This comes a bit late, but March 30th marked ten years since The Jump, when I moved to the US from the Philippines in 2002. I visited National Airport the week of that anniversary to take a few photos, to remember.
I was 25, in the Philippines, out of a job, feeling called to opportunities across the Pacific. I wanted to prepare a better life for my then-girlfriend (who would leave me not much later, but that’s ancient history). I had help, and optimistic desire, and pretty much almost nothing else, but it was enough. I remember there were tears.
National Airport, 30 March 2002. I had been on Northwest Airlines for the better part of about 24 hours, with stops in Nagoya and Detroit. My uncle was supposed to pick me up, but unknown to me, had been delayed. I was in old Terminal A. I had no change for the pay phone. I remember going up to the Travelers Information desk to ask for change but the representative at the desk spoke no English.
Outside it was cool and rainy. Just around mid-50s Fahrenheit, really, but to me, fresh out of the tropics, it might as well have been the Arctic. A Metro train passed by on elevated tracks. I wondered how one could get to it, but with my only mass transit rail eperience being the MRT in Manila, I knew nothing about riding the DC Metro. I couldn’t drive yet.
I fell into conversation with another Filipino arrival, who was nice enough to give me some change for the phone. My optimism was gone. This was completely new and alien territory to me. So sure I could hit the ground running, I was lost before I was even out of the airport.
But like I said, I had help. Ten years later I can say confidently that it all turned out great.
I’m writing this on a plane now, fittingly enough. Amy is beside me, and I turn to her and tell her I couldn’t have made it this far without her. Hug. She’s wonderful.
(Somewhat related postscript: shortly after that tenth year anniversary I went back to National Airport, not for reflection this time, but to see the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Also, I get bonus award miles via Foursquare for checking in from airports, so I jump at any excuse to drop by DCA frequently.)