Five hundred twenty-two days have elapsed since I last felt the warm summer breeze of home. I knew I wasn’t coming back soon, but I thought the place called home would hold on until I got back. Hence, it gasses my skin when knowing home isn’t in the place I used to call home. Home looks different now. 

 

I called mom, and her everlasting smile reminded me of the place I was born. Through a rectangle made of glass, I smelled the aroma of the warm soup, la receta de la abuela. It’s fascinating how a call makes me closer, closer to the only place I crave to be. Suddenly, a punch of reality breaks the cellphone screen. Mom told me of the news: those who left and who are about to leave: “Your friend, Marcos, from high school, moved to Peru yesterday, and your aunt doesn’t have a job anymore and wants to return to Venezuela, and Luis…,  and María…, and…” I try showing no emotions: I have to stay strong. My distresses aren’t as heavy yet my blood boils and my tears fail not to fall. And the only thing I have left are uplift words that come out of my disingenuine mouth. 

 

My mom reminds me of the ones who are leaving…

 

I called my dad, and his smile has changed. He left home a year and a half ago. Away from home, away from family, away from friends. He withstands unjust laws, dreadful jobs, and loathsome xenophobia. He resists, but his drive is starting to fade. Hope means nothing no more. Dad knows his future doesn’t lie on his hands, but the hands of politicians, judges, and a corrupt system. He’s learned to live day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. No hope, but a resilient spirit drives him throughout his journey. I undertake the responsibility of being present, being there. I’m there, but am I actually? Am I actually there when a new grey hair grows in his head? Am I actually there when he drops tears out his eyes?  Am I actually there? 

 

My dad reminds me of the ones who struggle… 

 

I called my friends, and their smiles are still there, but I can feel there’s something different. They mentioned the new ways they celebrated Christmas, no more hallacas or pan de jamon. They say how much they miss home and how hard life can be when migrating. Then, our conversations are driven into reminiscing our childhoods, thinking about the country that once was, remembering our happy times. We spent hours facing a rectangle made of glass, missing concrete hugs and actual kisses. My friends, those who reminded me of home, are not at home anymore. So what’s home? 

 

 My friends remind me of the ones I love…

 

Home isn’t the place I called home. One year, five months, and three days away from home, but I don’t know what home means no more. The ones I love are leaving, are struggling. The place I called home is being wrecked. Every part of my brain tells me nothing will be the same, yet one little part of my heart keeps resisting. 

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