-Hai Mao, Umpire 5~Rucong Huang)
Umpires’ parade/salute after the last race on the final day of races. (Umpire 1~Mon Khaing, Umpire 2~me, Umpire 3~Youngsang Hwang, Umpire 4~Ying-Hai Mao, Umpire 5~Rucong Huang) (photo credit: Razemin Omar)
Umpires' parade
Umpires’ parade
Lake Tangeum International Rowing Regatta Course Stadium (photo credit: Youngsang Hwang)
Lake Tangeum International Rowing Regatta Course Stadium (photo credit: Youngsang Hwang)
Weather report (photo credit: Mon Khaing)
Weather Forecast (photo credit: Mon Khaing)
Photo credit: Sevara Ganiyeva
Photo credit: Sevara Ganiyeva
ITOs in front of the Asian Games cauldron at the Opening Ceremony
ITOs in front of the Asian Games cauldron at the Opening Ceremony
Outside the stadium gates before the start of the Opening Ceremony (photo credit: Kin Wah Siu)
Outside the stadium gates before the start of the Opening Ceremony (photo credit: Kin Wah Siu)
EXO performing at the Opening Ceremony (Source: 2014 Incheon Asian Games Facebook page ~ click image for source)
JYJ performing at the Opening Ceremony (Source: 2014 Incheon Asian Games Facebook page ~ click image for source)
Kim Soo Hyun (EXO performing at the Opening Ceremony (Source: 2014 Incheon Asian Games Facebook page ~ click image for source)
Kim Soo Hyun (EXO performing at the Opening Ceremony (Source: 2014 Incheon Asian Games Facebook page ~ click image for source)
Psy (Source: 2014 Incheon Asian Games Facebook page ~ click image for source)
Psy (Source: 2014 Incheon Asian Games Facebook page ~ click image for source)
After the FISA Umpires Seminar
After the FISA Umpires Seminar
Goofing around while waiting for lunch after the final day of races (photo credit: Ying-Hai Mao)
Goofing around while waiting for lunch after the final day of races with our awesome LOs/volunteers (photo credit: Ying-Hai Mao)
Group photo with our dedicated volunteer bus driver on his last day with us ~ in front of eMart, Chungju
Group photo with our dedicated volunteer bus driver on his last day with us ~ in front of eMart, Chungju

 

 

 

Can sports tourism help drive NSAs’ development programs?

[Reposting from my old blog.]

What if more National Sports Associations (NSAs) develop a solid partnership with Local Government Units (LGUs) and Department of Tourism regional offices to promote their respective sports in cities and provinces across the Philippines through sports tourism? Imagine the possibilities that such relationships could bring.

Many cities around the world have been doing this for the longest time. Even here in the Philippines, some cities have already moved towards that direction. Some of them steadily making headway in reaching out to both the local and international sporting communities. To mention a few:

  • Subic gaining ground in sports tourism ~ Triathlon is one of the most popular sporting events held regularly in Subic. Over the years, many triathletes from the Philippines and other countries have flocked to Subic to participate in various triathlon events.
  • Camarines Sur: Water sports central of the Philippines ~  One can’t help but admire the city government of Camarines Sur for investing on what turned out to be a world class wakeboarding facility. Now, CamSur is becoming increasingly popular as a water sports destination. CamSur has also been hosting dragon boat events, which have attracted participants from the sport’s local and international  communities.
  • Lapu-Lapu City as sports tourism hub: City’s Sports and Events Bureau to take the lead ~ Cycling is one of the sports immediately associated with Cebu. But it looks like some cities like Lapu-Lapu are setting their sights on promoting other sports as well.
  • Lanao ready for Dragon boat race ~ Like the other forerunners of sports tourism, Lanao deserves sports enthusiasts’ admiration for having both vision and ambition to make the province one of the water sports hub in the country. Let’s hope that more cities take a leaf off Lanao del Sur and the other sport tourism hubs’ book. Maybe it’s time for leaders of local governments and national sports associations to work hand in hand to design programs that would prove beneficial to both the city in particular and to the country in general.

Some might argue that it’s a highly ambitious project that would require vast amount of resources. After all, not all cities and municipalities are equal in terms of budget and revenues. However, some cities who have done it took risks that seem to be paying off. If there’s the slightest chance of success, wouldn’t it be worth a shot regardless of the odds?

To pick another inspiring example to illustrate the potential of sports tourism as a tool to promote sports development, allow me to share some highlights from my umpiring experience in Chungju.

