IT’s that time of year once more when bus terminals, air and sea ports are filled with homebound passengers. It’s that time of year once more when people are excited to go back home, wherever home happens to be.

It’s that time of year once more when we spend our hard-earned cash to pay for an airline or boat ticket to the provinces.

It’s an annual ritual. We go home on Christmas, on New Year’s Day, during the Holy Week, on the Day of the Dead. We go home when someone in the family gives birth, celebrates a wedding, a birthday or dies, and we go home on death anniversaries too. We always have a reason to go home.

That makes me wonder why in the first place did we leave home if nothing seems to preoccupy us but going back? It’s the chance to work away from home, some say, to earn a living, to grab the opportunity to go to other places. It’s one of those coming-of-age rituals for many
of us. Leaving home.

This is written thousands of miles up in the sky, not as a ritual but as an obligation, as we travel home to the south. (I have to do this or D’jay, our boss in the Opinion section, will never let me rest even while on vacation.) Flying amazes me. It’s one of those wonders that makes many a senior citizen a child once more.

Imagine floating in the middle of the sky with no strings attached above or below. It’s like that magic trick in one of those cheap carnivals in the provinces way back then. I wonder if they’re still doing it there in the south.) It’s also like living away from home, without any strings attached up and below, only the thought that somewhere there’s solid ground we can call home.

That’s why going home is a ritual. It’s touching ground. It’s assuring oneself that despite the challenges we face away from parents, families and love ones, they are still there. It’s re-attaching our roots. It’s like recharging a cell phone. It’s like going to a spa.

It’s like going back to the womb of the earth and be able to feel once more how to start again.

Going home is a ritual that all of us should do from time to time.

It’s something good too for the economy. (It’s one of those few things that I enjoyed during the past administration.) It’s also an opportunity to visit other places we took for granted when we were still living home and appreciate the beauty of home.

It’s the chance to visit that old girl who used to live beyond that old balete tree. Does she still have that smile that made your heart beat faster than an old tricycle engine? Or paddle around the island and feel the heat of the noonday sun, or better still dive for some “tuway,” whatever that is in English. Go for a hike to the nearby hill or climb a mountain and imagine meeting some naked fairies.

Going home is a chance to once again live like a child or re-live one’s childhood. It’s an opportunity that we cannot experience somewhere else. It’s a chance that has become so rare as we advance in age and work seems to take over our lives.

If there’s such a thing as heaven or an afterlife, we imagine that it would feel like home – at least the memorable side of it, not the first beating one gets for taking a puff from a marijuana stick or for stealing that egg from the hen’s nest under the floor of the old bamboo house. Joe Torres


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