The way back home

By Marae

It’s been 18 years since I was last home.

Apparently I jumped inside the cake a second after this photo was taken

This October 6th, for the first time since I left, I will be visiting Cuba πŸ€©πŸ˜πŸ˜…πŸ˜„πŸ™ƒπŸ˜©πŸ˜³πŸ˜¬—> these are real emotions I feel!

Happiest always by the water

In all honesty, it’s a scary time. I remember Cuba with the eyes of a child. I remember the heavy rains of May, and climbing on the many trees in my backyard. Memories of little me walking to pick up bread at the market flow through my mind. It’s all so distant sometimes it feels like it’s a dream.

Walking (read running… you know I was running) through the corridors of my school, the only school I knew until the age of 12. I wonder if they look and feel the same? I imagine they’ll feel at least smaller.

Leaving Cuba years ago, I would’ve never believed I would not see my home land for 18 years.Β I remember making promises in my prayers at night, drenched in tears and feelings of missing everything and everyone I knew and held dear to me. I remember the fear of starting a new school, with a new uniform and thousands of kids as opposed to my familiar 23 student group. But almost everyone I had known in my life, up until that point, had gone through a similar experience. Everyone I knew was either an immigrant or wanted to be one, so that’s where I gathered my strength to move forward.

Everyone in Cuba wanted to be in my shoes, boarding that American Airlines plane on a hot August day, in the most exciting turn of the century the world has ever seeing…the year 2000! The world was changing and so was my life. After almost 8 years of waiting to finally be reunited with the rest of my family, and most importantly my father, the time had come to move to what I imagined would be an entire country of Mickey Mouse inspired everything. I am not sure how or why this was my idea of my new homeland, but I envisioned what Disney would be like, and then I assumed the entire country was Disney themed.

My cousins and I on a museum outing (we had stopped here for lunch I think)

It’s no surprise I was so disappointed upon my arrival in Miami, a city forever under construction, much more so back then. Of course the minute we were greeted by my family at the airport it all vanished, everything but the excitement of being united once more.

As I was getting ready for bed, withΒ  Shakira’s “Pies Descalzos” as my lullaby (I was a strange child…I know.) an image of my entire family flooded in my head. I had never lived this image, it was totally imaginary. My family had always been divided by at least an ocean…ever since I can remember. There were always the letters, the phone calls, the endless stories being share about every single family member who lived abroad. Who managed to escape. Who was “waiting” for us on the other side. Now, I was on the other side, and a realization came about: we will never be together again. Not all of us.

Can you spot me?

Can you spot me?

Years have passed by, and I would be lying if I told you that the pace of life and the business of existing doesn’t take my mind away from these thoughts most of the time. I don’t often sit down and remember that fantasy of my entire family sitting together…

But today, with less than 1 week between my current reality and the almost lifelong dream of reuniting with those I left behind, my eyes shine with the hope and the almost palpable reality of embracing those who defined the forming years of my journey on this earth.

Just hold on, I’m coming home.