I had a normal childhood, I grew up in a happy family, and when I left home it was because I had to, not because I was dying to leave my home. Over the years I have left my home for internships, to complete my masters degree, and permanently to find better job opportunities. In the past three years I have gone back home for short visits and to bury my grandmother.
Every time I plan to go back home, I feel excitement, I feel joy of going back to my safe place. However, the truth is my home is no longer my home. Just like any adult that has left their childhood home and has made a home somewhere else, going back to that childhood home is always bittersweet.
Add to that the fact that I grew up on an island; Puerto Rico, to be exact and now live on the States and you have not only a bittersweet feeling, but a lack of belonging. I understand that I grew up Americanized to begin with, we are American Citizens, but culture wise, tradition wise, it’s a whole other story. I understand that my culture shock will always be tiny compared to people that have migrated from drastically different countries, but there is still some of that heartache.
I’m sure I’m not the first one to feel this sense of no longer belonging where you came from and at the same time not feeling like you completely belong where you are. Sometimes it’s the tiny things that get you, like not being able to eat a particular snack. Other times, it’s the bigger things, like the sense of humor or the values. You end up stuck in the middle, no longer the person you use to be, not sure of the person you are becoming. It hurts and it’s scary.
I’m so scared of not holding on to my roots that whenever I leave to come back to my new home, I get a knot in my throat, not only am I leaving my safe place, my parents, I’m leaving a piece of my soul. I need to keep those roots anchored, to remember where I came from. This is the reason why, as I have gotten older, as I have spent more time away from home, as I feel the political climate we are in, I have made an effort to read more latinxs writters, to listen to more latin music, and to embrace my heritage.
There will be many times when I’m lost, when I’m not sure of where I belong, but if I’m certain of what I want to accomplish, and appreciate where I came from, I know I will attain my goals.