20 years ago

20 years and about two weeks ago, two major things were happening in my life: I was permanently leaving the Philippines within a few days and I had chicken pox. No one knew, of course, about the chicken pox. I figured popping them and praying really hard would make it go away.

20 years and around a week and half ago, as much as I tried, I really couldn’t hold it back any longer. My classmates finally noticed something was wrong and told my teacher. I was rushed to the nurse’s office where I was forced to finally confess to my parents and received a nice, long lecture about it. Little did I know that was the last I was ever going to see my school, my classmates and my teachers.

20 years and about a week ago, my parents had our flight switched to a later one. All that talk about me getting deported or being quarantined over chicken pox turned out to be a lie.

20 years and five days ago, my older sisters threw a farewell party with their school friends while I lay miserably in the room next door. My butt was still hurting from that horrible shot my dad gave me. Three of their school friends, my Art Club officers, came by to visit me. They were some of the very few girls at my school who were actually nice to me.

20 years ago, I woke up and everything seemed almost normal except for the lack of furniture. No one was rushing or panicking, so I asked my mom, is it time? Should I get ready? She said yes. My cousin gave me a Santol, my favorite Filipino fruit as a farewell present. I stuck it in my pocket and took it with me to the U.S.. Hey, I didn’t know that was illegal back then.

19 years and 11 months later, I found myself back home at my grandma’s place. I recalled how I had first left this country with ugly hair and covered in chicken pox. Now as much as I’ve grown and changed, everything back home still felt the same (sounds like a Gwen Stefani song. Shaddap). Sure there were lots of new buildings and highways, but otherwise the atmosphere was still the very same. 20 years and despite it all, I still miss it. Most folks, immigrants to be exact, do not keep track of such years, but for me, it’s just too hard to forget.

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