“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” — Psalm 56:8
I am finally coming home.
I can’t count how many times I’ve played this motion picture in my head. Since the past three years, I’ve been a self-help junkie. I download Jean Fritz e-books and read a page or two before I wear my red lipstick. I always submit myself to this positivity. But whenever I step into the aerobridge especially at wee hours of the morning, a voice inside me slaps me back to reality– you are far away from home, the power of positive thinking won’t save you.
But today. That voice is shut. This is my last day as a flight attendant.
If there’s one thing my mom had taught me well, it would be responsibility– that money doesn’t come out of asses and that
any job, no matter how unrewarding, is never unhandleable if the heart is inspired.
Today, my future is more uncertain than it had ever been. Nevertheless, all this fear is a gamble I am completely willing to risk.
I remember how I and my batch mates used to breathe life to the line, “the world is our oyster”. We lived, traveled, and spent money like nothing or no one else back home mattered. The only thing that mattered then was which destination we are at a given point in time. This, while young and earning, made us fall hook, line and sinker for this so called crew life.
Until my days became nothing but monotonous.
The job came back to settle accounts with me. I wanted to operate nothing else but flights home. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve pretty much completed our fleet’s destinations. It’s been 48 countries and counting. It came to a point when I drag myself out of hotel rooms just to see the majestic places offered by other lands. I beat myself up for this sin– the guilt of disparaging such wonderful opportunities and blessings.
The feat of single-mother colleagues didn’t help. When they leave their kids after 24-hour layovers, they wear reassuring smiles along with their red hats. They wave goodbye to the little ones from our coach bus and hold back their tears as the children wave back. As soon as the wheels move, their eye ducts turn open like a faucet, tears roll down their cheeks unbroken as the kids watch the bus disappear from the horizon.
It was survival of the fittest.
Everything around me, the big and mundane, I find painful. I see airports as earth’s version of hell. It reminds me of mourning more than a cemetery can. To say that traveling still gives me shivering excitement would be a bull crap of a life-time.
The weight of my homesickness never dwindled, eventually the cash payout meant less than nothing.
Had I chosen to play my cards right, I most likely would be walking from this table a richer girl. But at this point, my happiness is worth more than a few thousand Dirhams.
For the past year, I’ve been feeding my serotonin with self-help tips and daily countdowns. I even had different colors of post-its stuck all over my planner saying “a little patience more”. I don’t really need that much colors, needless to say I try. All I need is enough strength to get out of my comfort zone, this orthopedic bed that nursed me from series of depression.
I worry, too. I worry that the people back home, who still have a vision of a younger, more carefree Manila girl, won’t recognize me since I turned a lighter shade of grey. Prissier, more proper. Honed by the struggles that the Middle Eastern city life demands. I think I lost my spirits to the experience, I used to be daring and adventurous– the one who couldn’t be held down by the confines of home and unraveled herself from the city limits of Manila on a quest for greener pastures and an odyssey to find pieces of the world that can fill my once broken heart. I fear my friends would no longer identify that shining star. My glitters of sunshine are now matte with layers of sands.
To be honest, there is almost nothing left for me back home. My mom, who’s the only one I know of family, has been living in Italy for years. I have lost in touch with a lot of friends, too. They were blown by the wind like withered petals of flowers day after day. Strange to me, how one instance in time could carve such scar in my circle of friends. And each of us segregated to different social paths.
But, back home is a man named TJ – a gift God had left by the pane right exactly when everyone felt like they were all being blown out of my window.
“..all deserted me. … But the Lord stayed with me and gave me strength.” John 14:18
Although I have never really accepted the infinity of our long distance relationship, bribing other crew each month with the nicest Europe flights plus extra money for a flight exchange just to maintain our precious relationship, I realized that a wonderful side-by-side love could still grow even on Skype. It was a sweet torture. The virtual hugs, cyber wine dates, choppy laughter, getting drunk together and passing out over the digital space– those we had succeeded in loving the distance between us made us possible to sleep together whole against the sky.
I feel his love from across the miles and it keeps me going. Seriously, even if it was just hearing his voice once a day, it makes all the difference at the end of a seemingly eternal wait for Home.
I remember a friend telling me,
“There’s always a hole in your heart that only Manila could fill.”
What’s been repeatedly playing on my mind after quitting my lovely job today were those words. And in my bedroom balcony, I draw a blank face over the view of the desert, not knowing what to feel that my mission in the sand dunes has long been over. I feel I lived a fairy tale life for five years, anyway. The princess, so missed, has to be back to her little castle in her old town. After all, I used to say, a flower can’t be just tugged from the ground and expect to grow and bloom in a soil unfamiliar.
So for all of you who know me, who have heard my struggle in making a long distance relationship work, my broken record of homesickness, weep story for far too long… raise and clink your glasses with me. Today, I have finally wriggled off my fetters. I’ve wipe cleaned my flat. My bags are packed, all ready.
What I need to know about the past is that no matter what has happened, it has all worked together to bring me to this very moment, where I can choose to make everything new. The view of Manila lights from 8,000 ft when I touch down my home airport will surely make it all worthwhile.
So many, including I, fear of what remains behind the bleary door. Stuck in a crucifying routine, we wonder what would it be like to jump and slide through the realm of chances, to be there and feel the world beyond safe palisade.
Well, today my friends, I have crossed that fence. And with fervent prayers, I have faith that no matter how simple life will be, it’s going to be sunny in the pavement because at the end of the day, if God even makes skies to catch airplanes, God would surely make nets to break our fall.