Null. Undefined. Zero. All the points of reference before we step out of our comfort zones all start from nothing.
Traveling somewhere far off is a luxury that I never have had the chance yet to fully understand. Although the scent of gasoline, the sensation of dust and smoke clinging to my skin, and the roaring sound of the engine are all too familiar to me, the grayscale roads that seem to run endlessly always bring out a different chill that creeps into my spine.
Traveling, for me, is like admiring a rainbow up in the sky. Everyone is mesmerized by the arc made up of a spectrum of colors; the majority of them are already contented with what they see, some might be curious about the whereabouts of the famed pot of gold on the side where the rainbow ends, but only a few will wonder where the rainbow begins. Everyone is always looking forward, rushing to leave their starting points; then, there’s me, a girl who always looks back with every three steps that she makes.
The concept of going off too far from what I already know is not unwelcomed; but like the deepest part of the sea, it is left unexplored. Sometimes, I feel like I am always attracted to my starting point like the negative pole of a magnet because, on any given occasion, I would always find myself traveling back to my kilometer zero―our home.
Situated in the city of Cabanatuan, my comfort zone is in the countryside, surrounded by trees and a variety of vegetable crops. In a humble community known for its abundance of corn crops and simple way of living, I have always known Barangay Caudillo as my home.
It is roughly half an hour away from the city proper; though there is nothing much to do here, the community has warm people who would gladly share their harvest with neighbors. Like most Filipinos, they, too, share a deep love for singing; I mostly see rented videoke machines whenever there is a day of celebration and hear their passionate singing at times you cannot imagine.
Cabanatuan is indeed a warm place, and Caudillo is no exception. Its people love farming and every now and then, a gentle breeze soothes your skin. The late afternoon skies would sometimes be adorned with kites made out of plastic bags, threads, and yarns, and children’s creativity well spent for a good time.
In this community, people get to live in a house like any other house, structured by its walls, roofs, doors, and windows, but with birds, bees, and dragonflies as neighbors. The songs of birds will be your alarm clock, and the cries of goats and carabaos will be your afternoon music.
With every window witnessing every sunrise and sunset, the sun, too, has become a witness to the people’s hard work, working even before the sun is high up in the sky and until the moon is casting its gentle glow. The cloudless night sky is as bright as it can be with stars shining, complementing the cool breeze and the calming moonlight.
This place might be humble and too simple for some, but this community is home to people who strive to offer the best quality of crops for everyone that it can reach. The quality of the food that they can offer is a reflection of their hard work and dedication.
There were times that I was ashamed for always choosing to travel on the same road as if it was the only yellow brick road that would lead me to the solution to my problems. But in reality, there is no yellow brick road or any other sophisticated way, all that we have is a ground that allows us to stand and move forward regardless of how unstable everything had become.
It sometimes feels like I am being grounded and forced not to leave this place, hindering me from exploring the world that I have yet to see. But at the same time, it keeps me grounded―well-balanced and sensible, with feet that are on the ground.
Perhaps it is just me trying to console myself with sugar-coated words, trying to view things through my rose-colored glasses to hide the things I severely lack. I never have the chance to travel and see things for myself, so I weave stories with pretty words to make it look like I’ve been somewhere when in reality, I am still stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Even though I have yet to have my most memorable travel experience, coming back home to homecooked meals, laughter, and nonsense banter with the people I’ve spent most of my life with are my most valuable memories. They are priceless experiences that cannot be bought with any currency.
Perhaps, there will be a time when people would ask me about a place I’ve been to, and I’ll simply find myself smiling wistfully and saying “I’ve never been to Anywhere, but I’ve always been to Nowhere; it wasn’t that bad.” It is not a riddle that needs to be decoded: nowhere is my starting point―the point of nowhere is my home.