I've always had a negative bias towards "domesticity." To me, domesticity was for people who settled too early. I've always had a preference for activities that had "adventure" and "romance." That meant something like hiking, backpacking, communing with nature, developing a career, going to the US for the first time to audition for grad school, etc. When I was in the Philippines, I never had to cook, clean the bathroom, do groceries or laundry on my own. Part of my initial homesickness and anxieties upon coming back to New York after a 3-week visit in Manila was facing the fact that I had to do all of those on my own from hereon.
It is a slow process, this building of a single life in New York City. I am doing it brick by brick. Thank God classes begin in September. I have an entire month left to get into the swing of things before school work gets added into the picture. So aside from work-study (I've had 4 different jobs in school this summer: ushering, library assistant, painting walls, office assistant), I've been cooking, cleaning, buying general cleaning materials, laundry and grocery shopping. I've also been coordinating with the apartment owner for maintenance issues (i.e. the electric stove only got installed last Monday, July 25).
It has its own joys, I must say. I am very particular with having a beautiful home/space of my own. So I find myself easily rattled when I find dirt on the newly-painted walls or notice that the toilet is getting dirty. It's a good thing I have relatives in New Jersey who are experts on home-related, cooking and bargain-stuff. It's a new journey for me: buying my own frying pans, spatula, toilet brush cleaners, clorox (those blue and white pods you drop at the back of your toilet so when you flush it automatically releases this blue color that bleaches and disinfects your toilet are AMAZING).
Here's what I've been eating
I've been preparing my own meals. With the exception of the Peanut Butter Milkshake (which I treated myself last Thursday), the rest are meals I've prepared. The first two ones on the top left are meals prepared by me and my cousin who helped me shop for grocery essentials and taught me cooking basics. The rice and the chicken stir-fry version 2 are on my own.
It astounds me that I've only had 6 weeks of summer in New York City so far (I've spent 3 in the Philippines). It has been one life event after another within the span of two months.
This is truly the first time that I've been "on my own." During my entire first year I lived in the dorms and had a "meal plan." When first year was over, I decided to move out in order to alleviate housing expenses. Living on one's own is it's own thing and it is posing new challenges. It is indeed my first time budgeting my own expenses for groceries, transportation, household items, etc. as well as preparing my own meals (more inexpensive than eating out all the time).
The extra challenge for this particular week was taking care of outstanding apartment issues. Coming back and finding out the windows are still not replaced, the stove isn't working and also needs to be replaced and then discovering a leak in one of the rooms after a heavy rainfall. Some of them have been resolved over the week but there are several others that are still pending. All of that while dealing with jet lag and second-wave homesickness.
I've been trying to go easier within myself, that I don't have to get everything done all at once. That if I do something to move forward in each day that would be good enough. And I am learning that "good enough" is good enough.
What I do have now that I did not have when I first moved to New York City is a clearer sense of support. I have discovered a second family in Group 48 whose love and acceptance is secure within me. Visiting home and seeing family and old friends also gave me a clearer sense of support and love even from afar. As I am at the beginning of a new phase in my life in which I am encountering new things on my own - I know that there are people who have got my back even though they are not in physical proximity.
Bundok, Dagat, Talon, Pamilya, Kaibigan
When the apartment-hunting process worked out and I was finally able to book tickets so I can visit home for my brother's graduation - I also had specific agendas in mind. One of those was to find out things that I truly loved about the country where I was born and raised. I was searching for a more integrated identity - one that combined who I was when I was in New York and who I was as a Filipino. I knew that I loved nature and so I decided I needed to do at least two things when I visit: climb a mountain, and swim/wade in the sea.
Luckily, I had friends who were into both of those things. And so I did hike up to the summit of Mt. Pico de Loro in Nasugbu, Batangas and went to Circle Hostel, Zambales where one can rent a hammock and then swim in the sea. Incidentally, there was also a waterfall nearby Circle Hostel that was only a 20-minute hike after a short tricycle ride.
There are so many things that one can learn from nature if one pays attention to the "signs." How as we hiked further up the mountain we began to hear thunder (rainy season has begun in the Philippines). When we reached the saddle area of Mt. Pico de Loro the view was completely covered by a thick white fog. The view of the summit was hidden from us. Upon the prodding of a guide that appeared, we decided that we shall hike up to the summit anyway despite the fact that there was no guarantee of a view. As soon as we got up and began walking one of my friends shouted, "the fog has cleared!" True enough, there was a clearing and we could see the landscape beyond. As a response, we raised our arms and shouted, "thank you!" to the skies and hiked up to the summit. We were indeed graced by a clear view. As soon as we took our pictures, rain fell ferociously and my first hike down a rocky mountain was "blessed" with rain.
It was the same with the waterfalls. My friend challenged me to jump from a medium height by the rocky landscape around the waterfalls (I had never jumped from a height towards a deep watery end before). And how as soon as we had both jumped, rain began to pour. In both instances, the rain has come after the brave thing has been done.
It was lighter in my heart to leave home for the second time. The uncertainty was still present, "when will I ever see them again?" However, it was clearer to me that the relationships that mattered to me can be sustained from a distance. I go forward carrying more "secret talismans," born of the out of the ordinary moments that happened in my recent communion with nature.
I am a Graduate Drama student at The Juilliard School from Quezon City, Philippines.