It has been seven months since I moved out of my parents’ home. As I wrote before, I did not walk into it misguided. The place I am renting now is a fixer-upper in a small community that offers low-income housing to army veterans and newly weds. It is not fancy and I never presumed it to be.
But there are trees. There are trees that fill the neighborhood and even though our buildings stand side by side, mustard-colored and ubiquitous, they are guarded by these lovely lines of green. We live at the tip of a busy city, a vast patch of concrete, where all this nature feels like a luxury.
Our apartment is 48-square meters. There’s a kitchen, a living room, a bathroom, and two bedrooms — not a bad deal for the area that we live in. Fort Bonifacio is known as the home of the rich yet we are semi-outliers, kids who somehow hacked the system.
When people write about living on their own, they paint this picture of independence that looks brave and victorious. They stand on the mountain of their responsibilities and plant a flag that says conquered.
That is not my narrative.
I am panic paddling through it all, still learning to give up my old life for this new one. No, you cannot buy that expensive bag of snacks because you’re saving up to pay rent. No, you cannot go out this afternoon even if it looks like a beautiful day because the plumber is coming over to fix your leaky faucet. No, you need to get off your ass even though you’d much rather lay in bed and do nothing because the electricity bill won’t pay itself and they’ve already e-mailed you about the possible arrival of a disconnection notice.
I never thought about any of this a year ago.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s not hard. It’s not even unpleasant. It’s just endless, like a hydra with infinite heads, slay one get another. Pay all the bills. Clean the house. Finish the last of the dirty dish pile. But you can bet there’ll be another thing tomorrow because that’s how it is when what you make just enough to get by.
I know it sounds like I’m complaining. I’m not. These are choices I’ve made, am making; this, right here, is my narrative.
Sometimes the apartment feels too small. It is the perfect size but on some days it feels like this small stretch of space has become my whole world and I start to miss the world, the real, actual world outside my window. Sometimes I turn on my fairy lights and play some Motown and I feel the largeness of the moment. Sometimes I feel the weight of my choices and I end up being both proud and dismayed.
But there are trees, I remember. And I see the leaves dancing outside my bedroom window and right now I feel like the others, brave and victorious. The trees, tall, green, and beautiful, remind me that I am exactly where I am supposed to be: home. Home, for now.