In a matter of weeks I will pack my things, clear my room, and hop on a plane bound for Manila, bringing with me the weight of my parents’ dreams for me. I feel like the modern, middle-class equivalent of that guy in the Filipino movies of decades past—the clueless promdi who receives kisses and well wishes from his teary-eyed friends and family then hops on a ship bound for the big city, and who, upon arriving, takes off his straw hat and raises his head to marvel at the skyscrapers and the airplanes that dominate the alien landscape, before setting off, knapsack slung over his back, to look for a job.
After five years’ worth of afternoons spent playing patintero and hide-and-seek and worrying about absolutely nothing, six years in the protective cocoon of private elementary school, and four years in the blissful turbulence of public high school, I’m finally heading off, living on my own for the first time in my life. It’s scary, in a way, going off on your own, severing yourself from the tether of dependence you’ve worn all your life. I’m not sure how long it’ll take me to get used to having to fend for myself out there in the wilderness they call the real world. I’m going to have fun trying, I’m sure.
But it is as exciting as it is daunting. I don’t know what awaits me in the skyscraper-lined avenues of the Metro, the tree-lined roads of UP, and the book-lined walls of its buildings. I’m yet unsure about what it will feel like to rub elbows with my generation’s future greats. I will be charting the course for my future, studying to become a journalist in the worst place in the world to be one, mulling over going on to pursue law and one day earn the general scorn of my fellowmen. The near future, I realize, is full of uncertainty, but so is life; I’m not fully sure of where I’m going, but I am sure I will enjoy the ride.
My parents will call, email, maybe pay a few visits; reunions with friends and classmates will take place on Facebook walls, in chat windows, and in a few chance encounters in airport lobbies or malls; I will fall in love, climb back out of it, and fall again, and maybe one day fall for the last time. When I return everything will have changed, myself included. Whether for better or for worse, we will find out when we find out.
In June I will take off to a new city and, in many ways, an entirely new life. I will meet new people and learn new things. I’ve often asked myself whether I’m ready, and although I still have no answer to the question, I know it won’t matter. The Universe won’t wait for me to be ready, it’ll just go when it wants to. Sounds like fun.