Fabia stepped off the plane in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and took a deep breath of the crisp autumn air. He had been living in the United States for over 20 years, but he still missed the smell of the Philippines.
He was in Kalamazoo to speak at a college about his experiences as a Filipino immigrant. He had been invited by his old friend, Bienvenido Santos, who was also a writer.
Fabia took a taxi to Santos’s house. As they drove, he looked out the window at the unfamiliar landscape. The trees were already turning color, and the air was filled with the smell of apples.
Fabia smiled. He had always loved the smell of apples, but it was especially strong in the Philippines. In the United States, apples were a luxury item, and they were only available during the winter. But in the Philippines, they were abundant and inexpensive.
Fabia arrived at Santos’s house and was greeted by his wife, Lourdes. She gave him a hug and led him into the living room. Santos was sitting in a chair, reading a book.
“Fabia!” he exclaimed. “It’s so good to see you.”
Fabia and Santos embraced. They had not seen each other in many years, but they picked up right where they left off. They talked for hours, catching up on their lives and laughing about old times.
Later that evening, they sat down to dinner. Lourdes had made a delicious meal of adobo and rice. As they ate, they talked about Fabia’s upcoming speech.
“I’m a little nervous,” Fabia admitted. “I’ve never given a speech in English before.”
“Don’t worry,” Santos said. “You’ll be fine. You’re a great writer, and you have a lot to say.”
Fabia smiled. “Thanks, Ben.”
After dinner, they sat in the living room and talked some more. The scent of apples wafted through the air, and Fabia closed his eyes, savoring the memories it brought back. He remembered the summers he had spent in the Philippines, picking apples with his family. He remembered the smell of the apples in the orchard, the taste of the apples on his tongue, and the warmth of the sun on his skin.
“I miss the Philippines,” he said wistfully.
“I know,” Santos said. “But you’ve made a good life for yourself here.”
“Yes,” Fabia said. “I have a wife, a son, and a good job. But I still miss home.”
“I understand,” Santos said. “I miss the Philippines too.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes, lost in their own thoughts. Then Fabia said, “I’m glad I came to visit you.”
“Me too,” Santos said. “It’s been too long.”
They talked for a while longer, and then Fabia went to bed. He lay in bed, listening to the sound of the wind in the trees. He thought about his speech the next day, and he thought about the Philippines. He closed his eyes and fell asleep, dreaming of the smell of apples.
The next day, Fabia gave his speech. He spoke about his experiences as a Filipino immigrant, the challenges he had faced, and the successes he had achieved. He spoke about the importance of family and community, and he spoke about the power of hope.
The audience was moved by Fabia’s speech. They applauded and cheered when he was finished. Fabia smiled. He had done it. He had given his speech, and he had done it well.
After the speech, Fabia met with some of the students. They asked him questions about his life and his work. Fabia answered their questions patiently, and he encouraged them to follow their dreams.
Later that day, Fabia said goodbye to Santos and Lourdes. He promised to visit them again soon. He got in his car and drove away, feeling a sense of peace and contentment. He had come to Kalamazoo a stranger, but he was leaving a friend. He had come to Kalamazoo with a sense of loss, but he was leaving with a sense of hope.
As he drove away, he thought about the scent of apples. He would never forget the smell of apples in the Philippines. It was a smell that was both familiar and foreign, a smell that reminded him of home and of the challenges he had faced. But it was also a smell of hope, a smell that reminded him that he could overcome anything.