Back in elementary, I was usually one of the smallest and thinnest girls in class. By puberty and through adulthood though, the few extra inches of height (and waist) deemed me within the normal or average. I was neither the smallest nor the biggest anywhere; I was just about right, if you will.
Then I came here to the US. My height did not change (though my weight did fluctuate a little), but I suddenly felt small and even delicate. 😅 Like, even the Small-sized clothes here fit awkwardly on my short frame. When looking for pants or dresses, I now have to consider the length, something which I have never really done before. Now my new clothes have “allowances for growth” just like a freakin’ kid’s. Oh, and yes, even the kid-sized shoes here fit me. 🤣
It seems I regressed back to being a kid. As a picky eater, my staple food is pizza, with cookies and/or candies a close second. I am enjoying Hot Pockets, and I can barely finish a full serving of food at any restaurant. My husband always mock-offers to buy me Dino nuggets in the grocery. Not just once has he kidded that me being here is pretty much like having a kid in the house. 🤣
You could say I am like a newly-born adult here in the US, strange as that sounds. I suppose most immigrants feel the same way, even if the size thing is not always applicable. That feeling of newness.. an otherness that can be quite alienating. Even as I have traveled the same stretch of road going to the grocery nearly every week, sometimes during the drive, I still find myself looking out the window and marveling at my strange new surroundings. So much tall trees, strange trees, some of which I have never seen back home.. in the Philippines.
But that’s not exactly right. My home is now here in the US.. at least for the foreseeable future. So before I left the Philippines, I had a tattoo as a souvenir and reminder of where I came from:
Photo from Sirens and Sorciere Tattoo Studio
The tattoo is TAAL in Baybayin, an old Philippine alphabet. Taal is my hometown, and where majority of my extended family resides. Taal is also the small but terrible the volcano that erupted earlier this year, necessitating my relatives to evacuate to safety. Thankfully, our house is a few towns farther from Taal, and so our closest kin stayed with us for weeks. It was a tight squeeze, and a lot of adjustments, but we made it work. The experience brought us all closer, veritable silver lining in that bleak situation. So this seemingly simple tattoo holds a whole lot of significance for me.