Monday, February 24, 2014

Through New Eyes

On 9/11, my mother experienced her own hell, her purest fear. It was the day she witnessed towers crumbling and smoke devouring the street where her daughter lived.

Days after, a candlelight vigil would be held in the evening, throughout the country, as a way of coming together, reminding ourselves that we are not alone in times of darkness. Outside with their candle, my parents and our Hindu neighbor down the street where the only ones standing in the night sky paying homage.

My parents being immigrants from Cuba have always loved this country for what their own could not offer them, my mother especially. And that love has trickled down, percolated into my very veins. While there are many things that I think my current address in Dominican Republic does better than the U.S., I cannot turn my back on a place that has given my family everything it is, including my opportunity to live abroad. As much as we the American people (I included) could complain about the injustices of our country, the corruption of politics and politicians we are far better off than many others around the globe. Far better off.

Looking back, my reason for traveling was simple: to see the world. What a simple answer.

What did I want to see?
The Pyramids of Giza? The Great Wall of China? The beaches of Costa Rica? The caf├ęs of Europe? 
Yes. Yes to all of it.

But it was more than sightseeing that I wanted out of travel, wasn't it?
I wanted to know places. To deeply know them. To know its people, its culture, its language. I wanted to know its hidden gems and its whole way of living. Every city, every country has its own distinct breath and I wanted to breathe them in and exhale it out.

But even that didn't seem to fully answer why I wanted to go away. For that I could just have chosen to travel more and travel longer. No, I think intrinsically I knew that I wanted to re-imagine my own way of living. I wanted to see what the world had in store for me that was different than everything I knew.

And now I have, rather now I'm starting. I'm still in the beginning of our abroad adventures but it has already taught me one of the most important lessons: that my home is an amazing place. It has faults and problems, corruption and injustices but couldn't we say as much about most places? About most people? At the core we are all flawed but I don't love humanity any less. It just means we must work harder and not stop believeing that we are capable of great things.

I would say it is my favorite component of having lived abroad so far; the newness in which I can look at my home and honor the many ways it is beautiful. Because it is. Even beautiful gardens have weeds. And sometimes flowers grow through cracks.

Thanks to In an Opal Hearted Country for organizing the February Expat Blog Challenge opportunity.
Day 23: Respond: "Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving." - Terry Pratchett

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