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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

entry arrow5:06 AM | At Home in the Beginning of Things

I was just reading this New York Times article on David Remnick, the editor of the New Yorker, and I found myself entertaining the weirdest notion: what if when I go to New York this November, I'll march right up to Condé Nast in 4 Times Square and hand in my resume? Getting a job there would be a long shot by any means, but it is the kind of adventurous "why not?" candor that has somehow defined who I am the past few months. America, I think, has changed me.

As a writer-in-residence for the University of Iowa's International Writing Program, I have come to love how this whole trip has essentially been a period of endless discovery and creativity. I cannot be thankful enough.

Every thing about America tells me I belong here. Of course, friends who have been here (Al, Krevo, Karl, Moses, etc.), or who are from here (Danny, etc.), have always been telling me this my whole life, once they get a firm grasp of my sensibility, my personality, and what I can do. "You're wasting yourself in a small town," they keep telling me. I didn't really believe them. I was idealistic then, more than 15 years ago, about staying where I had been my whole life, willing to buck the trend of people I know leaving home all of the time to seek their fortunes elsewhere. I had told myself, I can be a success even in the smallness of Dumaguete. And I think in many ways that belief has proven prophetic. But I have become racked with so much doubt lately: the wages of sometimes staying in a small town is having to deal with small people. They know who they are, and battling with them seems so pointless and exhausting, like teaching logic to troglodytes.

America's blessing is its expanse. It's huge, it takes so much in. In this side of the world, you can be who you really are and small people can be left behind in their small worlds where they cannot touch you. "You belong in America," those friends told me. I couldn't really believe them then. How could I? All ideas I know of America are from the movies and the television shows we consume -- not exactly objective renditions of what America really is. Experiencing it first-hand, however, has been the game-changer. I have lived in foreign countries before. Japan was lovely, but I have always been made to feel like a gaijin there. It didn't feel like home. Here, America does. Still, I know it is not a perfect place, I know that. Sometimes I see things here that break my heart.

But here, I am most myself, and it is a place that has made me happier than I have ever been in my life. And I don't really want to go home just yet. I love Dumaguete, but ... There's that "but" I cannot define. My friend Bing emailed me yesterday: "I know. I feel the same way. I told a friend that I should be kind of feeling excited or at least feel something positive when I went to Silliman the first time after I had been back, but I just didn't feel that way. I think these feelings are telling us something. Come back for now and plan about going back there again soon." That's how I feel, too.

Sure, I'll go back to the Philippines for a while. I'll finish things. I'll lay the foundation for projects that have to be accomplished for the sake of the future. This and that. I owe my beloved Dumaguete that much. But I don't think I'll stick around for long. Maybe one or two more years, I don't know.

And as for love, I think I can find it finally here.

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