2 min read

In the Foyer of Reveries

Reminiscing my leap into the expat life.

This year had been chock-full of administrative paperwork, where I had to choose between staying with my homeland comforts and leaving for better opportunities.
Mandatory medical check-ups and government orientation workshops. Exhausting bus rides along the bustling streets of Metro Manila and Cavite. Documents sitting idle on French government's desks for months while the long, summer holidays drifted on. Many mornings started early and many evenings ended late. And an 18-hour plane ride to top it all off, an 8-month ordeal concluded. This was a journey I never thought would be possible given the multiple hurdles that cropped up, but in the end, I was grateful.

It all started with a French song and a bookstore. It was summer and I was 14, buying school supplies just before school started (in the Philippines, we start classes in June, and not in the Autumn months, like most countries in the West). Those wonderful melodies and jazz flavors emmanating from the speakers behind the bookshelves and cashier registers sparked something in me, despite not understanding a single word of the lyrics. I ended up buying a 400-peso book on French, in the hopes of decrypting whatever otherwordly meaning the song held. My mouth twisted in several ways trying to pronounce sounds that did not exist in Tagalog nor English. For that school year, I brought it everywhere I went. But of course, life happened, and the book was left forgotten on a shelf back home, while I moved to my university dorm 100km away.

10 years later, I was taking intensive French classes to prepare for my move to join a startup in France. A month later, I found myself on the plane bound to Paris, fiddling a one-way ticket with my hands. Looking out the window, I observed the thousands of skyscraper windows dotting the pink and blue Manila skyline. I was going to miss my family. I did not expect that I would be missing speaking Tagalog and English. I was listening to my playlist while waiting for take-off when the French song I heard in that bookstore started playing. The words were surprisingly clear and I understood every one of them.

Crazy, how brief, candid moments we had in our youth have the capacity to reel us into life-turning events later.

It has only been a few weeks, and I'm still in the process of absorbing everything. All these new sights, sounds, and flavors have been inspiring me to pick up my pen and start writing again.

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