You want to write on your journal, the red notebook you keep with you as if it were your soul.
You cannot go anywhere without this ubiquitous company like the 'kadkadua' of your ancestors, like the shadow for the other you.
In this is everything you see, feel, think, experience, and dream of: freedom as freedom can be despite your being holed up in airports that define you in your perpetual transitions, one after another, even as you dream of going home for the Christmas season for the first time in six years.
Your youngest is excited about the whole prospect of having you around during these long days of short school break. From her own perch of things familiar and secure, you have never been a presence in her Christmasses with the lights all over and the caroling that happens each night.
She has come to appreciate the twinkle in these lights and the noise of the caroling such that at angelus time, she announces the extreme need to turn on the switch so the lights will dance and bedazzle and make her dream of Santa Claus coming to your house.
She has come to savor the oftentimes cacophony of Christmas carols sung with bravado by kids on the take for what pretense this season brings.
She is anguished when the caroling begins, concerned more about what and how much to given than listening to the songs sung in off key.
When she hears the young carolers the constant "We wish you a merry Christmas", she scampers where the coins are or to who has some money to spare and her idea of Christmas becomes this until she blurts out her dream of going from house to house to do the same with her cousin and another girl of her age.
Her dream of caroling is, of course, made more intense by the recollections of her siblings of what they did when they were younger: for each night they would go from house to house, the same houses, to sing their off key notes of Christmas wishes.
These sights you have always remembered.
These sights you have not seen for a long while in your life as an exile elsewhere where the snow is white or where commerce is the new messiah.
In your old country, minus the snow, the commerce of Christmas is real as well.
Its reality demeans, true, but defines as well what this season is, what this season has become, so far away from that message about a God-becoming-man to announce human freedom.
You take the early morning flight that brings you to another land before you reach your homeland, the H-1 Freeway soaked by the streetlights flooding the concrete pavement wet with the early morning rain.
Your red notebook on hand, you begin to jot down your impressions of flight, this fleeing to somewhere you pray will be familiar once more, its landmarks the same where you left them when you finally called it quits six years ago.
You quitter, you write on the page of the notebook documenting the transitions you go through that are eternal, forever.
From one land to another, there you are.
From one thought to another, there you are.
From one feeling to another, there you are.
From one experience to another, there you are.
You think of the years you have lost with your children, six years of their most vulnerable period of their life you will never ever recover, reclaim, know, this last one only in snippets, in fragments, in the palimpsests of the now.
There is a tinge of regret in the memory you can never own.
But you justify that with one hope: that something good will come out of it.
Flight in transition delayed in Taipeh, you gobble up the same airline food to imagine you have it all, this filling up in the guts as if this were the only indication to have lived a full life.
You begin to ask the existential questions and in the transitions of your thought you say, Life is fair, life is unfair, life is fair, life is unfair.
You remember you told a revolucionario a day before: Count your marbles, young man.
You tell that to yourself now: Count your marbles, count your marbles.
You close your red notebook to take the final flight to home.
Marikina, December 20, 2009