I am myself today, although somewhat lighter, hollow. We went about the day as if this was just another day, rather than the day of my departure. Our smiles stretch the husks of our face. I imagine this is what botox must feel like.
Noon. The camera is now a part of my limbs; a protuberance, an extra thumb or finger. I am taking pictures almost desperately, trying to capture the would-be memories: my father in the kitchen; my mother sewing a pillowcase; my brother trimming his toenails. Will I ever see them all again like this? Should I tell my brother to stop smelling each toenail before throwing it in the trashcan?
6pm. My sister brought her brood of four to see me one last time. By next February, my little nephew will be ten, my niece six; their minds would've grown by lightyears. The toddler will have learned to talk, whole words where now there are only the sound of words. Will you remember me, I asked him with my eyes. I was the one who gave you the Lego blocks ten days ago. I will surely remember you, little one, especially when I open my Visa bill this month. I gave them all big hugs and loud, wet kisses.
For the preemie, the tiny baby born with a hole in her heart, a soft kiss on her tender, downy head.
8pm. I have packed the night before. I picked up the luggage from my old room and loaded them into the trunk of my dad's car. The bags should be lighter, the gifts I brought from Chicago for my nephews and nieces have all been given away. Yet, I feel like I am going home with baggage, heavy and full. My shrink in Chicago will be happy to see me, a late, late Christmas bonus.
At the airport, as we were saying our goodbyes, my father went gay and gave me a hug and a small kiss. He slipped me $200. For the trip home, he said, buy yourself a little something. That amount can feed a small shanty town for a month, according to Children International; I could blow through it in one drunken night in a gay tavern.
See? He's not a heartless ogre. He chose to sustain my alcoholism instead of some poor child with a swollen belly and a mosquito for a pet. He's not the villain in the piece, I just painted him that way, just like my mother is a not the martyr and a saint and I am not a blameless innocent.
11:55pm. My eyes tear up as I board the flight to South Korea, connecting to Chicago, the redeye. Red eye, I thought to myself, how appropriate!
I found my seat and buckled in. I leaned back into the headrest with my aching eyes closed, my head throbbing...
This is part of a series of posts about my vacation in February of '06 in the Philippines. Read the rest here:
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