Headlines for Sunday:

  1. At the airport (419 words)



1. At the airport: 23:06

The din of the airport fades into the background, the white noise of hushed conversations in a hundred languages and suitcases rumbling across tiled floors, punctuated by the cries of children who have not yet learned the shame that makes these large common spaces bearable.

One day in flight, and then I will be in the Philippines again. The travel time seems almost a good thing, reminding me of the double challenges of jet lag and culture lag. Of the two, culture lag is more subtle and powerful.

Last time I visited, I found it difficult to adjust to the immediacy of conversations unmediated by reflection and writing. The sheer impossibility of writing about everything that happened to me allowed me to keep parts of my life private. Face to face, I had to explicitly choose silence or at least delay in order to give myself space. Not only do communication patterns shift, but topics do too.

I visit in order to reconnect with my family, but I don't know how much I can tell them about the life I have in Canada. I am the same person throughout, adapting to this dual-world life. When I am in Canada, I have to be in Canada, and when I am in the Philippines, I have to be in the Philippines. I must be fully where I am. If I focus on what is missing, what is not there and what cannot be there... No, I've let myself do that before, and I was nearly swept away by it. So now, cautious, I keep my lives mostly separate. When I am in the Philippines, I will think of the Philippines. It would be too dangerous to let myself miss Canada too much, although I will not be able to help missing it a little. And likewise, when in Canada, I need to focus on what's there. I'll miss the Philippines, but I can't let myself miss it too much. I must let the guilt I would feel roll off me.

Two weeks. Will it be home? Will it be strange? Will I have the strength to focus on the positive in either case?

I am tired. The warmth of good-bye hugs and kisses begins to slip from my skin. And tears—but I have long since learned how to be comfortable crying in airports, lullabied by the white noise of other people between worlds.

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