Monday, 3 November 2014

All we bring we leave behind.

Welcome to the inaugural run of the #TrailingSpouseStories blog crawl hosted by Tala Ocampo and Didi of D for Delicious.  

This November we talk about our First Voyage as trailing spouses and what we’ve brought with us, rather: what’s in your suitcase? 

Please see the end of the post for other #TrailingSpouseStories.

When we left the Philippines to start a new life in another country, we left many things behind. Clothes were given away. Toys were given away. Furniture was sold. Our car was sold. We said goodbye to Miyagi. Although I’m still holding out hope he can join us here someday.

Miyagi, stealer of fried chicken.

We packed our bags and headed to the airport. One thing that we brought with us though, which was the exact opposite of a blessing, was diarrhea.

Bam, bam, bam, BAM! It hit all four of us. No one was spared. Thank you universe. You made what was an already stressful, anxiety-filled, never-done-this-before-we’re-just-gonna-wing-it, 13-hour journey trapped in a confined space with two very young children, into a veritable sh*t storm of soul-crushing proportions.

Maybe it was all the holiday food we had ingested (like pigs) the night before. Maybe it was the anxiety of moving home and hearth to a place you’ve never been before. Maybe it was all the long goodbyes and false ‘see you soons’ at the end. Maybe it was Miyagi’s revenge for leaving him. Maybe this was looking less like a Goonies family adventure and more like a Saw III horror-fest, sprinkled with what-the-F-just-happened bewilderment.

Let me just say that Narita Airport has the best restrooms. Arigatou gozaimasu!

Restrooms on the plane – not so best. You know it. You’ve seen it. Just don’t breathe it. Because there’s no way to scrub your lungs. And you know that moment when you’re halfway through changing your baby’s diapers and you realize that you’re not gonna’ make it all the way to the end on one breath? Right. Now imagine diapers + diarrhea.

Panic and then eyes start to tear.

Days later, as we settled into our newfound surroundings and cleaner clothes, we were able to reflect back on our experience. It was in a way, a bizarre and super inconvenient manifestation of us letting go. Figuratively. Emotionally. Mentally. Physically. Spiritually? Bloody literally.

Letting go of our friends, our family, our comforts, our routines, our home, our lives. Everything. Gone and getting farther and farther away from life as we know it.

Starting again. Blank slate. Square one in a round peg.

And as the days pile up, taking me farther and farther from the cubicle at Narita (I keep saying Narnia in my head), I look back and try to remember the life I once knew. Regret. Nostalgia. Fondness. Pain. Brotherhood. Freedom. All memories put on pause, tucked away in a special place in the back of my head. To be replayed when heart aches and home sicks.

But if there’s one good thing I’ve realized, even if you leave, it’s kinda hard to forget that sh*t.

- for my brothers.

Other #TrailingSpouseStories


  1. Replies
    1. hahaha thanks Didi, glad you got a kick out of it. :)

  2. Super funny! Poetic. True.

    "Letting go of our friends, our family, our comforts, our routines, our home, our lives. Everything. Gone and getting farther and farther away from life as we know it."

    I went home to Manila to give birth. Was there for 6 months. At that time had been away for around 3.5 years. It was home but not quite. Yet the "home" I had in my mind was different with what I came home to. I never noticed it during vacations but for this extended stay it was obvious.

    It's interesting what you said "on pause." But I guess only in our minds. Home, people, everything. Life flows. I left 4 years ago. Yet in my mind it was the home of 4 years ago ("on pause"). It is now 4 years after. I am 4 years older. In as much as I resist it, I have changed too. In as much as for 4 years I have been kicking and screaming, looking back, I am liking this me now. Haha!

    It is painful, gross even yet there is something liberating with leaving all the shit behind :)

    BTW super love how you write. I'm a fan. I'll watch out for Fatherland the book ;-)

    1. Thanks Tala for the super kind words! Happy to be part of #trailingspousestories. Definitely, leaving things "on pause" only happens in our minds. We cease creating new memories with the people back home. So in my mind, recording those memories are put on pause. The good thing is, when we see our people again, we can pick up right where we left off. Looking forward to reading your blogs! :)

    2. Have to reply to this thread -- Tala, Marc is an awesome writer!!! Glad you guys made the connection too! :)

      And yes, Fong, I heard about that sh*t. But like all things parenting, we survive (even barely!).

    3. Thank you Jenny for inviting Marc and Nix!!! :-)

  3. "You only need the light when it's burning low, you only need the sun when it starts to only hate the road when you're missing home"

    Quoting from a fave playlist entry, I have never been more intensely homesick than when I decided to stay for good in a country I never thought I would ever visit, let alone I would learn to love living in.

    1. nice quote, is that from a song or a book? :)

  4. Awwww!!! I missed reading your entries bigla.. YOU ARE MISSED!!
    I can't believe it'll nearly be a year na soon!!

    Bilis ng panahon..

  5. I love your story. You're writing made me laugh! There are so many times in our expat lives that the only thing that saved us was our sense of humor. Yours is totally awesome! I will have to share this with TD (The Diplomat)!

    I feel for your family and Mr. Miyagi, the chicken thief. We have moved with our dog from Manila to Jakarta and from Jakarta to Berlin. It's definitely not easy and very stressful for the furry one too. If you have any questions about moving with a dog, please do email me. I would really love to help to reunite you with your beloved pet!

    1. Thank you so much TDW! Thanks for reading and sharing.

      Side-story, Miyagi is called the chicken thief because on 2 separate occasions, he jumped up on the kitchen counter and took a freshly cooked piece of chicken that was cooling out of the oven. The 2nd time I caught him, he swallowed it whole before I could get it out of his mouth. I can't blame him, it was really good chicken.

      Thanks also for the offer, I'll email you when I think I can handle 2 kids AND a dog in our tiny apt. Which might not be soon. But who knows.

      Hope to see you around here more! :)

  6. You survived diarrhea on a 13-hour flight. With the added peril of diaper duty. You, sir, are a hero!

    1. Haha thanks Char, I'm scarred for life. Thanks for reading! See you around!