The last time I visited my family in Panama was Christmas of '97. I had graduated college the year before, had a new job, and this was my first trip home as an "adult".
Ten years have passed without visiting home. I guess life got in "the way". I worked full time and started graduate school at night, later on met my husband, got married, had kids. Before I knew it, ten years had passed.
Not a day has gone by I haven't missed my family, my home. It's always there, in the back of mind, reminding me of those I left behind, of where I come from. It's a way of life for those of us who emigrate to another place.
I am finally going home after all this time, and this time I won't be alone. I am taking my husband and three children who have never seen the place of my birth, or the family that helped me become the person I am today.
Lots of planning and preparation that I wouldn't normally worry about: where to stay, should I rent a car or use public transportation, should I stay with family or in a hotel? There is a lot more to worry about when you are responsible for making this trip memorable for those you love.
I want this trip to be perfect, still I know nothing ever is. I want my husband to fall in love with the place of my birth, to meet the family that considers him one of them even though they have never met, to see the places where my childhood memories were made.
I want my kids to meet their family and to feel a part of them. I want them to embrace their heritage, to appreciate the sacrificies of those who came before them, and to feel a part of that country where their mom came to be.
Most of all, I want to go home and find that teenager, full of dreams and hopes, who left her home at 15 without knowing if she would ever come back, or if she would ever reach her dreams.
I want her to see the person she became, and the legacy she will leave on this planet in the lives of her children.