It was once believed that family does not necessarily have to be shared by blood, sometimes they are found on the water that pass through the same river.

This short yet remarkable vacation taught me more than I should know. It started off as a coerced vacation I insisted on a friend, wanting to have a sight of her home town. Partly, I knew from my paternal grandmother that she was from the said place but upon marriage that they left. I expect it won’t come as a surprise that my family name then would be sounding familiar at some point and thus maybe, won’t make me alienated as what strangers usually experience. Indeed, the warm welcome on my first day had proven that my family name was something the people had once heard off.

However, it was unexpected that the supposed anxiety of being alienated backfired on me. It was I who is ignorant of my own family. Little had I known about a step sister my father had, who died last 2014. Soon, I began to understand a lot of things from that stand point. I then ended up asking how my last 24 years had been spent. Perhaps I had been too secluded despite the crowd around me and that I had been barely sociable myself.

Upon sharing my first meal with a crowd of strangers when we crashed a party, my friend and I spent the last hours of daytime drowned in good conversations while she showed me around.

However, the expected peaceful night of croaking frogs, buzzing insects, rattling leaves and subtle crashing of waterfalls, quickly turned to deep sunken eyes and enjoyable stories. My friend’s parents came home with a visitor, who was actually a relative of theirs and we spent hours and hours, trying not to squint over her wonderful experiences abroad.

Yet, the headache I got from that night, did not stopped me from enjoying another day. It was Sunday the next morning and although I’m already an ex- christian, it still does pay’s off to visit the church once in a while. Merely to observe but not necessarily to make comments or at worst, mock their practice.

Indeed, I do not regret attending a service or a mass with them. Their practice was opposite to what I now see repulsive in some religious institutions. It was notable, how they encourage their children to be active on leading prayers to singing praises. The idea of not only propagating but maintaining the successful sustenance of their practice was very important, yet change was also something they recognize hence were likely to be adaptive of it nonetheless.

As I sat quietly observing and gauging the strength of their society, a man stepped in front for a sharing and his words captivated me, inevitably drawing me out from my own secluded observation. His words resonated louder than I would have anticipated. As translated he said, ” there are reasons why the apostle Paul have to go back to Macedonia and to make a comparison to our lives, there are also reasons why we go back.”

Perhaps mine wasn’t only a vacation but more of retrieving what my ancestors had partly left behind- the family I wasn’t aware of. At that time, I know that my friend wasn’t only a family by water as I had recognized before, but more of family by blood as rightfully as it should be. It was a lesson which had and will not leave me, for sometimes, we find the certain answers to our questions in odd places.

Afternoon came and we spent the rest of the day wandering off on the rice paddies and challenging ourselves on a cold dip by the river under a drizzly weather. It was a plain and indulgent experience I can always reminisce over the passing of time. The fun and memories I had gathered from that place was something to remind me of what happiness and liberty was like. In such, I knew I wasn’t wrong when I presumed that luxuries can come in almost inexpensive packages- only that we often don’t listen carefully. Upon contemplation, I drew a conclusion that maybe I should reconsider living in a place like this if ever I reached retirement.

Closing off the deal.. I won’t miss the lovely and jolly kids who likes squeezing themselves for a good shot. And.. of course, the childish enjoyment we had over failed selfie’s.


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