All That we Leave Behind

I’ve been imagining what it would be like when I finally leave this God-forsaken place. I imagine myself having a destination to go to and the plane ticket that will ferry me to my new life. I imagine all the years I have built fitted into humongous suitcases and carry-ons; all the excesses of my life either donated to other people or sold to interested persons. And then I would be bringing my dog along with me, complete with documentations that would testify that he is of good health and that he is such a good boy (which he really is).

I find myself looking up at the sky sometimes, looking for a plane and when I spot one I would ask it, “Where will you be going?” And then I would feel a momentary pang of jealousy for the people who are inside the plane, people who have somewhere to go to.

Sometimes when I’m driving, I would imagine myself leaving this place and my heart would grow heavy and my face would crumple up like paper and tears would gather in my eyes. I would drive to my favourite places and I would think to myself that if I would leave, then I’ll never see these places again. I’ll never see these places change over time and I’ll never see the city progress. For even though this city is full of deranged drivers and equally deranging traffic, I keep telling myself that I love this place, this city that I grew up in; it’s my city. I have gone to every possible nook and cranny, I have explored every possibility it has to offer me. And through the years I have felt that I have expanded myself and maximised my growth in this city. I have overturned every rock that needs to be overturned, I have chased every possibility there is and I feel like this place is not enough for me anymore. It feels so small now when it previously felt so big, like a mountain that needed to be conquered. I have spent all of my best years here and I am on my way down the mountain. And I feel like I’m being pulled to another mountain that needs to be conquered where I will spend another set of best years of my life.

This city used to make me feel content: driving around at nighttime with the amber lights from light posts, going out on a late-night weekend with friends, running errands after work. The muck, the smoke, the hidden slums, the potholes, the roads with no footpaths for pedestrians, the irrational rerouting schemes, are all part of this city that I have come to love, even with all its idiosyncrasies. But now, I don’t feel the contentment anymore simply because of the fact that this place has told me that it has nothing to offer me anymore. It has given me all that it has to give; there is nothing here for me anymore.

It made me feel that every year is just the same as before, everything gets old and everything dies as time passes by but nothing new ever happens to me because there is nothing left for me here anymore. And I’m beginning to feel like a candle that’s beginning to get used up and melting half-way down and that if I don’t do something now, my light will be extinguished.

And if someday you decide to leave your city, your city with all the dirt roads and short cuts, all the houses that are neatly piled into a line, all the rice fields that become green and yellow depending on the season, remember that it is not going anywhere, it will still be here when you decide to come back. All the friends and family that you’re going to leave behind, if they truly are your real friends and family, then no amount of years or decades that will pass will be sufficient enough for them to forget you. Remember, if you ever decide to leave, all that we leave behind are just fragments of our past that we need to let go of, they are not the sum of who we are because who we will become is below the other side of the sky. And if you are able to grasp that one simple truth, then leaving everything behind would not be as difficult as you first thought it was.

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