I'm finally closing my last weekend in Cincinnati. I'm now enjoying a beautiful Sunday afternoon while drinking a Strawberry Lemonade and eating leftover pasta. Next Sunday I'll be up in the skies enduring the long flight home. Time indeed flies so fast.
I still remember the night before my flight to the US. I was packing almost 3 months' worth of clothes and authentic Filipino canned goods. I brought food in order to save my allowance, which essentially proved useless while I'm here. I remember my mom and my Ate Ne helping me pack. I remember hugging my boyfriend while he stayed up late configuring my computer. I remember saying goodbye to Harvey the night before and I remember my dad driving me to the airport in my very own car sharing words of advice. I knew it would be my longest time away from home yet both my father and I knew that I'll be perfectly fine.
Objectively assessing my stay here, it was a complete breeze. It might not be the best American state, but it's not a kiss of death for me. My personality matches the quiet city. If I need action, I discovered early where to get it. From stores to the neighborhood, I had no problems. Everything's been convenient and if the project requires me to stay for another month, I'm fine with it. I'm not exactly dying to go home and I never had separation anxiety, but it seems the closer I get to my flight back to Manila the more excited I become just because I feel life indeed goes on and I'm facing a new start.
When I get home, I know that I would be facing immeasurable office stress. I would have to run a team, run my project flawlessly and be under an intense microscope. I am not looking forward to late nights and a couple of disappointments along the way. I am hard on myself and I have to accept that there might be certain things beyond my control. I have to further explain to family, friends and loved ones that my career is my top priority right now. I cannot mess up and I cannot afford to devote a chunk of my energy to petty things, so I would ask them to bear with me and cooperate. Not many people would like it, but it's something that I have to prepare for. If I'm nervous, I'm also feeling the adrenalin. Probably this is the reason why a part of me doesn't look forward to coming home, but now I've fully accepted this inevitable shift. All I need to do is be excited and just work my ass to deliver.
But besides the looming work stress, I'm also looking forward to my usual Manila routine. No matter how I try to deny it, the closer I get to being home, the more I miss it. It overpowers the dread actually.
1. HOME > ROOM
I'm thankful that I'm housed in a nice apartment while I'm here in Ohio. I love the neighborhood, the convenient kitchen, the cozy bed and the furniture. But nothing beats my home in Manila. I miss our garage and the nook where I usually eat. I miss playing with my dog in the dirty kitchen and actually hanging out in our garden. I miss going to my brother's room and pissing him off. Gosh, I do miss my simple room no matter how small and simple it is. I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed and watching in my newly installed tv.
2. FORT > MAKATI
I'm a city slicker and I love Fort and Makati. My favorite restaurants are there. I miss my Chinese restaurants, which are way better than what they have in Ohio. I miss different cuisines and the comforting, lively and extensive choices of establishments. Fort and Makati may not be New York, but it's livelier and more vibrant than downtown Cincinnati. I've mastered the city's life and I miss hanging out there.
For almost 3 months, I have not driven. I always ride the bus or walk. I didn't think that I'd miss driving, but it goes with the fact that I've only driven my new car for 25 days. I got it on June 1, but I flew to the States on June 26. Our bonding was halted and I can't wait to face the usual traffic and bond with my car.
4. ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES
I am really excited on a revised life I'm going to lead when I get back. Right now I'm thinking of leading a very active lifestyle. It's a must because I need to lose this massive weight I've gained, but I would also need an outlet. On my first day in Manila I will renew my gym membership. I'm also going to start playing tennis seriously and I'm going to get a new hobby. I'm actually searching for one online so that I know my options as soon as I land. My sister is currently doing the inquiries for me and I'm narrowing down to a couple of choices. Since I have a pet, a car and a sport, I might as well just enroll in Pottery, which is long overdue, make home videos, conquer violin or learn a new language. Let's see what happens.
But of course, I miss the food in Manila. I miss rice and homecooked meals. I miss Chinese Food from Luk Yuen, Gloria Maris and Le Ching. Clearly Ohio lacks a row of restaurants. Greenbelt's strip beats Newport on the Levee in Kentucky and even in downtown Cincinnati in heartbeat. I'm sorry, but I have to be honest. Restaurants in Manila compared in Ohio are incredible. I was online with my mom and sister earlier and I told them to buy me Chinese dishes from Luk Yuen for Sunday and I contracted my boyfriend to have lunch and dinner with me on two of my favorite restaurants the following day. Manila food choices are better and wonderful.
I've been away for only 2 1/2 months, but I now realize that I miss home. I just cannot imagine how OFWs feel like in their situation where they have to be away from their loved ones for years. They didn't have a choice. Most of them are forced to work in a foreign land and be away from their comfort unlike me who is pretty much open to traveling and willing to be away from home. I used to think that OFWs crying and clapping on the plane while it lands in the Philippine soil was a little over dramatic, but I'm completely mistaken. I can understand a bit now and I know some of my colleagues who long for home might do the same.
I have five more days to say goodbye to Cincinnati. It's been my home for almost three years and despite the heat, this city treated me well. This has been like a pleasant dream and by next week, I'll back in the real world with all the beauty and ugliness of it. Stress. Manila Traffic. Manila Food. Friends. Family. Harvey. Possibilites. It's not perfect, but I'm very thankful of home.