Milenka, age 35:
My parents met on an airplane.
They are both from Chile. My mother was a flight attendent and my father was traveling for work. The flight had a problem and they had to stop overnight in Brazil to fix the plane.
Anyway, they got married in 1976, when the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile was very bad. My father had job offers in several countries, but in the end they chose to go to nearby Brazil since it would not be too far away from their family in Chile. In 1977 my brother was born in Brazil, 4 years later it was me. Every year we used to spend our holidays in Chile, so we traveled a lot.
After my parents got divorced, my mother moved to Chicago. My father stayed in Brazil.
I also left Brazil almost 4 years ago. I went to live in Ireland for more than three years. I left Ireland and then spent 5 months in India. Now I’m in Thailand.
My whole extended family still lives in Chile. My mom lives in Chicago, my brother in the south of Brazil and my father in the northeast of Brazil. But now he is moving to be near to my brother and his son.
So this airplane represents my family, and what I believe: physical distance can be relative. Sometimes we are in the same town and we don’t see each other. Sometimes we can be separated by miles of distance, and yet we are very close.
There’s nothing more powerful and strong than love. It’s that what makes us connected. It’s this pain that we feel everytime we have to say goodbye. And it doesn’t matter how many times we do, it always hurts. But for me, these painful goodbyes are also an opportunity to be grateful — some people just say goodbye when they lose someone, when they have to face death. We have the opportunity to think about our love without losing anyone.
I have 11 tattoos and my parents don’t like it, of course. But they know there’s nothing they can do about it, so with time they just accept it. Hopefully with time they will also appreciate that it doesn’t matter where I go, they’re always with me, supporting me. I feel very grateful for the family that I have. They are not perfect, but I’m lucky to have people who love me, respect me, and try to listen to how I am. I feel rich in this sense. I feel that I have everything that I need.