A few days ago, my mother sent me an old picture of K.B. standing outside my bedroom door, waiting for me to come out. At the time, I responded with the standard heart emoji, a symbol I gave out to let people know I still think and care about them without having to say anything. As a writer, I find myself constantly feeling as if I have so little to say, or that whatever I do want to say doesn’t matter. Moments and memories flow and wash over me in short but constant waves. I can spend a few more paragraphs explaining how growing up I learned to detach from my true feelings and emotions as a survival mechanism but, well, that doesn’t really matter anymore either. I am about to bare myself, besides.

I haven’t been able to blog as much as I would have wanted to in 2022. The last entry on this website was an obituary/memorial for my old cat Kitty Boy. He passed away earlier this year. My sister didn’t specify how and where—he was about seven or eight years old when he passed, far too young for a healthy house cat.

This morning, as M. eased into bed from working night shift and I was getting ready for a few last minute errands before New Years Eve celebrations kick off, I thought about that picture of K.B. and it filled me with incredible sadness. I thought about how K.B. had died waiting for me to come home. How I want to be around friends and family members but I really don’t know what to say to them. My heart sank at the thought of yet another year not seeing the Philippines, and the streets of Manila, not being able to observe traditions, and, more important for me, being surrounded by the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of my home. And yet, here I am in a strange country, thankful, somehow, for the existence of Asian Groceries and pockets of Asian communities.

It is freeing to admit to myself truths about the turns my life has taken. One of them is that America will always be an unpleasant (highways and car culture, not enough trains, hostility on most fronts and levels of society) and absurd (examples are too many to mention) place where M., the most important person in my life, happens to be from and lives in. This is where I met the love of my life and where I intend to stay. The fact that such a twisted and cursed place has allowed me to meet and spend time with some good people is a miracle in itself. Some of the best moments in my life happened here, and this is where I finally became my own person. Another is that it is possible to have tender feelings for things, people or places I am at odds with—I feel both tenderness and resentment for both my home country and this new home.

I come into 2023 thinking about who I am as it relates to where I am. I tend to see the Philippines as the place that contains traces of who I used to be, and America as the place where I am trying to figure a new self. For the most part, I feel as if I have changed and improved so much in the past four years. That time has also taught me to rest easy on expectations and resolutions. Things rarely worked out the way I intended, it’s better to walk through and look for the little morsels of goodness and warmth I can find. I want to teach myself to take time and take a good look, touch things when I can, notice smells and sounds. I want to walk into a year more cognizant of what comes to my senses. I want for a sensual year, and to enjoy, however little, what the rest of my days and years have to offer.