The Last Joe

It’s hard to fathom the concept but, next week, I’ll be returning to the states. It was never intended but after some long consideration, I’ve decided to make the return trip. There are other opportunities I want to pursue and, more importantly, opportunities I want Jennifer to have. Those things will never be possible if we continue to live in the Philippines.

Jennifer is a big motivation in leaving the Philippines. All the new experiences she will have outside this country can not be numbered. She has spent most of her life here in the provinces and she’s been exposed to so little. Everything I’ve always taken for granted is everything she’s always wanted; there’s no doubts that her appreciations will always keep me with a fresh perspective on things. Contentment is often a hard thing to find in today’s world.

My head is somewhat spinning from the fast movement of events and I’ve yet to emotionally digest it all. I will miss Jennifer. Being without her for a year will be a difficult task. It’s necessary and it’s certainly for the best but until I can get her petitioned over to the U.S., there will be an empty void within me.

Transitioning to the states after living here for a year will be hard for me. No more jeepneys, tricycle rides or sitting five people on a motorcycle [and that’s not including the toddler on the handle bars]. While the bucket showers, the brownouts, the lack of running water and mosquitoes are all things hard to deal with, they will be missed in their own way. Truly, everything that makes the Philippines Filipino will be missed.

Jenn will fly with me to Manila and we’ll spend two days there together. I booked us at a decent hotel for our few nights. It’s not a super luxurious hotel but it’s much nicer than the Diplomat hotel in Cebu. We could have gone a cheaper route but since we’re parting, I wanted the moments to be more memorable.

Our flight will be a first for Jennifer as she has never flown in an airplane. I chuckled a bit as I told her to get used to it; her future undoubtedly holds a lot of airplane rides. For emotional air support, I invited Pastor Panolino to fly with us; he has a conference to attend in Manila. Unfortunately I found out he has never flow before either so I’m going to be on a plane with two newbies. I’m not sitting in the middle!

I sit almost motionless as I type this, watching Jenn pack our things. I know she is packing merely to keep her mind occupied and I should help her but I can’t. A good portion of me is in denial. I simply don’t want to leave her.

We passed through town earlier and, as usual, there were the regular shouts of ‘hey Joe’. Normally I tune them out but this time I could not. Silently I wondered who would deliver that last salutation before I board the flight back. I can hear the echoes ringing in my head now and I know, very shortly, I will miss those call outs that have so often annoyed me. I have never forgotten the first ‘hey Joe’. The last one is sure to be remembered more.

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