Six is a beautiful number. Six is half a dozen. Six means it is time to take your belongings and go home after a long day at work. Six can be the number of tequila shots you can drink on a girl’s night out with your soul sisters. Six could mean a lot of things but to me it means the number of years it took me to finally come back to Canada and join my husband.
I recently became a statistic. I became an addition to those millions of Colombians who left their country behind to build a new life abroad. I am another number for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, for the Consulate, and for the Colombian Immigration Bureau, and yet, I have never been happier.
Through those six years in my home country, I learned a lot of lessons quite well. I learned so much about my city of Santiago de Cali, my people, my family, and my culture. Somehow I got used to the mess and the insecurity, and yes, I also started to love the neighborhood noisy parties with vallenatos and salsa, aguardiente, and empanadas included. I got to know myself better and to surround myself with people who were accepting of my personal motto: I was born in the wrong country.
"I got tired of living in a country where people sell their vote for a plate of sancocho or lechona."
While I was back in Colombia I suffered the loss of my grandparents and my cousin, but life also gave me a most precious gift: my nephew, Alejandro. I reconnected with my parents and I learned how to take them the way they are. I made new friends and made old friendships stronger. I got a great job. I was blessed far and beyond. However, deep in my heart I didn’t belong there.
So, what is left there to miss? Besides my family, my friends, the food, and the never ending Summer, not much, really. When I decided that I wanted to leave, I did it based on my strong beliefs that there is more in life than being just a person dragged by everyone else’s expectations. I got tired of living in a country where people sell their vote for a plate of sancocho or lechona. I was done living in a society that condemned me for being a woman in my 30’s who decided not to have children, let alone a woman in Cali who refused to go on a diet or get a liposuction to comply with the horrifying beauty standards. I just couldn’t understand why those who felt attracted towards people from their same sex were denigrated and treated as second class citizens. I couldn’t live in a country so polarized and divided due to the violent nature of its people, even if we are about to end a 52 year old armed conflict. Our social endeavour is elitist, superficial, poor, and corrupt.
So yes, I am writing this in a cold Canadian Autumn afternoon, far from the embrace of my parents, the smile of my nephew, the conversations with my sister and my brother-in-law, away from my friends and the crazy parties, apart from all the things I knew and I loved, but truth to
Ana María Arias