Today, I didn’t mention it.
It was the same question, the question that always threatened me. The question I don’t know how to answer. The question that always have to debate, discuss, and contemplate and plan out my answer, all within my own head. And nobody knows that I am still not sure of the answer.
“Where are you from?”
“Tell your name, your major, and your hometown.”
When I was a child, there was only one answer. But then my life changed. I moved to a different world. And I changed. I grew there.
I didn’t put the slash in today. I usually say “Buchanan, Michigan slash Bontoc, Mountain Province, Philippines.” Because I am from both. They both made me who I am. But today, there was no “but” or “well, actually…”
Today, I stood up in class and said, “I’m from Buchanan, Michigan,” making the “mitten” map with my hand and pointing it out. They laughed at that. I smiled back. It was such a Michigan thing to do.
Then, I sat down and the introductions continued and I wondered why I wanted to cry. Only I knew the absence. Only I felt the silence of the place that was not said.
And it ached. It ached like the grey morning with the smell of smashed worms on the sidewalk.
I thought I had moved on. I had returned to the old house at ******** Drive. I had a “permanent home address” now. They didn’t need to know.
But maybe I did. Maybe I needed to know that I hadn’t lost it. Because maybe I don’t really want to move on because I don’t want to leave it behind. Maybe I just need to know that even if I am in a new chapter, that it’s still in my book, that it’s still part of my story. Because it’s getting blurry and I’m getting scared. I am scared that I will forget. I do not know that I will change my answer. But, I think, at least next time, I will still feel the pain of the absence of the place I did not say.