When I departed from Bogota in July 2012, I left business unfinished and a bunch of stuff shoved up in the attic. Now, a year and a half later, it is time to go deal with it.
I am looking forward to seeing friends whom I have missed and snatching a break from the Canadian winter, but at the same time I have a feeling of heaviness because I am closing a chapter in my life.
I didn't plan to spend 23 years of my life in Bogota. In 1989 I went down with a two-year CUSO contract, which was renewed for a third year. Then I took another two-year contract with different organization.
I met José Miguel in 1991. We fell in love at first sight (seriously). I ended up terminating the second work contract a few months early because we were expecting our first child. Matt was born in 1994. William was born in 1997.
I stopped working in libraries and documentation centers and became certified as an official translator. In 1999 I started working for the press translation service where I am still employed.
In 2005 José Miguel and I separated. Moving back to Canada was never really an option. Even if our marriage was over, the boys still needed their father and it wouldn't be right for them to grow up without him. I would also have needed to have his permission to take them out of the country. We didn't get divorced immediately for a number of reasons. Conflict avoidance and procrastination held me back.
In 2009 I threw a party to mark twenty years of living in Colombia. By then I was already thinking about moving back to Canada.
Matt was on track to graduate in June 2012. I saw that as my opportunity to come back too. My plan was to go to Ottawa, where I hoped to be able to find work as a Spanish-English translator. William also wanted to come to Canada and he had been accepted at a high school specialized in fine arts in Ottawa. Matt had a conditional acceptance at Université de Montréal, pending his grades on his final exams.
Then everything fell apart. My mother was told that she had entered the final stage of her cancer and had six months to a year to live. I dropped everything and in July went to Montreal to stay with her. Matt did not make the grade he needed on his final exams (off by 0.8 percent) and did not get into Université de Montréal. He started studying at Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogota, his fallback school. William started high school in Ottawa, living with my sister and her husband. We were all over the map, and it was hard on everyone.
My mother got worse and then she got better. She got better to the point that my presence was no longer needed. As of September 2014 I was able to move to Ottawa and get an apartment with William. William loves his school and has produced some amazing pieces of art. Matt did a year of civil engineering at Universidad Nacional de Colombia, and with that under his belt he is reapplying for Université de Montréal. After eight, nearly nine, years, I have brought the papers I need to file for my divorce. José Miguel and I have reached an amicable agreement.
This trip is to bring closure to some of the unfinished business in my life. Between the social commitments and sorting the stuff in the attic, I will take some time these days to look back and take stock of what it meant to spend 23 years of my adult life in Colombia.