Coming home, leaving home, or both?

Posted: August 17, 2011 in childhood, El Salvador, family, gringolandia, mi madre, personal, travel

My family and I returned from our trip to El Salvador a couple weeks ago. I am still trying to recover in various ways.

Though this was overall a happy experience which I don’t regret for a second, it did cause some confusion in me.

There were problems on the first day with my mother, which Tracy already explained on her blog. It goes without saying that this is a difficult thing for me and it’s something that will be an on-going problem. Regardless of the situation with my mother, the trip was emotional in other ways.

For the first few days I felt that I didn’t belong there – that I wasn’t Salvadoran anymore because I didn’t understand how things worked. I’ve lost some of my Salvadoran accent, and somehow, even when Tracy wasn’t with me, people seemed to treat me as a tourist.

After the first week I broke through all that. I felt like I fell into the rhythm of my country. I felt more confident in my actions. I knew where to buy what I needed at good prices and how to get there. I picked up on new slang and incorporated it into my vocabulary. I spent hours talking with my old best friend, reminiscing about old times and creating new memories – our two families together – our kids hanging out the way we hung out when we were their age. I felt proud to show my country to my children – and prouder still that they loved it.

I felt Salvadoran – not like a visitor. But with that new happiness came new problems. Now I felt as if I didn’t want to return to the United States.

Of course the day came when we had to go to the airport and get on the flight. I was surprised that Tracy and the boys were going through a similar mix of feelings. I hugged my best friend goodbye and we both pretended to be stronger than we felt. As the plane lifted off, taking me back to the land of my wife and children, back to my adopted country, back to our house and all its responsibilities, back to work and reality in general, I cried – all of us did.

Once back in the United States, I went through a period of readjustment which still isn’t quite over. Sometimes I feel depressed and nostalgic. At other times I feel thankful, blessed and guilty. I call my best friend daily. He wishes he could live in the United States – wishes he could work in a job that paid him even half of what I make per hour. He wishes he lived in a house on a quiet suburban street like I do, instead of in Soyapango where thieves have broken in and gangs have tagged his home with graffiti. He wishes his son, who is only a little older than my oldest son, had all the opportunities my kids have.

It’s difficult to feel like I belong in two places at once, but that I don’t wholly belong to either.

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Comments
  1. Cheleguanaco says:

    Buena onda tu post. Te entiendo muy bien. Yo no se que putas voy hacer cuando me tenga que ir de regreso a Los Angeles. Ya tengo 3 meses de estar aqui.

  2. Janneth says:

    Carlos! Totalmente me identifico con tu dilema, la nostalgia, la confusion de que tus recuerdos de niñes no sean compatibles con la realidad de nuestro paisito! la culpabilidad de q podamos darnos gustos triviales mientras nuestras familias o amigos sufran tanto por tener lo mas basico!
    Y en nuestro caso de ser la mitad de una pareja multiracial, como le explicamos a nuestra pareja el tumulto de emociones q nos agobian?
    Mi esposo es nacido y criado en un pequeño pueblito entre las montañas de Virginia, y toda su vida ha vivido en la misma area, ha viajado por causas de trabajo, de diversion o simplemente porque ha querido, pero siempre ha tenido la seguridad de que en un par de dias, o semanas volvera a su ambiente. Tal situacion le hace a el muy dificil entender q los que hemos tenido q dejar todo atras vivimos añorando nuestro pais y su idiosincrasia, que todos los hechos los vemos tergiversados por el lente de los recuerdos, y que tratamos deseperadamente el aferrarnos a nuestra identidad como salvadoreños para no sentirnos totalmente a la deriva en un pais que nos ha adoptado, pero que no es el nuetro totalmente, sin importar que hayamos vivido 20 o 2 años aca.
    Es tremendamente deprimente el volver a tu lugar natal pensando q todo esta como lo dejaste o q las personas te aceptaran como lo hacian cuando eras uno de ellos, y te das en la nariz al ver los cambios, de los lugares y de las personas. Un ejemplo de tales cambios, mi papá me llevo a visitar a una de mis compañeras de 3r ciclo en su lugar de trabajo, y yo toda emocionada planenado revivir hechos y reconectar con los amigos, pero ella se mostro alejada y hasta algo fria, me ofrecio algo de beber y me deseo una buena estadia, luego se disculpo porque tenia q atender la cocina. Fue como una guacalada de agua helada! pero talvez soy yo la que he cambiado, o las circunstancias.
    Como tu dices “es dificil el sentirte que perteneces a dos lugares pero tampoco perteneces a ninguno”.

    Mis mejores deseos para ti y tu familia.

  3. Celi says:

    I feel the Same except that I have 3 countries.

  4. Joe says:

    Señor Carlos,
    He leído su blog todo lo difrute muchísimo , especialmente el viaje a Guanacolandia. Yo no he regresado desde hace 30 años y vivo con mi Señora y mi Latinees de 3 y medio(mitad latina mitad China). Pero leyendo su blog me identifico con usted in differnt niveles. También les envidio por que viviendo in Gringolandia tienen acceso a mucho productos latinos, aquí donde vivo hay muy pocas selecciones de productos. Las pupusas se encuentra congeladas y tengo manejar casi 2 horas to get there. (bueno por lo menos la Pupusas ya se hizo internacional) Las comí in Taiwan hechas por Taiwaneses -Salvadoreños. Bueno Los Salvadoreños somos Los Judíos de Latino America.

    Saludos a usted y su familia

    Joe

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