Monday, June 28, 2010

Nothing Good In Leaving

The house was filled with bad vibes when I got up this morning. It was so intense I could almost see it, like a black veil shrouding the entirety of our quarters. Everyone was running around, pressured by time and my dad’s terrible mood. I got up and didn’t bother to take a shower and immediately slipped out of my pajamas with my dad’s armalite-like nagging in the background. It wouldn’t take an Einstein to understand what day it was: my dad’s departure for Korea.

I was 8 the first time my father was sent to Bangkok. Although it was a big change for us, it didn’t took us long to adjust, especially since he went home for the weekends every other week. I couldn’t remember feeling exceptionally sad whenever he left. My dad leaving for Bangkok then, meant chocolate mints and dolls, among other pasalubongs that I started receiving frequently since he worked abroad. After his project in Bangkok, he then moved on to Singapore, then to Malaysia, until he’s gone halfway through Asia.

He missed several of my recitals, he was alone in Vietnam one Christmas, and was in Singapore the day of my highschool graduation, the same day my grandmother, his mother, died. No one noticed how much he was away because he was home every other week. And sometimes there would be a client in the Philippines and he would be home for months. But foreign clients meant, other than the possibility of going with him to another country, affording more luxuries thanks to his per diem.

After I kissed him goodbye in the airport today, I slipped in the back of the car and hid my face behind the driver’s seat and cried. Shoulders shaking, breaths alternating with sighs, I realized the sadness I was feeling, was probably a little too late. His first trip was 12 years ago, and for 12 years he has been coming and leaving for more than a hundred times. The only difference, is that he’s not as young as he was 12 years ago. I remember how I used to play with his passport, amazed at the colorful stamps, amazed at how many places he’s been to and how many times he’s gone on a plane. But it’s only now that I understood what those stamps meant. It meant that he was away more than he was home. It meant numerous dinners alone, and even more countless nights of unbearable loneliness. It meant work all day. It meant missing out on his children's special events. Which was fine then when he was younger, when he wasn’t as depressive or as weak, when work wasn’t as hard and the foreign country not as foreign as Korea (where communication is as bad as their civil war). I was so sad to see him go, because for the first time in 12 years I knew how sad he was to leave.

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