Sunday, June 11 was the Philippino-American Association of Central Pennsylvania's annual picnic and get-together.
This particular day, I did not feel much like going out. I didn't want to smile, act sociable, or watch kids, but I was somewhat 'forced' to go because I had expressed interest in eating lechon.
So, I grinned, took Caleb, so mommy wouldn't have to work as hard, and went along. We ran a couple errands before we got there, and arrived just as everyone was lining up to get food. The chicken we placed on the table was gone by the time we got to the front of the line (we started in the back) but I didn't really care. I grabbed up the last piece of Leche Flan, and three tiny pieces of bud-bud that someone had brought, elated at my-self. Caleb was whiny and clingy, which not only was embarrassing, but frustrating. At the food table, the little girls and Caleb refused ALL lechon and ate only what remained of a pasta ziti-type dish, which embarrassed me further. There were not as many entirely Pinoy dishes as there had been two years ago.
There was no skin in the dish which held lechon, and I looked around for some. A white guy down the line (must have been married a filipina) asked inquisitively "Why is everyone asking about the skin?" I felt a mixture of pity and annoyance. What was he doing here if he hadn't ever heard of lechon and didn't KNOW about the SKIN!!!!
Interestingly enough.....I felt completely at ease, and I noticed later (during a line dance with disco-music playing--i.e. NOT something I am entirely in favor of! ) how relaxed and at-home I felt. About that time, Andrea whispers to me "Everyone has BLACK HAIR!" And then I realized. I WAS at home. Everything I was eating was familiar, and the complexions, the lovely putut noses, the dark black hair.....I was GLADI had come.
As an added bonus, the pool near the Community Center was free for children under 12. I was pretty bummed out, but I went to watch the three little ones. Micah, who is now 12, decided not to swim, so the money Daddy had given me for him I put underneath all the kids swim clothes. I saw the girls could swim well in deep water, and then turned to watching Caleb. The poor thing obviously couldn't take water over two feet deep, and begged me to be with him, so I payed an exorbitant $5 to swim for approx. 1 hour.
The water was lovely, and despite all the stares I got for swimming in the kiddie pool with my little brother (not to mention having an extreme excess of clothing that is usually not seen) I enjoyed it. Water is almost as native to me as air. We went swimming almost three times a week (all afternoon) during the summer, and at least once a week the rest of the year. In June, when the lawis disappeared, the waves would tower to about 15 feet and crash on the shore with ferocious power. Ahhh.....I didn't care what anyone thought. It had been WAY to long, and it was SWIMMING!
Saralyn eventually got tired of treading water, and came over to the little pool to relax. She said she would watch Caleb, so I swam as fast as I could for the 'deep end'. It is an amazing thing to sink into water well over your head and feel the pressure of it smother you. It was lovely and sad at the same time. I opened my eyes hoping for the dull brown of the sand and the bright green of the sea-grass, and the bite of salt on my eyes, but it was all white, bright blue, and chlorine. I sighed, and tried to enjoy without further nostalgia. I got about four dives off the diving board, the water slapping hard at my face and back. I did one depth dive, to see how far down I could get, one front flip, and two cannon-balls...when I heard Daddy whistle to say "it's time to go".
I was (as B___y terms it) "flying" as I helped the kids get changed, but it was SO worth it....and I was in a much better mood the entire rest of the day!!!