Pinay Diaries (Part III)-A A +A
Sunday, September 16, 2012
THE two previous entries for my version of “exploits of a vagabond” dwelt on the more serious realities of the Pinoys’ exodus to the illusive greener pastures. The actual experiences are harsher and more difficult than expected -- the torments of homesickness and the rigors that come with adapting and re-establishing oneself in a foreign territory being the primary foes. There’s simply no running away from these.
Three months already away from home and I still feel like a nomad. Though I am really fortunate to have found an abode amongst relatives (who I came to know only when I got here, God really has His ways), I have to admit that it still takes getting used to the unfamiliarity of things. And it’s not just the huge adjustment to an entirely new culture; even the most minute of changes requires a lot of getting used to.
For starters, I still get off at the wrong block, or stop at an intersection too early. And ever so often, I subconsciously say, “Para sa tabi Manong” to the unheeding cab driver. Some mornings I wake up and be totally clueless as to where I am, still needing to recapture my bearings before finally grasping the fact that I’m not bunched up in my favorite blanket.
It’s an everyday endeavor. And homesickness is an even greater adversity to struggle with. So to keep one’s sanity, positivity is multiplied a thousandfold and the attempt to find delight in the smallest of things is made an everyday quest.
I live in a building where most tenants seem to be on the constant move. When people move, they don’t take everything with them (unless you’re too sentimental like me and keep everything from the pair-less earring to the knocked-out teeth of my dogs). They leave stuff behind, things that might be too heavy or bulky for transfer. The building watchman is always a happy guy when this happens. But we’re even happier tenants. The watchman collects these things and sells them to us for really cheap prices. Being the Pinay that I am, I bicker and bargain with him and can get a slightly used, in perfectly good condition leather couch for a more than reasonable price -- something worth three value meals back home. And it feels weirdly satisfactory, sitting in that sofa, smugly. But more than the relish of being able to acquire a couch for an absurdly good price is that bizarre gratification you have for having something you didn’t think you’d actually own considering the circumstances. And so I perch there. Like a boss.
It’s frivolous. And I don’t want to make this piece into that kind where you experience something remotely gratifying and then you suddenly have this epiphany; have these life-changing outlooks. I could also turn this happenstance into a metaphor. How the purchase of an item and cherishing the very idea of propriety can be likened to appreciating whatever you have because not everyone can be as privileged.
I could also babble on endlessly on every minutia of little incidents that would normally look paltry but surprisingly very rapturous when experienced in different scenarios. I could talk nonsensically about those stray toms lazily napping in the fire exit and how I feel this instant bond with them because they make me see a bit of home, of our very own cat who pompously walks around the house and idles slothfully without a worry about tomorrow.
It is a constant pursuit of the familiar, of the feeling of security, and that rare moment when it feels like you’re really that capable to take care of yourself—these that give those surprising tugs of comfort. Those heartwarming emotions that could give you a glimpse of home, though how fleeting the moments are.
Then again, it boils down to that realization. That to remain levelheaded in this place where you know there is no Mama to run to or your very own room to seek refuge to, you have to make the most of every experience, no matter how inconsequential these might be. Pat yourself on the back at even the pettiest accomplishments, smile at the direst of situations, and be fanatically positive despite all the odds.
I happen to be finding my ultimate weaknesses when I decided to travel away from home. I begin to discover my most vulnerable points. It’s far from easy to deal with these considering the situation. Getting reacquainted with the very essence of appreciation, contentment and humility had to happen the difficult way. I had to be in the midst of the unfamiliar, of solitude and disturbance to realize these things. But then again, it might just be because of that secondhand couch—that plush, leather couch that tauntingly reminds me of home.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 17, 2012.