There are erasures in life that even if we try to take them back you can only have some faint traces of what had been there in the beginning.
Like an absence that cannot be called back, named again, we can only move on to do the patch-up work of living through the joys of each day in the present.
What migrancy does to memory?
It makes it a palimpsest of fear and trembling, of hope renewed and made to last for a lifetime, of terrors and surprises.
For parents, for instance, parenting can never be in absentia.
There is no way you can ever proxy your creative rage as you tell your child his or her mistake and remind the child to grow up.
Or the reverse--some kind of 'childing', with the child taking on the role of parenting and telling you, Hey, hey, dude, take your coffee, take your vitamins, take your lunch box so you will not spend time looking for a school canteen so you can have your abhorrent school meal.
You can only recall now, these reversals, these switching of roles in your household, with your first daughter always on the guard whether you will take that Philip Morris, in its mentholated yosi-kadiri promise so you think you can think thoughts about writing, but just thinking about writing without ever writing anything at all.
The memory of a migrant is a palimpsest of what was, one of absense being made present in some form of a presencing that can never be as present as when you are there, in medias res.
Then again, there are dreams to be pursued and we allow the absence to take on new forms, to be present in these dreams.
Today, this sunny morning of Tuesday, you consciously prepare to go to work--to that work you do not like doing but where you are taking all things in stride, taking all the complexities of immigrant experience so you will have something to write about in the book you promised, something close to a cloned, if not plagiarized, "America is in the Heart" as you promised your teacher Bien Lumbera, your riposte to his joke on your being a prototype of an "Ilokanong lagalag", a phrase you have come to love and now you are borrowing profusely.
You watch the Los Angeles summer morning with its promise of endless sun today.
You listen to the silences of birdsongs on treetops from your dusty window and you remember that moon on the same window two nights ago, the moon in full smiles in the west, coaxing you, inpiring you to remember that for a long time you have not seen the moon in these California skies that seemed to have yoked you with the weight of the years.
You take your second cup of Colombia brew, the bean exiled from its plant like you are.
You take in all the aroma of the coffee and the morning and that hope for a bright future.
Today, you tell yourself: What I see at last is hope.
A. S. Agcaoili
June 13, 2006