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South to North

In the nine years I have though about that moment in time, the memory has never been as vivid as it was last night. My eyes began to water as my family and I stood in the hanger waiting to get on the plane. With a confirming voice my grandmother assured me that we would see each other in no time. As my aunt gave my brother and I a wonderfully tender kiss, my grandmother hugged us tightly wiping the tears from my eyes. One after another, family members said their good-byes. One more saddened than the next, one with tears and sighs more intense than the following. There I was, eleven years old leaving all I knew was family, going somewhere I had never been.

Even though the sadness distracted me, I was still aware of the place I was headed to. The excitement arose when I saw the words atop the hanger door, ?Flight 785?Lima-Miami.? I looked at my brother and with an exited but heavyhearted smile and fidgety motion we began to wave at everyone. I, along with my mom, dad, brother and little sister were terribly sad. However, I was easily distracted; it was all so thrilling and new. The fact that I was going to get on a plane and fly to America, learn English, play baseball, and have all the GI-Joes I could want made me go innocently crazy. Still, I was reluctant to show it too much on the outside in that sorrowful moment. I think back now at those na?ve thoughts I had at that significant instance of my life. Thinking of games and toys while my entire family, from cousins to aunts, to grandparents, to friends who were like family, stood in a saddened airport watching five of their most beloved go.

All five of us walked together down the long tunnel looking back five, maybe six times, stopping for a minute or so to wave every time. My brother and I would skip down the hard maroon carpet, while my mom held my sister in her arms and my dad carried two of the many bags. I could see everyone, and they all could see me. While smelling the last remnants of my grandmother?s aroma, I thought how long it would be before I saw each person?s faces and felt their hugs and kisses once more. That I could not answer. I asked my mom that same question as the flight attendant took my backpack. She looked at me, looked at my brothers, and began to cry.

Meanwhile, as the aircraft?s doors close the, pilots metallic voice could be heard indicating us to buckle up and giving us a forecast of Miami?s weather. My dad?s demeanor was impressive. He was the morale builder of the group. Dad knew how hard this was on my mother, so he stepped in when support was needed. When my brother?s ears began to hurt, he was there with a stick of gum. Or when I was to confused on what the little white spots were in the ocean below, he would quickly provide an explanation. My mother and sister slept through most of the seven-hour flight. Oddly enough, my brother slept an hour or two while still chewing his gum. I on the other hand, watched every inch of that majestic sea. I would see yachts and vessels all leaving thin white streaks behind. Likewise, I would think back on the people I deserted. Their gloomy faces had not left my memory despite the long trip.

The dark blue ocean slowly began to turn light green as we approached the American coast. A few clouds rushed through the plane?s wings and rumbling was felt throughout the seats. We were lowering down and shaking tremendously. Mom awoke, as my little sister?s loud voice could be heard worriedly asking about the airplane?s scary trembling. My father held her close and started talking about the little cousins she was going to meet, the games they were going to play, and the new things she was going to see and learn. The plane came to a stop and my sister began smiling again. My brothers chewing continued while he gathered his things. I could hear some people speaking English two rows ahead. I knew just the basics of the language, numbers, colors, a few expression and phrases, and the alphabet; enough to get me through elementary school. This was different though. I had to know what people were saying or I would be lost. They were talking about going to the beach the next day. The plane was almost empty, as we were one of the last passengers to exit. Walking through the long tunnel again was sad. This time through we were going to be greeted by four souls, as opposed to the multitude of family back in Peru. As planed, there were only four individuals, two of which were strangers to my siblings and I. My aunt was there with a bright smile and a comforting hug. Her husband carried in his arms five balloons and a little girl who looked at us with a confused face. Her big brother, my cousin, said hi to us all and gave us hugs. It was comforting to see that we were gaining family even though we had lost so much hours before. For a moment though it felt like this was only temporary, like a vacation. We walked toward baggage claim together; I holding my bag with two eyes wide open looking at the new environment before me. As I herd English and Spanish spoken, I could feel my brain become overloaded. Many new faces and sounds around me. Words were spoken incoherently as a more intrusive language overshadowed my common dialect.

My brother and I began talking while the rest of the group walked ahead hurriedly. Turns out he was noticing the same things, the same sounds, the same unfamiliar dialogue. We were nervous but at the same time exceptionally curious. Were we going to talk like that? But how soon though? He and I were not sure of it. We knew we would though, eventually. The walk was quite far, ten or fifteen minutes down a long wide hallway. My dad still had those two bags and still carried my sister in his arms. I could tell she was uncomfortable. Tiredly, my dad put her down and she walked closely beside him. My little cousin followed behind her curiously. They soon made eye contact and smiled at each other. Not a word was said. Both spoke different languages, but each understood one and other?s expressions. So as my sister played tag with the newfound cousins, I began to contemplate on the major changes my life had taken and would continue to take. When I think back on that day I know it was for the better to leave all that behind. I understand now the decision taken by my parents then. But more importantly, I realize now how fortunate I am to know of both worlds.


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