Colombia or Chicago home?

One of my friends asked me a question upon my return from our trip to Colombia. It was one of those hard questions that I was not prepared to answer, even though I ask it inside my head often. He asked “So now that you are back in Chicago, does Colombia feel more like home?”

It is hard to put into words how many thoughts go through my head when I start thinking of it. This will be a mental dump of some of them. In Chicago, I spent shaping my life as my adult. In Chicago, I finished high school, went to college and worked (and work) for some amazing companies. I have a lot of friends here from school, college and previous jobs… in reality it is too many to even count. Most important, I have all my immediate family here and most of my extended family.

KC is still a home for me, because not only did I leave some great friends there but Bea and I lived the first years of our marriage there. In many respects KC felt more like home for the two of us than Chicago does now. It feels goodto go back there and know that we have many people that would be thrilled if we said we are moving back.

But then we go to Colombia and nothing else feels more like home. Even the polluted air when you get into traffic behind a not-so-well maintained public service vehicle seems to not smell unpleasant but familiar. The weather is just so mild compare to the harsh changes that sometime plague our life here. I swear that yesterday I did not feel like I was breathing but rather drinking air; it was so humid. Then there is the people… the people is what makes living here so difficult sometimes.

Colombia is one of the happiest countries in the world, sometimes even being the number one. From year to year the United States is well bellow 100. When someone asks you, “hey how are you doing?” they do care. Here is a little story that illustrates what I mean.

Don Hernando (Er nan do, no Her.. silent H) is the doorman at the building where Bea’s family lives. He opens the door for you as you arrive or the gate to the garage. If I walk down the street to get something from the store I get to chi-chat with him. If someone arrives with groceries, he helps bring them up. He still remembers that last time we were there we gave him a tip when we left and is very thankful for it. He understands that the people that live there pay his salary and not some management company in some undisclosed location. He knows that each day he does not have to bring coffee to work, because someone in the building will call him up to have some coffee and bread. I think those little deeds are what helps you stay connected and happy.

While we were there Bea’s Mom had a little problem with her blood pressure and had a hard time making it up the stairs. Don Hernando was there every step as we helped her up (she refused to let me carry her.) He stayed vigilant by the door until the ambulance arrived to help stabilize her. He came back often and checked with us and seemed extremely worried, almost as much as we all were. He seemed to actually care.

In today’s world of iPhones and Androids we are supposedly more connected than ever before, but with hundreds of Facebook friends I felt more connected to that doorman every day there than with the people that could reach me even an ocean away.

I cannot help to think back of my next door neighbor in KC that died of cancer and I only found out days later when her son’s whom I had never met were moving out her belongings.

Going down there is not just fun as you will see from the pictures I will post soon; it’s heartbreaking when I know I have to head back. Whenever I think of pace of life I think of Travis’ face, and his face when after we had dinner I told him to relax and have a cup of coffee with me. He still remembers that just as fondly. That is my pace of life, being able to connect, being able to have conversations… I think that is happy living.

Chicago is home for now. When answering that question I cannot ignore that Colombia would feel like home the minute I get the chance to move down there permanently.

4 Responses to Colombia or Chicago home?

  1. Good read, my friend. If I have learned anything about what you bring to our melting pot culture is that Americans are too fast-paced. We do not take the time to relax, enjoy what is around us, or really get to know the people around us. It’s a little more like that though living in a small midwestern town, than Chicago. At least when I drive down the road, we wave to everybody still… even strangers. And we’ll make casual conversations with people at the local stores. But I will have to agree that the hustle and bustle of the big city really makes your average stranger more of a nuisance than a friend. It’s unfortunate. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to earn you as a friend… where there was always time to sit down to a nice dinner or coffee even during the tough times. =)

  2. Great post, man! As much as I don’t like our small, old apartment, I do love the fact that we actually know some of our neighbors, which is something I can only count on one hand has ever happened before.

  3. Canada will always be home, the home of my youth. Kansas City is the home of my adulthood. I know how you feel, I think. I feel torn. Not complete, ever. I’m always missing something, some one. I’ve been like this since I was 5years old & my parents divorced. I may not be complete, but I’m more. I’ve had more experiences, more cultures, more languages. Maybe more opened-minded, a little more flexible, a little more adaptable because of it. Does it make me better than others? No. Maybe just a little more open to people, life, love.

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