Tuesday, June 26, 2018

can you go home again?

I went home again to my childhood town this past March. I grew up in Laguna province on the island of Luzon in the Philippines.  I made a return visit to the city of San Pablo where most of my memories were formed. I found the street where our last house had been, the Baptist church that my father had planted, the same streets that I had bicycled so freely and found all so much the same. The plaza where the San Pablo Cathedral sat so solidly in the center, the open air market, the department store where I bought my first art supplies with my allowance, it was all still there nearly 50 years later.
I walked up the steep narrow street I had lived on, looking for my old address and at the top of the street there was an overlook to a volcanic lake. My brother and I had been so proud when we packed lunch and bicycled all the way around the lake. It seemed so large to me then. Now, serene and picturesque it looked unchanged with bamboo fishing traps floating on the surface.
I felt like I had come home again in that the sights, smells, and sounds that I loved were all the same. But I no longer had anyone that I knew or loved living there. No one to greet me or to welcome me for a meal. 
I realized that I was truly what is called a third culture kid, I didn't belong to the Filipino culture as much as I cherished it, and I have never felt completely at home in the American culture. I looked like an American visitor from the outside, my education, family and property now was in America, but something inside was tightly clinging to all that was Filipino. To my sorrow and shame I can no longer speak Tagalog, I have forgotten too much.
I'm writing some blog posts to put down my complicated thoughts about the pull of what was once home. I made a lot of artwork during and after my trip and wish to share in the next days.

Thomas WolfeYou Can't Go Home Again “But why had he always felt so strongly the magnetic pull of home, why had he thought so much about it and remembered it with such blazing accuracy, if it did not matter, and if this little town, and the immortal hills around it, was not the only home he had on earth? He did not know. All that he knew was that the years flow by like water, and that one day men come home again.” 
You Can't Go Home Again is a novel by Thomas Wolfe published posthumously in 1940