Dear abandoned reader,
I am a little embarrassed that every time I update this blog is when someone prompts me to do it. I should be doing it constantly, not that I have much to say in relation to what the blog is supposed to be about, but I brought you guys along my journey just to abandon you as soon as my things got solved.
In my defense, work has been pretty hectic and I am incurably lazy and a procrastinator. So there, that’s my excuse.
I must confess there were times a few years ago when I was in the middle of the legal struggles, tethered to the ankle monitor from hell, when I despaired that the day would never come. The day arrived however and I set foot on my homeland back in October 2014. I wondered while on the plane if kissing the floor when I landed would be too much.
DH seemed a bit baffled by my lack of enthusiasm a few weeks before the trip; he was looking forward to the food, the pretty women (he thinks I don’t know that’s one of his reasons) and the salsa dancing that awaited us. He told me several times he was more excited about the Colombia trip that the one we took to Europe. It was not lack of enthusiasm on my part but while I was bouncing off the walls when the Europe trip was approaching, the trip home made me feel so much different. There was unspeakable happiness in my heart, I couldn’t think about it without getting a little choked up, but there was also some apprehension.
What are you bitching about now, Melissa? What could you possibly have to complain about? I didn’t have anything to complain about but I couldn’t deny the feeling in my chest.
A few weeks before the trip when I was running work errands I was listening to music in my car and this old Gloria Stefan song came on my shuffle. It’s called “Mi Tierra” and very appropriately talks about how you can never forget your roots, the land you left behind and how that lands aches with your absence. It struck me then why I was so apprehensive. I had been away from home for almost half my life! I was 31 years old and been away for almost 13 years. I truly was afraid that I would get there to the land I am from and I feel like I didn’t belong.
What if there was no strike to my heart, what if I felt like a foreigner? It reminded me of another song called “Foreigner” by Franco De Vita (awesome Venezuelan singer/songwriter) where the guy in the song leaves home in search of a better future leaving all behind and when he returns the children from his hometown called him the Foreigner. He doesn’t belong anywhere! Ain’t that kick in the head!
Every time I thought about going back home, back in those first few years when the U.S. didn’t feel like home and I was full of piss and vinegar and sorrow about being here I imagined the moment like in a movie; me getting out of the plane, the city would look more beautiful than ever and I would just feel like I had made it home, tears would run and my soul would once more be happy, content, comfortable, complete. Like when you sit down in your couch alone and your spouse is asleep upstairs and the pets are purring/snoring next to you and you know that everything is right in the world.
The bitch of it is that I was right. I was right to feel apprehension Dear Reader because home…is not home anymore. I so LOVED being there. DH and I had a blast eating our weight in fish in Cartagena and seeing my family in Barranquilla (the few that hadn’t made it to the US on vacation yet) was so much fun.
Clubbing on Halloween was a flipping blast, the music was great, and my family was so warm and welcoming and awesome with us. My aunt and uncle woke us up with café con leche every morning and breakfast, drove us around and it was so beautiful being there with all of them and see how much the city had changed in some ways and stayed the same in others (Let’s retire the donkey carts, Barranquilla)
I felt like a visitor though. I stood there thinking if I would leave my life in the US and go back and I wouldn’t, I don’t think my mentality would fit in any longer, the same way my mentality didn’t fit in here when I came 13 years ago; the same way that who and how I am sometimes still collide with the US even after being here for so long.
I came back speaking Spanish like a Costeña but I felt this…divide between the Melissa I was then when I was there the last time and the Melissa I am now. Not because 13 years had passed and I was 31 instead of 18 but because people looked at me like I was a tourist and treated me like I was a tourist and I dressed like I was a tourist and while they knew I was a Colombian expat in the U.S. I was not a true Barranquillera to them. My Venezuelan accent was confusing and I complained too much about the driving (they drive like crazy there). The things that a “True Colombian” takes for granted or accept as normal I couldn’t, I couldn’t hide the horrified expression with every homeless dog I saw in every corner. I lost my patience with the disrespect for traffic laws.
I wonder if I would feel different if I went back to Caracas instead. I knew how to get around there, I knew the streets, how to get from school to home, you could drop me somewhere in town and I knew which bus to take. Maybe the reason why Colombia felt so…alien was because I only went there on vacations; I visited two/three times a year but never lived there.
But what if…what if I ever go back home to Caracas and I feel the same? I would have lost something precious that I can’t get back.
In Barranquilla I met my 22 year old stepmom (my dad’s girlfriend) and also met for the first time my six year old sister that my dad had with another of his girlfriends. I told DH that I was afraid of the years of therapy the trip to Colombia may cause me, he laughed and thought I was exaggerating, but I truly am not.