Chapter 1: GEORGE
“The best thing in life is always yet to come, has always been my Mom’s word every time I cried coming home from school after failing to be at the top of the class or winning at every competition I joined. She always told me that no matter how life punches you hard, you just have to get back on your feet because life is all about second chances—chances not to prove your worth to others but second chances to prove to yourself that you deserve all the best things in life. Well, enough for those dramas. Good morning everyone, I’m Georgina Elizabeth San Jose, but you can call me George for short, your travel buddy here at Vienna, Austria.” I said while putting out the best smile I could. “Hello! Hi” as I shook everyone’s hand. “Everyone! Everyone! Listen up. Well, give yourself a big round of applause because today, you’re about to experience that very best thing in life here in Austria. We’ll make sure that your trip here at Vienna will be a memorable one. Truly one for the books.” “So let’s get started.”
For the past 3 years, that was my routine here at Vienna, Austria. I’ve been living here alone—independently. Well, not though cause Jessie—a very good friend of mine since college was living with me in a rented apartment. Or shall I say I’m the one who lives with her since she’s the first one to stay here? After passing the nursing board exam, she immediately applied for work abroad. At first, she planned to work in a huge hospital somewhere in the US. But, unfortunately, she got rejected. She tried sending applications to other countries like in European countries and Asia as well. And after all the application she sent, finally she got one—in Austria. Since she badly wanted to work abroad, she accepted the job immediately. During her first year, I could remember how she called me almost late at night crying—feeling homesick at all. But after working here for almost 3 years, she loved the place so much. She’s well adapted to the country’s culture, beauty, environment, and weather of course. Afterward, I followed her.
Well, it wasn’t my intention to work here. It wasn’t my plan at all. I don’t need a lot of money just like other OFW out there who work far from their family just to support their needs since work opportunities are staggeringly low in our own country. Well, not because I have a lot though. But after my Mom died, everything changes. Just like the saying goes, “When it rain, it pours.”
When I was young, a lot of people always told me that I’m lucky to have a perfect life. Yes. I do have one. I can say that I’m blessed to have a rich family. My dad is a well-known general surgeon and at the same time, the CEO of their family owned-business, SJ Medical Center after my grandparents decided to retire from service—a company top at providing the best health care services to the country while Mom was a plain housewife. Well, not because she doesn’t have a career to pursue but because she decided to take care of me fully and in totality, our family. My Mom, Josie came from a well-known family of hotelier and restaurant owners in the country. She finished a business course abroad and culinary arts afterward. Well, it was her passion ever since—to cook for delicious food. I could barely remember her smiling face while she was in the kitchen wearing those cute aprons. After college, she worked at their hotel and restaurant. But after getting married to my dad, she didn’t pursue her career. Though I don’t know the real reason behind it, all I know is that she chose to stay at home to take care of me as well as my dad. Well, that was fine with me though because I got the chance to experience a lot of things with my mom. Every weekend we have a vacation on our farm though sometimes without my dad due to his busy schedule. We go to church every Sunday. After, we went groceries, shopping some stuff, strolling in the mall. Sometimes, we got to the salon. Watch movies. Having coffee for my mom while I have milk tea at our favorite coffee shop. We always have that mother and daughter bonding. That’s why I thought, I got the best or the perfect life as what they always say. At home, we always eat together no matter how busy my dad was. He always makes sure to go home every day. No matter how hectic his schedule was, he always makes time to be with us during the weekend. Going picnics. Backpacking. Camping. Hiking. Small adventures. Seeing them loving each other makes me hope to have one someday. Plus, loving grandparents who always have chocolates and ice cream for me whenever they visited me at home. Not because we don’t have that food at home, but because I wasn’t allowed to eat it every day. That’s why they always give it to me secretly, without my Mom around. My childhood memories are full of smiles, laughter, and adventure. I can say that I’m blessed to have a family like them.
But I guess fairy tales aren’t real at all. They were just on the books--created by those hopeless romantic people who always believed with happy ever after. Everything was perfect with our family not until one day when I arrived from school, I saw my Mom hurriedly packing her things. I was watching her from the door of her room looking confused with what’s happening. I wanted to ask her but she was so busy placing her stuff on her luggage. When she saw me, she just grabs my hand and said, “We need to leave immediately.”
