I immigrated to Miami when I was only 10 years old with my three brothers and parents. At such a young age I don’t remember having a hard time adapting to my new surroundings. The first year was tough. Leaving everything behind, my toys, my room, my cousins, aunts, uncles and school friends. Somehow my mother managed to make us love our new country more rather than miss what we had left behind. We learned to be on our own and just to have each other. In her own way, my mother wanted to make sure we didn’t miss what we were leaving behind.
She made sure we always looked at the positive side of our new two-room apartment, too small for six people. She made sure my baby brother didn’t miss the big backyard he was used to but rather enjoy finding golf balls in the golf course nearby. I didn’t grow up with cousins, eventually after a year or two we started losing contact with our family in Venezuela. We got caught up with our everyday struggles and work schedules. This became our life and we were okay with it. This is the life my brothers and I know.
Traveling to Curaçao was just a comment I made to my cousin through Facebook. Someone commented about the distance and I said to my cousin, Lorena this year I’ll visit. I wasn’t really planning on it but then I thought why not. President’s day weekend was coming up so it was the perfect time. We took a trip to Curaçao for a weekend. I saw it as the perfect opportunity to see Curaçao and my cousin. Always looking for somewhere to travel, somewhere to go, somewhere to visit. This is a cousin I hadn’t seen in many years. Someone that was very close to us at some point of our young life but that was no longer the case.
She has her family with her, a hard working husband and two wonderful daughters that miss the family they left behind in Venezuela. That every holiday they spend away from them is a tears and sadness that fill them.
As someone that left around the same ages they left the country and family they grew up with I didn’t understand the attachment the need to have aunts and cousins close by. It seemed odd to my brothers and I. We never had that kind of attachment to our family in Venezuela. We simply focused on the life we had now. We were aware of the family we had left behind but that did not create sorrow in us when we talked about them. It was hard to keep up with everyone we left behind and after the first year of writing letters and purchasing international call cards we simply little by little stopped the calls and the cards.
Facebook came along years later and we all added each other as they opened their accounts. It was a way to know about each other without the everyday contact just a like here and there, a comment of how big we are how we have changed. It was a way to see what we had missed from been apart through the years.
I made it my mission to enjoy the little time we had together as a family creating new memories with each of them in Curaçao. Memories we will be able to cherish when we parted ways. I didn’t see much of Curaçao like I wanted but I made memories that will stay with us. We spent a day in Mambo Beach playing in the water. After 16 years of not spending time together we did pretty good.
We spent nights sitting on the floor playing UNO Dare trying to make everyone do the silliest dares. We laughed till our belly hurts and we had tears coming out. We ate delicious homemade food from Lorena. I took duck face selfies with my cousins like they wanted and we played music to dance along to.
When it was time to leave, my brothers and I were ok we are used to goodbyes. Its what we know. We didn’t shed tears as we kissed and hugged. Lorena and her daughters were a different story. As soon as the taxi van arrived, Valentina, the little one was the first to start crying. Followed by Lorena, my cousin she couldn’t help it. They would be alone again just the four of them. Fernanda, the oldest kept a serious face just hugging us and saying she’ll miss us. Valentina was inconsolable asking why we had to leave so soon. We hugged them a second time, packed the van with our bags got in, waved one last time before they were left behind. When the van started driving off that’s when Fernanda let the tears fall. I thought to myself how we are so detached from them. And I wanted to cry because of that. Because I didn’t feel their pain. Because I learned to live alone needing only my immediate family.