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A home is not merely an address or a structure, nor is it that place where you eat and sleep. Home actually refers to those who nurture you, the people living with you in that structure bearing that address where you happen to eat and sleep as well.


Language at home

I used to wonder what it was like to “go home to the province” because both my parents and their parents were all from Manila—Paco and Sta. Ana, to be exact. I was always jealous of those who can speak other Filipino languages and whenever I’d ask my father why we did not have a third (besides English and Filipino), he would always say that I had always refused to learn his third language: Spanish.

Though many say it’s such a romantic language, to me, it’s the language of an angry father. He switched to Spanish whenever he was angry and that frightened me at first but I soon learned to stay at a safe distance and remembered what the usual things he said in Spanish meant so I do not make him even more angry.

But whatever language he spoke, I felt I was home when they were there. Though it took quite some time before I realized they were my home, I’m glad I had the chance to let them know that before they passed.

The house that was my home


Home to me was a small bungalow with large windows looking out onto a lawn and trees on either side. The lawn was cut in half by a row of concrete flagstones from the pedestrian gate right up to the ramp that led to the front door.

Before I went to school, I took afternoon naps in the small hallway that led to my parents’ room, the bath and the room I would later occupy. I loved the feel of the wooden floor so I insisted on sleeping without mats nor cushions. I did not need a fan nor an airconditioner as open doors and windows allowed air to come in.

There were plenty of fruit trees—and a large bamboo clump in the backyard. The rustling sound they made was so soothing and they kept the breeze cool. But more than those heavenly naps, it was the feeling of security, of knowing that there were people in that home who would protect me and would take me in no matter what. I realized all this as I grew older and insisted on doing things my way.

Unconditional

Perhaps because of my immaturity, I resented long lectures that later turned out to be warnings packaged differently. I did not bother to ask for explanations whenever there were prohibitions I did not find acceptable or for decisions made for me that I did not understand. Yet, each time I came home badly bruised—literally and figuratively—I was always welcomed with open arms. My warm bed was always waiting for me, along with my seat at the table—even during the times that my Mom took in wards who had no place to stay.

I realized my loss when they were no longer there. Although I had a family of my own, it was my turn to provide what I had enjoyed in my youth. My watch had begun.

Home is not a beautiful house or a spacious condo unit. It’s not a shack or a rented room either. It’s where you can be yourself, find rest and solace; it’s wherever you will find the people who will accept you, stand up for you, protect you and accept you unconditionally anytime, every time.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.

Home

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On land, or on the sea? On the hills, or in the valleys? Where is home? (Monterey Bay, California. Photo by Paul Henson 2015)

I used to think home was one place. Familiar. Comforting. Safe. Harking back to childhood memories. Attached to specific faces, people – family.

I was wrong.

It turns out home is many different places. It’s not always familiar. It can take us out of our comfort zones. Unsettling. It can be strange, foreign, new, terrifying. Still, it can be home.

Have you ever felt the need to break free? Moments you simply felt stunted, caged that you just wanted to create for yourself a new home?

Be careful what you wish for. Life is listening.

A window opens. Sometimes, a door. Slowly at first. Filtering in a little bit of light, a gentle breeze, through the cracks. Enticing. Newness beckons. Fresh, exhilarating, liberating.

A window opens. Sometimes, a door.

And sometimes – I suspect, oftentimes — the whole house comes crashing down. Torn apart. Blown away.

A flood of emotions: Anger, disbelief, grief, sadness, heartache, pain. More anger. A little regret. A little self-hate.

A deluge of questions: What just happened? Did I do something wrong? What was all this for?

WHY?

You stumble through the debris. Lost, dazed, confused and frightened. Sometimes you try, but are just too paralyzed by fear.

Finding home even on the precipice. (Grand Canyon, Arizona. Photo by Paul Henson 2015)

Finding your way

But help comes when you need it most.

A word. A hand. A shared tear. They don’t take away the pain completely. But sharing it makes the load just a bit easier to bear.

And then amidst all that is frightening, unfamiliar, uncomfortable and painful – slowly – you discover that home is many different places.

Home is in the smile, the outstretched hand, of a new friend. The color of his or her eyes may be different but the tenderness is something you have felt before.

Home is in a song, a dance. The words, the steps, are new but the pull on your heartstrings (or hamstrings) transport you back to fond memories.

Home is in a meal. The flavors may be all new but the satisfaction and contentment in your heart and your belly are the same.

Home is…

Sometimes, you retrace your steps to your old home. You see the old places, old people. Sometimes, the familiar brings you comfort. At other times it brings you discomfort. Either you’ve changed, and they haven’t. Or have they changed, and you’ve stayed the same? It doesn’t matter. There’s no right or wrong.

You look back. You look forward. You’re not quite sure what is ahead. But you feel the ground beneath you is solid and safe. You feel a quiet sense of accomplishment. You exhale. Your breath carried by the mist, the wind, into the sky, the sunlight.

Home is many different places. Sometimes – oftentimes, I suspect — the old one has to come crashing down, get torn apart, get blown away. Don’t worry. That home is not gone entirely. You just have to trust that you’re making way for something new.


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Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.