I’m starting to accept the idea that this place will probably be the last place I’d live in. Funny though, cause 4 years into living here, I’ve listed the condo in Manila as my permanent address, but I don’t live there. This year alone, I moved twice and will be moving again in a couple of weeks.
But I’ve gotten used to it I think. I’ve always had a vague memory of what life was before I moved to Papua New Guinea. Over the years though, I’d get flashbacks whenever I’d pass by places or see certain people. But it wasn’t until I was stuck in traffic last night and listening to the radio and singing out loud to the songs playing on the segment, “Slide” on Jam 88.3 that I realized that I actually didn’t mind being stuck in traffic and that I’m a lot more patient and understanding. The bustling streets of Manila, the honking of cars, jeepneys and buses stopping anywhere and everywhere made me impatient with the world and everything around me that all I thought of was to leave this place.
All Saint’s Day was always a very important day for me and my family. We would pitch a large tent or two at Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina next to my grandmother’s grave and we would run around the cemetery, careless and free, without the thought of actually spending the night with the dead. All those scary thoughts didn’t matter because I was with family and that in itself was enough for us to enjoy those trips.
More than 20 years later, circumstances of families breaking apart, or families moving to different ends of the world changed it all and soon, we just grew up. And now I realize that the kids in the 3rd or 4th generation will never be able to experience that ‘fun’ that we had of scaring each other and ending the night in laughter and giggles. We grew up, and now as a grown up, we have to find ourselves making time to actually drive through the car infested roads and walk through candle-stained paths to search for our grandparents’ graves. Something that our parents had the responsibility of doing… And never had I have to worry about getting lost in the whole memorial park trying to remember where the grave stood.
Of course, now that’s an exaggeration. For the past few years since moving back and being able to drive here in Manila, I have been visiting my grandmother’s grave (and now my grandfather’s too since 2009 as well as my uncle’s) on my own and finding the site with no trouble after a couple of years of getting lost in the dark.
Yes, it’s all part of growing up. I’m now in my 30s, still confused on where my permanent address should be and have had two jobs so far since moving here. Not to mention even owning a coffee shop during my 4 years here.
Today I visited the cemetery, this time meeting with my cousins, aunt and uncle. This time, I knew exactly where to go without even making a wrong turn and this time, the thought of being all alone and doing it with the absence of other family members didn’t even cross my mind. Perhaps it was because I was in the company of other relatives and being with them there was a distraction from the flood of thoughts of how things were when we were younger.
And perhaps, it is because I’ve gotten used to just living here that I don’t see myself skipping visiting the cemetery during All Saint’s Day. Perhaps, that is a sign that I’ve grown up.