But I refused to go with her. She was begging me to go with her. With all those pleading eyes looking in and out of our house she never explains to me in detail the reason why we need to leave. But all I did was screaming and yell at her. “We need to wait for dad,” I said angrily. Mom keeps on nagging me to go with her hurriedly. Until not quite some time, my dad arrives. With all those glaring eyes, he quickly grabs my Mom’s hand as he shut the door hardly. All I heard was my mom crying and my dad yelling at her. Never did I imagine that the loving couple I always see with them was a fake one. Well, sometimes I heard people talking about them. But I just ignore it. They always say that if my Mom was not pregnant before maybe she could have a better and happier life. At first, I cried hearing those rumors. But my Mom was always there to assure me that of all the mistakes she has done, I’m the only right thing she has done. But I guess they were right. A fire won’t be a fire without smoke on it. After that night, I rarely saw my Mom preparing food and seeing me off to school. I wanted to see her and asked if she’s okay. But her room was locked. Since then, our house became sadder than before. After 2 months, my Mom plans to escape again when my dad was on a business trip one night. She droves the car way out secretly. She was about to leave when she saw me left crying on the side, she went back as fast as she could so she could take me. But unfortunately, my dad arrives. Seeing him coming towards us, she drives the car swiftly. She drives the car as fast as she could with those trembling hands and teary eyes. I never saw my Mom like that. In order not to get caught, she drives even more swiftly—looking front and back. When my dad was about to draw near to us, my Mom decided to make a U-turn but a raging car from the opposite corner hit us. Then, the last thing I remember I was in the hospital with my Daddy Lo and Mamita crying at the bedside. I was shocked then. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t respond to anyone. I was just lying on the bed, staring blankly on the wall or staring afar on the window sill. I wasn’t even there when my Mom was buried. Because of the trauma I got, they decided to keep it behind me.
It took me 6 months to recover. And only then I got a chance to visit my Mom’s grave. And only then I realize that it was all my fault. Since then I blame myself for what happened. I always thought if I was just not stubborn enough to leave that day with her, we could have escaped from dad. She could have been alive. Or if I didn’t ask a lot of questions and I just followed her, she couldn’t have died. But it was all too late.
A lot of things change drastically in our family. After my Mom died, my dad rarely went home. He’s been busy with work. Business trips almost every other day due to a medical convention, international healthcare forum, etc. were all his excuses. He lives in the hospital. We never had a family dinner since then. Or any family activities every weekend just like before when my Mom was still alive. I was left at my grandparents’ care. I lose my Mom that day but I never thought I could also lose my dad. I never got a chance to talk with him nor take a glance at him. That’s why I made a realization that I will be the best in school so that I can see my dad. I studied every day and every night. I joined almost a lot of competitions and extracurricular activities at school. But everything was just useless; he didn’t come even during my graduation. I cried silently. Then, one night I heard someone coming into our house. I wake up and went downstairs. I saw my dad. He was drunk. I tried to help him but he pushed me so hard that I accidentally broke one of our flower vases. I tried to pick up myself but I lose all the strength especially when my dad starts talking. He doesn’t want to see me. He blames me for what happened to Mom. But you know what’s the worst thing I heard that night that until now, I’ve been trying my best to bury it down into the deepest portion of my heart, it’s when he said that I was like a curse to him. I was a disgrace to him. Those very words were engraved in my heart. And that’s the last time I talked and saw my dad.
Every day especially when I was about to sleep, I miss my Mom so much. I miss her when she reads me a book on fairy tale stories. She’s the one who makes me believe in destiny and fate. I miss her seeing in the kitchen cooking my favorite food. I miss her going to the park—biking, running every morning, fetching our dog. I miss her eating ice cream at our classic favorite ice cream shop. I miss her going shopping after church. Going to the salon for hair treatment, nail polishing, etc. I miss her smile waving at me when I go to school every morning and with the same smile while hugging me when I arrived from school. I miss her singing even if she’s out of tune. I miss her every afternoon, where she waters the plant and we do gardening together. How she talked with every plant every morning. There were even times that I thought she was crazy. I miss her waking me up every morning and putting me to sleep every night. I miss her eyes—those eyes that always looked at me with all the love in the world. I miss her smile and laughter that always lighten my day whenever I feel sad and down. I miss her hands that always hold me so tight when we go strolling in the mall or just a simple walk in the park. She got warm hands. I miss her hug whenever I failed to be the top in school. Those hugs that comfort me and wash all my pain away. I miss her smell. I miss everything about her. I miss my Mom a lot.
