Family Life

Goodbye Nanay Ering

After spending the night doing Calculus homework and reading about Lenin and the Russian Revolution, I woke up this morning with a heaviness I couldn’t put words to. The City has been cold and rainy since yesterday, and this morning in particular was disjointed a clumsy. After being dropped off home, I curled on my bed and scrolled through my newsfeed, where I stumbled across a post my ate had posted a handful of hours ago. My nanay Ering had passed away and a sense of shock and numbness overtook my body.

She was my only lola in my family, known as the mother of mothers. I called my mother right afterwards, crying and trying to piece together the situation. Nanay had developed infections from her smoking, and althought we knew her time was coming, none of us expected it to happen this morning. After enduring immense pain, her body finally gave out and shutdown.

I’ve only met her once, a decade ago, when my manang Jing was getting married. I was 10 at the time, naive to the rarity of the situation. My mother and I can’t afford to visit the Philippines as frequently as we’d like, leaving us with only webcam videos and the occasional phone calls. What is only oceans away has felt like entire solar systems, always so close yet so far from my family back home, the only true family I know.

Nanay, I miss you. I miss your laugh, I miss your warmth. I miss your food, I miss your jokes. The smell of cigarettes cling to your memory now whenever I smoke. The way you loved filled our family with such warmth and joy because you were the glue. You were on of the strongest women of our family, never married and always supporting all of us instead of yourself. I hope to be as selfless and kind as you were, with the wit and charm of a brilliant pinay. I’m grateful you’re relieved of the pain that wrecked havoc on your body, and that you’re reunited with the rest of our lolos and lolas. I love you nanay, and I hoped you knew that too.

Family Life, Student Life

Drunk Before Dinnertime

Last night, I had Thanksgiving with my family our our closest friends. My anxieties around being around family during the holidays heighten with each comment, and so, by getting high before the meal, I felt like I had a fool proof means to avoid the discussion of politics entirely. I’m getting exhausted with my family, a room full of liberals who’s skin crawls anytime I even mention anything with a trace of Communism associated with it, milking me for answers on how to feel with the shift in political climate. I’m tired of being the “go to” political person among my relatives, leaving me emotionally exhausted and my relatives left with a swell up chest and sense of pride for being whatever their definition of “progressive” may be.

As the night progressed, I was never caught with an empty wine glass. By the time we sat down to eat, I could feel the full weight of the booze and weed hit me all at once. I ate at the meal ravenously, not able to finish past a single plate. Between courses, I crawled on the couch and took a quick nap before proceeding with the meal. Through this whole charade of my back and forth, my relatives laughed at how tipsy I was. My mother’s close friend who’s also a physicist and I went back and forth about dark mater and black holes, cheering and drinking for various scientific achievements we thought were amazing. The best part of the whole night was that politics weren’t discussed at all, instead the room filled with laughter as I stumbled around and shoveled mashed potatoes in my mouth.

Waking up the next day, I realized the trade I made last night. In getting drunk around relatives, I realized I gave up the childish innocence most of my relatives see me in. Being grown up and openly engaged with everything going on as we talked about wine and gravitational waves, the door was opened to a new level of predatory behavior I have to experience. My mother’s older, white male friends would hit on me, grabbing too tightly at my waist whenever I gave them a hug hello and openly referring to me as sexy in front of the family. The scariest part of all of this is the fact that this occurred when I was drunk, not sober.

This morning is a mixed bag because of everything that happened last night. I can’t really look or drink wine, its smell nauseating after a night of drinking feelings away. I’ve found myself cocooned in quilt, wrapped up on the couch as I try to muster up productivity. The most worrisome thing is the fact that I feel very numb to it all. I don’t know if I’m really bothered by what happened, or if I’m still in shock from it. I don’t know how to really process the continuous disappointment I have for men, especially white men, and their ability to twist a relationship into something that causes me discomfort and disappointment.

Family Life, Mental Health

San Jose, My First Home

As I ride back home to San Jose on the CalTrain, a feeling of melancholy has washed over me. I feel uncomfortable leaving Daly City, saying goodbye to all my plants and my beaten up old house. Part of me is excited to visit my hometown again, revisiting old friends and the streets of the city I know so well, but a huge chunk of me is aching like the moans of the train. I’ve left a huge chunk of myself back in Daly City, all of my growth and safety, and traded it in for a holiday rooted in genocide and a bunch of bitter relatives who wish they could scrub my tattoos off. I hate being thrown back into the fascade of who I used to me, just repeating back lines and trying not to reveal how drunk I am at dinner.

Being with family after developing such genuine relationships and love within my collective is always hard during the holidays. Especially considering the roots of Thankgiving and its basis of colonialism and genocide, I’m very hesitant to take part in most of the festivities. Coming home, I know I’m here to simply see my family and lend a helping hand around the house as my mother cooks days in advance and my stepfather runs errands all day. It was refreshing to complete different chores this morning, feeding my chickens as I take part in my morning stoge and coffee. I’m comforted by mother’s presence in a way that transcends our differing policies: food and farm labor.

I love going into our wild garden and seeing all the produce flourish beneath my feet. I can hear the chickens squawk as I pet our cat Lexi. My mother is constantly making meals, making sure I’m comfortable back home and can rest from my time away from the city. Even though leaving my home is difficult, it’s easy for me to find that silver lining in all of this, knowing I don’t see my family often and their presence comes from a genuine, kind place.

Differing politics will always be a hurdle with my family, which is why I moved out in the first place. As I carve out my new life as an adult in the city, it’s important to never forget the amount of love I still left at home with my family in South Bay. I don’t think my mother and I will ever see eye to eye, but I do know that we are on that track to healing our relationship since we do have the time and space we both desperately needed when I was still developing as a young teenager. In my time back home, I’m working on bridging those gaps and healing those wounds so I don’t feel as heavy as I did when I left.