The last (but not the least) thing that Sri Lanka means to me is Creating + Home.
I came to Sri Lanka excited to be married but with a two-year timeframe in mind. It’s hard to dig a foundation for a home if you are only looking at it for the short-term, contingent on hubby’s assignment.
Sri Lanka is homey. I think it’s the chillaxing vibe. Or the surprising similarities with the Philippines. Or the friendly people. Or just being with hubby. Whatever it is, it invited me to feel at home. And I did. I do.
The regional HR head in my previous job flew in for a visit. And he was asking me how I feel about being in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka was in a “state of war” for around 30 years which only ended around a year before we arrived. So I guess the stigma that it is a war-torn country is still primary in people’s minds. He was pretty much curious about how I feel safety wise. Honestly I actually feel safer here than in Manila. I was born and raised in Manila and paranoid to the core. I know I can wing it in any country if I wanted to. I didn’t need to do that here. Even if trishaw/tuktuk/bajaj drivers still rip me off (as they do both foreigners and locals alike I suppose), I have trust in the people here. Case in point, we had a workshop in a hotel around an hour away from Colombo. As we were heading home, I realized I forgot my personal laptop in the meeting room! It was already 2 hours since we finished and the butterflies in my stomach were really bouncing all over the place. What do you know, it was still there and I got it back safe and sound. In Manila, “sorry ka nalang.” Anyway I digress. So I just answered him, “to me, Sri Lanka is home.”
In as much as it was homey I didn’t find it “home” for a long time. In my mind I was comparing it to Manila but more on what it lacked. It didn’t have a “proper mall” and GASP, STARBUCKS. Really on that point alone I think I have outdone myself. A Starbucks addict. I realized that what I was trying to do was I was trying to bring Manila to Sri Lanka so I can be “at home.” But as my father always tells me, “you have to appreciate it for its own charm.”
And thank God I did. And more.
I found out that I could be happy without a mall, without a Starbucks and yes, without wardrobe shopping.
It created a safe space for me to work out “issues / traumas” I left behind in Manila.
I found out that if I just let go, in the tiny teardrop country of Sri Lanka, a whole new world was opened up to me.
And I found out that yes, even if I am miles away from home, I can create a home.
And gain another home.
I am one of the lucky few. Manila / Philippines is Home. Colombo / Sri Lanka is Home. And I have another chance to create another home in Singapore.
My brother and I were discussing. He was sharing how, when he was studying in Melbourne he purposefully didn’t “make” it home. And I guess that is where most of my regrets stemmed from. I started out well but eventually all my issues came up, things got busy, pregnancy hormones raged. Not a good combination when you want to set up a new home.
But you know what, one fine day (as they would say here) It. Just. Did.