It was an awfully gloomy day when it happened. The skies were pitch dark, with no signs of the shining rays of the sun.
I was laying down on my bed, with my blue pajamas still on, when a noise came from somewhere within my still, dark room. I recognized the sound as my ringtone so I tried looking for my phone around me, only to remember I had left it on the table yesterday night. So, I stood up, stumbled around in the dark and knocked a few things off my study table in search for my phone. The minute I grabbed hold of it, I looked at the caller ID, saw that it was my dad, and answered the call. “Hello,” I said.
No answer. All I heard was silence on the other end of the line. I looked at my phone to check if the call was still connected; it was. So, I asked again, “Hello?”. Another moment of silence. Then I heard a shuffling sound, followed by more noises. “Hello? April? Sorry, I forgot I was on a call with you,” my dad finally responded, calling me April (my nickname) in the process. “Dad, what’s up? Why did you call?” I asked as I turned on the lights in the room.
“Oh well, go to your school tomorrow. Arrange your papers and quit school. We’re moving. Ok, I’ll call you again later,” he told me in a hurry and suddenly ended the call. “Huh…
? Ok.” I answered fully aware that nobody was listening anymore. I stared at the black screen of my phone for a while, unable to process my thoughts. What? We were moving? Again? We were a family of immigrants. We moved here and there. So, that time should not be any different. Except, it was.
It was indeed different. Sure, moving wouldn’t be difficult if I was still in high school but I was an incoming 3rd year college student that year. I only had a few more semesters before I could graduate. Was I expected to leave all that? I was. That was the answer I got when my parents came back from Oman to the Philippines in December that year. They told us that we were moving to the United States after a long application process that took them almost ten years.
We were left with no choice but to move as they believe it would be what’s best for all of us. We were supposed to leave the next year and the only thing left for us to do at the moment was to wait. As we waited, Christmas came and along with it, came the shining lights and the joyful sound all around the neighborhood. Our relatives came from different places and gathered together to celebrate the yuletide season. Bright lights decorated the house and colorful gift-wrapped boxes adorned the Christmas tree. Everyone was busy, running around in their bright red and green clothes, cooking mouth-watering dishes and delicacies, and taking pictures with each other.
It was all accompanied by the cheerful music in the background and the ringing of the bells from the church nearby. It was that blissful time of the year where we get to see everyone again, and it was all I could think of that time. Gone were my thoughts of moving into an unfamiliar country. Or so I thought. As with the coming of the Christmas season, came its passing.
Just as how quick the days seemed to pass, so did Christmas season. The only things left were the leftover food, the remains of the gift-wrappers that were thrown away and the reality that we were leaving the Philippines soon. I was faced with the hard truth that we were moving and I had really wanted time to stop then. I knew deep within me that as much as I wanted a better life for myself, I was not ready to leave everything behind. Everything I worked hard for would all go into shambles and would all be in vain. A few months came and went, and the day finally came. At long last, we were leaving the Philippines to go to America.
As our airplane left the runway, I looked outside its window and observed how the buildings got smaller and smaller until all I could see were the clouds in the sky. And I thought this was it. It was finally time and even though everything I’ve done so far seems futile, I could just start all over again. We were moving to the United States for a better future and to be whoever we want to be. And so, as the airplane landed, I was already picturing myself as a successful doctor. Those thoughts brought me delight and I felt like I was soaring in the clouds in happiness.
However, New York brought me back to my senses again. What followed after coming here in the United States were long processes and more stages to execute. We would still have to look for a house to live in, buy furniture, move our things from one place to another, and search for potential schools. After finding schools, were the numerous paperwork and forms that needed to be completed and submitted. The way to getting everything back in order was bound to be a long ride with lots of bumps and detours. After accomplishing a task, another would present itself as if trying to test whatever patience we had left. On top of all that, I was being consumed by the stifling depression I felt as I had to wait for the results of my college applications all the while seeing my old classmates entering their last year of college.
They were graduating. And I was there, doing nothing, laying down on my bed, and looking up at the blank ceiling. Was I wasting my life away? Just waiting? Were loneliness, emptiness, and uselessness what I was supposed to feel? Then I heard a sound. The distinctive sound of an email alert. I sat up almost immediately and scrambled for my phone.
It was an email, my admission letter to be exact. I read it twice, no, thrice to make sure it really was my admission letter, and as I continued reading the email, I realized there were more procedures and more forms to go through. What I thought was the end of my suffering wasn’t the end at all, it was only the beginning of a longer journey in life.