Home and elsewhere

‘Beep, beep, bop’, the screen icon teases while I wait for the post template to appear. One of my earliest entries, those migrated from another blog host, was about settling back to Manila after nearly a year in Thailand. It was a conversation with colleagues from Linguistics. While I bemoaned the difficulties of learning the Thai language and playing the traditional Thai musical instrument ‘ranat’, talk strayed to settling back after months or even years overseas. Some are overcome by frustration and the general feeling of arriving yet not being fully aground. A similar predicament was raised in a recent conversation with a much younger colleague who spent a month in Gwangju and he spoke of it as ‘coming back to reality’ which is Manila. Many friends who I chanced to meet in the interim weeks I was ‘in reality’ last July and August had the same chorus of questions: ‘are you finally back’, ‘we will see you more often’ and a few other permutation of the same line.

I have been back nearly two months and when asked if I am finally back, I cannot answer with a definite ‘yes’ or ‘no’ much to the chagrin of those in a hurry and who asked out of politeness. Yes, I am back but about to leave again. There is a curious phrase I coined many years ago: perhaps one leaves to stay and in leaving there is also grounding. Or better yet, leaving is also a manner of being. Funny how life itself is profuse with references to spatial terms: a path, a trajectory, or in this case, itineraries, sometimes definite and clearly laid out or more often and preferably so, unpredictable and surprising. To be present in one yet be constantly in many places and often, be consumed by unfathomable yearning to be elsewhere; is the wandering spirit mapping its many homes.

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