The last few weeks of my journey were a combination of waves trying to go away from the scary ocean but always find themselves housing to diverse creatures. I somehow feel like my journey is coming to an end thinking that traveling alone for 10 months is enough and that I can not afford to continue. “So what now, Haze? Are you going back home? Are you ready? Do you feel excited?,” I asked myself.
Most people might think that I have a booming bank account to support a life of travel, to go from places to places. To tell you honestly, no. I am not a kind of person who’s from the upper class and I don’t have a family who supports me. And even if I were, I kid you not, I make my own ways to survive.
“Ewan ko ba! Kaya mo namang kumita nang malaki kung mag stay ka sa ‘Pinas. Ang tali-talino mo. Ang galing galing mo. Bumalik ka na tapos magtravel ka na lang from time to time.” (I don’t know! You can earn so much if you choose to stay in the Philippines. You’re so intelligent. You are so good. Go back then travel from time to time.)
A friend of mine told me that when I tried to open up that I was having a hard time. I honestly did not know how to react. That’s one of the reasons why I left in the first place – not to be confined to the conventional things as I mentioned when I wrote to my younger self.
Most of the travelers I met in this journey can share information and experiences about the places they’ve been with soaring energy and enthusiasm. And then you try to bring “going home” topic up and the shift will never go unnoticed. From that high energy to a calm but tensed vibe. It’s like the calm before the storm with the silence followed by the dark covering their faces to lightning and thunders and to the actual hurricane of breaking down.
Whenever I think about going back to my home country, I get a feeling of breaking down accompanied by loads of anxieties. To be fair, I don’t mind going back but that should better mean passing by and leaving again soon. Traveling alone can be scary but the truth is, I am more scared of going home.
The firsts on the list is the fact that I come from a place where gossips are part of daily life, where fake news go in trends, where false patriotism and blind following are a thing, where tv personalities turn to politicians and vice versa, where sex education is not understood and accepted by many, where women are expected to act in very certain ways, where being professional and personal merge in a blurred line, where social status is a very important matter that some people get stuck not pursuing what they really desire, etc.
Second is that I have been away from the Philippines for just 10 months. With this very short time, I met a lot of people from different walks of life and understood different cultures. I met people who travel alone, with family, with friends – some to find themselves, some to find other people, some to see places, discover food and culture, some just want to just escape from their “normal” lives. The fact is I have so many reasons why I left the Philippines and more reasons why I don’t wanna go back yet.
I always say that I am no traveler. Escapist is what I am – I escape from stress, norm, certainties, and imbalance. Roaming around alone has changed me. I was always open and straightforward but back home, I just couldn’t do it anytime because the society will tell you that some things are not to be discussed even if I personally believe that they should be. Some things get malicious because we put malice onto them. Some things get unacceptable to be discussed because we don’t talk about them. I felt like I was confined and I couldn’t be myself and the “life of travel” made me more of myself.
I am a changed person now. The same but different. My wardrobe (my backpack) had changed. The number of footwear I have decreased immensely. I eat differently now (though I miss Filipino food at times). I am not a snob as I was before. The way I speak and the choices of words had changed. When I was still home, I was scared to be completely myself. Can you imagine how terrifying it is for me to think of going home being actually who I really am?
So do I ever feel excited whenever I think about going home? NO. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Philippines. I have accepted the yins and yangs of my country while still hoping for the better. In fact, I always get pumped up talking about the beauty of places and people we have (people I met can testify to that). It’s true, “It’s not you, Philippines. It’s me.” I can not be my true self in my “home”.
So what now, Haze? Are you going back home? Are you ready? Do you feel excited?
First of all, where is home? Because I have made myself my own home. And to answer the questions, no. At least, not now.
No matter how I hate planning, I always come up with contingency plans whenever I come to a point where going back seems to be the next and only choice. I miss the Philippines but I just know that I can always go back when I am ready which I am not at the moment. No matter how difficult it is being away and sustaining this kind of life, I will still choose this. (If you’re waiting for my choice). Because going back home is scarier than being away.
I really miss you, Philippines, but I think it is important to have this cool-off stage. But remember, I always love you.