Yesterday, I heard some wise words: that as people, we tend to forget all the things that we have in common and focus on the small things that make us different. It’s now my 6th week here in Madrid, and yesterday was the first time I felt the pang of missing home. While for others feeling homesick has been a struggle, my host family has helped immensely in delaying the effects of being away from home.
I remember the first day in what would be my home for the next three months. The director had put us in our respective cabs and sent us off into the world, after giving the address to the driver I sat back in the seat and watched the city roll by as I imagined what the family would be like.
We slowed to the front of the house and I was reminded of a castle: the large iron gate embedded in the white walls that enclosed the land, rising above it, the white house radiated a blinding glow as if it were covered in mirrors. I took my bags out of the car, and watched as the cab drove away, the 15 minutes we had spent together made it feel as if he were the closest person I had in the world even though we hadn’t spoke. As I reached to ring the doorbell, a thundering voice coupled with laughter echoed from behind me: “Hola!” He took my bag and opened the iron doors, bellowing to his family that I had arrived: they lined up, each son from smallest to tallest, from oldest to youngest, as if they had practiced for my arrival. Carolina, my host mom, greeted me with two kisses and introduced me to her children: Pablo (8, pictured above), Pepe (15), and Manolo (17); the introductions were capped with the question of whether I was hungry, and in that moment, I knew I was home.
Over the last few weeks I’ve grown close to the family, more and more I’ve become more a member of the family and less of a guest. And in that time I’ve learned that the reason I didn’t miss home that much was because they reminded me so much of my family back home: they talked, they fought, they advised, they worried, they hugged, they laughed (at themselves and at me, for the first two weeks they called me everything but my name (Clinton, Milton, etc.) because they thought it was funny, but they realized I found it amusing as well), and they loved. There are small things that make us different, and that makes me appreciate them; but it’s the things that make us the same that makes me care for them.