I once belonged to Manila where everything cool seemed to happen on a daily basis. Atleast from the eyes of This Village Girl. Tall buildings, nice big shopping malls, cozy cafes, awesome nightlife and busy streets. Dreams for this village girl. Then my life started to become a reflection of this fun. I already have them all. I was renting a place in congested Makati, doing sports after work and getting drunk with friends and colleagues every weekend before heading back to Batangas where I want to spend quality time with my brothers. Our parents are away to earn a living and to be able to send us all three in good schools. Education in Philippines is a luxury. Not everyone can afford it. We must bear the distance.
This life went on for nearly four years and I felt the pain of having something new but I can’t tell exactly. I gave the place in Makati up and chose to brave the traffic and endure the daily two to three hour commute from Batangas to Makati. I will wake up at 4:30 in the morning and leave the house at 5:30. I will sleep in the bus all the way to Makati and will feel energized to work when I reach the office. I will eat in between daily tasks and will nap during my lunch break. I will head to the bus stop right after shift to avoid the rush hour. I will nap in the bus on my way home again and will do sports before bed. This went on for few months until I decided I want change. I was bursting with so much energy.
I took advantage of my ten-day mandatory annual leaves to look for other jobs. A job offer in Malaysia came and though I wasn’t so interested, I accepted it anyway. For a breath of fresh air. A desperate act to start something new I reckon.
I didn’t expect so much change to be honest since Malaysia is just a four hour flight from Manila so it felt like I’m still in Philippines. I continued living the same life in a different country for the first few months. I felt nothing new ever took place. I’m just working, working and always working. That can’t be. I started looking for other activities and this lead me to meet new people.
I have started hanging out with people who don’t speak my language. I have heard beautiful stories that tickled my imagination. I ate dishes I will not normally eat. Later on, I will crave for flavours I can’t even put a name on. In a way, I have started having this voice in my head to see them for myself but I always had the fear to start. How and where will I start? I will excitedly gush about this to my friends and we have promised to try it together sooner but our schedules never allowed it. I can’t wait forever. I just can’t. Anymore. I suddenly have new dreams and these dreams can’t wait.
I explored Malaysia like a maniac that I can even walk around it with my eyes closed. Needless to say I fell in love with it. Everything felt cheaper allowing me to enjoy life here more. Public transportation system was so good it made me to always be on the move. Like Manila, it started feeling like a comfort zone that even I have almost seen the entire continent, it’s not enough. I wanted more and I felt unstoppable.
I packed my bags, booked the flight and left.
Yes. I didn’t say goodbye.
How do we say goodbye to places we called home?
How do we move on?
How do we start embracing new cities where everything spells uncomfortable?
How can we say we are homesick when we don’t know (yet) where home is?
How bad do we want our dreams to come true and what are we willing to sacrifice to get them?
How many bridges are we willing to burn? How many bridges are we willing to cross?
Honestly, I don’t know how to write about Malaysia without shedding tears; without this heavy feeling in my heart that every time I will feel discomfort, I want to fly back.
Malaysia, I haven’t thanked you yet for true friends that turned to family outside our home, for introducing new and different tastes to my taste buds and new-found love for learning about languages and cultures.
I didn’t say goodbye because you didn’t matter. I didn’t say goodbye because I didn’t know how.
You made me realize that there’s a completely and magical world outside your equally beautiful self. You made me think of not wasting anymore time. Now is the perfect time. You made me leave all the judgments I have before I entered your door. You made me feel more alive. You made me ready for the world. You made me dream a new dream I never thought I will at this age. I miss you more than I miss home. But where is home? You made me feel that I can be home anywhere. You made me even stronger than I thought I already was.
The best days of my life started happening when I welcomed you in my life. I am not the same girl who cried a river when she can’t fit the mountainous clothes and the nearly hundred pairs of shoes into her allowed 30 kilogram- luggage.
Malaysia, how dare you change me but thank you so much! I’m so glad I plunged into your unknown world.
I didn’t say goodbye not because you didn’t matter. I didn’t say goodbye because I didn’t know how to. I didn’t say goodbye because I know it is not goodbye. I am just not sure when I will see you again. All I know is that you are my comfort zone but I need to grow more. After all, you’re my home. I will come back for sure and who knows, might stay for good.