Screenshot of Chungju City’s official website. The city is known not only for its annual World Martial Arts Festival (visit http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_2_1.jsp?cid=697308 for more info) but also its International Rowing Regatta Centre, which hosted the 2012 Asian Olympic Qualification Regatta. It is also currently preparing to host the 2013 World Rowing Championships.
Facilities at the Lake Tangeum International Rowing Regatta Centre ~ view of the Finish Tower (left) and Stadium/bleachers area (right) that houses the Organizing Committees various offices as well as other installations during the Asian Olympic Qualification Regatta held on April 2012.
Start area, Lake Tangeum International Rowing Regatta Centre
Rowers during training, Lake Tangeum
A celebration of culture and sport ~ musicians playing traditional Korean music during a break in the races
A celebration of culture and sport ~ one of the presentations during the Opening Ceremony attended by many VIPs led by the mayor and governor. It was great to see the support of the community judging from the packed open auditorium. (photo credit: Victor Ng, Hong Kong FISA umpire)
Welcome Dinner ~ Chungju City Mayor and other government officials with the International Rowing Federation (FISA) representatives during the ceremonial cutting of the (rice) cake (photo credit: Edgardo Maerina, Philippine Rowing Team Head Coach)
Philippine Team athletes who participated in the 2012 Asian Olympic Qualifying (photo credit: Edgardo Maerina, Philippine Team Head Coach)
How Lake Tangeum International Rowing Regatta Centre would look like once construction is 100% completed in time for the 2013 World Rowing Championships

What I liked most about what Chungju did was that it established a rowing school as part of its tourist attractions. It’s an effort that not only serves its purpose of promoting the city as a water sports destination. It also provides an opportunity for its people to learn more about the sport of rowing.

I’d like to believe that someday, one of the many cities in the country will establish its own rowing school and international rowing centre, too.

Everyday Scenes Photo Journal #3: More Seoulful Days and Wanderings

band-1368188427075band-1368617707840band-1368188477810band-1367334434011Upward Boundband-1368617738085band-1368188743082band-1368617673814Photo credit: All photos by Bealuz Villavicencio

Related posts here and here.

Everyday Scenes Photo Journal #2: A Refreshingly Happy Scene

(photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
(photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)

You don’t have to search hard to find happiness in every day. Watching children playing and goofing around is one good reason enough to  smile.

Everyday Scenes Photo Journal #1: Seoulful Wanderings of a Seouler

A less than a day sightseeing in Seoul in spring of 2012 left me wanting for more. It’s one city I’d like to visit again for more leisurely wanderings. Thanks to a phone app, my friend who went out of her way to let me see as much as I can in that brief time I was there has found a way for me to enjoy more of Seoul from her eyes. I always find that the captured everyday scenes of the mundane, simple, funny, sad, cheerful, profound, extraordinary, beautiful, and everything else in between are unfailingly delightful and fascinating.

The thing about signs. Looking from a graphic designer's perspective. (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
The thing about signs. Looking from a graphic designer’s perspective. (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
Meanwhile, in a restaurant somewhere... (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
Meanwhile, in a restaurant somewhere… (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
A kid at the fountain (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
A kid at the fountain (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
Subway delights (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
Subway delights (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
Brothers walking to school (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
Brothers walking to school (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
A blanket of snow (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicenio)
A blanket of snow (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicenio)

The sum of all what ifs

Two things seem to define life as we know it. Those that we do and all the what ifs that happen in between.

A South Korean child became a what if in constant replay in my head. I met him on a beautiful spring afternoon while sightseeing in Mungyeongsaejae Provincial Park, at the less crowded side of the street across the entrance to the KBS drama studio.

I remember sitting on some kind of stone outcroppings with my two friends. It was a surprisingly quiet space, only a few meters away from the hub of people drawn to two pottery mascots promoting the already popular Mungyeong Traditional Chasabal (Tea Bowl) Festival. Right across from where we were sitting was the road leading to the KBS drama studio where droves of people were heading.

Tall, lush trees and mountains enveloped the park in a proud, protective embrace. Like parents watching over its children dazzling people with their breathtaking qualities.

The child came toddling eagerly towards me from the right side of the road. He looked like he has recently learned to walk and happily showing off. I wanted to pick him up and play with him like I love to do with kids I like. But I was in an unfamiliar place and I didn’t know if it was okay for me to do that. He kept coming back to me while I continue to hold back. And as I held back, the moment passed.

There are probably several stories like that in everyone’s past. Each different yet memorable for the missed opportunities they represent. What if I gave in to the impulse and played with him? What if I spent more time getting to know him? What if I actually hugged and kissed him? Maybe then I’d remember more of him and that moment.

I guess we are capable of living two lives in every lifetime. The life that we allow ourselves to live fully and the one that is but the sum of all the what ifs.