Me, Mike and Manny circa 1966

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Writing Our Way Home II (Define "home")

for the organizers of the Filipino International Book Festival in San Francisco -- in gratitude.

All I know is that I was born in Pennsylvania and we didn’t stay there long enough for me to know the city of Harrisburg, the landscape of our neighborhood or color of the sky.  Right away I moved, a transient newborn, flying off to Wilson and Baltimore and Manila and Saskatchewan, Peoria, and finally Milwaukee, no finally Brookfield.  All before I was ten.  All that was constant in my universe were my mom and dad, my two brothers, my sister and finally the little brothers born in Dairyland.  We were a family that roamed the earth in search of a house, but we were always home. 

I have a memory of waking up on a plane at the age of three  My brothers and I were lying on blankets on seats turned down into make-shift beds.  I remember wetting that bed. We were traveling from the Philippines to Canada.  And there I would see the snow pile tall as the horse of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  There it would snow in the middle of my birthday month, April.  And I would ask my mom to invite Gidget (aka Sally Fields) to my birthday party.  And there would be a memory of my mom in the hallway of our little apartment, a phone to her ear, the long cord swinging back and forth in the shadows, taking that call from Gidget.  "You know, I'd love to, but I can't make it. Wish her happy birthday for me."  I’d hear my mother thanking her for calling.

I was just beginning to acclimate to the snow, when the family packed it up again and moved to Illinois.

My fiancé, a man from the hills of western Virginia, has the mountains in his heart.  There are days in Miami where he will breathe sadness, longing for the land he grew up on.  He calls it homesick.  He feels the need to hike up and down the sides of mountains, reading the deer tracks, the turkey trails, the brush in the valleys.

But me, when I am homesick, I am dreaming of the noise that comes from the voices of large families.  I long for morning talks with my mother.  I long for the honky tonk piano of my father.  I long for the embraces of all my nieces and nephews.  I want to give and take shit from my brothers and sister and be in the company of Galangs. 


  1. Evelina -

    My heart resonates with your story. I didn't realize (or know) that you spent time in Saskatchewan too. My dad was at Regina General there. Recently, when we were composing his obituary, my brother (who was born there) and I got into an argument about how to pronounce Regina. He kept saying it was like Re-gee-na, but I was sure it was pronounced more like that part of a woman. I picked up the phone and called Regina General just to listen for how they answered. I won that round, not that it mattered.

    Like you and your fiance, my husband and I are a delicious mix of cultures.. my husband (my second chance) is from Northern Ireland and longs for the smell of the sea where he grew up, and doesn't much like rooms full of people. For me, the sound and feel of being with lots of family feeds my soul in a way that nothing else can. I miss the sound of my mother and father's voices. I hear in your writing that you truly know the depth of your blessings. I am glad to read it.

  2. Dear Mary Jo --

    Thank you. I think of you and your father fondly. I will ask my dad, but I think they might have known each other back then. That means we might have too. Do you have a memory of dancing itik-itik as a three year old?

    To call what we have a delicious mix is about right. I send you love, light and peace, I send you beautiful memories of those voices you miss.

    Thanks very much for your heartfelt comment.