Thursday, November 09, 2006

Our "Home-home"

“If we would go home to our “home-home” no matter how late, I will come to work no matter how early,” was my offer to my husband to persuade him to take us home to our new house as often as possible, hopefully everyday.

Just a few months ago, we bought a 15-year old house in the suburbs after living in a combined home and photo studio on a busy and noisy main street of Makati for the past 26 years (plus another 4 years at another Makati address that was also both studio and residence). Although I have always been longing for it, I have only belatedly experienced the joy of living away from work. We did not really transfer residences, but instead maintain two homes -one in Makati where we work, and the other in Alabang, which I call our “home-home”).

There are many advantages to living where we work. Having the house above the studio means that all we need is a 2-second commute between one and the other. Living there also meant that we were accessible to our children (when they were young and still living at home) even at our busiest times, and we didn’t have to worry about children we left at home, if we had lived elsewhere. Our children also grew up exposed to the work that we did, and often took interest in them.

It is also a convenient location. I can grab a cab just by stepping out of our house/office. We are very near the country’s primary business district. The supermarket, wet market, church, banks and our favorite bakeshop are all within walking distance, or an accessible, easily available (by tricycle, taxi, jeep, bus) short ride away.

But, there are also distinct disadvantages. It is difficult to decide when to stop working, especially since our work numbers are 24/7, not 9 to 5. It is also very easy to bring office problems into the home, and vice versa. As for attending to the family, we would be physically present and accessible even while at work, but often caught in the middle, torn between demanding children and equally demanding clients competing for our attention.

Our studio/house can a busy place – and on especially hectic days, it can be as noisy as grand central station. One can get auditory overload just hearing the buses and tricycles on the street, and the telephone ringing or paging at any odd hour. Music can be loud – to put talents in the mood, or to keep photographers from falling asleep when they need to work overtime.

The house in the studio is still here, and I suppose we will continue to maintain it. We somehow still find the studio the most convenient place to start from when we have early morning shoots, or to come home to when shoots last well into the night. Living away from work is bliss, but I must agree, working away from home is inconvenient.

But we are getting used to driving after work to our home-home and we like it there. It is in a quiet neighborhood. We have a little garden. We can relax in this house – the atmosphere is really tranquil. Sometimes, we even find time to write -John in his photography online forum, and me, doing blogs, such as this.

Even the commutes do not bother us – spending time on the road on the way home from work allows us to unwind, while being caught in slow-moving traffic is, to our sweet surprise, an extended and unexpected “bonding time.” (Except on some nights when traffic on South Superhighway or even the Skyway is bumper-to-bumper and hardly moves – like last night. We were on our way to our “home-home” and U-turned because traffic was horrendous!)

Even friends like our new home - that is, when they can make the long trip to visit us. When they do come, they no longer need to wonder if they’re interrupting us at work. Long and relaxed conversations with family and friends are now possible.

Gradually, we are spending more time in our new home. When we first acquired the house, we only spent weekends there, and sometimes not even. We have progressed to spending about 3 or 4 nights a week at home. My short-term goal is to spend all the nights of one straight week here, or one full month. We will probably celebrate when we are able to come home everyday for a full year! I don’t mind the coming and going, the commute to and from the city and our home - leaving the home to work, and leaving work to come home. It is a small price to pay to enjoy our “home-home.”