I’m almost at the end of a lengthy five-year journey. Had things gone differently and better for me, this should’ve ended long ago. To say that there’s a lot of heavy stuff on my head would be a bit of an understatement, in all honesty.

I did say I’d share this journey with everyone, and this entry, first in a two-parter, is related to the greater journey of my life.

One of my longstanding struggles, one that has come and gone for almost a quarter of a century now, is my continued longing to be at a place that I can properly call “home,” a place where I can feel like I’m actually part of it beyond the four walls where I reside. 

This has always been a problem for me because, due to a combination of work and family-related reasons beyond my control, my mom had no choice but to move, and as a result, I lived the early years of my life across the span of three different Venezuelan cities.

I was born in Maracaibo, a beautiful city with a very distinct accent, cuisine, and culture. While I’ll always be proud to have been born in “The Beloved Land of the Sun,” I don’t have a proper connection to Zulia, because I never got to be part of Zulian culture.

Maracaibo (and Zulia as a whole) are a peculiar case because, due to geographical circumstances, the city was rather isolated from the rest of Venezuela, and as a result, the region developed a lot of unique cultural aspects that are different from the rest of the country, down to its own variety of the Spanish language. 

It wasn’t until the 1960s that the region was properly “connected” to the country through the General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge.

There was a brief period of time, between mid 1996 and January 1999 to be more precise, where I actually got to experience some of my birthplace’s culture, people, and unwavering faith. So far, those are the best years of my life.

For some reason, even though they were brief, I remember that time of my life as if it had lasted more than it actually did — even if that was a shorter period of time than the time we all lost thanks to COVID-19.

As time went on, I lost both my accent and fragile connection to the land that was once the cradle of my mother’s family, the place where both my parents studied, met, and married. 

I only got to visit Maracaibo in three brief opportunities after relocating to Caracas in 1999, with the last time being in October 2013. Each time I’d visit, I felt more and more like a stranger in my own land, no longer accustomed to its warm climate even.

Even if I haven’t lived in my actual birthplace for more than a handful of years total, I weep for my hometown and what it has been subjected to, especially in recent years.

Maracaibo is one of the cities that has been the most affected by the collapse of Venezuela. It’s a city still plagued with constant lengthy blackouts and its lake has been heavily polluted by constant oil and chemical spills caused by the ruling regime’s eternal incompetence, just to name two (out of many) of its current maladies.

We used to live in Punto Fijo prior to moving back to Maracaibo in 1996, it’s a small town where my father and his family have lived since migrating from Italy in the 1950s. Much like a sizeable chunk of the Italian community in Venezuela, that town is their home, and I don’t realistically see my dad (who is now an elderly man en route to his 70s) ever leaving it despite also being a town subjected to near-daily blackouts and only getting running water for a couple days every 2-3 months or so.

Having lived there for four years, I never had any major issues with “not fitting in” because I was just a kid. However in retrospect, that wasn’t my home either — mainly because of how my father’s family treated my mom and us.

While I was oblivious to most of the things that happened to my mom during those years, looking back, there were quite a few bad moments that, now that I think about it, I did get treated like shit for no reason.

Why? I don’t know. Was it because I was made “poorly” and I’m not what classifies as a “normal” person? Who can say. Many of the people involved are no longer alive, so it’s not like I can just go and ask. It’s all in the past now anyways.

As a result, I never got to develop any connection to Italy through my father’s family. I was never taught the language, its culture, or even the origins or birthplace of my father’s family (which I didn’t find out until a few years ago). As far as I remember, they did organize one or two trips to Italy so that the younger generation could see and learn, but I was kept out of such things.

That city is my brother’s birthplace and yet he has no recollection of it, as we left the place when he was a little over a year old — it is also my half-sister’s birthplace and it’s safe to assume that it is her home, as she’s lived on it all of her life and thus has a connection to the land and its people, unlike my brother.


I have lived most of my atypical life in Caracas after moving in 1999 in pursuit of a better income (and a better life), and I’ve remained a stranger in this place ever since — the fact that I’ve lived an isolated life and I had to switch schools through high school almost every year didn’t helped either.

I don’t particularly dislike Caracas despite the city being plagued with a myriad of issues, some of which stem from the fact that the Capital District is a hodgepodge and stitched together entity, all of which have nothing to do with me — but this city is, plain and simple, my place of residence and not my “home.”

Since 2001, this apartment that I’m writing these words at has been my home. It’s a roof, and that’s something most don’t have these days, even if my mom never had the money to finish building it properly.

This place no longer feels like a home proper, though. These four unfinished walls remind me of all that I’ve lost, all that I failed to achieve in my youth, and most importantly, that which I failed to save: my mother.

It’s where I live, but it’s not my home, not anymore.

20 years ago this room was my world, and for a brief period of time, all felt good. I long those 2003 days where I had been given this room all for myself after my mom and brother’s rooms were built. I actually had a bed on my own and wasn’t sleeping on a mattress on the floor, and I’d stay up all night playing video games or working on Jedi Outcast skins/maps, watching Locomotion, or listening to music. Today, this room feels (and is) small, and I don’t want to be in it anymore.

Due to convoluted issues caused by the government, I cannot presently sell this place (my goal was to sell it, give my brother his half of the money so he starts having savings, and use the other half to build a new life abroad). What I can — and will be doing — instead is to let two cousins stay so they can seek their own path, and of course, to “guard” the fort, so to speak, as there’s always the risk of getting it seized or invaded under the auspices of the socialist regime (cause that’s a thing that has been going on here).

In a few weeks I will be once again a stranger in a new land, Italy. I don’t know much about its culture yet, and I barely know some Italian now, but I’m making an effort and trying my best, and will continue to do so once I’m there.

I know for a fact that, realistically speaking, there’s a high chance that I won’t ever be a “proper” Italian no matter what my passport says. I will always remain as a child of two nations, so to speak — one that, due to circumstances beyond his control, does not have that “connection” to either of his family’s respective ancestral land.

Not much I can do but to start a new life like I’ve been wanting to do. I’ll embrace and respect this other heritage of mine that up until now I was never allowed to be a part of without ever forgetting where I come from and why am I there in the first place: To build a new future for myself and my brother, to help others, and to leave things in a better state than they are right now to the best of my ability.

Who knows, maybe I’ll find a corner of my own in Italy that I can call home.

Until the next one,


1 Comment

Two find my own happiness | ckaleb[dot]com · September 17, 2023 at 2:05 pm

[…] in the previous entry I touched on the subject of my longing for a place that I can call home, there is another related […]

Comments are closed.