6,392 miles. That is the distance that separates me from my parents. Add a couple more and that covers the length between my brother and me. My parents are living in Malaysia and my brother is studying in Korea. There are times when all four of us are in different countries.
2002. That was the first year that such a distance separated me from my family, when I started attending an American boarding school in Germany while my parents were working in Kyrgyzstan. That was a rough year. I had to transition to a new country and environment. I had to be cool and try to fit in as the new kid. I was dabbling in my first attempts at romance. And of course often went crying to my dorm parents about how I didn’t get along with my roommates. Though I struggled, a lot of good came out of that year. I learned how to be flexible and adapt to new environments and even get along with different people. And I became very independent. My dad says I’m a bit too independent.
173 hours. That is the amount of time I got to spend with my family this break. That is only slightly over a week, which doesn’t seem like much, but it is one of the most important weeks to my family. Every year, my parents try to get the entire family together for family time. Considering we are all in different corners of the world with varying schedules, it isn’t easy. However, this time together is crucial as physical distance lends itself to emotional distance and suddenly your family is no more than a stranger. Granted, technology has made these separations seemingly vanish. But Google Hangout can’t replace physically going to a restaurant as a family to enjoy a meal (if you don’t play on your phone instead of talking).
Having lived almost half of my life away from my parents, I can’t say I’m super close to my parents or my brother. I am independent and I feel stifled living at “home” with the parents. But I do appreciate these yearly get-togethers so that we can bond as a family.
Next time you call your family, or better yet see them, show them you love them.