05 September 2007

Maybe It's Just Me?

I've been out of sorts lately which, sadly, is not unusual. But, I've been MORE out of sorts than usual and it's a little unnerving. We've been living on take out at our house lately because of all the stuff that's been going on. It's almost like our lives have been put on hold - not a state of being I particularly like. But, since we will be renting my aunt and uncle's house for the next 5 months it will be a state that we will be living in for a while.

There have been times when I was a child that we lived in a state of hold. This happened usually when my mom was switching jobs or it was summer or we had visitors from the Philippines. As a child it was a nice time because it meant we got to eat things like hamburgers or take a trip to Chicago's China Town. I remember going to Jimmy Wong's (is that still around?), rubbing the big Buddah's belly on the way in, and falling asleep in a booth while my parents, aunts, and uncles chatted away.

Maybe it's just me or maybe it's because I'm the "adult" but living in a holding pattern isn't as much fun. It's during these stressful times that I look for comfort. Comfort in the form of - what else - Filipino food (and I DON'T mean Spam or corned beef from a can). I'd love to cook something like mungo, but the pots and pans are all packed away. There's something about takeout (i.e., burgers, pasta, salads, etc.) that make me feel less Filipino.

I know that there are Filipino restaurants in Chicago, but it's just not the same as having something that you made yourself. In my younger years, I've felt like an outsider and did silly things like dye my hair lighter so that I looked less like me. But, I'm finding that as I get older, I long for the days when my parents chatted away in a few dialects (to throw my sister and I off from what they were talking about); when aunts and uncles from the Philippines came to visit; and the times when I sat on the kitchen floor while Lola made homemade longanisa.

Those times are gone because I don't live with my parents and Lola passed away long ago. There's something so comforting about those times and I have no idea how to recreate them. Every year that goes by, I feel less and less me; I feel less and less Filipino.


mom2amara said...

Well said Irene. I don't think I realized I felt the same way until I read your post.

I've recently written about how I recently took inventory of my life and scrutinized every detail. I am searching for solace in whatever form I can.

And there is something very comforting about our childhood memories. The dynamics of the Filipino family are quite amazing. The communication (or lack of as many Filipinos might say). The support system. The close knit relationships. The artery clogging food.

I have aged. Parts of my family has grown apart -- emotionally and geographically. And my personal interests have changed. Have I lost a touch of my Filipino-ness? No. I just sometimes need that reminder - be it through a conversation with family or with a nice plateful of dinuguan!

Hang in there! It will get better!

Anonymous said...

I often feel like I could easily "forget" I'm Filipino. I am grateful for places like this blog where I can examine my life and find the value and impact of being Filipino in it.