I’m back in California, my home away from home as my youngest sister puts it. Seven weeks of vacationing in the Philippines around the holidays are enough to get pampered all over again – with “angels” (appreciative name for household help) in the house, who would refuse being served like a queen? I didn’t. I luxuriated and loved every minute of it. Having taken residence in the US for over 40 years, I realized I missed this kind of lifestyle – well, somewhat. And every time I went to visit, this was what I looked forward to … well, for a period and to a degree.
I most enjoyed my vacation in the Philippines especially due to frequent and close bonding with family members; visits of far places to see relatives I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years; touring new attractions that were undeveloped areas years before; seeing tall commercial establishments where there were barren fields and small sari-sari (mix or hodgepodge) stores before; and indulging in exquisite authentic Filipino cuisine. All these were what made my vacation remarkable – and will make me go back to visit again.
After five weeks of being away, of being pandered in comfortable ways by house “angels”, for some strange reasons, I started to be antsy. I longed for the “eat whatever I want days”, or “not eat until I’m hungry days”, or “wake up and get up late for breakfast days”, or “do my own thing” days.
Having acquired independent ways in the US, after five weeks, I awakened from the self-gratification of being pampered like a queen. I no longer wanted my personal clothing washed by the “angels”. In fact, I busied myself in the bathroom some days and washed all my personal undergarments, to the “angels’” veiled curiosity. I no longer perked up when I saw rice, longaniza (sausage) and fried salted fish with sunny-side-up eggs on the breakfast table – I wanted to cook my oatmeal. I was grateful for the “angel” holding the umbrella for me when I walked out in the rain; but I wanted to hold the umbrella for the angel. I didn’t exactly look forward to the savory merienda (snacks) of boiled bananas or corn cooked in the afternoon – I craved for crispy chicharron (pork rinds) dipped in vinegar with pepper. I wouldn’t expect my bed made up on weekends – I wanted it comfortably soft and fussed up with daily use, not stiff from the laundry.
What was wrong with me? While most people would wish to be served for life. I only preferred to be served for a period, until I desired to do my own thing. I appreciated the “angels”, and thanked my family for offering their services to me. But it was a matter of feeling drawn back to old habits, and old habits from decades of staying in the US meant doing things myself. I recognize that living is parceled out in habits. And habits dictate the flow of daily activity. It’s a routine that one gets used to, with a sense of security hinged on some predictability. I couldn’t explain that to the “angels” – not even to family there that I love so dearly. Perhaps, someday, I will.
But all that wistfulness arising from acquired old habits of independence caved in to the better sense of not causing disruption to the house group routine or schedule. Two more weeks of vacation, I thought. That couldn’t be too long just to render myself to fully enjoying the company of family there. And I did.
Now, I’m back in my home away from home, and it feels good, too … to be close to my son, his wife and my grandson who calls me Lola with a perfectly rounded “o”, and to my daughter and her husband. Also, back to work and my old habits. Yet, I look forward to more vacations in the Philippines, where I can luxuriate like a queen – for a period – then back to my home away from home, back to acquired old habits.