Baggage Claim

Bear with me; I am extremely emotional these days. I have made it back to the U.S. and it’s an immensely bittersweet feeling. It was so hard to say bye to my sister and even harder to have to say bye to my dad. They are what makes Chile my homeland and I wish we didn’t have to be so far apart. As I packed my suitcases the last evening I was there I could not help but think that we all at some point in our lives accumulate baggage that we either get rid of or keep feeding. I was having lunch with my sister, dad and brother –in- law and I looked at them one last time. I zoned off and began to think about their lives individually. Whether we have suffered in the past because they’ve left us, taken advantage of us or because we were not able to keep things together, we all have to face the baggage and skeletons in the closet that we have today. Imagine if we all walked around on a daily basis carrying all that weight? No thanks!

I was eating my paila de mariscos and thought, will anyone ever put up with the baggage I carry? I may seem like I have things under control at times, but I am a mess. I have suffered because of unrequited love and also because of my family’s past and parted ways. We are still a family, but it’s not the same. When my parents split a couple of years ago, I was not surprised but it still hurt. I remember that after my dad moved back to Chile I went on an OCD cleaning marathon and turned my apartment upside down. At the time I thought it was normal because I loved to rearrange furniture and move things around, but now that I think about it, I could not bear to look at the apartment that he had been a part of but was no longer physically there. It has taken me three silent years to be at peace with everything that happened and honestly I don’t let myself think about it too much. The past couple of months have been a transition in my life; I am a big girl now (like the Huggies commercial song) with a new job, new responsibilities and new ambitions. Also, my family has new additions, my sister Danya got married so now I have a new brother-in-law and my mom is in a relationship.  When I left on my vacation to Chile I was running away from having to see my mom in love.  I am happy for her because she deserves to smile and be in love but it’s still hard to see her with someone else and it scares me. My initial thought was: I need to move out and let her be. Well we have talked about it and I’m not going anywhere just yet, but it was a wake- up call for me to get my shit together and start thinking about what my future is looking like. I do like that my mom found the right person to spend the rest of her life with and they accept each other’s baggage which I like even more.

I got to the airport and as the flight attendant was weighting my bags, I crossed my fingers so they would let me take everything. I passed. In the future I hope I don’t have to cross my fingers when I find the right man, he has to accept me with all my baggage and carry-ons. All the relationships I refer to in my life, whether they are mine or a friend’s or my sisters’ relationships, I see a stronger bond when they share their past and accept them as they are regardless of all the obstacles it took them to find one another. In my instance, I am single for that reason, it was either me or the guy that could not get past all the baggage and skeletons and it’s a common mistake we all make. Whether we have been divorced, left at the altar, suffered because of our parents’ divorce or because a relationship went horribly wrong, all we can do is pick up our bags and carry on. Better yet, if we find the right person to walk beside us, we can help each other to carry those bags until they become lighter and at some point disappear.

I received my boarding pass, chugged a Diet Coke and prepared to say “see you soon” to my sister and dad. So many thoughts raced through my mind:

  1. I hope my dad finds someone and accepts him just as he is with all the baggage and container of skeletons that he carries.
  2. I wish I didn’t have to leave my sister and I could clone her and take her to the U.S. with me.
  3. I am definitely researching a study abroad program in Chile and will make it happen.
  4. I hope I have enough souvenirs for everyone.
  5. I finally felt happy that I got to see Chile and its craziness and my loved ones.

I knew I was saying bye but inside I felt the happiest I have ever been all year. No material thing could replace the love that I felt from my sister and dad; they accepted my weirdness and awkwardness about my half Chilean and half gringa ways. And so I kissed both and squeezed the crap out of my sister, dad and brother-in-law. I handed each of them a letter I had written earlier and walked away. I proceeded to the immigration line, made it through security with my purse filled with chocolate and liquid containers (hahaha!) and walked to my gate. Obviously I looked a mess, tears streaming down my red face but I didn’t care. I waved bye to my sister and dad. I will see you again!

In San Rafael, Mendoza...LOVE YOU!
Paila De Mariscos
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