Note: This post was originally posted on 30 October 2013 and has been revised on 8 June 2014.
“THE HARDEST THING to accept is how you can become alienated in your own homeland.”
As I was walking out of my car, people were looking at me. Some with awe and others with wonder. I was feeling awkward but I just ignored it. I slowly walked to our old house and my Aunt Lydia ran towards me with longing, “Oh, Mary! We’ve missed you so much. It’s been seven years.”
I shuddered at the fact. Seven years? Yeah I’ve been away for seven years already. Brushing the thought off, I hugged her and saw my niece and nephew shyly looking at me behind the half-open front door.
“Hey buddies! How are you?” I said as I approached them for a casual talk.
They replied “fine, thanks” in a whisper.
Well, these are the teens I’ve been supporting in their financial need for studies.
I head inside and settle down for a bit in the guest room. It was hotter here than usual. Or maybe I am just used at a cool climate in States. This place is tropical. Or I shall say—my country. What is happening to me? I’m starting to forget I live here, that was before. But still, I am born and raised here. To avoid my thinking, I walk to the kitchen and there I see Aunt Lydia preparing something for lunch, I suppose.
“You’ve grown a lot! You’re very different now.” She exclaimed.
“I did not. I wouldn’t grow much. I was already old when I left,” I replied nonchalantly whilst sitting on one of the dining chairs. I hated denying it because I realized it was true. However, the change wasn’t my growth. It was my appearance and my actuations.
If my parents are still here, I’m sure they will feel this way, too. I can notice the way Aunt looks at me from the bandanna on my head, my tank top, slim leggings, and high heels.
“Maybe you haven’t grown much in height and weight. But let’s say with the way you speak. Your accent is no longer different from the country you’ve been to,” She stated in as-a-matter-of-fact tone.
I shrugged but I knew what she was exactly implying.
Lunch came and I noticed no one ate with me. My oldest brother made sure that his kids (the niece and nephew I mentioned earlier) were filling everything I need. They handed me a small basin with water and soap so I wouldn’t go to the sink anymore to wash hands. I didn’t like being treated this way, but I was pleased by the hospitality.
To be honest, I want to adopt my nephew. He is smart and polite just like his younger sister, but he is the one graduating high school this year. Maybe I can bring him with me abroad and he can choose a good college or university there.
Unfortunately, my older brother wouldn’t want me to fix the papers of his son. Gosh, why wouldn’t want they want to get separated from each other? What life lies ahead of them here if they stay with each other? It isn’t like opportunity will knock at their door if they just continue to live in this town.
I’m glad that seven years ago, I had the guts to look for a brighter future despite moving away from my family. If not, for sure I will not be who and what I am today.
I was just done having lunch. I went to my room to fix myself. I was just putting the finishing touches of make-up on my face when I heard a car honking outside. I realized it was time. In fact, I was here for the award the Federation of Alumni wanted to give me, and at the same time was the Silver Anniversary of the high school I graduated from. I went out of the gate and saw my old colleague, Edward and he was with a driver.
We rode the car on the way to the old school. I suddenly wondered why Edward sat on the passenger seat, “Uhm, Edward, why didn’t you seat here at the back?”
“Mary, I, uhm, it will just be inappropriate, I think. You know.. uhm.. how.. uhm.. g-gossip spreads here.”
I looked at him with curiosity.
“Remember, Mila, one of our best friends in high school?” He asked and I nodded. I remember her. We were like the ‘trio’ in high school. I mentally chuckled at the thought. I had feelings for him during high school but others said he was gay because he only hangs out with us, but mostly with me. He was able to prove it wrong when he stated his feelings for me after graduation. It all came back to me. I rejected him, when totally we were each other’s first love.
“Well, a couple of days ago, she just gave birth to our second child,” His words broke me out of my thinking.
I gulped hard before I was able to say, “Congratulations.” Then, I faked a smile.
The ride became silent after that. I felt my heart being struck by a spear; it shattered into pieces this time. Edward was my best guy friend. He even was the only bloke I became close with. I reminisced the times when we were together. I guessed my feelings for him never changed. He was first and only love. Sadly, I needed to reject him that time because I wasn’t a believer of long-distance relationships. I knew from the start I will move away after high school. I thought it was best for the two of us. Maybe it was; however, I felt it wasn’t.
Right now, my first and only love was so close. But we were so far away.
He is now a teacher and the President of the Federation. He even has two kids already and is married to a close friend of mine.
We were both in our mid-20s and I could say I achieved better and greater than what he had. If I had say ‘yes’ to him years ago, will my life be the same? I think not. For sure, I wouldn’t have the chance to go back and forth to places such as New York, London, France, and Hollywood for being a Fashion Designer. I had achieved this dream, but is this really what I wanted?
The school was giving me an award, “First Top Fashion Designer” from my town. I had received great awards and compliments from different parts of the world. From fashion blogs to magazines, even the Oscars. I had what I was dreaming of, how could I feel I was the one who was left out? I felt like the one who, despite these things, lack real necessities in life. I was alone, I was with nobody. And I was lonely.
My reflexions turned back to reality when the car stopped and I knew this was it! This was the return! This was my return. Although, when I came down, I realized that I knew almost no one and I wasn’t recognized as the same old Mary Montes they knew. It hurts to say I wasn’t recognized by my hometown where I’ve just returned.