Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bittersweet Journey Ends in Excruciating Back Pains

I have not abandoned my blog. Husband, Marguerite, my Mom, my cousin Luigi, and I left for Subic on Sunday night and got back last night. The English department of the school where I taught prior to becoming a SAHM invited me to talk about my experience as a writer and to conduct a writing workshop as well. Husband and I had originally been planning to go there next month as part of my birthday celebration, but making the trip earlier wouldn't have spoiled anything, so I accepted the invite and got busy preparing a dorky little speech.
I was hoping that the new road cutting through Clark would have already been done, but no such luck. We meant to leave early on Sunday, but boxes from my aunt in Fresno arrived shortly after lunch and we had to sort the contents out first. We didn't arrive in Subic until it was already 9pm. This was also the main road test for Marguerite's new car seat. I'm pretty happy with it thus far. We went to SM Megamall last weekend because they were supposedly having a mall-wide sale, but wouldn't you know it? The car seats weren't included in the sale. Up until buying this, Marguerite used the infant car seat that we got with her stroller. It was getting too small for her. This time we opted for a convertible one so we can keep her rear-facing for as long as possible. We thought we got a great deal with the new car seat as it was the only one at the store that met all of our requirements and we thought the price was pretty reasonable (we had thought of getting a used Aprica one at 4k php on, but we didn't have the time to contact the seller. We had meant to put the car seat task out of the way the previous Saturday right after the homeschool conference, but Husband was sick if you remember), but we ended up paying more than $100 for something that you can get at Walmart for $40 as what I learned through googling. I guess the shipping and taxes would have added up to about the same amount. Sigh. I think we should just stop talking about it.
That I was in Subic again almost two years after leaving didn't register until Monday noontime. We stayed at the headmaster's house (which was really nice of him. He wasn't there. His main residence is in Mamplasan, the biggest campus) and its makeup was just like our old one's (but much much better decorated, of course) so moving about it felt very familiar, but I couldn't really wax nostalgic as it wasn't exactly our old home. Driving down the main road in daylight though was something else. Husband and I had probably done it a thousand times in the past and it felt exactly the same. At least it did until the Beukers' old house came into view and then we hit the corner of the street where former students of mine used to live. Right after that the McEwens' house where you could always see their green Mazda. Then the Baumstarks' street. I thought the place had no business looking the same when it really wasn't anymore. All those people had moved away. Like us. And the fact is, I had really wanted to move back to the city too. I was desperate to get away. I could probably put a lot of it down to pregnancy hormones, but I still believe that we made the right decision. For a little while I had a lump in my throat and my eyes got a little watery, but we hit the highway pretty soon and it was no trick to swallow the lump and to blink back the tears. I had been told right off that international schools are transient in nature anyway.
We got to go to the beach later that afternoon. When we were residents we got to go in for free and even bring along up to six guests per ID. So between Husband and myself, twelve guests. I had no idea how expensive a trip to the beach could be. The sad thing is that residents don't have that privilege anymore. That sucks for those who still live there.
The following day I was finally able to go back to the school. I resolutely refused to compare then and now or to dwell on the changes, except to occasionally remark on how much former students of mine had grown (I didn't have the strength to be original. I hadn't slept well the night before;-p). I gave the talk to sixth and eighth graders (I guess seventh graders got English on the alternate schedule). I have no idea how interesting or informative I was, but everybody made me feel very welcome. The two middle school English teachers were very charming. It was a delight to practice my Spanish with Mr. Bacayao (sp?), who is Cuban-American and Mr.Oviatt (whom I had known from my years teaching there) even gave me a signed hardbound copy of his own book as a thank you. (Side anecdote because I just have to tell you: This is just the kind of thing I would rave about. During my talk I mentioned the Newbery Medal. The students weren't familiar with the award, so Mr. Oviatt and I tried to explain as best as we could what it involved. He mentioned that he gave Cynthia Voigt her first ever teaching job. I was so amazed. This was a very huge deal to me. I proceeded to demonstrate to the students how dorky I can be. I started gushing all over the place and babbling on and on about how much my sister and I love Cynthia Voigt and how incredible it is that there are only two degrees (one degree?) of separation between us. The students had no idea what I was going on and one about so I told them about the movie version of Homecoming hoping that one of them had already caught it on the Hallmark channel.)
Husband brought Marguerite along to pick me up and everybody got very excited about her. Some students even sneaked out of their classrooms to play with her (I was actually afraid of that).That was the first time that they got to meet her(except for a few teachers with whom I keep in touch). I was about six months pregnant when they last saw me, so they got to witness and ward off hyper-emesia of the projectile kind, watch my belly grow, wait with me to find out the gender of the baby, and suggest names for her (they all offered their own names, of course), but they never got to see the beautiful end result. This visit made things right.
I usually treat the past as beyond burned bridges and even if parting was done amicably, I tend to not prefer to go back. The past days pointed out how such an attitude doesn't do anyone any service. It was an overall pleasant experience and I wouldn't mind doing it again
Note: Flickr's acting up. Pictures to follow on next post.