At 23, I found myself living in the other side of the planet in Manila, Philippines, trying to pick up the pieces of a failed relationship. I was the one to break it off, but that doesn’t mean that it was easy. It was actually very hard and disappointing. When I told people that I wanted to stay in Manila one more year, many looked at me as if they had just seen Tom Hanks walking in the middle of High Street with a Hello Kitty costume.
They could not understand why. After all, I had moved to Manila to be with him so why should I stay there without him? They argued that I needed a change of setting, a new beginning in a place that brought me no memories of my relationship with the man who I had truly felt was the love of my life and the most incredible human being who ever set foot on the planet (yes, I did tell him once that his hair was sacred).
Through the course of my life, fate has taken me to many places. At 15, I moved from Madrid to Rome, I spent three months in London and Paris, I did an internship in Chile, I studied abroad in the US and after graduating I found myself googling Hong Kong to see where it was located. In Hong Kong, I met Mr. Love who worked in Manila and eventually decided to move there, to the land of jeepneys, halo-halo, and where it’s so hot that I could fry an egg on the asphalt.
Living abroad has taught me that home is where the heart is, but the heart is not only in one place. It is in a lot of different places at the same time. It is in my favorite coffee shop in Rome. It is in my best friends Bibi and Fran back home and the new friends that I made along the way. It is in Discovery Bay, an island off Hong Kong where I lived for a month.
Of course, some people or things own bigger pieces of our hearts than others. My ex-boyfriend owned a big piece, but I never let him own it all. It would have destroyed our relationship and it would have destroyed me. In order to have successful relationships, you need closeness but you also need separateness and independence. Basically, you better have your own, wonderful life. If your life is a gorgeous chocolate cake, your partner should be the cherry on the top, not the whole chocolate cake.
It is utterly wrong to allow someone to become the center of your whole universe and the source of all your needs. My needs are fulfilled by a lot of different sources, so despite the many tears shed and the pain, deep down his loss did not feel like the end of the world. I chose to see it as a new beginning full of growth, hope, and exciting possibilities. My heart was safe because I had never lost it. So many things and people owned bits and pieces of it.
The loss of him only meant the loss of a piece. In Manila, I have built a life that I hold very dear. I have a job that has given me a lot and a group of friends that I consider family. Oh, and I have the possibility to fly to exotic places and eat scorpions and fried crickets. I will leave Manila in one year but I am not leaving yet. It would break my heart to do it. One of the precious things I had is irremediably lost, but it is for the better and incredible things await.