I’ve waited my whole life to travel the world, and now that the opportunity has finally come I can’t help but reflect on the path that led me away from home and my eventual return. My family immigrated from Guatemala when I was three years old. We came to the United States seeking asylum from a corrupt and violent government, and in the process left everything that was familiar behind. My father tried very hard to make a living in Guatemala and raise his young family, but after having his life threatened he made the decision to move us all to the States. He says that it was a difficult choice, but given the options, he knew he was doing the right thing.
Our family settled in Santa Barbara, California and given that I grew up here, this is the place I consider home. Even so, when I turned 18 and graduated from high school I couldn’t wait to leave my sunny, beach town and go explore on my own. I ended up in San Francisco, where I went to school for two years. Shortly there after I came back to Santa Barbara and took a year off school in order to pursue a desire to become a teacher. I gave a year of service to AmeriCorps, where I worked with a caseload of children as a literacy tutor. During that time I met Nathan, and when I finally decided that teaching was not my calling and that I wanted to go back to San Francisco to finish my degree, he came along with me. Two years later, freshly graduated from college I returned to Santa Barbara and worked with another nonprofit, The Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum. Nathan had moved to Santa Monica for, and we were trying to make our long distance relationship work.
It was too hard to be apart. This time around, I decided that I would move to be with Nathan. Since he had followed me to San Francisco, it only seemed fair for me to support him on his adventure. We lived in Santa Monica for a few months before Nathan received another job offer in Newport, so off we went to Irvine.
It’s been a long three years, but after so many wonderful experiences — one of which was working with Stampington & Company — we both finally decided that it was time to come home. Granted, home is a hard concept for us to wrap our heads around. While we were getting ready to move back to Santa Barbara, I daydreamed about us moving to Guatemala and living there for a year. Although I was born in Guatemala, it doesn’t really feel my home or my country, but there’s a part of me that wants to experience it before I fully settle down and start a family of my own. Then of course, there’s the fact that Nathan’s family lives in Perth, Australia, and I cannot begrudge him his own desire to live close to his mother, father, and siblings. We decided that our ideal situation would leave us both working from home with the liberty to move between the United States and Australia, so that we could spend equal amounts of time with our loved ones.
My mother calls us gypsies, moving from place to place. The thought always made me smile, but now that it might become a possibility, the idea of having an international family that moves across the globe on such a regular basis makes me feel happy. It’s the sort of life we’ve always had, so I believe that it would suit us just fine.
So now I am back in Santa Barbara, and Nathan is still in Irvine, waiting until his two weeks notice is up so that he can join me. We both decided that this was the perfect time to finally travel, so we’ve planned a trip that will take us to Japan, Australia, The United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Sweden, Germany, and maybe even Morocco. With the way things fell into place, I ended up having some extra time to spend with my parents and it just so happened that they were taking a two week holiday in Guatemala — I gratefully tagged along when they offered to bring me. We’re leaving tonight!
While packing my bag I realized how strange and wonderful it is that my journey to see the world will begin from the safety and comfort of my home — both of them. Here I am in Santa Barbara, surrounded by my family and now we’re traveling to a place that I should have called home, but was never able to. It is a wonder and a blessing, to be given the opportunity to travel to myparent’s country, where I can only hope that I will find a part of myself. I can’t quite articulate how grateful I am and how fortunate I consider myself. Before undertaking this trek across the globe, I’ll get to visit my birthplace and reconnect with the benevolent ghosts that haunt my memories.