I’m back in Philly for the final time – at first I’d felt nothing to be honest, but on my way to my friend’s place (third-time in couch-crashing, I’m getting good at this…) at 6ish AM, I’d gotten a particularly beautiful view of the Philly skyline. It was for some strange but wonderful reason, layered with a thin mist, making it look like the skyline’s glazed and painted with hues of red and orange as the sun slowly appeared.
My heart immediately softened; easy familiarity.
I had another Alone (Fri)Day, just walking about end to end in the city, wandering about. My final time in this place I’d learned to call a part of myself. It feels effortless, everything about trying to wade my way through the crowd, trying to think where to obtain what – everything feels effortless.
I will miss this space and time, no doubt.
As I’m writing this, I’ve approximately 60 hours left prior to leaving this space for good. June is coming to a close, my long-weeks traveling too – at least for a little while. I’m out and about late July and August, once more. Currently reflecting, as I do – or rather attempting too, because I’ve been a jumble of thoughts lacking in direction and focus – and I can’t help but find it rather funny, that however much I have traveled and no matter the plenty grasses I have seen, stepped upon, experienced and assimilated however lengthy or briefly, my heart’s compass, as always, points to home.
Yesterday I’d visited the Asian Pacific Islander American (or Asian American) museum in Seattle hours to flying back; I’d managed to squeeze it in and was glad I did, because it was such an insightful and historically rich museum. Prior to this visit, I had no idea that the presence of Japanese Americans have spanned five or six generations now and the social/cultural impacts the World War II has towards the city of Seattle. Specifically, a section of the museum spoke about these immigrants’ plights, desires, battles and more in being recognized as American citizens. The first generations seem to all speak with voices which are tinged with either of the following: 1) neither here nor there, 2) adamantly rejecting their birth countries or 3) having accepted and thus, moving forward and identifying the USA as their home country.
I could not relate and it isn’t that I’m condemning them for the choices they made – home is defined and thought of as a million different things to each individual, after all – but it struck me and thus, made me somewhat uncomfortable (despite understanding if I were in their shoes), their strong desires to be American. The almost-desperation to be citizens and the mindset that the grass is greener here, that there is little to no opportunities in their motherland – which may or may not be true, depending where one is from – I’ll be honest: I simply can’t imagine what it feels like, openly and willingly giving up one’s citizenship and fighting very hard for the new citizenship.
Things are now different, or not so much – it depends where one is from, I’m aware – and I admit to not relating nor understanding because I’m not (and neither am I about to proclaim as) an Asian American. However, it gave me pause, and thought about where I stand, having traversed North America quite a bit and experiencing it first-hand; just where do I stand? Do I too, think the same way about America in the same way many of my international friends do? Wanting to settle here, sometimes desperately, rejecting their home country and more?
It took me but a second to realize that this isn’t even a question I needed to ask myself.
I’ve no beef about America, truly I don’t – it’s given me great experiences, a life-changing education and more – but with all due respect, I’ve no intentions of changing or giving up my citizenship. I’m happy that my American peers have so much pride and love for their country; I can relate, I feel the same way about my own. I admit that there was a period in which I’d entertained and almost given in to the musings of the money, quality of life, weather and more which are obvious pluses when compared to home but ultimately, I think it’s important where one is bounded to. Plus, the idea of home isn’t merely the four walls of my birthplace – it’s also the borders that make up my country, Malaysia.
It’s funny, ironic too perhaps – that I’ve traversed the States quite a bit now, as well as the world over having visited parts of Europe, Asia, Middle East and the Australian continent – yet no matter how great the opportunities they’ve to offer… My heart’s compass, it points to home without fail.
Now I think of it in this way: there are more than enough people who are all-willing to adopt and call the US (and other more advanced countries) as their home, roots and the like; there are so many that I see no need to be one of them. Rather, I’ll stay right where I am in my belief of a better Malaysia. I’m aware and realistic enough in realizing that I may be proven wrong, hit dead ends, encounter way too many ugly truths – the possibilities on either flip side of the coin are endless, I’m aware, truly I am.
However, I sincerely believe and hold on to this: if indeed these negative flip sides turn out to be true, at least no one could say I did not try and that I did not believe. Above all, between myself and God, my conscience remains clear – I made a decision, stick through with it, acted upon it and lived to tell my part.
I’m often told I’m foolishly naive and hopeful; I’ll take it, there’s truth to that. But they don’t shake me, I’m undeterred. I want to steadily hold on and act upon the belief that if change is part of the goal, one must be part of the solution. I’m an engineer – this is practically my professional code. In fact, I firmly held on to this belief in my professional aspiration and today, I’m happy to declare I’m officially one of the many (upcoming) agents of environmental change. I like to think that if I believe I can move mountains – somehow, one way or another, I’ll make it happen within the realms of my world by my own abilities.
This is what I feel when I think of Philly – I love it, truly I do.
It’s the place I’ll always remember with such fondness as the place in which I’d grown into my own person. It’s the one that taught me independence, liberation, freedom of thought, self-worth and every positive trait that makes up the person I am today. It’s thus far, the one and only which held me in without judgment and allowed me to be myself.
But… As vast as my love for it spans – it isn’t home.
The bare naked truth is that it’s a pit stop, one in which I’m grateful for and finally understanding this, one that I’m able to accept as a closed chapter in my life. It’s therefore, the place I’m able to bid goodbye to with an open heart – there’s sadness, of course there is, but acceptance trumps it.
I’ve been all over the past three weeks and finally, in approximately 60 hours from now, my final destination? Home-bound. Malaysia.
It seems incredibly apt and fittingly so.