Commander’s log star date August 9th, 2016.
The five year mission I have set out for is almost at its end. A homecoming is all set in place, and after a three-week shore leave, my mission will be redefined and re-evaluated. I can’t say I’m not excited for this shore leave though. I do believe it’s a well deserved, if not much needed.
I could only describe the latter half of 2011 as a sensory overdose. Everything felt disparate for obvious reasons. The air smelled differently. The air felt differently. It was like I was looking through somebody else’s eyes, or I’m experiencing malformed out-of-body experience. I remember looking at trees lining up the street, and asking myself, “Am I really here?”
I’m very thankful that two of my friends lived nearby. I’m very thankful to Sheryl who drove an hour every day (1-way) just to keep me company from the day of my arrival until the day I was ready to walk on my own. At that time I didn’t really know how troublesome that was, considering a 1-hour-drive in the Philippines is starkly different from the 1-hour drive we experience on this side of the planet. In time, I learned to estimate the distance and translate it to Philippine-traffic-distance.
I’m thankful to Ate Jo, and her family, for taking me in so many times. They were a great source of strength. Life is very complicated here. Granted, I had really lovely cousins, aunts, and uncles. But, I could never seem to connect with them. My anxiety and awkwardness exponentially grew every time I crossed over their threshold (in fact, to be honest, it still does). One uncle actually called me a freak, and that sent me off to very dark place. Just remembering it, makes me irrationally emotional. I’m used to being called weird, eccentric, strange, and even abnormal—but it never felt like an insult like that one time I was called a “freak.” I’m thankful to my friends back home who answered my desperate pleas and watched me cry because at that moment. I just couldn’t bear it.
The alienation was terrible. I never knew one could live a Kafka-esque life. I was so close to turning into a cockroach. In fact, there were long moments, when I thought I was.
And because of that the short moments of fangirl/geek bliss I was blessed with, made it all the more worth it. Maybe it was the-powers-that-be’s way of pushing me up and keeping me from completely drowning. I met H. Naoto (though his shop didn’t work out in the Bay Area). I met Amy Acker. I met the Mythbusters Trio. I met Simon Pegg, John Cho, and Alice Eve in my command uniform. I got to see Shirley Manson’s Garbage (her band, of course). I got to see Bjork. I got to see Arashi! In a concert! Within spitting distance!
And it felt like life was telling me to hang on a bit longer.
It took about two years to finally achieve the mission I was sent out for. After a numerous angry exchanges and an interstate-wide game of tug-o-war—I was able to move my mother from her deadly condition in Kentucky, to a meager-so-so condition in the Bay Area. I’m elated to see her healthy, at least as healthy as she could be. She complains about the fat, but that’s what makes her really beautiful now. Not wasting away, not looking like a 90-year-old when she’s only in her 60s.
Another two years was spent to settle down, and keep grounded. Now everything’s a routine: The work; The health-care; The writing.
In the five years, I’ve met friends who know my language and calls me freaky with complete endearment. I love them profoundly. I feel more confident. The trees don’t look too strange anymore. The air doesn’t smell too obscure. I’ve already learned to figure out when people are just being Americans, and when they’re really being rude.
One week to shore-leave … the question that has been occupying my mind— “What’s next?”