Wednesday, August 10, 2011

one island to another

When I think of island, I usually think of sand, of crystal clear water, of coconut trees, of fresh mango shakes which are a year round specialty in the tropics. I think of the 7 kilometers of beach and reef of Boracay that looks a little like a dog bone from the air. It's hard to let go sometimes of what our minds are used to.

I forget that this place is an island too. Manhattan. Brooklyn, where I am currently hanging my sarong, is a part of Long Island. But there's not much sand to speak of, the Hudson and the East River are not inviting, and--save the beautiful park oases that dot the city--the jungle here is mostly made of concrete.

Though not on purpose, I've been drawn here to visit with family and friends, I find myself going through a sort of island detox as I pause here worlds away from what is familiar.

I lived in Boracay for about five years. I guess that sort of makes me an island girl (though I'm city girl too, I grew up in Manila and Los Angeles). From Manila, its an hour south by plane and a pump boat ride from the main land. It continues to be paradise. Picture perfect. Amazing weather. The best sunsets. One easily tops the other. For many locals, it is a ritual, daily sunset worship. And each day, when the sun dips down into its watery grave, the sky becomes a different painting, nature's ephemeral artwork.

I had escaped to the island to recoup from Manila living and a rather ego-wrenching relationship (quite possibly with myself), and now, having recovered some of my old courage I feel
the need to be more a part of the world.

Leaving home, however, is not so easy. Especially when home is as insulated as a wee little island where everything is so straightforward with a community of neighbors and happy sun-drenched island people. I guess with any place where one has lived a lengthy amount of time, you get familiar with the patterns, routinary life sets in, and you become the master of your little universe.

And as I reprogram my small town island head in one of the most bustling and diverse cities in the world, I do so with bated breath. I can't help but miss friends, the beauty of the beach and the simple life. Right now it feels like I have one foot thousands of miles away in Southeast Asia, where life feels safe if not a little predictable, and one foot here, in this tangle of urban life, full of the brilliant potential of the unknown.

I've come this far, the first leg of a year of travel, intentionally seeking out adventure. And here it is. Though I can't help but cower a little,
I also see the task at hand. I've already moved. My things are in storage. So now I have to let go, to relinquish the expectations that are linked to the past. That back foot has to come forward. And all of me has to be more present, here, now, so that I can fully dive into the mystery of the great whatever out there in store for me. For this is what I wanted. And, ultimately, I am the only one that is holding myself back.

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