I’m never sure how to answer the question, “Where is home?”
I was born in a tiny family clinic along a road called, Dr. A. Santos Ave., in Parañaque City, Manila. I stayed with my parents at my father’s family home nearby. I played with the other kids down the street, went to the same schools as them, and chewed gum while laying on top of the neighbor’s sedan, cloud-watching. I have very fond memories of helping my uncle make props for his shows, and taking care of his dogs that seemed to come and go. I also have a special place in my memory for the first year my sister came to be. Was that home?
When I was 8, my parents suddenly packed our luggages and we flew off to a foreign land that I didn’t even know existed. A small island called ‘Singapore’. We shared a 3-bedroom apartment with strangers in a condo called, The Bayshore. I have very fond memories of playing with the kids there at some of the best playgrounds I had ever seen and swimming in big pools. I remember when I started with my violin classes and how I loved to practice in the living room because of the echo. I also loved the floor-to-ceiling window that got completely covered with white smoke when it was fumigation day. My father would joke about spotting the Care Bears outside. Was that home?
Every 2 years we moved from one apartment to the next, each rental getting smaller and smaller each time. Thankfully, the country was small and I didn’t have to change schools constantly.
When I started secondary school, I was alone. I didn’t know anyone, and I didn’t have any contact with my primary school classmates. Social media wasn’t as big before, nor was having a phone before the age of 12. I eventually managed to squeeze in a handful of friendships, and have many fond memories of the times we spent together, good and bad…and even the ugly. Most days I stayed back after dismissal just for fun. I often attended random events and concerts just so I would have an excuse to eat out or hang out with friends. I often thought of school as my other home. But was that home?
2 years before I would graduate from this 6-year program, we had to move back to Manila. My initial reaction was, “Yay, I get to go home”, but when I got back, I was even more lost than before. I kept regular contact with a couple of friends from before, but it waned in and out as any normal friendship does. Through this period, I developed a habit of writing down ideas or epiphanies throughout the day to, hopefully, do when I’m bored. It helped me cope with the loneliness and isolation. Was this not home?
When I started school again, we rented tiny apartments again, but this time they were even smaller and we moved every year. Last year we bought our own little condo unit to reduce the hassle of moving. And although the place is quite welcoming and home-y, and we’re all still together, is this really home?