Me, Mike and Manny circa 1966

Monday, October 21, 2013

Home (Writing Our Way Home III)

for Melissa Rae Sipin and all my literary sisters

Home is where the dirt is.  Home is the early mornings when the whole world is sleeping and I am seated in the red metal chair, cup of joe in my palms, under the avocado tree, next to the mango tree, right of the lemon tree.  In the yard behind me a thump.  And the peacock has leapt from a branch to the neighbor’s roof and she is honking and guffawing and looking for her man.  Mine is asleep.  Mine is in a world all his own.  For now, I am here with the seedlings of kale, and bok choy, of peppers and tomatoes and eggplants and lettuces.  For now I am watching the branches sway and bow and I am eyeing fat avocados bobbing like Christmas tree ornaments.  For now the squirrels are chasing one another, rattling branches, stuffing fat cheeks with bites of ripened fruit.  For now I am dreaming of quiet time.  Miami sky time.  Home at last time.

No, really, for now, I am sitting in seat 27D, the aisle seat, typing.  Since the flight has lifted off the ground the man two seats away from me has been chatting loudly with the stranger he has just met, his new best friend.  All I want is quiet.  All I want is peace.  The man on the other side of the aisle, is sympathetic.  He motions for headsets.  “Do you have them?” he asks me.  Nope.  When the fly attendant waves a cheap set in the air, I raise my hand.  I want one.  For now I am wanting to think about this past weekend.

Writing is a solitary act.  I always say that.  And that is true.  To do it, you have to sit your ass down and just write.  And yet, every time I am on the west coast, where Philippine American Studies has a house in almost every university and community college, I am reminded, I am not alone.  That even as I sit before the computer – in the garden, in the office, a coffee shop or in seat 27D, I have been blessed and I am not alone.  I am grateful to the students I met this weekend at the Filipino American International Book Festival.  You make me realize, I’d do anything at all just to connect with you.  Fly back and forth from Miami to LA, to San Diego, to San Francisco, far far from my sweetheart, from my garden and my kitties, just to be reminded how important our stories are. 

Reading them and writing them.  We do that to find our way inside.  To find our way home.  To find our way to each other.  To be reminded that the stories we write, stories so new to the contemporary American canon, are just as important (maybe more?) than the ones that have come before us.  Ours is the story of these United States.  We are not the margin.  Not anymore.  Now we are planting stories into the weave of Americana.  Now we are growing images and metaphors and Sampaguita are blossoming everywhere.

This then, is writing our way home.  The planting of stories.  The naming of sisters.  The memory of our fathers and light of our ancestors.

Thank you to PAWA.  Thank you to the Philippine Consulate.  Thank you to our hosts at the San Francisco Library. Maraming salamat to the booksellers of Philippine Expressions and Arkipelego.  Thank you to my colleagues, writers and poets planting, planting.  And to my little sisters, Pinay poets and writers and readers.  I am touched by the mere image of you.  Thank you.

Reading from Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery

1 comment:

  1. I can't thank you enough, Até. For teaching me, for supporting me, for lifting me up, for giving me so many important anecdotes and advice--Até, thank you for being so giving, for your powerful words, for being our até.

    Love you, always,