- Academic Departments
- Et al. Journal
- Volume VI: In My Own Words 2016/2017
- A Wanderer Finding His Way Home
A Wanderer Finding His Way Home
I stepped off the giant¬ metallic bird, and for the first time ever, I could finally breathe. A clear night on March 31st, the fresh dryness of LAX was different compared to Manila's stuffy atmosphere. Each step I took away, I felt the doors of my former home close behind me. The feeling of home was a dead carcass stranded in the middle of a desert. I was uncomfortable and cautious. Only one small hop down the final stair and we were here at last: the United States, "the land of endless possibilities" and our new home.
Life in Manila was a story of caring and hardship; it was my home, my community. The city was burning up in a hotbed of urban poverty. The streets were filled with minds, each with their own unique story. There was always a dark cloud in the sky. Individual towns had their own library of superstitions. The houses were cramped, yet cozy and intimate. A small home with three stories in the heart of Manila was inhibited by two hard working parents, who were rarely present, three toddlers, and three nannies. The kids' bedroom had a bed in the center and a wooden bunk bed with patterns that looked like eyes on the sides. The room gave a sense of comfort and joy. Our playroom, filled with drawers and boxes of toys, was a magical kingdom where I could get lost and turn into the King of Middle Earth or Darth Vader's new apprentice. In addition, the kitchen was a delight. Different aromas of pork adobo, fried fish, chicken tosino, longanisa, salmon sashimi, and rice were streaming in different hours of the day, making me want to devour each dish. Furthermore, the small classroom down the street where I learned the alphabet and discipline was big to me. My strict teacher taught well, but with a price. She was a small and stubby woman with the biggest mole I have ever seen right in the middle of her right cheek. Her short, crusty hair made it look as if she had not bathed in weeks. Fun was limited, play was limited, talk was limited. As we were dismissed, I wouldn't see my parents, but my nanny at the end of the hall. I would be in relief, feeling as if I had just left a prison but it felt just right. Each day, the hazy air hit me like a brick wall. It was hot. Sticky. Sweaty. Searing heat every single place I went. Opening a door to enter a building was an oasis in a desert. The tasty ube ice cream sandwich was cold to the tongue yet soothing for the body. There was no escape; the world that I knew was isolated and surrounded by deep blue water. The atmosphere felt comfortable, this was the only place I knew, and it was home.
I was five. Dryness in the California desert filled the air around me. It was unusually too easy to breathe. I felt it on my skin, in my hair, and in my lungs. In the distance, the hills looked like the layers of a chocolate cake. Cloud¬like frosting topped the cake, and the layers of chocolate darkened towards the bottom. The sky was a light blue touch and scattered with feathery clouds that looked as edible as cotton candy. Never have I felt a cool ocean breeze in my life. Small trees overflowed with orange polka dots lined in perfect rows as if together they were a long marching band. Tiny buildings closed together with roofs changing in height like a modern favela filled my view. Across a five lane, concrete bridge was where I lived for two years. It was a beige apartment in Loma Linda, but it was my "home." My family slept in one room on a bunk bed, a twin bed, and an air mattress. The other room was for our work and play. We worked hard for what we wanted. Not everything came wrapped up in a package with a bow on top. Working hard was a requirement. However, we never had to work. Whenever I wanted Frodo's Sting or a Clone helmet, I got it. Despite that, an unusual vibe struck the back of my head like a rear-¬end collision. A vibe that I have never felt before. The feeling of home was a pile of brown leaves that left their branch, taken by a pair of hands, and burned in a fire. This did not feel like home.
I was nine. The sky in Dublin was as pale as the bucket of white paint in Mr. Cross' art class, coinciding with streaks of orange, red, purple, and a bright, yellow circle due east. Ohio was a plain that convinced me that the world was flat and if I went too far, I would fall off the map. The lyrics of Chris Daughtry's "Home" was on replay on my iPod. At nine years old, the feeling of home was still absent. My father warned, "Sometimes there are old ladies that sit in front of our house and smoke." My gut turned upside down because my own home did not make me feel comfortable. A feeling of intimidation swarmed my body like bees guarding their honey. Our journey ended with an ivory idol as an award. The entry was a concert, its slabs of stone welcoming the fans, and a callery pear tree was the star, surrounded with green bushes that paraded the celebrity. I slowly peered through a green, wooden door. The numbers '4310' were as shiny as silverware. The aroma of synthetic cheese hit me. The feeling was cliche. I looked to the left and there was a small plastic, foldable table. Right beside of it was a counter and a small kitchen. I stepped into the building and oriented my body to the right. There was a black, 42-inch TV on the ground. My eyes shifted past a baleen plate with sunlight squeezing through just like the water would. Something unusually different was in the back corner of the room. I quickly ran towards the corner, and there was a set of steps, covered with a soft, brown rug that was almost too soft to sleep on. Up the stairs were three doorways to some sort of sanctuary. I stepped into the sanctuary and there was some type of air mattress covered with a rose sheet pressed against a white wall. I looked outside a rectangular window while the same yellow circle was setting, wanting to hide behind a row of ivory apartments.
"I guess this is it. This is our new home," my father said. He still possessed a heavy Filipino accent and finally had a hospital to work in, stood close to me and smiled as I gazed through the empty street. I remember thinking, how many times have I heard that? I've been in four different homes and I've heard the same sentence, "This is our new home." I didn't trust it. I was upset. It felt like it's been too many times.
I was thirteen. The wind chill in Dublin was below freezing on a quiet night on Christmas Eve. I stood on the end of a slanted, concrete driveway. I was looking at a masterpiece, a work of art. Adobe, titanium, and tan colored stones were randomly pressed on the foundation of a home while rows of wooden boards were lightly stacked and slanted down. I walked in a door that was newly painted in dark wood. The new home had a faint smell of dry paint and wood. That night, the same smell of fresh salmon and the strong, tangy smell of wasabi were eager to enter my nostrils. I took a quick bite. I realized that this was it. I was finally home again. After thirteen years, a wanderer finally ended his journey. The bright green leaves on a branch bloomed and the wanderer finally found his home.