One night earlier in the week, I agreed to meet up with a friend-by-association to have dinner of Belgian mussels, racks of lamb, stoemp and fruit beers. It was one of those polite courtesy dinners that came as a result of the “we need to get together and catch up” line — those that we always say but rarely mean. The dinner was set a good week prior and I had doubts as to how long we can keep a conversation going without hitting any brick walls of awkwardness. I have never hung out with her without my sister present, who happens to be our binding glue. As a matter of fact, she's my sister's really good friend. And because I am my sister's sister, by association, that makes me her very good friend too. Second helpings of logic, anyone?
“See? I think that you and I are more alike than me and your sister is,” she said with a flourish as she took a dainty sip of her beer.
I almost choked on the pesto-covered mussel that was trying to make its way down my esophagus. “Excuse me?” I asked. “How did you derive that conclusion?”
“Because even though your sister is seemingly the stronger one being the oldest one in the family, she actually is quite emotional and harbors attachments to certain things and people,” she explained. “And we're not like that. We're very independent and free from those.”
I still don't get it though.
She must have seen the confused look in my eyes because she prodded on. “Like, for instance, you're the type of person who would consider the place you're currently living in as home,” she retorted. “Most people only consider the place where they were born or grew up in as home even though they're living somewhere else. And haven't gone 'home' in a while.”
My god, she sussed this out of me within half an hour? “Really?” I asked cautiously. “What makes you think that?”
“Simple,” she answered helping herself to the fries. “You referred to your house in Manila as your 'parents' house' instead of just 'home.' Why? Where is home for you?”
Good question. I don't know. And neither did I catch myself referring to my parents' house as my parents' house. Could it be one of those psychological mumbo-jumbos about the subconscious and all?
My friend seemed to have hit home within a span of that minute. And she has totally caught me off guard because admittedly, I have never gotten around to thinking about it. Where is home indeed? Better yet, when did home stop being home for me?
It would already have been a decade next year since I moved out of our house when I was seventeen. I cannot imagine where time has gone to. All I know is that within that decade (well, almost), I may have moved at least ten times. Because I moved/move a lot, I have learned to live with minimal things. Not the bare minimum, mind you, just minimal. The idea of packing up boxes and boxes of rubbish brings tears to my eyes not because of emotional and sentimental reasons, but because the idea is just so tiring and exhausting. The more I moved, the more I learned about possessing just the essential stuff — and having to let go of the unnecessary baggage. After all, it isn't all the time that there will be someone to help you with your baggages — and I meant that both literally and figuratively. Pun intended!
I may be the typical girl having too much make-up, too many shoes and an excessive amount of clothes in my possession, but I assure you that when push comes to shove, I can be out of this apartment within two hours carrying everything that is important for me to live on and actually survive on. Sure, I have the token heirlooms, jewelry pieces and critical documents that I can't afford to lose, but other than that, I can leave everything behind.
I learned that though not everything is replaceable, there are many things that are. And we agonize so much about the complications that we have in our lives when in truth, zoom out to see the bigger picture, and it's actually very simple. If you want something to happen, do it whilst only taking what you need. Anything in excess will just kill the journey because it will gobble up extra energy and resources. When you get there, you can always build your home all over again. Until the next one comes along, that is. Then you do everything all over again — maybe with a little bit more to bring, maybe less. It depends. Who knows, one day you may just hit your final destination where you can build your home for one last time.
I know I will always have a home at my parents' house. However, I could no longer call it my home because I'm not there often enough to dress the place with my soul. It was my first home and it will always serve as my launching pad for my subsequent homes. And wherever I decide to build my current home at, I will always remember my first home because I will always take a piece of it with me. My alarm clock has traveled the world with me since I purchased it when I was eleven. It has woken me up every morning for fifteen years. It has stood on numerous bedside tables and it has survived many seasons. My home is where that alarm clock is.
“Ohmygod,” my friend exclaimed. “It's already ten-thirty! I think I have to go, I promised the maid I'd be home by ten.”
Honestly, where does time go when I'm not looking?
“I had fun though,” she smiled. “We really should do this more often.”
“I know. We need to get together again and catch up,” I said.
And this time, I meant it.