In December, my parents, sister, and I had the chance to visit the family from both my mom and my dad's sides. A brutal economic war in Venezuela ensured we wouldn't go to our homeland; instead, we'd go Chile, where many members of our family had fled with hopes of more stability and security. Chile is a second-world country, meaning it's developing and has many elements of both capitalist and socialist policy that give the people their opportunities unavailable to them in more strict regimes. Still though, its no America, not by a long shot.
After two weeks in Chile visiting family that have all been separated by nasty political conditions, I learned what it was like to have my relatives close. Although I don't remember meeting many of them when I was only a few years old, there was a feeling that they cared for me; a familial pull of solidarity. By the end, I found myself angry that I hadn't met them before. My dad's brothers were gentle and hilarious, effortlessly cracking off joke after joke. I had no remembrance of them, but they all remembered me from when I was a toddler.
The love I felt for my uncles and cousins disappointed me because I was angry that the chance to grow up alongside them was stripped from me. I was blown away at how I had a dormant connection to these people that hadn't been explored or cultivated in my entire life. We had nothing in common except blood, but that was all we needed.
I thought about all the friends I wouldn't need if I had these members of my family close. When friends betray you and relationships fizzle out, cousins become my siblings and uncles become my dads. Their ways of thinking seem to run parallel to my own, despite our differences in education level and a minor language barrier.
My uncles are just old enough that they're advice is valuable, but young enough that I can still identify with them. My 2-year-old cousin is a little brat; a cute, spoiled monster of a child. Her mom adorns her with gentle bows in her hair, making her ghastly attitude imperceptible to the passerby. A few moments around her though, and the holes in my uncle's young parenting become apparent: ugly tantrums are common with her. We learned to ignore her micro-manipulations.
As my birthday draws near, I'm faced with the painful reality I won't see them any time soon. My parents' good-natured humor and pure intentions are missed in this college journey of mistakes and experimentation. The comfort of having these people admire and care about me is invaluable, and I hope that those that have family close by can appreciate that privilege.
One thing I can be grateful for, I suppose, is the emotional resilience that I'm forced to callous into my personality. Missing them becomes a background to my life. Although I'm surrounded by beautiful people in this university, I wonder what it would be like to have my family members around too.