Freedom, nostalgia, life
I wasn’t able to write for the past two months. It’s been so busy for me. Pascha (Easter), then the exams, and then some personal troubles. I will not elaborate on these things or it might bore you. Also, I have not written about the geopolitical trouble between Taiwan and the Philippines last month, because I am in Taiwan and it is hard to write about the situation publicly.
It is the end of my first semester as an expatriate. I have met so many different people, and I think I learned a lot more about how people behave. One thing I learned is that it is possible for a person to be outwardly free, and yet so enchained inside. Before, I never thought it was possible, because expressing love is natural where I come from, although (in the Chinese-like upbringing my father’s sisters dealt us) it was non-sentimental, cloaked in material gifts where the necessity of such gifts arises, in (unsolicited) advice, in teaching. So I was shocked to see people who are outwardly free – they mingle, they go out, they enjoy themselves – and yet unable to express friendship or love without over-thinking it. They’re not evil people, they’re kind within their limits, but it is impossible for you to get them to be honest with themselves. They fear that they would be giving themselves away so much – but this is an irrational fear because one does not know a large part of oneself, and how could one give that part away?
It is sad, and they reject you eventually, still pretending to not reject you – because in their mind, they are good people – but then you open your eyes to the world outside and see a lot of possibilities for you, and move on, because you are free inside. You love freely, and you move freely. You are sad because you care for them, but you are free to decide to love or hate, to stay or go. You say to yourself, you love them, and you have to go (not but, because that is the way love is). They drove you away of their own will, so you fly away – but out of a willing love, and not a reactive hate founded from wounded pride (or so you wish, because you’re not perfect).
Trying to recover from the rejection, I planned a lot for this summer. Taking Chinese class(es). Updating this blog. Working on my body. And going back to the Philippines, but only for eight days. I was excited about planning the itinerary last night. I wanted to spend time with my young brothers and the rest of the family. Also to go up North and buy basi vinegar – which you can even eat with rice as a viand – and some nice Ilokano inabel. And to go to Tagaytay, just be with myself.
No, I’m not homesick. Taiwan is topologically much like the Philippines, from the mountains, to the rivers, down to the cities and even the people (only the language is different, but the people behave mostly the same way) and their dwellings, and then to the seas. Their food is also similar to ours. Now I don’t miss my family so much (we Skype every two weeks, and it’s just an hour and a half by plane to Manila, within the same time zone), and any misunderstanding I get here is approximately the same amount as I used to get back in Manila. So why am I excited to go back?
There are places which for me unlock memories of the past. We all have those places, and we all long for those places, but for me these are – in the truest sense – my real home. It’s not my parents’ house, though for their sake I’ll be there with them. I’ll be going back to them whenever I go back to the Philippines. And no, it’s not because I miss my “homeland” – it’s just that maybe I have yet to find such a place in this island I’m in. And then, when I find that place here, I keep it stored in the recesses of my soul, and when it comes time to leave, it’s not to go back to Manila as if “going home”, but thence to find another place to dwell in, ever moving, but I will always remember to return to these places to find my home.
I still hurt from the rejection, but then I also feel free, so free, that no one could ever enchain me.
And I am excited to be home. Not in Hsinchu. Not in Taipei. Not even in Manila. Just “home”.