It Wasn't That Bad After All
Finally the day arrived. The day I'm going to leave the town where I grew up, I'm leaving with my dad and my younger brother and head back to Bulacan where we have been staying for the meantime while we are taking care of our immigration papers. Now everything is ready and taken care of for our flight tomorrow. It was a gloomy day. Seems like the weather knows how I exactly feel. I just don't want to show it. I'm tough, I keep on telling myself. I don't want anybody to notice that I am sad. I should be happy. And I am happy because at last I'm going to see my mom again and live with her. But you know there's just this feeling that lingers, gnawing on some part of my heart about the friends I am going to leave behind, everything is going to change. And there's this thought if I am going to be ok?
But my younger brother wasn't as good as me in hiding his emotion. I could tell his sad. Sitting on the wooden bench in front of our neighbor's small store with his heavy backpack, he lifted his gaze from the ground as one neighbor across the street approaches.
"Just stay here Jhon. There would be no rice field in San Diego like we have here where you can fly your kite." Aunt En said, smiling at my brother. She wasn't really our aunt or relative. It's just the way we address our neighbors. After not getting any response from my brother, she went on and sat across the other bench and started chit-chatting with the store owner. A few others joined in and sat with us as we waited for a bus going to the pier. And when we saw an oncoming bus, my dad prepared the case and all other heavy bags that's filled with all the important things. Everyone told us how they are going to miss us and bid their goodbyes. They promised they will going to look after our house that we are going to leave behind.
It was a long trip as always and was already dark when we arrived to my uncle's place. It was just another normal night, spending the rest of it with our relatives whom we are staying with. My brother and I listen as my dad and the rest sings the karaoke and chit chats while having a few glasses of beer. After this night, who knows when will this happen again? I can't sleep that night. My last night in my country. Tomorrow evening I would be in a new place. In a new land where my mom is waiting for us. I am excited to see her. But I'm worried and sad at the same time thinking about things I have to endure in that strange land. Would I have friends? If I went to school, I would feel like an outcast. Maybe I would be a target for bullying like those I saw on some movies. I don't like the feeling as I imagine what would be my first day of school like. I could see myself lost, trying to find where I need to be at, students looking at me as if there's something wrong with me. And what if I can barely understand them? I don't know how to ride the bus. What if I look like a stupid lost girl? That would be so embarrassing.
I was up before dawn the following day. Well, I and my younger brother had been told to get ready early as we are going to stop by to another relative. We are going to spend the last few hours there before our flight. They are going to drive us to the airport as my uncle whom we stayed for the night has work and is unable to drive us. And before we left, of course there's the hugging and endless instructions of elder relatives for me and my brother. I can remember my auntie as she hugged me and she did a good job stopping herself from crying.
"Take care of your mom, ok? Cook for her once in a while and let her try our recipe for sauteed mung beans," she said managing a smile then looked up, trying to stop a tear from her eyes. I know my aunt was trying her best not to as it shouldn't be a sad goodbye. Then off we went to my other uncle where we spent the rest of our remaining hours. I walked with my aunt and cousin to a famous bakery and they bought some goodies for my mom.
That afternoon, they drove us to the airport and as fast as we had spent our last few hours with them, the next morning I was in a new soil. It feels as if I was in a new planet but I was as excited and happy with my dad and my younger brother when we saw mom waiting for us. That's one of the happiest moment in our lives.
Today as I sat on the floor flipping pages of photos of our first day in American soil, I can't help the faint smile as I imagine how I was back then, scared. I slowly got over the homesickness. I had survived the dreadful first day on school. I learned how to ride the bus and trolley though I felt like hundreds of drums were playing in my chest the very first time I did it. I got over my phobia of driving on the freeway. And sometimes when I have to do something for the first time, like going to an unfamiliar place and the butterflies started to fill in, with my mind playing unwanted thoughts on me, I would remember all this things and how it turned out to be alright. You see, it wasn't that bad and the frightful scenarios are all in my head. It wasn't that bad after all.