Essays, Journal, Photographs

Coming Home

It’s a testament to how much I love my new flat that I was actually excited to go home to it after my three weeks in Italy and Austria; my first trip to Europe since 2019. Usually I’d already be depressed on the plane ride home, and then I’d get even sadder upon settling back into my bedroom in my parents’ house. It used to take me a while to unpack my suitcase because a part of me still wanted to hold on to the idea of being away, and I’d always have this sense of ‘I wish I were anywhere else,’ which really meant ‘I wish I were back in Berlin instead.’

I think what I enjoyed most about my summers away from home was the freedom. Initially it was the freedom of anonymity, of being away from Manila in a place where no one knew who I was and no one cared. It was the most liberating feeling, especially for someone who grew up sheltered, from a family background that taught her early on to be hyper-aware of herself. In Manila, I had a curfew until I was 28. In Berlin, I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and no one was ever watching.

Then I realised it was also the freedom of being alone in my own space. I’m an introvert and a homebody at heart; I loved having a place that was just mine, if only for a little while. I loved the ‘tedium’ of cooking and cleaning; I never actually thought it was particularly tedious. I still really enjoy going to the supermarket and doing the dishes. I loved knowing I could close the door behind me and just switch off.

For the first time in my life, I have that in Manila now, too.

I moved into my own flat — finally — at the end of February this year after a long and challenging renovation process, and it really is such a dream home. I always knew I wanted to write about the process upon its completion. It’s about 97% of the way, I figure that’s close enough.

If you’re reading this, then you probably already know I really enjoy telling an absurdly long-winded story, so you also already know what to expect, haha.

And I know a bunch of you have been waiting for the photos, so maybe scroll to the end for that.

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