I grew up in the Pacific Northwest until 1980. My Dad died of Cancer in 1978, leaving me and my mom in Portland, Oregon, with a house and a small pension to live on. My Mom, a Filipina-Italian-American, had been living in the US for sixteen years at the time and decided that life without my Dad was too unbearable in a foreign country, so she sold our house and moved us a continent away - back to her homeland, and away from mine.
I was eleven at the time and had no say in the matter, as any child of that age does; my opinion and protests did not matter to her. She was lonely; a grieving widow with a daughter to raise. I acquiesced.
My first visit to my mother's country of birth came four months after my Dad passed away on February 20. It was my summer break. I had missed out on a lot of school since the night he died. The months following his death were a blur - for both of us. Life was sadder, scarier, simpler, without Daddy. And all of a sudden we were on a plane to go to an island I had only read about in a book called "Let's Visit the Philippines".
That being my only point of reference, I imagined a land sans cars and gasoline-powered vehicles and in their place, carabaos and tiny boats as means of transportation. I'm glad I was proven wrong!
We couldn't afford to go back to the states for yearly vacations like many Filipinos do, so we settled for one six-week trip in 1984. We were supposed to be gone for eight weeks but I got homesick. I had fallen madly in love with Manila.
In 1997, I buried my beloved mother. She suffered a massive heart attack five days before her 67th birthday. Whatever hopes I kept of ever going back to the States were crushed. But God has a way of doing the impossible and in 2006, the office sent me to LA to attend a conference.
I haven't stopped thinking about how great it felt to finally go home. Even for just a week. From then on, I've thought of nothing but going back.
song playing on my ipod: home by explosions in the sky. lovet. lovet. lovet.