Home has never been a place, but a feeling. Five cities in less than two decades taught her to shapeshift; it comes naturally now — observing the locals and adapting to blend in. This is only temporary.
There’s nothing to do in Alpharetta, Georgia.
It’s not because it’s in the middle of nowhere. It’s the standard suburban town — within a ten mile radius, there’s a mall, chain restaurants, movie theaters, and an ice skating rink. It’s the fact that she’s restless and craves adventure, but her mother doesn’t understand why.
The problem is that her mother implements the worst parts of Eastern and Western parenting. From Manila, her mother brought the idea that a daughter’s worth is measured by her purity and the extent of her obedience. Like the Americans, her mother sought a boundary-pushing, helicoptering, best friendship with her.
There’s no better motivation to get into college than wanting to escape.
“Why won’t you come home?”
“My friends are having a Fourth of July party here in Athens.”
“You never prioritize the family! You’re always getting drunk with those friends of yours.”
“I’ll be there for Brie’s birthday in a couple of weeks.”
“You’re an ungrateful, insolent child. Never there when I need to talk to you about your father –“
“If that’s what you feel, Mom, then okay.”
“– always talking back to me –“
“I’m gonna go. It’s hard to talk to you when you’re like this.”
“– ponyeta! You do not hang up on your mother!”
There’s the realization that home is exactly as Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros describe.
Alpharetta is a hostile place. She avoids it as much as possible, save for visits there with her siblings. Her mother wages emotional warfare to shame her into be there. The more she sidesteps the guilt grenades, the more her mother demands.
Atlanta is where she and her man began their adventures two summers ago. Easily, they had made the transition from college friends into being a couple. Though her parents are from the Philippines and he’s from Côte d’Ivoire, he understands the struggle — to establish your own life, not the one your parents planned.
Home isn’t only a feeling. It’s wherever the person you love is. It’s something she never imagined finding with an amazing man.