“I believe that one can never leave home. I believe that one carries the shadows, the dreams, the fears and dragons of home under one’s skin, at the extreme corners of one’s eyes and possibly in the gristle of the earlobe.” – Maya Angelou
This was Maya Angelou’s disagreement with Thomas Wolfe’s “You Can’t Go Back Home.” I seem to agree with Wolfe. I left home three and a half years ago, and I know that coming back will never be the same again.
I separated from my home: I always felt like the concepts ‘home’ and ‘self’ were a whole, but still two separate entities independent of each other. I left what has been the one and only home for me. To this day, it is still a touchy subject. (Or maybe because I am just an emotional creature.)
I had to disengage, be unattached, with all that was familiar – the crow of rooster wakening the entire street in the mornings, my friends, the currency that I used, the almost unwarranted smiles and sighs I share with strangers on lines and on my daily commute home, nilalakong taho sa umaga, and many, many others (most of which I can’t literally nor figuratively translate in English). All these were a part of me, but without me, life goes on. It’s neither sad nor unhappy; it’s just a fact. Life keeps moving on – with or without you, with or without me.
I hate numbers in as much as I hate starting sentences with “I.” But I do it anyway. As a matter of fact, all seven or however many paragraphs this entry has will start with “I.” And that’s how we survive. We think we do not like or can’t possibly come into terms with things until we do them, until we break our own rules ourselves. When I moved, I disagreed with all the idea of it until I’ve finally known – gotten used to – how to add days apart and coexist in a different time zone; always in contrast but still in conjunction with the life back home. Life that I left and life that goes on: again, with or without me.
I have been here almost four years and yet, I somehow still can’t call it home. It is home, but it’s never just a whole concept anymore. I couldn’t recall how many times I felt nearly depressed, and again, I am sure that all stories of immigration weave into the same thread. Leaving and going; leaving and going. It is much more than being physically disengaged with your familiarity to people – you think of your soul mates, friends, family and spirituality that you’ve attached with ‘home’ – you all are one piece: a whole. But truth is, you are different entities. You travel in time, you step on a new land and you no longer move in the same dimension. You are your own, and their life goes on. You move parallel to each other, like two trains that never coalesce. Two trains with different destinations. If you stop, life goes on – with or without you, with or without me.
In three years I moved three times, and now that I think about it, I probably wallowed in sadness because I always thought that I was the one life was leaving behind. When you’re away, you romanticize everything you think you have left behind – you think that the red tail lights during that three hour commute back home is magic, even though you’re only really traveling 20 miles which could have taken 20 minutes. You suddenly want heavy traffic, unbearable heat, the noise from all the impatient drivers, horns and all the pollution that makes you want to not inhale the change of your current home. You suddenly crave for rain and see the droplets on your car shining in dim, yellow lights from traffic all around you.
I probably wallowed in sadness because only now do I realize that despite live moving on without me, I actively chose to have mine going, only in an alternate world. Because that’s how most things are: we choose them to be.
I wasn’t part of the cultural experience with people who grew up here when I moved; I felt empty. I wanted people to know my story, to hear me, to know me. I wanted people around me to feel compelled to my flashbacks of the reality back home — overthinking not knowing how to make people relate to me and find that common point.
I couldn’t agree more with Thomas Wolfe. You just can’t go back home. Moving feels like you’ve been uprooted – no matter how beautiful your new jar is, you’d always have a desire for your old place, the same exact rays of sunshine that glowed in the morning. Moving feels like you’ve been replanted – because the old pot can no longer bear enough water for you and your roots continue to spread. And you just can’t seem to grow, or you refuse to bloom under the same light in a different place.
Moving feels like demystifying that certain glow books have in a shelf when they’re together. Or when a certain piece of furniture or jewelry look so beautiful in store under a certain light all together – but when you take that piece home, the beauty disappears and all of a sudden it does not match your wood, that necklace doesn’t match your dress or you suddenly just don’t feel like reading that book and its pages aren’t as glorious as you thought they would be without it in a shelf. That’s how I felt. I felt like I was a piece of puzzle dismantled and placed in a totally new set of pieces that will never fit together.
Moving brought me indescribable change. Change that was massive beyond my grasp. Change that was immensely massive beyond my grit. When I moved, I found myself feeling like a tourist. Always. No matter how much I honor my car, my job – no matter how much I honor my bills. I still feel like a tourist. It’s a good thing I guess, because being a tourist leaves so much room for wandering, for wondering. Life goes on. My life goes on.