No brunch out for me today, because I didn’t get my butt out running this morning. So I’m imposing it upon myself to eat whatever is at home. Which didn’t turn out very well either, because I has instant pancit canton noodles, chocolate, cookies, nuts, and bottled sardines. Eating healthy is the furthest thing from my inclinations.
Anyway, I’m finally clearing up my desktop, littered with a bajillion mini icons, after a year and two months of living in New York. I haven’t touched it since I arrived, but just piled on new files on the old, like when I was applying for jobs. And now, I’m taking out the old, useless things, to make more space, and to have order. This is my way of saying that yes, I’m here. It’s a realization that’s been slow in the coming.
It shouldn’t surprise me anymore that I’m here, but I can’t help feeling like being here for just three months, and still a stranger. For the larger part, I feel right at home with the rest of the foreigners that have found themselves a little corner in this city of many pockets. I enjoy discovering who I am on my own, coming into myself as an adult. Not because I disliked being at home, but because this is what home prepared me for. This is the way it should go. I love the space to breathe, to meet new people, to think, and to be vulnerable. It’s similar to the feeling of going to the University of the Philippines back in Manila, where I felt so much more at home than I ever felt back in high school, but a level up. Smaller communities present a unique intimacy and comfort, but it can also be stifling and suffocating. Everyone had their nose in everybody else’s business, and even in the little things, like innocently having coffee with someone of the opposite sex, would be escalated into something more, in gossip that spreads quicker than wildfire. I don’t miss that at all.
What makes me feel like a stranger are things like the dating culture, the different dynamic in friendships, and how I pronounce some words in english. I’ve still only ever held hands with a guy, contrary to the exciting sex lives of people my age, and younger. People here are good at acting amiable and friendly, but it’s hard to tell if they really want to be friends, or if they’re just being polite. In social and work settings, I feel the need to put on an extroverted Americanized persona of myself sometimes, which I’m merging (?) with the side of myself that’s always been more assertive, generally friendly, and just needs practice in articulation. Thankfully, New York is full of foreigners, so I’m not alone in this feeling of belonging, but not quite.
Recently, friends and family in Manila have been hitting up the other southeast Asian countries, and I wish I could be with them. Should’ve travelled more while I was there! In any case, a good friend recently asked the question I’ve failed to answer since last year: Barby, when are you coming home? Are you there for good?
I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. To answer the question: I don’t know how long I’ll be here in New York, but I don’t see myself going back to Manila.
I hope to visit by the end of the year, but I don’t see myself moving back to Manila. Manila will always be where I’m from, but truthfully, I hardly felt like I belonged. My restlessness back then was partly because of feeling stagnant/suffocated/this song, and it drove me crazy when I couldn’t push it to the back of my mind. New York doesn’t feel like home home either. I didn’t even want to live here, and I don’t see myself here for the long haul. But for now, New York is where I live. Life may surprise me, but right now, this is the setting to my story.