I wish I had known.
How difficult this was all going to be before I decided to tell myself I could handle it. Dreams? My god, what are dreams if not anything but hard to chase. It’s like running towards the tiniest twinkling sliver of light, hoping that at the end of that marathon sprint, the light’s still there, as bright and perfect as you expected it to be.
But at what cost does this sprint truly entail? And how much do we have to sacrifice to get there?
The further I push onward, the days seem to run away from me. Faster and faster they go, slipping out of my sight. At some point during this past year, I realized this journey is not a sprint, but a long-distance marathon. And that’s when it all set in.
In Facetime calls, I see my mother’s hair beginning to turn recognizably white. Her voice more tired by the day. I start to see aging lines and wrinkles on my father’s face- the cracks forming around his smile. As I see them less and less, I notice the changes more and more. There are days I am scared to call them, because I know in that moment I will breakdown, and we just can’t afford that right now both financially and emotionally. I am slowly realizing that as I work towards the life they hope I one day attain for myself and for the family, I lose what’s most valuable. All the time I could be spending with them. I lose the memories and the moments, for twice a year trips home bringing gifts because I’ll need to compensate for never being around. But this is necessary. This is our survival, and my success is critical to that. The story of immigrant families, of “utang na loob” among Filipinx families, of carrying the heavy torch for your family and of being the eldest and the example to everyone else. The narrative continues with me and so many others, whether we’ve agreed to it or not. All we can do, is support each other and fight for our pain to be heard.
It’s numbing. I’ve become an observer, a wallpaper in the lives of the ones I love. It hurts so much to the point that it doesn’t. I watch my brother and sister grow up through pictures, and snaps. Texting them to let them know how I wish I was there too, joining in on their adventures. Will it be like this ten years from now? It doesn’t help that I’m a worrier. Is anyone else the same? The kind that wakes up in the middle of the night just thinking about every scenario that could play out wrong. The optimist-self-imploding black hole incarnate.
There isn’t a lesson to this piece. Or any advice to give. Today I feel picked apart and rearranged. As perfectly imperfect as this deconstructed denim jacket. To some, the design is a complete mess, even a mistake. The defect of the pile. To others, a diamond in the fucking rough.
Today I feel raw. And sometimes that is all we can be.
Creative Collaborator: Dave Claybon
Styled By: Yours Truly.