I’ve moved around and lived in multiple countries for most of my life. Since the age of 7, I’ve lived in Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand and have spent some time in the US for the holidays and I’ve travelled to some Asian countries in the past few years. I got so used to packing up my suitcase and walking through the airport entrance, kissing relatives and family and waving goodbye as they watched me walk towards my check-in counter. I always felt that excitement of getting on a plane and going somewhere and exploring. I was always the one that left.
My brother and his family left this evening for Papua New Guinea. Riona (niece) and Red (nephew) are roughly the same age as Marvin (little brother) and I when we first flew to PNG. This afternoon, Marvin picked me up and asked questions about the time we first moved to PNG as he couldn’t recall anything since he was really young. I remember thinking that we were just going on a holiday as my mum brought all 4 of us kids to Port Moresby. I remember arriving in PNG with a lot of questions in my head. Questions about where we really were, why there was a sliding door but guards where sliding them open, why the conveyer belt wasn’t working and why we could actually see people handling our luggage. Why the sidewalks outside the airport was tainted in red and why the people there had red teeth and walked around bare-footed. I remember thinking that this place was different from all the other vacation spots we had been to. It was hot, humid and the smell was different. My mind, at the age of 7, was set on the fact that we were just there for a vacation. It wasn’t until I woke up one day and it was just Marvin sleeping in the other room and the whole condo unit was deserted and my big brother and big sister were gone. That night, my mum told us that they had to fly back to Manila because school was starting and that was when I realised that my brother and I were actually going to go to school there.
So the difference now is that, my brother was transparent about their plans for Riona and Red and the entire family and Riona knew that she was going to leave Manila for good. On Saturday morning, as she sat at her tiny desk and as I was lying on the bed, she talked about how excited she was to fly in an airplane again and how excited she was to go swimming and learn how to play different sports. She had asked me questions about what sports I learned while growing up there and I recall her eyes widening when I gave her the list of sports I knew how to play. She asked grown up questions and I realised that I never had that opportunity when I was her age.
That same day, Red, who usually doesn’t like other people touching him, kept approaching me and would talk in his usual gibberish. He smiled for the camera for a change and allowed me to even wipe his face full of snot. That’s when I anticipated the hurt I was going to feel at the airport.
Fast forward to this evening at the airport. I tried to push back the sadness I knew I was going to feel and was successful. It didn’t feel as though they had left the country or rather, it hasn’t really sunk in yet. They’ve left me keys to their 3-bedroom condo unit and the family car.
On the way out of the airport, I fell asleep. Good riddance, at least I was able to sleep away any emotions. When it has finally sunk in, I know how much it’ll hurt and I don’t think I’m ready for this. I remember my sister-in-law’s last words. She said that she wasn’t used to seeing us outside while they lined up to get in. I think I would have rather cried and felt all sorts of emotions at the airport than to have to wait for the reality of things to sink in. At least, I would’ve gotten it all out of the way. This entry is even an attempt to get emotional but I’m just not feeling it. Null.