– Originally created on 08/09/2006-
I had never appreciated home the way I did after I packed my bags and left, and perhaps when I finally return one sweet day, it will be harder for me to leave again.
I left home almost two years ago for work. Well, I never really left it, I just spend five days working away from the city I grew up in, then traveling back to my hometown on weekends on a two-hour bus commute. A few months before my twenty second birthday, I remember how I had packed my stuff in a state of unusual optimism. I was trained to be self-governing in character, being the oldest in a brood of three, and I felt that subsisting in the recently chartered city of Malaybalay in Bukidnon where city traffic and shopping malls are nonexistent would be as easy as pie. The lifestyle congestion of a thriving city like my hometown in Cagayan de Oro can be quite a nuisance that I easily welcomed the thought of a simpler life, so simple that one could hear the pine trees rustle their needles during breezy nights and anywhere within the town proper is just a short walk away.
For all the poetic romanticism I had reserved for this new place however, I was soon shoved face first in a position I hadn’t really counted on. It turned out I was the only young female in a workplace dominated by five twenty-something males whose language and antics got fouler each passing day. They were fond of swearing, for one, and it came as naturally to them as breathing. They would talk of girls and sex nonchalantly, as if I myself were not from Eve; and being the newest addition and the only female in the office, could very easily take offense from such brash talk. Simple minded and insensate as they are, they would comment on the size of my chest, the shape of my buttocks, and would even go to the lengths of asking me something as personal as my own virginity. One officemate had this unabashed habit of relating his sexual encounters of the previous night, whether anyone in the office asked for a recount or not.
Sure, there have been good days and after a while, in a very odd way, we have all become better acquainted but being in their company has taught me to simply accept people the way they are and seek out, however difficult, the lighter side of each one. It was out of my own volition that I came here, and I should learn how to hold my tongue and keep my cool, even when the feminist side of me longs to lash out mercilessly at Mr. Casanova. Oh well, since I have no one else to back me up on my arguments, lashing out at him would be futile. The rest of them would just laugh and examine me as if I were something fast forwarded from a different era.
Yes, leaving home not only meant leaving that sun-drenched house with the cozy kitchen I had known since childhood, it also meant leaving for five straight days sensible conversations with life-long friends, anecdote-filled family breakfasts, and “diet” dinners eaten while watching evening news. It meant having to do away with the perquisites I had grown to neglect over the years, like always having someone laugh at my stupid jokes, a sister who would iron my frilly blouse at the last minute, or having that particular someone fetch me from the office, hold my hand, and walk me home. And until I’ve lived my life away from the comforts which had been right under my nose, I never realized that I would actually come to prefer a humble tomato omelet lovingly prepared by Mom than one ordered from some fancy café.
Almost two years and dozens of tear-stained tissues later, I have grown quite adept at turning a deaf ear to insensible remarks and to amuse myself with things I’d rather do alone. Here in this cold plateau, I have grown twice as strong-hearted and a thousandfold more grateful for the things I am now missing but have actually been blessed with my entire life. And yes, the mobile phone has become my very reliable companion, as calls from home, apart from my precious weekends, are my anesthesia in this period of psychological loneliness.
Some days I find myself wishing I could associate with people who respect women as persons, give a damn about economic or socio-political issues, and appreciate topics other than sex, women, booze, and, sex again. Some days I wish there was someone I can trade thoughts with, someone who has read the works of Gabriel Garcia-Marquez or the sensual poetry of Pablo Neruda. And funny enough, some days I even find myself missing the carbon monoxide fumes of busy Divisoria, the dirty and distracting night cafe, and the maddening after-office-hours traffic.
And whether or not the decision I made two years ago would prove to be a wise career move in the end, it doesn’t hide the truth that some days, I wish I never left home at all.