Just as a new year was dawning, I got myself on a flight back to Chile. And I was confronted immediately with this weird sensation. For me home has usually meant being with my biological family – and it has always meant Virginia. Home is a place that makes me happy and is where I feel comfortable. I am always sad to leave home and excited to return to it. So as you can imagine, I felt quite a conflict of emotion when I was both leaving home AND coming home at the same time.
Because regardless of the fact that I have not mastered the language and there are plenty of things about life here that baffle and frustrate me, Chile has become home as well. Part of that is because I feel like I have come to intimately know Chile. That relationship only grows as I learn more about Chile’s geography, history, current events, writers, musicians, food, dances… all the culture that makes Chile, well, Chile.
But of course, the largest part of feeling at home is the people. I spent the first few days of my return hanging out with friends in Quilpue, exploring Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. I got to stay in their family’s home and engorge myself on homecooked meals that were entirely too delicious (including finally FINALLY eating pastel de choclo). I spent four days hanging with the fam – and I mean the ENTIRE fam, because its parents and grandparents and kids and nieces and nephews and uncles and aunts all hanging out with each other. I feel so strange not knowing when… or if… I might see them again.
Es asi cuando dejas tu corazon por todos lados. I have travelled many places in my life, and I am fortunate that I have been able to spend solid chunks of time in a few places. Pieces of my heart are scattered around this world. My heart is rooted in Alexandria, but Florence will always have a big piece of it. I definitely left some behind in London. And now Chile has staked its claim. Home is where the heart is, after all. And it feels good to be back.