Hometown versus City Livin’

Hometown Zeena in 1996

Easter is always an awkward time for me. I’m usually wedged between my mother urging me to “believe in god, he will take care of you” and fighting the constant urge to tell her I just don’t really believe in her “God.” Filipino mom problems, they were born suckling off the Jesus teet. It’s a common dichotomy. On one hand you have the optimistic spiritual view, on the other the tragically realistic. I’m starting to realize it might be regionally symptomatic to the environment I dwell in. We all know how it goes and the grass is always greener theoretically on the other side. During my trips home I always think about my friends who have opted to stay close, get married, work practical jobs and live a “normal” life. In my youth I admittedly looked down on that life because I couldn’t understand it. I could not understand why anyone would rush to have kids, be married and not explore the Earth while they had the time and freedom. Selfish ambition has been my fuel for life and there was no way I was going to spend the rest of my days in the dreamland that is Hillside, New Jersey. However, somewhere in the last year I have developed an amazing respect and admiration for people who have done this. Dedication to that life requires a skill set I could never possess and personal sacrifice & selflessness way beyond my comprehension.

Come rescue me from this dreaded city livin’…

While fulfilling my yearly church obligation on Easter, I saw something that genuinely touched me at my barren core. An everyday occurrence to most but something so personally foreign to me. A young girl was crying and her father, a man who appeared to be in his early 30’s, scooped her up and held her. Unable to ease her loud tears in a packed church he carried her out – red faced, screaming and tantrum filled. Minutes later they returned and she was calm and docile, full of comfort and peace. It hit me like a ton of bricks – that father was the definition of what it is to truly be a man. After many years of meeting countless “men” who can’t even commit to a simple plan for dinner or get their shit together enough to function as an adult, it dawned on me how respectable it is to be an active father. How much sacrifice and personal struggle is involved. Most of all, how asinine my biased opinions of those I knew who committed to that life were. I have no clue what it’s like to feel the exhaustion of protecting, nurturing and cultivating a life. You not only have to live as a good & responsible person to set that example, but you have to interpret and pass on those values. Sure, I’ve interviewed stars and partied with my musical heroes, but it all seems to pale in comparison to the lifelong task of being responsible for someone else’s life. You want a break? You don’t get one. Having a bad day? It’s not your kid or husbands’ problem. The truth is one of the scariest responsibilities is the well being of others, whether it be emotional or physical. Every morning I wake up thinking about the pressures of my career but it will never cry at me, or get sick and have to go to the hospital. On the opposite side of the spectrum, my friends with kids will never have to worry about looking fat on camera or going to their 3rd party or show to network with the same people days in a row. It’s all relative amigo.

No one is perfect and there is a point in life where you realize your parents are just people, subject to error and carriers of their own baggage. There is a beauty in that level of focus, togetherness and sacrifice that no professional accolade can replace. The “city life” and it’s nontraditional, essentially selfish ways has jaded me to a rotten degree. It reminded me that at the root of hometown is the home, something the hustle and betrayal of the city rarely focuses on. Not to say there aren’t unsteady characters on that side either but the frequency is subjectively less. Some people may say it’s a “simpler” kind of life but whenever I ask someone I know living it I actually discover the opposite.

Appreciate the beauty of each side and help a friend out when they need a babysitter! Your hangover may suck but god knows that day of relief probably means more to them than you’ll be able to understand.

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