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A space between

November 9, 2008

On my way home from a brief stay in a cloistered convent in Digos City, the bus took a path between the mountains and the sea.  We rode the space between, the land rising on our left and disappearing on our right, for a good two hours as we passed through massive crowds out to mourn their dead.  November first is the space between, when the Filipinos grieve who they have lost and not yet found; celebrating the sureness of death with ice cream and Coca Cola, packed in hobo tents in festive cemeteries.  Over the grave of a four-year-old girl I offered sugared breads and ready-made cookies.  I ate cold tuna with rice and vinegar and munched on Western style cornchips while I gossiped with coworkers.

November is a space between.  I am still here on Mindanao but I am already lonely for what I will miss.  My parents count down the days and prepare the fatted calf for their wayward daughter and at night I lay awake thinking of pumpkin pie and snowfall.  In some ways the tropics has consumed me but in others it has only driven me further into America: Here I have found a place that I love but it’s far from the place that makes me who I am.

But that’s not America either.  It’s the space between the earth and the sky, the room inside each cell of our being.  We are created by that moments in between the big moments because just like elections, life isn’t won on the night of the victory.  The real battle happens in the silence when no one is watching, when we’re just cruising along the water in a seat by ourselves.  November for me is just in between, but that’s all it ever is, really..  We’re just pages in between the beginning and end- filler in book whose cover we never glimpse but is all we ever know.  We’re trapped in the middle of something we don’t really understand.

I leaned back in my seat on the road from Digos and watched the mourners on the streets.  They had their candles lit high in the air and their bottles of Coke were tucked under their arms.  The smell of the sea mingled with their barbeque and rice and the moutains reached up to the sky.

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