Family: Near and Far

Erica's FamilyKayla recently wrote a blog about how hard it is to leave your native country and to adapt to a different environment. I thought it would be interesting to give the opposite perspective; being born in this country, but having most of your family in another. My parents are from the Dominican Republic, and most of my family on my mother’s side is still over there. I had an amazing childhood, but I must admit that learning to love both my father’s family and my mother’s family in the same way was kind of hard. This is because most of my father’s family members live here, while most of my mother’s family (except for two sisters) live in DR. I was practically raised with my father’s family so I was much closer to them than to the family I saw for two weeks once a year when I went on vacation. I obviously favored my father’s side – not because I didn’t care about my mother’s side (because that’s not true), but because for most of the year, that is the only family I saw and interacted with.

I have been going to DR since I was two years old, and as child, I went every summer for two or three weeks. During those couple of weeks I spent time with my cousins, but my relationship with them wasn’t as good as their relationship with each other, which makes sense because they didn’t know me as well. Nevertheless, I was always excited about going and seeing them and they were always excited to see me. However, after my vacation was over, I came back to the US and didn’t talk to them again until I went back the following summer. That made building bonds a lot more difficult.

As the years went by things changed. I still love my father’s side dearly, but now I also love and appreciate my mother’s side a lot more. For example, my favorite aunt is on my father’s side, and my favorite uncle is on my mother’s side. Now, I usually go back to DR about twice a year. When you think about it, 4-6 months in between visits isn’t that long. Facebook and texting also make keeping in touch with my mom’s side of the family a lot easier.

Sometimes I wish I was born in DR, but I also think about how different my life would have been. I’ve quickly come to the conclusion that I only wish I lived there because of the entertainment; but for every other reason, I’m glad that I was born in the United States. I consider myself to be very Dominican, because unlike many of the kids of my generation, I love the Spanish language. I also prefer Spanish music, and enjoy some types of Spanish food. However, I’m also very American, because when I’m in DR I miss the food and some of the luxuries from the US that I don’t have when I’m over there. Overall, I’m very family-oriented. They are more than family to me; they’re my friends too. I guess what I’m saying is that regardless of where they’re located, like Kayla, I wouldn’t know what to do without my entire family.