Three years ago, I remember myself standing here, looking up at the sky, nothing but the tinge of orange and red coming from the airplanes illuminating it. Hungry for freedom, the fact that countless people aboard those planes were saying their final, painful goodbyes to their family and friends in pursuit for a better life elsewhere went over my head. I was euphoric. My goodbyes weren’t painful at all.
I felt jittery. My bloodstream filled with adrenaline as our plane was speeding through the runway. I thirsted for freedom and independence, excited for a chance to say farewell to an old way of life and to turn over a new leaf.
The words uttered by my mother during that flight will always be unforgettable. “We’re blessed, you know,” she said, her voice gentle. “Most people never even get to leave this country, let alone get a chance to start anew somewhere a thousand times better.”
It seemed as if everything changed with the snap of my fingers. I was immersed into a culture that I had never even heard of before. I was amazed at how many things contrasted the way of life back at home. The people were different — they looked less haggard and more cheerful. The surroundings transformed from looking at people shrouded in poverty and misery to green, pristine nature. The language was different — I couldn’t understand a word.
Fitting in was second nature to me, and from then on it was easy. I met new people and learned new things. I began to leave the bonds of my culture and where I came from. I’m still glad that I’ve left some of the orthodox ways of home — like the intolerance — but it’s disappointing how it seems that the good qualities from the people back home have seemed to disappear from me as well.
A year passed, and I started becoming one of them. The writing that was once incomprehensible was now a language I spoke fluently. I was aimlessly living my life, like the rowdy, stereotypical teenagers that come from this once foreign place. I started feeling less unique and less like “me.” I started feeling generic and ordinary.
Maybe this was because of my parents. Leaving home, my parents started to slowly fall apart. I know that they both raised me well because of my grandfather.
“You’re a smart kid, you know that, right?” my grandad would always say. I was taught by my school teachers that my first actual teachers were my parents. It’s a shame that I can’t hear my grandpa utter the same words. His funeral was on the other side of the world.
My parents fought all the time. Sometimes, they’d fight until after midnight. I would sit on the edge of my bed, my knees to my chest, hoping to cry myself to sleep.
What if coming here was a mistake? I would ask myself. I would fantasize about the days where this would pass. I would wait for the time where the rainbow would show after the rain — the calm after the storm.
A few weeks ago, during dinner, they started again. It’s funny how a little spark can become a flame then an explosion in only a matter of seconds. They yelled at each other in front of me. Gone were the days where they’d tell me how much they loved me and how much they loved each other.
I remember laying on top of the hill next to our house back home, looking up at the abstract figures that the clouds form, the gentle humid breeze disheveling my hair. I remember days where my granddad and I would stay up late and he’d tell me stories about his childhood. Gone were these kind of days. A stab of sudden homesickness hits me.
I stood, slapping my hand forcefully on the table, shutting the both of them up. “I’ve had enough of this!” I yelled out.
Promptly after, I packed my bags. Tears ran down my cheeks as I remembered all of the amazing memories I’d created, all the spectacular people I’d met, and the fact that the foundation of a reputation that I’d never really fully established would remain unfinished.
So here I stand, at the same spot I was three years ago. I stand in the same spot where I began to dream of starting anew somewhere else, only that I’ll be starting again at this imperfect place, a place where I can always call home.
Euan Suarez, only fifteen, was born and raised in the Philippines, has lived in Sweden, and is now living in Australia. With hopes of being an author / journalist in the future, he spends most of his time reading, writing, eating pizza and obsessing over Eurovision. He likes writing about travel and culture, and has a blog on EuanSuarez.wordpress.com.