Home. What makes a home? An emotion-laden word. How does one know where one’s home is?

I’ve struggled with this question for many years. Growing up, Manila was home. Taiwan was home because much of my family lived there, although every return to Manila felt like a sigh of relief: I’m home. During college and post, as I ventured into the real world, I considered wherever I lived home. Ithaca, Paris, New York, Philadelphia. I took the meaning of “home” in the literal sense of the word: where you return to after a long day and take shelter. In a way I think I did that to grasp onto something I so desperately needed – that sense of having a home base. Sure, Manila was always there waiting for me, though every visit was so short it only ever felt like a one-minute dip, not long or leisurely enough to truly stretch out and heave that sigh of relief.

As I’ve grown, the concept of home has remained ever-important. Moving back to Manila three years ago after a long stint living abroad was a huge shift. Moving back home with my mother, whom I hadn’t lived with full-time for nearly ten years, was not easy. There were definitely challenges in our mother-daughter relationship we had to encounter and face head-on, and continue to address to this day. But over time I’ve realized Manila is still my home. It’s where I grew up; where I had many of my firsts; where I learned about the world and my place in it. Most importantly, it’s where family is. I recently made a decision to stay in the Philippines for the near future, and what followed was a true sigh of relief. One I haven’t felt for ages.

For so long I toyed with indecision and taking things day by day, not making concrete plans that lasted longer than a year. Living in limbo is not easy. Slowly I’m learning that to make a decision and to stick by it is a comforting and powerful thing. It’s something I don’t think I quite learned growing up, and something I think is crucial to teach to our children. To not be afraid to decide, and to bravely face the consequences of your decision. Mistakes will always happen, though what’s important is what we learn from our mistakes, and perhaps most important, is learning that we can always start again. To face the future bravely, without fear.

I’d been wanting to write a post about this for a while, and was prompted to today after watching this beautiful video:

I first heard this song, Rhapsody in Blue, in middle school, as we watched Fantasia 2000 in orchestra class. Funnily enough, in that animation, the music is set to scenes in New York City. But today, while watching and listening to Leonard Bernstein’s uplifting rendition with a goofy smile on my face, I found the song encapsulated my journey through the years of searching for a home, and finally, triumphantly, finding that it is right where I started.




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