This year, I have not really been active with my blogging. Even my Facebook presence has somehow dwindled. There are just too many things that needed my attention more. Perhaps it is a sign that I am finally becoming more mature. However, I still turn to the comfort of the Internet to hopefully preserve some of my memories. I still delight at finding “See Your Memories” on Facebook.
The year 2015 has been good and bad to me. That is the normal scheme of things. You take the bad with the good. That is life. To really see how 2015 treated me, here is a breakdown:
- I am back in Dominica. I was here with my family last year, but only for a month’s vacation. We are here for God knows how many years to come. Sometimes, it pays not to plan too much.
- I am living with my parents. It has been a long time since I had spent this much time with them.
- My son is doing well at his new school. He easily transitioned to speaking English all the time. I had made sure that his first language was still Filipino, and he can also understand the dialect (now considered another language) Bikol.
- My husband has a good job in marketing here, even though we are new. It is a combination of luck, connections, and good education.
- I am teaching primary school for the first time. It is loads of fun. I get a lot of hugs.
- My back does not hurt as much as before. The Tarlov cysts are soothed by my more relaxed lifestyle here.
- Work is not as grueling, though physical taxing (imagine working with 26 seven year olds without a teaching assistant!). I leave work early all the time, not like before when I had to sometimes stay at work from 6:30 am to 7:00 pm or even 9:00 pm. Work here is from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm at the latest.
- Since Joreb’s nanny has started working full time at my parents’ house, I am his full time mom and caregiver: baths, meals, and all included. I spend a lot of time with him now, especially since I teach at the school he attends.
- I started a Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology at the University of the West Indies, Open Campus.
- NO TRAFFIC
- 300 square meters plus of plot of land for me and my brother, bought by our parents’ money and finalized under my efforts – fees paid by me and my brother.
- I miss the Philippines, especially my brother and my friends.
- I quit a good job as a college instructor at Far Eastern University – TECH. I miss my old students.
- I had to leave before I got to defend my Master of Fine Arts – Creative Writing thesis at De la Salle University.
Tomorrow, it will be two weeks since Tropical Storm Erika struck Dominica. It was unexpected. We even laughed about how my name Erica only varies by one letter. I may not have been born here in this island, but it struck a chord.(I have been a citizen since 1997, when I was 16. We arrived here in 1995 although I had been living in the Philippines from 2002 to earlier this year, with summer visits to the island.) It was a joke, but it ended up being anything but. It was a tragedy.
With only about 70,000 people here, there was no doubt that someone one resident knows had been affected badly. People had died. For a bigger country, the casualties and destruction may not have been much. But this is a small island, with only a few people. I understand, even if I do originally come from a perpetually typhoon-battered country, the Philippines. In the Philippines, hundreds of thousands of people are usually uprooted after a terrible storm. Fewer and fewer lives are lost, however, because devastation is expected every year.
You don’t really know what life is in store for you no matter how much you plan. The same goes here in laid-back Dominica. Conscientious people could easily suffer together with those who haven’t got a care in the world. I knew some people who had been paying their mortgages and working through life responsibly, and then the storm struck. Some villages had to be permanently abandoned to prioritize safety. It was an understandable decision. Yet, I could not help but feel sorry for those who would be forced to live elsewhere – to leave everything that they used to have amidst the rubble and loved ones who died under the mud and waters.
Nearly two weeks after, electricity and water had not been back to some areas. Water came sporadically. You have to learn how to live the way people lived before water was made to flow through pipes. I was used to two showers a day, after I woke up and before I slept. Now, a bucket of water per day must be conserved. Each grab of the dipper had become precious. Dripping water from skin is reserved for flushing the toilets. Water is life. Water is precious. Yet, we had never really respected its value.
Hopefully, in a few days’ time, water will flow continuously. Today, however, I am just thankful that there are barrels waiting for me at home. Some people live in darkness. Their lines may not be back for weeks. They do not have water at all, except for those delivered by the government as rations. Some have even lost their lives. My family is lucky. Though water is precious, lives are even more precious.
My mom will be travelling to the Philippines come Monday/Tuesday. I forgot if she was leaving Monday, Dominican or Philippine time. She will be arriving here just in time for Mother’s Day. That is not her intention, however. She did not even plan on visiting this year because of health issues and responsibilities at work. Still, she is on the way home because she wanted to be with me when she heard about my Tarlov cysts. Whether I go through surgery or not, she will be here – that’s what she told me.
Even with her own scoliosis and congenital heart disease, she will be braving two to three days of travel alone. Dad has too many patients and medical students to accompany her. The usual route is Dominica-Puerto Rico-Miami-New York-L.A.-Manila. I don’t know if she opted for the European route this time around. I forgot to ask.
My mother and I have a weird relationship. We love each other terribly but when we fight, we sound like the best of enemies. Yet, we can count on each other. We can count on the other to forgive because our bond as mother and daughter is strong and has become stronger when I became a mother myself. As a mom now, I realize that I am slowly turning to a version of my mom. Though I look like my dad, my facial expressions are starting to match hers.
I am proud of her and what she is about to do for me by visiting despite her own health issues. I am proud that when I was a child, she never paid teachers anything just so I could get good grades. We did not donate refrigerators. We did not bribe teachers. She and my dad believe in me and in my brother – in our capabilities. My brother and I, in turn, also believe that our parents will do just about everything to ensure our safety, our health, and our development into good persons. This upcoming visit is one proof of that.