It is both sad and exciting that in one week JG and I will finally be finishing our first tour of duty as Diplomat and trailing spouse. Our experience between Tripoli and Muscat makes six years feel like a lifetime, but in some way it also feels like that afternoon writing my first post abroad seem like yesterday.
The past few months I have found myself busy taking care of things, preparing, packing away six years worth of stuff and memories. There’s also the anticipated paperworks, contracts and bills to be cancelled, and the surprise setbacks. Scratch that, I wouldn’t call such setbacks as a surprise, as it is the story of my life that something always goes wrong along the way.
We’ve managed to settle such problems in time (of course in the hopes that nothing else comes in te week), which is why I have now found some time to write something down for the blog.
First let me say something about Oman, and this wonderfully peaceful place we have called home in the past four years. The other day I found myself emotional, even teary-eyed driving alone somewhere in between Shatti Qurum and Al Khuwair, I thought about how I will miss how laid-back everything is and that the hectic, noisy, busy, stressful, bustling concept of urban city life is non-existent here. Or if it is, only happens in certain moments of the day, in some particular pockets of Muscat.
Growing up in busy Metro Manila I have always thought I would go crazy living in quiet places, but here I learned how nice it is to wake up to birds chirping outside your window, and drawing out your curtains to a sweeping view of rocky mountains and clear blue skies, and a short drive away is a shoreline for everyone to enjoy.
I always feel a little sad that I had very few chances to get to know the Omanis, but it is true what they say how hospitable and kind they all are, welcoming to
the presence of the expatriate community in their country with open arms. But I think I have mentioned this before, it says a lot about them that they choose to maintain the identity of their culture, always present in their neighborhoods, fighting the urge to follow other Middle Eastern countries with their sky scrapers and huge malls.
Before I left home to live abroad, I told myself that I wouldn’t let myself feel so at home wherever I get posted afraid that I would get attached to it so much I wouldn’t want to leave. I couldn’t stay long enough in Libya even if I wanted to, enough to establish a connection, and when I got here in Oman, I tried to be distant and kept reminding myself that I am but a visitor here, just passing by. But as one year becomes two you make friends, get familiar with its ins and out, without realizing it you find yourself falling in love a little everyday.
Of course The Philippines will always be home, the first love, and as a popular song in our country, the one you will always keep coming back to. But it would be foolish, and as I learned, futile to fight feeling something for a place that gives you chirping birds, rocky mountains, and shorelines everyday. It crept in slowly until you find yourself realizing this attachment. In my case acceptance came with the knowledge that no time soon, you are going to have say goodbye.
For most people, Muscat and Oman, may not be as axciting or as alive as say Dubai or the others. But for me Muscat’s tranquil environment is the perfect place to help a rowdy, talkative, importunate, young wife learn how to literally and figuratively settle down, listen, get some patience and get to know herself, especially in the quiet moments when she is alone in her cozy small home she has to run far away from all the comfort and support she had back home.
I wish I was a bit more consistent in writing about life and the culture here, but Iet’s just I was preoccupied with lots of things that kept me from sharing them. I also like to think that some memories I’d rather keep to myself, the same way there are some views you see no picture can ever do justice to it, so you just take it all in.
And with that I give a huge thanks to Oman, to Muscat, and how you will always have a fond place in my heart.
I do have some trepidations about going home, however excited I am to see family and friends. One, is once again adjusting to the hustle and bustle of city life. I’m afraid that falling in love with Muscat meant getting used to its calm, laid-back charm. It will probably take some time to get back into the rhythm of life in Manila, and getting reacquianted with the method to its madness.
The last time I was home, it took a while for me to get used to things again, and when I did I had to go back to Oman. The good thing about this is since we are staying a lot longer now, I can take things slow and get back in touch with the city’s beat in my own good time.
My number two concern about going back is finding my place amongst the people that I left behind. Social media sites is a blessing for persons abroad like me as it helps us keep in touch and keep tabs with friends and family, but it also kind of shows you that with you gone so long their lives move forward without you.
It’s a bit of a morbid analogy but it’s like being in a coma but fully aware of the things happening around you, no matter how badly you want to participate and take part, you just can’t. And it isn’t just the birthdays and holidays that you miss out on, but it’s the moments in between, the inside jokes, conversations, shared laughter and grief, small triumphs and achievements, all those warm welcoming hugs and see-you-laters. How do you catch-up to all of that?
But it is of course part of the life I have chosen to live, where change is a constant factor, and change is almost always difficult. But I am always hopeful, at least for now that it will get easier the next time, and even more so the next time after that.
So I guess nothing else left for me to say other than, “See you all in Manila!”