By David Haldane
July 26, 2018
It feels like a kind of death.
Everywhere I go, I wonder whether it’s the last time I’ll ever be there. Each thing I do seems like something I may never do again. A friend recently wondered whether I realized that this could be my “last and final move.” Another spoke somewhat more directly: “Do you think you’ll die there?” she soberly asked.
What they were referring to, of course, is our imminent move to the Philippines. By the time you read this, in fact, it will no longer be imminent but an established fact; this life will be over and the first throes of a new life in a strange and faraway place will have begun.
For now, though, I am still here and therefore focused more on what I’m leaving behind than on any promise the future may hold. For the future, after all, is still shrouded in fog while the past is quite clear and bright.
We’ve had a good life in the U.S.A. Both Ivy and I have engaged in meaningful work. The community to which we moved three years ago has embraced us with open hearts. And what once was an empty house in the California desert has become a much-loved home.
So why are we doing this anyway? The plan to move to Ivy’s home province of Surigao del Norte was first conceived several years ago. Our world was quite different then; I had tumbled from a career position I loved into a job I hated and toiled at for half the pay. Ivy’s career as a medical lab scientist had not yet blossomed. And living in coastal Southern California had become more expensive than we could bear.
So, looking to the country of her origin, we hatched a plan of escape. First, we bought some land there and started building a house. And then, to minimize the burning of bridges, we moved to the desert where it’s a whole lot cheaper to live. So cheap, in fact, that – aided by rental income – we fully expect to be able to keep our little desert abode even when we are no longer its primary inhabitants.
As I’ve said before, it was an exceedingly long-range plan. But even long ranges eventually end, and we have finally come to the end of ours. Both of us have given notice at our jobs. I’ve obtained a 13A visa and purchased airline tickets. We have begun packing what we think we can carry and sending the rest ahead. And soon we will be hosting a farewell party to bid adieu to our friends.
All of which should be very exciting, of course, but here’s the thing; the tickets are one-way. And so, between bouts of excitement, I am experiencing the pangs of loss. Sometimes they are pervasive enough to tug at my heart and moisten my eyes. At other times, I’m sure, they make me irritable and difficult to live with for the people I love.
There’s only one antidote, of course, and that is time. Enough of it must pass so that I am more involved in the rebirth of the future than the death of the past, more focused on what is ahead than on what is behind and so busy creating a new life that there is no time left to mourn the passing of the old.
I pray and expect that it will all happen soon.
A former Los Angeles Times staff writer and winner of a 2018 Golden Mike award in radio broadcast journalism, David Haldane fell in love with the Philippines on his first visit there in 2003. A few visits later, he also fell in love with the beautiful young Filipina to whom he is now married and, with whom, he has returned many times. David has written extensively about his experiences in the Philippines for several publications including Orange Coast and Islands Magazine. Today he and Ivy, along with their eight-year-old son, Isaac, divide their time between homes in Joshua Tree, California, and Surigao City, Philippines. His award-winning memoir, Nazis & Nudists, recounts, among other things, the courtship of Ivy and finding a place to call home. For David that turned out to be at the tip of a peninsula marking the gateway to Mindanao where he and Ivy are building their dream home next to a lighthouse overlooking the sea. This blog is the ongoing chronicle of that adventure.