I straight can’t think.

And I can’t think straight, either.

The past couple of weeks still have my mind abuzz with tangential thoughts, and it’s hard for me to reign them all in and concentrate on what I’ve got to. Between Rob’s mom being in the hospital, a debacle with a travel agency, the question floating around about whether or not we’ll find a nanny before Rob leaves, the other question about if we’ll end up moving back to New York, people suddenly being interested about mine and Rob’s marital status, Riley spending the night away from me for the first time since he was born, and a lot of unresolved personal issues shoving their way into mine and Rob’s every day routine, my thoughts are scattered. I haven’t been able to attend classes, I’m way behind on quizzes, and I’m floundering. The only thing tethering me to reality and responsibility is Riley and an unshakable feeling that there’s got to be more than this.

The chaos of the past two weeks reminded me of New York. There was always some kind of drama happening, some place I had to be, and a dozen responsibilities to deal with at the same time. Yet, I remember always rising to the challenge and surpassing all of my doubts and worries with a smile and a nod. I don’t know if those memories are doctored by time and distance. Most likely, I was in turmoil when all of that was happening, and I’m just now seeing the grass as greener on that side. Still, I can’t help but wonder.

Rob’s aunts brought up a good point about moving back to New York: Now that the health care reform law was passed, I’m still under my parents’ insurance – for another two years, at least. And I would have Medicaid health insurance, anyway, if things looked bleak in the financial department. Plus, I was accepted into a really good nursing program, and the tuition for it would most likely be paid by the government. There’s readily accessible child care in New York. I know the language, the pace, the culture. AND Rob would be there. So why the hell am I so bent on staying here? Surely, I’ve learned all the life lessons this place can teach me, and I can go back to where I belong?

This is what I’m realizing as I poke my head through the haze of the past two weeks and try to make sense of it all: I don’t know a damn thing about what used to be.

I have been so immersed in this new phase of my life – in learning how to be a good mom and partner, and a good nursing student, and to be able to succeed in this foreign culture – that I can only go forward, to a stage that feels wholly different from everything before it. I can’t go back to not knowing how to provide a hefty and regular salary for my family and hoping that the Writing Gods pay attention to me. I can’t go back to living at my parents’ place or at Rob’s mom’s place. I can’t go back to the same routine of instability and art. I need something stable. I need to own my own four walls and have enough money coming in to pay for those walls, and also have enough to pay for the food and clothing that provide sustenance and warmth for the people living within those four walls. I have to earn peace of mind. I have to do it for myself and my partner and our kids. I have to figure out how to be amazingly, exhilarating, jubilantly happy here in the Philippines. I have to learn to see the colors and lights and joy emanating from this place, the fighting spirit that people must have here, the courageous and unwavering foresight to see things as they should be and not just as they are. I must stop assuming that there is no fight here, that people are drained here, that they cannot be taught to want more and do better.

I feel as though my perspective has been dulled by the fear and worry that I will slip back into old patterns, regress into who I once was, and never fulfill my destiny. I was afraid that, for all I give my kids, it would be somehow incomplete because I feel incomplete. Now I’m learning to give up all of the fear, worry and doubt, and simply show up. Do what I’ve got to do. Have faith that the steps necessary to reach my goal are carefully plotted and are being taken. And never cease to find the art in life. Because art is life is art is life, et al., and if I miss out on the art, I’m missing out on life.

Today is the day that I ease up on academics so I can stop and smell the pollution haze, then make friends with people who are working to stop it. Today is the day when I become the progressive, liberal-minded individual I’ve been billing myself as. Today is the day I say “Fuck you” to everyone and everything holding me down, making me sad/afraid/anxious/bitter/angry, and proudly proclaim that I’m doing my own damn thing.

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all. It’s good to be here.

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