so really this is the first time, i’ve actually sat down and thought about my trip to the philippines with some type of reflection and reflexivity. and the funny thing is, i’m already here.
in the real time hustle and bustle of my life in the Big Apple, i was super uber still trying to do work, tie up loose ends, save files, get folks out prepped and ready for the summer (expo and stateside), etc. etc. right up until i almost missed my flight out of JFK on sunday morning. what followed was a blur of two–or was it three-days in the Bay Area despedida-ing, barbeQing, laughing, packing and still knotting up or putting on ice the gajillion things i try to stay on top of in my life.
the only real preparation i had for this trip was when i got bit up by 78,000 mosquitoes after the t-storm during the sandiwa conference, and R. took me to get some anti-itch cream and repellant. we walked hand in hand in the humidity from 69th all the way to 61st + 2 long blocks over, and while i held back the temptation to get on the floor like a flea-ridden dog and scratch the skin off my legs, he asked me ever so non-chalantly, “are you ready for the trip, my love?”
i could barely ek out the words, “i’m not sure,” as another mosquito try to feed on my calf.
both he and i knew, i wasn’t ready. even just to muse about the summer. i wasn’t about to sit there an dpretend that i knew nann about my trip and how i felt about. he paused a second, smiled and gave me a reassuring hug. picked my hand back up and bought me some benadryl for my bites. he’s gonna have my back, i know it. i just couldn’t even get anything out.
7 weeks. it still seemed so far away even though the clock was ticking on my sunday morning flight. i would get on that plane the next day.
“iba talaga ang pilipinas.”
my immigrant narrative is a tale of perpetual returns and departures.
i’m as conflicted about being as i was last year. yearning for my family but ecstatic that i’m out of the belly of the beast. wishing i could share all of this with R. but excited for the lessons we will have learned at the end of our annual sabbatical from each other. kicking myself in the culo for not bringing my FiRE sisters back with me but knowing that they are doing growing with each other on that side of the world. crossing my fingers that i learn something but knowing already that i’m changing already.
all of these, dialectics. internal and external. material and metaphysical. i, then, am situated. roots growing. concrete set. beaten path familiar. i’m here in my elsewhere. between homes and making a home in between.
the emotional train wreckage that followed me last year has been detailed, journaled, neatly folded up and stuck in my back pocket. i wouldn’t say i wasn’t feeling all my heart strings all through and while flying over the pacific, but i wasn’t a sobbing mess when the airplane landed at NAIA.
perhaps i didn’t have a knee jerk reaction to coming back because i now know what to expect a little. and perhaps still, it hasn’t hit me that i’m here. even now.
the humidity here is not so different from new york (minus the fucking batallion of insects that attacked me in Queens a couple of days ago). yes, you are right. i have yet to show off not a one philippine grown bug bite yet. do i think i’m fucking invincible right now. HELL TO THE M-FKN YEA. and i was steady outside in the pollution and smoke yestereday too! booyah.
today, i’ll tralala off to QC hug a couple of good friends and be back in time for galunggong at dinner time. (hopefully) imma do like mel gibson and braveheart the public transpo system in metro-manila in about an hour from now. wish me luck comrades.
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