Monday, April 9, 2012

coming home: thank you, manila

Sunset, Manila Bay & city traffic.

I prescribe to the saying: "home is where the heart is."

Well, this little heart of mine has been on the move. Literally and figuratively. So the term "home" has been relative for the last year now. It has been a rented space in Boracay; my sister's couch in Brooklyn, NY; a yoga mat in Seattle; an attic in Bellingham, Washington; an old couch in my mother's new apartment in Los Angeles; a rooftop studio in Mysore, India; and several beds that new and old friends lovingly fluffed up for me between California and Hong Kong.

For the last two months, home has been where I parked most of my stuff before I went on this journey-with-no-end-in-sight nearly a year ago, my family house in the southern suburbs of Manila. In my twenties, I lived in this house from time to time, sometimes for months at a time, maybe even a year once or twice. After returning to the Philippines as an adult, I lived in Manila for 7 years in all, before moving to Boracay 5 years ago.

So, it's been an interesting time. With the quality of "coming home" that you don't get when you're couch surfing. I'm in my old room, surrounded by things I hardly remember owning and a closet of clothes that seem to harken back to different lives, different incarnations of me. And all around me, an entire household is pulsating at a different rate that I'm used to. It is in their heart that my own temporarily takes refuge as I navigate a city that I used to know so well.

The truth is everything changes. People change. The city has changed too, though it's spirit continues to be a combination of the sweet easy-going life and total and absolute chaos all rolled into one hot urban heap of a traffic jam.

I have changed too. Though coming home has really helped me realize how much.

Perhaps, that is what home--as in our places of origin--is: the yardstick of our lives, in which we can measure out how much we've grown and what things really matter to us. Where we can compare our present height against our old selves. Where we can test our abilities to helm through old patterns that might seem very natural in that place. Or where we can be tested by old friends and family who are used to seeing us a certain way.

I have a lot to be grateful for during this last homecoming: my father's swift recovery from dengue, the opportunities to share with the city's blossoming yoga community, and the chance to reconnect with family and friends. Still, one of the greatest gifts of coming home is perspective. Thank you, Manila, I see.

Next stop, Boracay...

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