Wish me a bon voyage. I’m going home. For a little while.
My father tells a story: when I was a little girl, I got mad because there was something I wanted to do that my parents would not permit. In my anger, I said to my father that I couldn’t wait to grow up and leave that house. He says he knew then that I would leave home someday.
It’s not an usual story. Kids say things like that in anger and, in some cultures, it is normal for children to leave home and lead their lives far away from their parents. But if Hispanic families are separated, it’s because the political situations in our countries make it impossible for us to stay together. Wherever possible, we stay together and we stay close.
I’m Cuban, but I was raised in America, where children are conditioned to believe that when they grow up and turn the magical number of 18, they are adults, suddenly more mature than they were yesterday at 17, to go away to college and live on their own, to then take a job across the country, and come home once a year for Thanksgiving. Family and community are great concepts as long as they don’t get in the way of individuality.
In hindsight, I see that I had a good childhood and many freedoms, but I felt stifled as an adolescent. When I graduated high school, I broke my parents’ hearts and went away to college. I didn’t go that far, just five hours north, but it was far enough. It was hard, but it was healthy. It was what I needed to gain my independence as a young adult. I wonder if it was good preparation for a bigger move that came 13 years later.
I never imagined moving more than a few blocks from my parents. In 2012, I moved 9,680 miles.
My partner and I are off to the United States. We are getting married in ten days and will be spending time in South Florida among family and friends. We’ll also be going to New York for a week.