28 December 2010

Caught in the Roots

Home usually waits till I'm about to leave to tug at my heartstrings and make me wish I could stay, but just two days after Christmas and four days after I flew in, I'm already torn up inside.

My mom is getting older. She still doesn't look a day over 30, but the usual holiday stress is starting to wear her down. She was about to crack on Christmas Eve. On Christmas day, she was running a fever and had to go to bed. For the first time ever, we ate Christmas dinner out. We ended up at a roadside carinderia that night (not to sound picky, mind you; our first choice was some other roadside spot that our family has loved for years, but they were closed for the holidays).

I kind of envy my friends who are also daughters and get to stay at home all year. If that were my situation, then I'd be around to relieve my mom of some of her usual Christmas "duties" as she got older, and she wouldn't be too stressed to really enjoy the holidays with us. Instead, I live on the other side of the country and fly in at the peak of the rush (and the stress), and the most I can do to help is not much at all--wrap last-minute gifts, tidy up, set the table. I can't even cook.

Then, there's the news that a friend of my mom's wants to start a daily newspaper in the city and could use some help. The reason I always gave for moving to Manila--there's no jobs for people who aren't entrepreneurs--is starting to look less and less correct. There's also all this outsourcing stuff that lets you work from wherever, and that could be home.

And then, there's just the fact that when I look out of the window here, I see more trees and flowers in two seconds than I ever see in my entire commute to and from work in Quezon City. When I look at the sea, I know I'm not separated from it by a huge cement barrier and miles of garbage. When I go for a walk, I don't have to watch for passing vehicles--I don't have to watch for anything, except maybe the occasional trigger-happy guard who can't tell a friendly collared dog from a rabid stray.

Why don't I stay? It just gets harder and harder to answer whenever I return.

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