Planted, Uprooted, and Transient Boarder in This Soil

Nonfiction by | August 9, 2009

I look around and see that there is a lot to be done—laundry in a basket, books sprawled all over the floor, clothes hanging haphazardly from fixtures, my bag puking papers all over my shoes, slippers and sandals, my bed a mess—and I have just woken up from my sleep, that which I did not truly enjoy. I had a dream—and it was of a home, which felt so familiar and artificially sweet. But it was odd and not at all refreshing. It was awkward and still and dull. It cannot be called a dream, but that’s what people call mental images in succession, so it’ll have to be called that. And this dream was a dream that ended up all mine.

My dream was supposed to be about the shelter of a roof and its cool shadow. But I knew neither the roof nor the shadow of that shelter and neither the house to which it was vaguely attached to. I have no house, no home, no shelter, nor shadow. But I know in my heart that it was one that I constantly wish for, and that was why the figures and planes, in drunken distortion, tried to straighten themselves out and become the form of my most coveted dream—to work out the blood clot that rises to my head and seeps into my unconscious every once in a while. I want to have a home. I dream of having a home.

Once, it was Primrose Road, then Akle, Project 2, then Burgos St., La Paz, NHA, Manduriao, Villa Darroca, then Burgos, La Paz, which became Federal Road 2, Tibalo-og, then Purok 3, Poblacion, and then Purok, 17, Teacher’s Village, Poblacion. I need not say they were in England, Manila, Iloilo City, Sto. Tomas (now Nabunturan, Compostela Valley). There had been houses there and homes within those houses, but they weren’t “my one true home”—they were transient spaces, they were painted boxes with clean walls, they were the black plastic flowerpot-bags you used to keep your newly acquired San Francisco in until you could find a proper clay pot for it. You have yet to tuck your roots into the richness of their soil before they’re forcefully pulled out of the topsoil; their names become but names, the names of shallow plots of land that lend themselves to you but do not become anything more than that for you because even if you want them to, they disallow it. They do not approve of your clinging roots; and that’s why, your roots appear all the more starved and brown—they are without weight; they are but strings. And strings are unfeeling. So you leave with your weightless strings; there is hope, but not here. And how you wished it could be here. Goodbye.

I had a dream but it wasn’t from sleep. I was not asleep then when it came to me, this dream; it was from a dream I wished was there when I wished I was asleep. I have always been asleep in reality, a solitary figure walking, waiting for that peculiar jerk to show me, make me feel that I shall be coming home—to wherever that home is, where it is truly sweet and the familiar shall melt away because it won’t be me knowing that it is here and now but rather it shall just be, without my interference; all that shall be my offering, shall be me falling to my knees in the subtle surrender of the soul, for it will have found its green pastures then—not only in the mind, but in the heart. I have been too long on my feet—even I need to rest at the doorstep, one that I hope shall be mine and mine alone in the near future. Let me sleep at the doorstep because I will have owned that land, I will have let my dead roots spring to life once more; I shall live in true “rootedness”—I won’t just be an exotic plant, I will be a cross-breed with a sense of both breeds infused in my veins. I shall have a home. A home with no name. I shall have a “true home” then, when the words do not matter and the heart shall have had its time and right to decide. I shall have what I have never truly have had.

A home? You mean a house? No, I mean a real home—where my father and mother live and where I too reside with them. I wonder where it is and where it shall be. I forget for a while that my father is dead and think, rather, I allow myself to think that I can think of this: that I have a home somewhere and the home is fairly complete in all aspects that make it a home as much a house. You, who perhaps have always lived in your own house, where you were born and where you parents started their lives together, might not understand the novelty of living under a roof that has your name on it. It is still another matter, wondering where you truly belong when you are a “cross-breed” and there is no plot of land or garden vegetable patch labelled “Land of the Cross-Breeds” or a country named “Cross-Breed.” It is a very complex subject, knowing where you ought to belong and how you get to where that is. Yes, a house, a home, a country, that familiar plot of land that shall protect you, be the anchor of your cross-breed little feet, be the place where you watch the rain fall outside, where you wage war with weeds common to your area, where you watch life, green and fresh, live to bloom and bloom to die in as much as the later is allowed so that one can say that something lived here and that the land is wet with the blood of memory and that in the sweetness of its passing, a shadow is left to tend for those left on the plot, a shadow that will make this plot more than a plot; even in the absence of plant life, it shall become a field.

It is not possible to bring back the dead; the act is final, the place of burial is as well for most who die and are laid to rest where they are laid to rest. We only wish that they are laid to rest with their hearts intact, with their chambers and ventricles in their rightful place, after wandering in both fallow and fertile field. My father rests in a cold grave in Ireland, and I mourn that he is dead there, where sun does not fall on engraved marble and the frosty grass. He was a man of the smile and it rots under snow and sleet. He rests in a land that is not his own—it was not his one true home—and here, here is where I can be myself, able to smile as I might a slight small smile. I know I am a cross-breed, but if and when my time comes, I shall sleep where the sunshine is purest. The ground will be a field, and should my gravestone
come to crumble, the field will remember me as the sunshine falls upon the soil that I shall become. And as silicone—sand—sparkling in the sun, I shall shine. I shall have found my home in the minute, as a microbe, and “cross-breed” and “half-blood” shall not mean a thing or matter in the slightest. I shall be home.

Labels will lose their potency as labels; that is why we should, in a way, love death—we will have done away with that which confines us and makes us toil and pull bunches of hair out from our heads; we will be free to be but men. We will wear all the same faces, have the same names and have the same bodies in the petri dish. We will all want but one thing, and we shall all share in the culture there called joy.

But I do not wish for the aforementioned. Life has been lived and I still bask in its light and love and smile so that my own sun rises and sets by the day. I want to love labels because they too are good, they too are blessings; if we did not know names, we would not know, we would never remember our familiar, given to us before we were even born, but destined for us at the end of the road after the road has been shown to us. I would not know what a house would be or what a home would be like; I would not know how much I would care because words—which make labels—cannot come into existence. And for people who write such as ourselves, we would lose our houses and our homes and the roofs and even the shadows of the roofs and the shelters we look for and long for every moment that we open our eyes to where we are—these “transient spaces.”

I will come home one day, to the house that I have been building in my heart, its blueprints only partially revealed to me now from the safety of my soul. I am a half-blood, a cross-breed and I have no home here or anywhere in particular. But in that nothingness, I know it exists. The soul never lies—be it that of a homely cross-breed or that of an ordinary man. I shall be home. And happy. In this life. And in the next. Happy in a house that I will be able to call home and shelter and house and roof and cool compassionate shadow.

Indeed, there is a lot to be done; the laundry waits, the books as well, as the heart, still, among the mess, among the fallow before me and the field somewhere in the heap as well.

Kelly Conlon studies Creative Writing at UPMin.

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