From Manila to Chicago to Tokyo…

Manila was my home for 18 years. I found myself hanging out with the same people, doing the exact same thing time and again. The adventures? Nonexistent. The conversations? Stifled. I grabbed the first opportunity that presented itself to get out of the choking atmosphere. That’s why I found myself on a plane moving to Chicago a year later.

There was something liberating about being alone in a new city. I became independent. Gone were the days where I woke up and breakfast was ready on the table. Bills to be paid arrived promptly every month. Clothes needed to be laundered within two weeks or you risk wearing the same underwear. During the first few months, I went to the Art Institute two blocks from where I live, every week. I finally tried a cheeseburger and actually managed to finish it. I was free to do whatever I want… to recreate a part of myself that was a little broken and maybe a little lost.

Being in Chicago was like having a girlfriend on her period. Weather and emotions… but mostly weather, were poles apart. Nevertheless, I survived and one day, I looked at my apartment window realizing – this is home. There were instances where I would be walking down Michigan Avenue and I would be thinking, “I can’t believe I’m here!” But throughout the years, Manila became a hazy memory, full of what ifs and never agains. When it was time for me to leave, I didn’t want to. Chicago is home. Alas, a new adventure must begin and I decided to move to Tokyo.

I’ve been to Tokyo a couple of times throughout my life, mainly because my mom lives here. But this experience is definitely different. I’m going to be thoroughly immersed in the culture, more so than my younger self who was content in touristy traps and Disneyland. I’m stepping into the great unknown once again. I don’t regret my decisions because it made me grow and learn things that I would otherwise not learn in a comfortable space. It’s certainly exciting but definitely more terrifying than I imagined it would be. It’s worth it though… Because my explorations resulted into knowledge and that knowledge turned to confidence. The confidence I nurtured, gave rise to my happiness. At the end, that is what’s most important.

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