In an effort to get me out of my cave and put a pause on my holiday Netflix binge, my aunt took me with her to run some errands. Baiting me with the promise of stocking me up with goodies from the local Filipino grocery store to bring with me to Boston, she successfully persuaded me to join her.
Walking through the aisles of the store, I can’t help but feel a sense of familiarity of the place even if I’ve never been there before. Stacked on the shelves are snacks that I’ve eaten since I was a child but have not enjoyed in nearly two years (because closest Filipino store in Boston is a town over). Seasoning mixes for my favorite dishes tempt me to try my hand at cooking them, although I know I’d probably set my kitchen on fire. Everything there should have a place in my pantry. I mean, they did back home in Guam.
With the cart half-filled with pancit canton, packs of spaghetti sauce, and some light snacks, we made our way to the register then to the car for our next errand.
Aunt and I arrived at Lowe’s. I was there to look for shipping boxes and she storage containers to pack away holiday decorations for another year. If it’s been several months that I haven’t stepped foot in a Filipino grocery store, then it’s been longer that I’ve been to a hardware store such as the one I stood in. You know how big-chain stores like those are like. Huge. At the end of the building is an open section–the gardening center filled with colorful plants and sacks of soil whose stench you can smell several feet away and makes your nose itch. Inside the ceiling is high due to the towering shelves that holds every possible home-centric paraphernalia you can imagine. A gazebo is set up for display, as are patio tables and chairs. Grills that would inspire any barbecue enthusiast are lined up to impress. Those are the first things you see.
As we roamed the store searching for what we needed, I couldn’t help but think to the time I was last in a place like this. It was definitely Home Depot in Guam. My mother and grandmother both had green thumbs, so visits to that gargantuan store were a frequent occurrence as they were always in need of fertilized soil, pots, or insect repellent. Occasionally, I’d stray away from the hot and humid outdoors and into the cool building. I’d roam. From there I would walk down the aisles, particularly the furnishing sections. There, I’d gaze at the beauty of the furniture, the color of the wood. Then it’s off to the paint section, where I’d collect color swatches and imagine my room in particular hues other than the white that coated it, even to this day. On display nearby are mock-kitchens and bathrooms. I loved the tiles. I’d get this modern refrigerator–the one made of steel with two doors and with the freezer on the bottom–as opposed to the traditional. My books would look good on this shelf.
On the ride home with pottery securely placed among the sacks of dirt in the trunk of the car, Mom would drive, and I’d look out the window pondering, imagining what my home would look like when I’m grown and settled with a job, imagining and pining for the day when the things I wanted in Home Depot–be it the paint, the bookshelf, or the washer and dryer combo–would be mine.
But today, I felt differently. As I browsed the aisles, I realized that the impulse that was in me years before is gone. No more did I yearn for glossy, wooden furniture nor the color of my room to be painted in a shade of dark blue. When I took a glance at the premises as I stood in line at the register with my aunt, I was overwhelmed by all the products. Do you really need that big of a grill? I see 100 ceiling fans and 20 of them look the same, but only slightly nuanced.
My wants, evidently, have changed over the years. I no longer want that house. But why? I thought. My mind raced to a couple of possibilities. Too much room? Clutter? The fact that houses or any other living spaces nowadays are not cheap? Maybe it’s because I’m indecisive. The idea of settle down makes me anxious, as if I’ll be missing out if I had myself a large home with a mortgage to pay off. I thought about myself, how I’m always on the go and how I aspire to travel for the first couple of years after college. I’m not ready to drop the anchor just yet. I don’t want to settle soon.
With the storage containers stowed neatly in the back, my aunt began the drive home. And, just like old times, I’d gaze outside the window, watching cars zoom by and observing the homes in the distance, only to feel nothing. Instead, I thought about where I was this exact time three years ago, marvel at the places I’ve seen and adventures I’ve had since then, and wonder where I’d be a year from now and ten years on.