Home is a heavy word for me, weighted by the stories of war-immigrant grandparents and politically-persecuted parents. Heavy with my own immigration story; leaving half of my college career, the love of my life, and everything else you build in 20 years of life behind, in a rush, as if I had committed a crime.
Arriving in a country I never wanted to be in, trying to fit in but never quite achieving it. The first couple years a constant struggle, so intensely emotional that it made me sick. Mad at the world, the first and only time life stopped making sense.
Finally finding a tribe and a path, life was full of possibilities again. Gratefulness found me, and never left.
For a decade I settled in Seattle. Home became hiking in the Pacific Northwest forest, falling for and marrying the new love of my life, discovering my passion for cooking, making and breaking a career.
Eventually, I got on the road again. Once you are an immigrant, leaving becomes easy, it’s no longer a Herculean mind-task, no longer a soul-sucking endeavor. You understand you never really leave a place you love, you just take it with you. The more you leave – the more you travel and fall in love with places – the more you carry with you. And I am, first and foremost, a lover.
And we return to the enigma of home. As I sip my coffee on a small airbnb in the island of Crete in Greece, I think to myself, this is home.
Maybe it’s sun tanning by the Aegean Sea, like I used to do by my dear Caribbean. Sweat drips from my belly, the wind makes the blazing hot bearable but the water still calls to me. Cool and refreshing, just the perfect temperature to want to stay in it for hours, soft playful waves move me in and out. Is this home? My skin says yes.
Maybe it’s cooking with a Greek grandma in her Cretan farm, like I cooked with my Italian grandma in her home in the forest outside Caracas. We grate a tomato, milk a goat, fry something while mumbling instructions in Greek, toast to the feast. Is this home? My belly says yes.
Maybe it’s playing beach petanque with friends in Malaga, like I played volleyball in the Venezuelan coast. Reggaeton plays in the background, a cold beer in hand, we throw the balls and then run to get them on the burning sand, exclaiming “ah ah ah ah” all the way. Is this home? My feet say yes.
Maybe it’s standing on the highest peak in Thailand with my parents, like we hiked to the highest waterfall in the world in the Amazon jungle. We walk in a misty forest, marvel at the tall trees, feel insignificant next to the grandness of nature. Is this home? My heart says yes.
Maybe home is just a collection of all those small and big moments that connect me to others, to my past, and to myself. Home will always be a heavy word for me, heavy with the love for life.
Bio: Carla Villoria is an avid traveler, aspiring writer, and food lover. She recently quit her tech career to travel and write full time. You can find more of Carla’s writing at www.whereonplanetearth.com and you can follow her adventures on Instagram @whereonplanetearth
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