It’s not exactly an American Express card.
But I still don’t leave home without it, besides my keys, my wallet, and my notebook.
I’m referring of course to my black, four-gigabyte, second-generation iPod Nano, faithful traveling companion for the past four years (going on five, if the rechargeable batteries make it until February).
However, its power management issues were the least of my concerns four days ago.
That’s because I left it at home, depriving me of the soundtrack of my life, especially at a time when I needed it most — on a bus trip to a resort some two hundred or so kilometers north of Manila.
When I realized that my favorite gadget was not in my pockets, I did what all men my age, status, and temperament did when confronted by tribulation: I froze.
My heart raced, my mind drew a blank, and my face had a stunned look as if the world I had known had fallen apart.
Unfortunately, the real world had so far remained insensitive to the plight of literary poseurs, especially if they exhibit characteristics found only among senior citizens.
People came and went, pursuing their selfish ends, unable to comprehend, let alone sympathize with someone who was suffering in silence (i.e., myself).
The universe was cold, cruel; indifferent to those whose concerns were far more important than theirs, whose preoccupations were small and trivial.
And then slowly, it all came back to me.
I left my iPod on the bed after I loaded it with what I considered to be songs best played on road trips: Pat Metheny’s Here To Stay, Terence Blanchard’s rendition of A Streetcar Named Desire, Jackie Gleason’s take on A Taste of Honey, and an all-time favorite, The Batman Theme.
Listening to these tunes while ignoring talkative blowhards go on about corruption and rheumatism was one of the best ways to pass the time.
But there was no way I could listen to my own music that Tuesday morning.
I was already at the bus terminal, keeping an eye on the wall clock that moved close to my scheduled departure.
Initially, I wanted to make a run for it.
I thought I had enough time to grab a cab home, pick it up, and take the same cab back to the terminal.
Except that it was wishful thinking.
There was no way on earth that I could do that without missing my bus and incurring the ire of my companions.
When the bus was about to leave — and on time at that — I picked up my knapsack, climbed aboard, and braced myself for what may well be one of the longest road trips of my life.
As I settled on a window seat, I was pretty sure that I had a song handy for exactly this kind of occasion.
Except that I had no chance of finding out.
But as I said, that was four days ago.
Now I’m back to my old digs, grateful for a recharged iPod that has — besides a hard reset or two — served me well.
Coming home had never felt this good.