Friday, March 5, 2010

I'm in New York (And) But My Heart is in Many Places

If home is where the heart is, then I am either the luckiest person on earth or the most confused. I now live in New York, but my heart is in so many places. Let me attempt to trace the many pieces of my ever growing, ever breaking heart.

I was born in the US to parents who smuggled me into this country in a baby bump concealed under the babydoll mod fashion of the era on a Pan Am flight. They came here because Papa was doing his post-grad studies at SUNY. Part of your heart must stay in the place of your birth because for as far back as I can remember, I had a sense that one day I would live in New York City. And I did. New York City is a city that constantly surprises and frustrates. It is here that I discovered the kind of American I am. I voted in the country's most historical election here. Nave and I deepened our relationship here. I found the courage and smarts to venture into independent consultancy here. It must be said, I found my stride and strut in this city. There is lots to love about New York City and what it has done for me.

Most of my growing up was spent in Manila, the amazing, frustrating, confusing, charming city where most of the people I love still live. It is unquestionably the keeper of most of my heart. Once you live and love Manila you will keep coming back. A song by the 70's pop group 'Hotdog' sings it best when they say 'Manila...I keep coming back to Manila...Simply no place like Manila...I've walked the streets of San Francisco, I've tried the rides in Disneyland...Take me back in your arms Manila, And promise me you'll never let go. Promise me you'll never let go.' Both of my parents are back in Manila, both my brother and sister are now back in Manila and my gorgeous nephews Gael and Aiden now live there. Manila definitely has a big piece of my heart.

It was actually Gael and Aiden who first introduced me to the sweet side of heartbreak and heartache. From the time they first came into my world, I have felt my heart growing to make room for the growing love I feel for them. The only way I can imagine this happening is that my heart breaks a little as it makes room. In this sense, heartbreak becomes quite a beautiful thing.

My nephews were born in Barcelona, which is also the place my father's family is originally from. My sister, Rone and her husband, Paco lived in Barcelona for many years and I have many fond memories of the place. Barcelona definitely has a piece of my heart. It is the city that brought me Gael and Aiden, the absolute center of my universe. The word 'love' comes nowhere near estimating what happens in my heart when I think of these two boys.

While my brother spent some years in Barcelona, it is London where I reconnected with him. He transitioned into manhood in London, and I had the good fortune of getting acquainted to him as an adult in London. You see, he is ten years younger than me and so to my eyes he was always my baby brother before. But life works in magical ways, and my first client when I shifted from full time employment to independent consulting was a London based Marketing Innovation firm. I found myself in London almost every six weeks, and I stayed there for long periods of time. I will always be thankful to London because of the magical time I spent in which I learned to say goodbye to the baby brother and embrace the man that is Enrique Valles.

On one of these business trips to London, I took a side trip to Paris that changed the shape of my heart. I went to spend Easter with a fast friend, Lindsey. On that trip, we conceived of a dream which has now come true. Lindsey and I run a non-profit called The Women's Worldwide Web ( which is the best of heart and the best of advocacy. It is the dream work situation and I can gush about this forever. But that's the subject of another post (watch this space). Paris definitely holds an important piece of my heart.

Then there's Taos, New Mexico. It is in Taos that my mind is clearest and my creativity is bravest. It was in Taos that I first met Nave under a blue moon, and it was also in Taos that I decided to venture into self-employment. I have great friends in Taos, and know that I will spend a lot of time there in the future. Taos holds a special piece of my heart, it's the art part of my heart that sings and dreams.

So many places, so much love and more stories to tell...for now I know this to be true. I am in New York AND my heart is in many place.