All pictures taken on December 26, 2013.
Twenty thirteen is the year I left San Francisco. This is the third time in three years that I’ve moved; only never finding home. I have always thought of Manila as home, but at this point I don’t know where home is yet or anymore at all—but I’ve always home with family and Manila will always have its home in me.
My thoughts were always consumed by thoughts of then home, what used to be, and my indifference toward the beauty of the new city I was in. I did not live in the city itself, but I always think I do/did. Because true enough, I was mesmerized by all the glory of its air, its bridges and its lovely, lovely people; but I was never absorbed by its way of thinking. Probably because I felt intimidated by the idea of loving this foreign land or I was scared of betraying my illusion of exclusive nationalism. Or I was scared to make mistakes.
My mind was always someplace else, I never exactly knew where, but I was unhappy.
Its fastness scared me—I felt like I was running out of time yet my life was going too slow, I felt stuck. I was always planning and dreaming, yet I saw all my ideas always in reality with someone else, or something else.
It was this city that let me have my longest days, where todays proved to only bring more difficult tomorrows. And in between commutes, I always questioned why I settled for what I accomplished before I moved to SF. Why did I not travel to as many provinces that I could; why did I not study harder; why did I not listen to live bands more; why did I not pray harder; why did I not create more things to look back and be happy about. I thought about these questions until my bus approached, or until my train stopped to the station.
I would Skype with my sister on a daily basis and bug my friends to not go offline. I only sincerely felt happy when I had food, and when I watched shows which characters thought in the same first language I did. I dreaded every phone call asking how I was doing, what internship was I doing, was I getting paid, was it a real job, would I consider going back to school for nursing, and so on. I deliberately cried when I thought of nothing else to do–looked at old photos; thought of family and old age; it was comforting to have to cry, because what could be worse after that?
It lasted for a while until I fell into a monotony after long wanting to not go through the daily existential mechanisms that I felt this world required me to do. I waited for my phone alarm to go off, I waited for the shower to turn hot, then blow dried my hair otherwise I’d freeze. I got used to the daily wait to the bus stop, my walk to the train, and my train walk to my office and back. I’ve gotten used to it, like if I thought I was a cat. I’d eat twice a day, sleep the entire midday and wait for my humans to come home – I’d tell my dad that I felt life was just repeating itself. Repetitive, and he asks me; whose isn’t?
This city was so beautiful to my eyes and it had beautiful people. It gave me long, long stretches of silence and acquainted me to start thinking in its language. Today I fully realize that people come and go, and this year I have not given up on reaching out to people just as I hope they would not on me, but I’ve given up on making myself available to those who do not value my friendship. Today I fully realize there is no point in being hesitant to changes, reluctance will only pull me into a blackhole of hopelessness; and this year I have not given up on my past, but I’ve given up on holding back and letting this universe’s system swallow me whole.
I’d still need the long stretches of quiet and silence, I wish for her to come and go, but I can only be grateful to those long, long days that allowed me to think and write. Since I’ve moved to a less prettier place, I smiled more often; I hated small talk a little less, and I have seldom quipped any reference to Manila when something, anything, was brought up. I’m no longer searching one-way tickets back and wish into the abyss that people from here would not notice my absence although I still badly need and want to book a roundtrip ticket.
Here in on I’d be dreaming more of pastel and wooden books in antique bookshelves, of dusty typewriters and ambiguous furniture. Perhaps in a future city as beautiful as these pictures I would be writing with lavender macarons about Northern Lights. Twenty fourteen could only be better.
This seems like a sad post, but 2013 is wonderful. This is the year I had my first full time job; achieved most items on https://elliscatherine.wordpress.com/2011/12/; spent more time with and understood family more; saw my brother after two long years; landed on more airports than I ever have, explored New York by myself, saw what could be the most astonishing building I’ve ever seen (US Capitol). And so on.