And I even miss her more when I got my first heartbreak. At the age of 20, I finished my Master’s degree in Business Administration since I finished my undergrad course at the age of 18. I decided to pursue Graduate school since my grandparents encouraged me to work for our family business. Well, after I graduated, I immediately work at SJ Medical Center. But despite working there I rarely saw my dad and if we saw each other unexpectedly, I greeted him but he will just pretend to smile a bit then leaves immediately. But still, I got to enjoy working at SJMC. It was fun and self-fulfilling especially doing charity works through our foundation—the Hope of Life Foundation as part of the hospital’s corporate social responsibility. It seems like I got another reason to live. Well, not because I wasn’t loved by my grandparents, because to tell you honestly, they loved me so much. They filled in those missing pieces in my heart. And that’s one of the reasons that I survived that trauma in my life because of them. Seeing the smiles and laughter of those people we help in our charity events makes me want to be a better person and a better managing director in our hospital. Everything goes smoothly then. Until one day, I met a gentleman, a 2nd year CS in our hospital. He was a new intake. Well, I don’t see him as a man at first. I even got irritated with his sense of humor and most especially his presence. But I guess that’s how relationship all started. His undying persistence caught me romantically. I was happy then. With all the happiness I have in the world, I started to let go of my pain. I started to free myself from the past. I started to accept the fact that even though my Mom was not here physically, she was never gone because she will always be in my heart. We lasted for 3 years. And those 3 years where among the best year of my life that I couldn’t ask for me. I’m content and satisfied with everything. But I guess, there is no happy ever after just like in the fairy tales. One day, I caught him cheating on me. Guess what? The woman was her co-worker—a 2nd year fellow in the CS Department. I can’t believe the man I trusted the most has another woman. Or shall I say I was the other woman because what we had was all a lie? He was just being nice to me because he wanted to secure his work in the hospital. He made me believe that he loves me. I wanted to shout at him and slap him on the face. But I was not brave enough to do so since it’s my first time seeing his real smile. His eyes were full of love. I never saw him looking at me that way. I never confronted him. I just walk away. Maybe because of too much pity for myself. I realize it was my fault since I’m the one who fooled myself that there was a “US”. That day I just drive the car swiftly. I don’t know where to go. I just want to be far from all the people that been hurting me. And my very feet have brought me to a beach far from the city. Seeing a few people strolling on the seashore, I find quietness to let my emotions flow. While drinking, I cried and yelled at all my pain in life. And after that day, I decided to go abroad. I immediately called my best friend, Jessie who works in Austria. And that’s how I landed here at Vienna. All the pain that I experienced in the past has brought me to this beautiful country of Austria. And so far, I never regret coming here.
The first year was tough. I wasn’t used to living alone with a place different from home—different weather, people, and culture.
It was really hard doing mind you—waking up early in the morning, cooking your food, cleaning the house afterward, washing the dishes, rushing to work, going home late after your shift at your second work. Feeling tired and sleeping with those outfits you had during the day. During weekends, you need to wash you’re a week bunch of dirty clothes that sometimes my hands got some blisters. But after the months passes by, I slowly learn how to maximize my time. And after a year, everything was easy for me. And that’s because of the help of my best friend, Jessie.
I had a lot of jobs before I landed in my present job as a tour guide. I worked as a waitress at a restaurant. After, I worked at a store assistant at a pastry shop. I do hairdressing at a salon—doing manicure and pedicure. I also worked as a babysitter. I also clean other people’s houses. I landed different kinds of jobs just to survive in Austria. But despite how tiring it was, I feel happy about it. I feel content somehow. The busy schedule I had helped me a lot to move on from the pain in the past. I meet a lot of nice people. Slowly, I smile again. I laugh again. I have lived again.Start writing here…