We just embarked on our cross country road trip and have made it about a third of the way to our new home in Los Angeles. We had a tearful goodbye with my family -- while I've already left Connecticut twice, my mom and aunt never expected I'd move with my daughter. So obviously I couldn't escape without a lot of guilt-tripping, a lot of "Why are you doing this to us?!" and even more "Go to L.A., just leave the baby here!" I expected that much, but I didn't expect to be so emotional myself.
Last week, my last one in the office, my coworker took me out to lunch with another Filipino American woman he worked with. We were brought together because my coworker thought we would "have a lot in common" -- which is, of course, a common assumption people have about minorities in Connecticut.
But it turns out we actually did have a lot in common. In particular, we have left the places where we've grown up (she's originally from Chicago) and still deal with our families' resentment. Which, honestly, is not a common experience I have found among second-generation Filipino Americans.
It's hard to overstate the emphasis of family in Filipino culture. Adult children don't just move away for school or for work or to see something new. It isn't seen as normal, and often can't be done without having to endure massive guilt-tripping for the rest of your life. While many people I know have no problem picking up and going wherever life should take them and don't have the same kind of family baggage, I've seen cousins turn down well-paying jobs in great nearby cities at the insistence of their parents. I've seen cousins get it for moving out of the house to the next town over. Moving away, no matter how far, can be a heavy decision with as many social consequences as, say, having a child out of wedlock (both of which I've done, imagine that).
Our decisions to leave home had everything and nothing to do with our families. Really, we both left because we wanted to see and experience other things, but that became a statement on family life in and of itself. My family felt I was telling them they weren't interesting enough, and in turn, I felt they weren't really allowing me to grow.
Moving into another region entirely is that kind of decision, the kind that your family will make you defend for the rest of your life. I just hope that my decision will be worth it.