One of the most harrowing and literally life-changing experiences I’ve ever gone through was our lipat-bahay a year ago.
It was a move borne out of necessity rather than whim. It was not easy. Imagine, having to sort through 25 years’ worth of memories and possessions, junk and treasures, choosing what stays and what goes, in that gargantuan struggle to fit them from a four-bedroom house into a two-bedroom condominium unit.
From old greeting cards, to grade school projects. Well-loved and now tattered toys, to yellowing books and magazines numbering in the hundreds. Souvenirs and mementos from travels, jamborees, school programs, and balikbayan friends. Boxes of photos, clothes, plates, kitchen knick-knacks.
It took us at least two weeks to sift through these vessels of reminiscences. There was much fighting and arguing and compromising. You get to keep that, but you have to let these go. Get just two of these and throw the rest away. Nope, no way will you take these to our new place. I don’t care how you will do it but the piano is not to be left behind.
At the end of the grueling fortnight, at least a dozen balikbayan boxes of possessions came with us to our new home.
After 12 months, now that I’m thinking about them, I don’t miss many of the things we left, gave away, or threw to the garbage bins. At the end of the day, it was a cleansing, purging experience. What we brought to our new place are ultimately the items most dear to us. Even now, some balikbayan boxes haven’t been thoroughly sorted. And you know the six-month rule: things not taken out of the boxes they were packed in six months before will tend to stay in that box forever.
What was equally stressful was uprooting out lives from the community we’ve been with since I was 11 months old. Family friends whose love for us has withstood the test of time. From block parties to block rosaries, 7th birthdays to debuts to weddings, money loaned and repaid, cars heaved due to dead batteries, dying neighbor transported to the hospital on a family sedan.
It’s such a cacophony of memories and experiences shared through the years. It’s not as if the relationships were severed totally; I don’t believe they will ever be. Things are not the same again but we do our best to keep in touch...