Memories of home: the dream and reality of coming back

With my mom and my dad, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, 1992.

“In a way, the destiny of the immigrant is to always be missing somebody, wherever you are.”

Jasmine Garsd

I came back to live in Santa Cruz after 16 years because, ever since I left, I was trapped by a feeling of being uprooted, a feeling that never left my side. No matter how much I tried I felt out of place. I was not able to identify myself with anything. Everything was foreign. With the few things that were mine, I felt the need to watch over them with ferocity, it was as if the consolation of my uprootedness was to protect and appreciate the few things I got left (my language, my culture, my memories). It was hard to share my life with other people. With the exception of the ones I loved. I did not share myself with sincerity with anybody, for the fear of loosing myself in the life of other people, of loosing myself in unfamiliar places, for the fear of distancing myself from the memories of the place where I grew up. How wrong I was, that was going to be inevitable––my futile effort to avoid it blinded me.

To leave a whole life behind to start a new one again, –from scratch– it caused me an immense trauma. It created in me the fear of loosing my roots, an irrational fear that caused me my wings. I lived in the shadows of that trauma for years.

To say good bye to so much at the age of 15 marked me. When I arrived to my destination my heart was homeless, so with a slowness that was just depressing, I started the monumental task of building everything again. By the time that I had already something that resembled what I had left behind, I was already an adult of 31. I made it! but despite that achievement I still felt like my adolescence got truncated. It was as if my life after that moment had been irrelevant. It was obvious; that was not true. But that feeling of uprootedness was very real. That feeling made me remember my adolescence like a moment that never got resolved. A stage in my life that never got closure. I was only able to see my life in a way that allowed only for a before and an after. So those two moments: my life, right now, of the adult of 31 and my life of the teenager of 15 needed to reconcile. I needed to reconcile them because when I saw myself at the door of the next stage in my life (parenthood) I did not see myself capable of continuing without closing the wounds that those years left me. I owed it to myself. I needed some closure. I could not cross that door having left things pending.

At the end there was no economic security, material good, or relationship that was able to fill the void that was left after separating from my family, mi friends, and my city at such young age. That’s why I came back. I am here to go back in time to the past and find that teenager that got stuck in that stage of his life. I came back to bring him home. To the present. I am back to explain him that he does not need, anymore, to be so hiper-independent. I am back to ask him to continue with his life. I am back to tell him that those moment of solitude and emptiness are in the past. To show him that the present is filled with all those things he once lacked.

Now that I am home

In Santa Cruz I was able to defeat my nostalgia by ruining its myth with reality. Upon my arrival everything was different from what I expected. First, I buried all my old friends, the ones I missed so much. They are my past and in this new stage I decided to leave them behind. Second, the house where I grew up looks different, the tree of Motoyoé that I planted in its back yard, when I was a kid, today is so tall it goes past the roofs. My old neighborhood looks different, there are streets that I do not recognize. I am another person. This is a new place. My family is one of the few things that seemed to have stayed the same, they appreciate me in a way I can not explain. My sisters, my mom, my dad I understand, but the rest of the family I would not be able to explain it. I only know I love them too.

How I remember the United States

To wake up one day and live in the wealthiest country in the world and the next find yourself living in one of the poorest countries of South America (only second after Venezuela) is like moving from an exceptionally beautiful and sad place to go and start living in the most ordinary yet joyful place in the world.

A short time after arriving to Bolivia I remember telling a very close friend that I did not miss anything from the United States, I may even had said it with some resentment, I told him that the only thing I missed was the people I met there. That was an early reading of something I was still processing. In reality I felt resentment towards myself. To that person that had gone from living his life to only participate in it. In that place life only occurred to me. The days passed without my consent. It was as if I had stopped living my own life.

I spent days pleasing others except me, to the point of hating the person I had become. When I was able to put myself first I did it with rage, with frustration, taking unnecessary risks. Sometime hurting the people that loved me the most. It was not healthy or sustainable. Here I was able to choose myself, without guilt, to please me in a healthy way. Without hurting me or other people.

That is why I am back, to heal myself.


By peterveras

My name is Peter, I started to blog in my senior year of college. I enjoy writing and documenting things worth remembering.
My nombre es Peter, comencé este blog cuando estaba en mi último año de la universidad. Lo hice porque disfruto escribir y documentar las cosas que vale la pena recordar.

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