I usually love going to the airport, but after travelling to 9 countries in the span of 4 months, I really wasn’t looking forward to having to get on another plane. It’s my fault that I felt this way though. They say that it’s better to book a trip months in advance so that you slowly build up the anticipation of going away. Since I’ve been so trigger-happy with booking my trips, I’ve always left myself very little time to even register that I’m leaving, let alone muster up the energy to actually be excited about it.
After hastily packing my suitcase and unplugging a zillion electronic devices in my house (because I’m paranoid like that), I finally rolled my gigantic suitcase, which was filled with more pasalubongs (souvenirs) for my relatives than clothes for myself, into the airport. Unlike everyone else there, you couldn’t spot excitement on me even with a magnifying glass. I was tired and moody and just wanted to get there already.
I walked towards my gate, thinking only about the press release I needed to send off before I left, when, like a Christmas miracle, it hit me:
I was going home.
It wasn’t until I saw the other Filipino’s on my flight that I remembered this. All around me were people who had to save for years and deny themselves a lot of luxuries to not only provide for their families in the Philippines, but to even see them at all during Christmas. I watched as people fidgeted nervously in anticipation or talked animatedly about the loved ones that they were going to see for the first time in God knows how many years.
As I took all this in, I remembered Hugh Grant’s opening monologue to the movie Love Actually:
Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.
I wondered when I had stop feeling the love of going home. Going to the Philippines is such a routine thing to me now that sometimes I forget how lucky I am to actually get to go back and see my family and friends practically every year. I felt ashamed that it took so long for me to realize this.
I started to feel excited the more I sat with my fellow balikbayans (returning Filipinos). I quietly started to fidget as well, my leg shaking as I waited to board. I slept through most of my flight (another Christmas miracle because I’m never comfortable enough to sleep for 8 hours straight) in order to stop thinking about when I would get there.
And when our plane finally landed on Manila soil, amidst the loud applause that the passengers gave to the pilots and cabin crew, I started to tear up. I looked outside my window at the brightening sky and smiled. After the crazy six months that I just had, I at last felt like everything was alright. That I was going to be alright.
All I needed to do was come home.