This little vacation is almost over. Again, when the time draws near to leave, I am overcome by the thought why I have to. When I think about it, I have all the things I need where I am. If I am honest with myself, I will stay and build my life here. If I am decisive enough, I will.
Why do I keep coming back to the big city anyway? I am really a country girl at heart, a probinsiyana. Sure, I love the comforts of and the opportunities in the Metro, but I can do without them. I can be content with a simple job here, one that does not leave me gritting my teeth in frustration over the government’s ineptitude.
If I stayed here, I would leave for work with a hearty breakfast on the table; return home while the sun is still up with a ready dinner, too. I’d sleep to the sound of crickets and that other unidentified creature from the rice field.
The transportation cost would be cheap and the travel easy. There would be no anxiety over a bomb going off on the way. I would earn less, but so would be my expenses. In fact, I would be able to save more since I wouldn’t be spending on much.
I imagine the word “toxic” would not be associated with my work life anymore. Thus, I’d have more time to read, write mundane entries like this, annoy the dogs and the crooked-tailed cat, learn Chinese, exercise, take photos and travel entirely for its sake. I would be present if my parents needed help. My mother’s blood pressure wouldn’t shoot up over worries about my safety.
Here, the wind blows cool and pure against the windows of my room. The food is fresh and healthy. I have not eaten meat the whole time I’ve been here. No chocolates, no french fries, no chips, no ice scramble. Just red rice, fish and vegetables from the backyard. I can’t believe how nice it is to strip leaves from malunggay and eat langka picked from our haphazard garden just this morning. Knowing where the food came from makes every bite more satisfying.
It is not exactly all rural and green. The conveniences of the big city are just a short jeepney ride away. There’s a mall for movies that ought to be seen on the big screen and for the cards that make Internet at home possible. If the latter ran out, there are numerous coffee shops with free access, Starbucks being one of them.
If I felt like eating and hanging out with friends, there are the glitzy restaurants that seem to have sprouted off the ground overnight. The choices used to be limited to Naga Restaurant with its endemic toasted sio pao, fastfood joints Graceland and Bigg’s, Romero Bakeshop and its crusty pan legazpi, and Ice Blinker’s unique haluhalo with cheese. Now, not only are more choices available, restaurants are also open late into the night.
Leaving is almost becoming a foolish thing to do. But I will buy my bus ticket later, pack my bags and bid my parents good-bye tomorrow. I will try not to cry as I wait for the bus to depart. I will try not to feel sad at the sight of my old mother waiting for me to leave again.
And when the wheels finally turn, I will try to close the window curtains instead of stare at the last signs of home.
I will not think about how human beings really are walking, in this case sitting, contradictions.