When I think of home, I don’t just see a single image in my head. Instead, I think of three different places: the condo unit my partner and I share in Mandaluyong, my mother and sisters’ place in Antipolo, and my grandparents’ property that’s also located in Antipolo.
Things get even trickier when I talk about home in Tagalog because I usually refer to it as “sa amin,” which literally means “in our place.” And, whenever I do that, I always catch myself asking, “Sa amin, nino?” The question of what particular abode I am referring to always comes up.
I guess this is just one of the hardest parts of being an “NPA” or someone who has “No Permanent Address.” No, it does not literally mean that I have no permanent address in my official documents. I have one and in fact, it’s the address of my grandparents’ home since it’s where I grew up and it is something our family really owns. But, coming from a highly dysfunctional family, I have been confused about how many houses I can “go home” to.
It all began when my parents got separated. Before that, I used to have just one home — the one my parents shared in Pasig. Then all of a sudden, my grandparents old home in Parañaque became home, too, (we used to live there but moved to Antipolo for “fresh air” a few years after) because it was where Mama left me after she parted ways with Papa and decided to work elsewhere. Then, when Mama took me into her custody, her home with her new family became my “home” as well. And, of course, there was Papa’s place where he and his new family lived. It was in Pasig and according to my father who wanted so bad to spark a connection between me and his new family, I should feel at home there as I was one of them.
Now I am more confused, mainly because of the ongoing community quarantine in the country. I have been stuck here in our place in Mandaluyong and although really love it here, I sometimes miss my family. I feel homesick, too. But when I do, I get confused. Who do I really long for and whose home? Is it possible to long for all those dear to me and wish to be within the confines of their homes that are located on the opposite sides of the city at once? And is it really homesickness since I am technically home?
Most importantly, why do I feel these things? Why does everything seem so complex? Why can’t I just be happy with the fact that I am in a place I can call my own and with a person I have chosen to spend my days with? And, as I problematize these things, I cannot help but think: What does my confusion say about what home really is?