Last weekend, for the first time since I arrived in Atlanta 3 weeks ago, I found myself sitting in the passenger seat of the car. It's a very different experience from being in the driver seat, bearing the burden of maintaining peripheral vision and worrying about things like changing lanes and such. In the passenger seat you're free to just look out the window and admire the view going by. The view out the window was mundane by most standards, but... it's what so many people aspire for. Just... just everything.
Just like that last two times I went out of the country, the people I'm with put into words the things that fill my head about how things here are different from things back home. You can hear the ironic disdain in their voice, how they look down on their own race and country. How the streets here are clean, the drivers stay in their lanes, the people are courteous, the rules are enforced, and the rulebreakers are punished. Those are things that can't be blamed on poverty or corruption, because it doesn't take any money. It's in the culture. I don't know how we're gonna change that.
I don't like to think about it. The Philippines, for better or for worse, is always going to be home. It's an acquired taste, one that I have acquired with much effort.
While looking out the window of the passenger seat, all of a sudden I came to the lonely realization, as I do every now and then, of how far away from home I am and how lucky I am to be all the way out here.
I wonder how long it will be before I take it all for granted like any other American.