culture shock

This last summer, I traveled to the Philippines, where my mother’s family lives. It was my first time to ever encounter the country that, though has been silent for the last 23 years, has represented half my heritage. My time in Cebu can only be described as three weeks of culture shock.

I’m a stranger, yet somehow you love me. I represent so many things your life is not, yet you represent half of my existence. In so many ways, on so many levels, I dominate you. But I’m subdued, almost comforted by your love. I can’t even begin to comprehend our closeness.

I am torn between two things I can’t define. Two forces? Two worlds? Two perspectives? Your world, your face, your language burns inside of me, a sensation I have never ever before experienced. I want to cry, to laugh, to scream; but everything is trapped by something that has fiercely taken hold of my heart.

Every word, every song, every sound, every rooster’s crow adds to the pressure. What do you even see when you look at me? What do you even hear when I talk to you? What do you even think of the fact that I’m here? This is not my world, and you realize this, even more clearly than I do. You’re watching me, catering to my movements, even sometimes laughing at me, but you love me. And I am here, pretending, making conversation, because somehow I love you, too.

This is the worst feeling in the world. My heart feels swollen. My mind feels heavy with thoughts and emotions. My body has never had more energy, and it seems to be the only thing that keeps me going in this world. My feet keep walking, without question, while my heart is screaming expressions of desperation and profanity and confusion.

You constantly ask if I am hungry or tired. Yet I have been eating and sleeping to the full MY WHOLE LIFE. Although I don’t know how it is possible to accept this, I do.

The whole time, the poignant turn of events inside of me remains unknown to you, the one I seek to know, yet, at the same time, hide from.

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