HAILEYSTONES| To Be Young And Selfish

OUT of my group of friends, I am probably the only one who has never been out of the country. Compared to me, my boyfriend, David, is a serious traveler. He’s been everywhere, from Rome to Paris to Tel Aviv. His travel stories consist of seeing Chinese women spit inside hotel lobbies to “crazy” Israeli nightlife to walking through Auschwitz with his high school class. Experiences like that make me jealous, and I’m not usually that given to envy. One of my biggest regrets of my soon-to-be-over student days is that I never really went anywhere. There have been so many opportunities for me to go abroad, whether it was as close as Vietnam and Thailand to, say, as far as Japan. As a college senior, I feel really bad about it, because school is going to be over and travel opportunities are going to be a little harder to get by.

It’s not that I got bad grades, or that my family wouldn’t let me. Due to the fact that I had to revert surnames, I couldn’t exactly renew my passport right away. It’s an ongoing legal battle that always drains me when I have to explain it. This is why I can’t travel outside of the country, which is a shame, because one of my biggest dreams has always been to travel and go to places that I have only read about in books. I will work on this the very minute that I graduate.

Another thing that I am frustrated about it my lack of linguistic skill. Now, most Pinoys are born bilingual, but the people around me are seriously talented. One friend is fluent in German and Cantonese; another, in Nihongo. David can read and write in Hebrew, alongside French and Italian. It’s almost like a mini-United Nations when we all meet up; it’s hard to keep up. One good thing about that is that they learned these languages when they were much younger, and so they grew up speaking it. It’s crazy. Then again, I also know someone who is German and yet doesn’t know how to speak it, so I don’t feel so bad.

I wish I could even speak a dialect beyond Davao Bisaya, but I can’t. My family speaks a mixture of Ilocano and Antiqueno, and my Dad’s first language was actually Tausug. I was not taught any of these, and the period for learning is long gone since both Mom and Dad are gone. There’s no one left to teach me, which is so sad.

All of this makes me even more determined to get out there. I’ve been itching for something new, and since graduation is around the corner, I figure that it should be time to start. I find myself clicking through possible scholarships and fellowships that I could take up when I finish school. Sometimes I wish I could decide on something definite now, but it’s all subject to change.

As great as it is to hear about other people’s stories and to hear them speak other languages, I want that for myself too. I want to see for myself if the French are as snobbish as stereotypes seem to portray them, or if the British really do drink tea for every occasion. I want to eat literally ever cuisine on the planet, like Anthony Bourdain. There are things that I want for myself and myself alone, because this is the best time in one’s life to be selfish.

Years from now I want to be able to look back at my twenties and not wonder about what I could have done with my future job, or my money, or with my time. There’s just something about the great unknown and wanting something for yourself, along with learning something for myself. Part of me also wants to be able to contribute to my friends’ growing bible of travel stories, and for once I want to be the one to teach people a new language or custom.

I think it’s time that I think of myself, for once.


Posted in Opinion