Saturday, January 29, 2011

Of Airport Terminals and Tight Hugs

As I stare into the screen of Etihad Airways Boeing 777, where the scene changes from the lighted path of the runway into the gloomy dusk of Manila, I can't help but feel sad that as the scenes change the distance that separates me from my family also increases. This is why I'm not a big fan of airport terminals. Some may look at it as their gateway to adventure or freedom, for me, airport terminals, particularly the departure area are torture cells of the unwilling travelers.

Though, I'm not wholly unwilling to travel because I was leaving to join my husband. It is just that, a part of me is feeling so heavy because I will be leaving behind what I have considered my comfort zone. That Friday, while I rushed inside to have my stuff checked in, I was a volcano of conflicting emotions. The Ninoy International Airport was ready to burst with passengers heading out of the country. It was chaos everywhere. When I found the queue for Etihad, I panicked. The queue was so long, good thing they have a system. The first stop is the weight checker then passport/visa verification then lastly the main check-in counter. After checking in, I have to pay travel tax at another counter. I was a bit confident that I don't have to pay the usual fee anymore, unlike the first time I left for Abu Dhabi, because I have my husband's copy of Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). Unfortunately, when I presented my passport with my visa stamped on it plus my husband's visa, they still asked for my marriage certificate to authenticate my relation to my husband. What?! I mean, my visa has already a "housewife" written on it, what more evidence do they need? But because I was running out of time, I didn't argue anymore, knowing some of those people there are just trying to milk money from Filipinos working abroad. The whole thing took me 20 minutes to complete. Then I was able to join my family outside again.

When I got outside, I knew my Nanay would start bawling any moment as well as my sister which will definitely be followed by more crying by me. I saw many families already crying while they kiss their love ones safe journey. When it was my turn to give them my goodbyes, the tear ducts opened like a dam. This is why I hate airports, it always make me cry. It made me think of a hundred and one reasons why I should not leave the country. When I finished hugging and kissing my Nanay, Tatay, my sister and my niece, I have to stop or I can not leave. So I walked straight into the entrance gate , I don't want to look back because it will just make me cry harder, but it was then that my niece decided to shriek and cry I started crying all over again. It was torture. Pure hell of emotional torture. In my head, I try recalling everything I would be missing - my Tatay's constant checking on everyone, my Nanay's loud presence and smelling like D&G Blue, my brother's moody attitude while talking about school, movies, tv series and books, my sister's rant about life while chasing little Drina, my brother-in-law's hirit while maintaining a poker face, heck, I would even miss our chabby Baleng for simple being her.

And I keep telling myself, that everything is just temporary. I will just think of the time that I will be seeing them again. I tried psyching myself that, if I go and work abroad, I could have the extra cash to help my family feel more comfortable. I guess, everyone inside that airplane was thinking of the same thing. That one day, Filipinos don't have to leave the country and look for a job to provide for his or her family. That one day, we could all spend birthdays, anniversaries, Christmases and other special holidays together. No more long distance calls for hours just to hear our families breath and talk nonsense stuff. No more pretending that I'm attending the party via Skype. One day, I would look at airport terminals without a tear but still with a tight hug to welcome me back home. One day.

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