Sometime in July 2016, in my little house in a small town in Negros Oriental, I woke up to an email from my mom where she was “screaming” in excitement, telling me our schedule was on. She was referring to my petition for immigration to the US which she filed in December 2005. Finally, after 11 years of waiting, my priority date was being processed.
First step was for my mom to file the needed supporting documents. Once that was done, it was my turn to fill out forms. I also started packing most of my belongings for shipping back to Manila – mostly books and ornaments. The furnishings would be left behind as I planned to rent out the house.
The accomplished forms were sent in by late September and again, we needed to wait for a reply.
In the middle of all this, my maternal grandmother died. She was 95. I think she timed her passing, knowing that I was soon to be reunited with my parents. She’d always worried about me, especially when I left Manila to live alone in a place that could only be reached by getting on a plane. I worried too, about already being away if she passed. I felt her slipping as early as September, her birthday. How would I go home to be at her wake then, only a few months (or weeks) since setting foot on US soil? But I guess she was at peace with how her family was doing, she was at peace with herself. And though I miss her terribly, her passing didn’t make me feel like time cheated on us.
At the end of November, a new email told me my papers had been forwarded to the US Embassy in Manila and I will be contacted again for my interview schedule. Before 2016 ended, we had news: Interview in February.
It was a mad rush after that. Had to schedule my medical exam before the interview happened. That was nerve wracking. If the medical results happened to show I had some sort of ailment, my interview could be delayed for God knows how long. While this wasn’t bad news, more waiting wasn’t something we wanted. And so, when I returned for the second day and was asked to go straight to immunization, I almost cried. I passed! The interview (and packing!) would be the last hurdle.
And the flurry of saying goodbye to everyone. Of course, I’d be back to visit but that would take years for me to fulfill. So farewell get-togethers were essential. A trip to Baguio. Dinners and lunches. Parties. The most painful of these was saying goodbye to Block 11 Lot 14 in Judyville. My little home. And my little car, OmNom Bubu Chacha Stitch.
On March 10, 2017, roughly eight months from the time we confirmed that my priority date was in process, less than a month since I was interviewed, I left the Philippines to live as an immigrant in America.
Today, I’m a few days shy of celebrating my sixth month living abroad. Until now, it still feels surreal. Like this is a dream, and I’m a different me in an alternate universe because the real me is still in that little house in Judyville, shuttling to and from Manila once in a while to visit friends, driving to Cebu to hang out with more friends and to eat grilled chorizo at AA Bbq.
But no. I am here. In America. Trying to make a new life for myself. Looking forward to this new life I will make for myself. God be with me.