student: music therapy major. creative music technology minor. ||| believer: campus catholics. onelove. unite for impact. wesley. cfcyouth core. lifeteen core. ||| the name is gabby. i am perpetually tired and never in need of a tan. i think too much.
Whenever somebody asks me where I’m from, I hesitate just a slight bit. My blood is straight up Filipino, but I’ve only been to the Philippines once. I was born in Chicago. I moved to a suburb of Atlanta when I was 8. Then, decided to go to college in Middleofnowhere, Georgia.
Depending on who is asking and where we are at that current moment, I state my area. Technically, I’ve lived in Georgia for more than half of my life. When I answer, 90% of the time, I sneak in a “But, I’m originally from Chicago.” Just to clarify that I’m not southern.
I had the pleasure of visiting Chicago last week for the first time in 4 years and, man, was it great. The food, the culture, the sights. Old family, old & new friends. Most of my family has left Chicago, but I have a few remaining relatives left. I spent two nights with family. Actually, got to go to the Bulls game the first night I was there. I still enjoyed it, even though they lost. The rest of my time was spent with friends around western/northern suburbia and the actual city.
Now, as friends were quick to point out, I’m not really from Chicago nor do I sound like it. I’m from a suburb north of Chicago. And because I go to school in podunk country Georgia, I have developed an ever-so slight twang. That realization crushed me because I’ve tried so, so hard to keep up my northern city rep. Up until last semester, in all my years in Georgia, I did not say the word “Y’all.” Up until now, I’ve only said it twice and I plan on never saying it again. By no means is the southern accent bad…I actually watched a video once about how the southern accent is actually closest to the British accent of the colonials.
Why am I so adamant about being from Chicago? I guess its because I’ve never truly felt at home in the suburbs or in the country. Not that I don’t enjoy it or that I haven’t made incredible friends here, but its just not the scene that I see myself in. Whenever I go on a trip with my family to a major city, I’m always the one navigating the city sidewalks, streets, trains, buses, or whatever. It just makes sense to me. It clicks.
When I was 8, I was mad that we were moving. But now, I’m not and I wouldn’t change the move down here to Georgia…even if you paid me. Because I know I wouldn’t have the friends I have now and I know I would be a completely different person. However, I am moving back to Chicago (this time, the actually city) in a year for my music therapy internship. I can only apply to 4 places, so I’ve got two hospitals, a hospice, and an art therapy institute lined up. Hospice pays bank, art institute pays a little, and the hospitals don’t pay at all. But I’ve got a year, so we’ll see who accepts me. Either way, its going to happen.
I was telling all of this to my Godmother and her kids over dinner a few nights before I left. She looked at me with a smile and said, “I think your heart just never left Chicago.”
When I walk across front campus on a nice day, I see a lot of people doing different things, but there are a few main things that never change. People are either reading, hammocking, playing frisbee, or slacklining. Slacklining is sort of like walking a tightrope that is suspended between two trees, except for the facts that its a whole lot closer to the ground and the line itself is slack…hence the name. Although its under tension, the line bounces and stretches while the person is walking on it and its entertaining to watch when you’re walking in between classes.
And this is what I would compare my semester to. I’ve never attempted slacklining, but I imagine it would figuratively be similar to how my semester went. Trying to find my balance, almost, but never quite finding it, and still somehow making it to the end.
My semester started off not at all like I planned it. I was going to go on a silent retreat to center myself before the semester and after the madness of being home with a very sick great-grandma, a crazy aunt, and the rest of my immediate family. But of course, that didn’t happen. My great-grandma passed away two days before the retreat and, even though I knew she was going to pass pretty soon, I did not think it was going to be that soon. So, instead of peace and quiet, my few days before the semester were filled we the complete mayhem of funeral preparations, the funeral itself, and familial denial, sadness, arguments, and exhaustion. By the end of it, I was actually happy that I was required to go to school.
So, the semester starts, but it doesn’t get too much better. Classes we’re the roughest they’ve ever been, which left me in the library or the music building till after midnight 4 out of the 5 weekdays after being awake since 8am or earlier. At work, three of my students’ schedules didn’t align with mine, so I was left with one student the whole semester, which left me barely scraping by with gas and food. At CC, my various roles within the community taught (and still is teaching) me huge slap-in-the-face lessons in humility, flexibility, holding my tongue, and loving people you really don’t want to love.
I was not eating or sleeping well. Maybe due to the grieving process or lack of money or stress…or maybe a combination of all of them. My workout schedule completely went out the window. So I was feeling super unhealthy. My responsibilities with school, work, and CC we’re always battling each other and I ended up putting family and my service to the CFC ministries on the backburner. Whenever I finally got something right with CC, something would come up with school. Or when something was going well in school, some crisis would come up in my extended family and there was nothing I could do about it. There was always something not right…all the way to the very end. I got into a little fender bender 15 minutes away from home the other day.
I generally try to stay stoic in my emotions, which is easy with my naturally flat affect, and try to deal with things on my own. I also try to make some sort of a joke out of everything, but sometimes it doesn’t work. I managed to stay on the line thanks to my friends, both down here on Earth and up there in Heaven. There were my slack when the weight of what I was balancing became heavy. They brought me joy when I wasn’t feeling it. They encouraged me when I needed it. They fed me when I was hungry (physically and spiritually). They lent an ear even when my words didn’t make sense. They prayed for me at a moments notice.
Spring 2013 was rough, but I know most of the world has it rougher. So, despite that rant-like feel of this post, I’m grateful for this semester and all that came with it. I’m still trying to find balance, but I feel like I’m not alone.