To be always torn in two

The sentiments and memories that surround childhood and built up on growing years shape a little or a lot of how you are in the state of things. Take places, stories and seasons for example, things that you’ve come to love over time.

There’s a glimpse of your burgeoning self wrapped in a world you’ve created and, in my case, speaks so much of the stages of tug-of-war that I have with my own roots. Writing is one where my stand is neither here nor there.

{photo by jabbeltubel}

It all began when I spent the early years of my life at the countryside, with a mango tree growing in our backyard and motorcycles laden with passengers passing by on the dirt road the whole day laying our home with a thin film of dust. I went to school next door (literally) wearing flip-flops and spent language classes reading about life and landscape of our tropical country; the rice fields, Bantay the house dog, and feeding chickens.

When I get home, though, the world changes a little. The books stacked on a corner of our landing and on a bench by the wall were mostly taken away (by our mother) from a Spanish-American family’s excess collection or given away by the local school (brought home by me and my older sister) which were donated by libraries from United States of America.

There were the hardcovers of Little Princesses, Black Beauty, Along Friendly Roads, fairy tales, children’s stories, and a series of Sesame Street. My sisters and I were such big bookworms poring over and filling our imaginative minds with foreign books.

I grew up being fond of snow and pine trees, winter and autumn seasons, cobblestone streets, Thanksgiving, log cabins and Native Americans, tea sets and paintings, lords and ladies, apple pies and blueberry waffles; most of which either do not exist or aren’t accessible on our little sleepy barrio in the middle of one of the thousand islands comprising our country.

bike and flowers

When the aspiration for writing stories began kicking in, I would write little scenes like straight out of Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley book. I have never been abroad and yet those far away places became familiar through my readings and this early brush with literature, for the most part, greatly influenced my young inspired mind.

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{photo by elevenses}

As I got to college and became a member of the school paper, there was that feeling of being outside the circle at the start. Moments when I thought that the style of my writing content was a wee bit out of the way and I would end up feeling doubtful about its relativity to the paper.

My seniors would openly talk about local issues, editorial contents and share book titles to read, none of which would spark any familiarity to me. They knew a lot of recognized national writers and books published in the country. I listened to these talks until it dawned on me what exactly was missing on my writing. It lacked that local setting.

I was too engrossed reading about the lifestyle abroad and dreaming to travel that I overlooked my surroundings, realizing late that I don’t have a good command of  the native language and its literature. My writings have that foreign tone to it, especially the short stories, that you could tell the setting wasn’t nowhere where I live nor the nuance of phrases inspired by local works.

 This element was ingrained so long in me, pervading my imagery, that I spent the better part of years attempting a nationalistic approach to writing. Reading articles from the daily broadsheet and studying journals from national publications developed my interest in journalism, diffusing somewhat some of my old style.

{photo by stardustings}

I must admit it takes a while to create a train of thoughts when writing social features for the vigor I have for it isn’t at par with my past unhindered forms. It had become something that I must do and think carefully rather than something that would naturally flow out of me.

The feeling of being torn, as these crossroads on my mind appear whenever I bring out my pen, stayed with me over the years. It is only natural for thoughts to come, like, I must be representative of my place and my roots, have an identity with it but the pull of what’s familiar and what naturally draws me pushes itself in, too.

{photo by flitshans}

Perhaps I could only remain in the middle of it taking whatever will serve me. But then, writing is an evolving process and there is still much to learn so I am hopeful that I could find a place in it to call my own. Sometimes I would look at my blogs, take a step back to attempt being a mere reader, and find that I have come upon a different persona, someone familiar and yet foreign (or is it merely me hiding as usual behind the frames and words?).

The journey on stripping out the layers that had molded one is a little struggle. I still write about autumn and the oak tree in the backyard, a meadow of wildflowers, the stone cottage with roses climbing on its windows and the Meyers and the Summers of Stanley High. But I also write about my local travels and downtown trips, our nation’s history and cultural anecdotes.

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Lately though, I found myself colliding the two and making my own corner, creating stories without historical or cultural errors, in a form of dystopia, science fiction or fantasy.

There is always a window to other places and worlds.

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