The moment I heard my friend say he was going back to Europe there was this sting of…..envy maybe? I did not want to analyze it and pushed it away.
And when I listened to his enthusiastic stories about Greece or maybe Spain, or should he move to Portugal after all? I remembered all those nights I planned on leaving this country.
Yet all I seem to do is bed myself even more in, in the Filipino society and bureaucracy by buying a new motorbike and applying for yet another 6 months visa.
I could not help wondering if I am selling myself short here in this country
So one brave lonely night I sat down and recalled the moment he told me he was leaving and the feeling I had. I pulled it up from my gut to analyze it. And I realized I did envy him. For his freedom of choice. With a steady pension as income, he is still in the European system and for him it will be easy to go back and fit back in. For me it will be a hardship to do, for I can never afford all the legalities of returning. I need a health care assurance and I need a new drivers license and a home address to register all that, and I have no home address. And I am aware of the fact that for every problem is a solution, but I do not want to dig in the European and Dutch system again only to find out what I kind of already expect: once your are gone, you are gone and returning will be a bit of a hassle.
I have no space for hassles in my life, the Philippines, it’s cultural differences and daily life here is more than enough
Besides that I envy him for his freedom of choice, I also felt a longing. A longing for so many things lost.
Like a good hairdresser and not one that yes: Yes ma’am and than kind of mows the lawn, so to speak. It so happen that Filipino hairdressers get this “ vidal Sassoon’- feel when they see blond hair, and in their eagerness to make it something great, they kind of lose it, and with that I loose way more hair than asked for.
Last visit to the hairdresser was 6 months ago and it is still not back on the length I wanted
I long for culture. Not that old church here in Lazi, or the Iloilo museum, the Marcos house, stuff like that. But a sense of culture in daily life. Well maintained old buildings, respect for cultural heritage and stories from the past that tell the tale of a growing identity and nation.
I also long for good balanced food, like a good salad and abundance of fruits. Not the single pear in the market here and a few apples. God, I love to taste strawberries and blueberries again.
I always remembered the rich markets full of fresh fruits and all sorts of veggies in South America many, many years ago, and somehow in my mind I thought that would be the same int he Philippines. But it is not. Not everything is available everywhere and on most islands you are driving around a lot to find things you want to eat. Usually it is the other way around: what meat is available and what veggies than what can I prepare with that.
Same with clothes, I gave up on looking for female streetwear. Women here do not wear streetwear, they dress up nicely. So I shop in the mans department or Ukay Ukay to look what is available. I in a few months I learned not to go shopping with a fixed idea of brown leather sandals and a colored bikini top with flower print, or a pink T-shirt….I go shopping. I know I need a t-shirt and a bikini top and than I just see what is available in my size.
I long for those days I could walk into any store and just find what I am looking for
I long for fast and steady internet, updating my system whenever I like and not when it is convenient and not crushing my data limit. I miss working without disturbances of brown outs and I miss book stores filled with books of all sorts and crafting materials and stuff like that.
But than again every coin has two sides. Right? Living here becomes me better than living in Europa, despite the missing tapas and terraces, beach chairs and colorful boulevards.
Despite me not being as creative as I wish.
I love to roam around here and get blown away by a view around every corner of the road. I love sitting out at night and watch the stars, that shine so much brighter here than anywhere in the world.
I love to go beach combing and find driftwood and exotic shells
So I guess, longing is part of human nature. I once said to someone: if you have curly hair you wish you were born with straight hair and vice versa. Life somehow always gives us something to wish for, dream about or long for.
Maybe it is that feeling that keeps us going, developing, searching
yet I do wonder what Filipinos long for when sitting in front of their houses watching me and the rest of the world pass by. There seems to be a contentment in their daily life that is to be envied as well.
Or have they just settled down and accepted that they will never leave their place, that opportunities are not for them and dreams will be just that: dreams……
I will say goodbye to a good friend in a short while. I will miss him, and I envy him a little. For those things that are familiar to me and that make me, me. For I left all those behind to begin a new life. And some days that is very hard. And some days that is so cool.