Guam is a small island. It consists of 210 square miles, approximately 170,000 people, and most importantly, my family. Guam is my home, culture, the place I knew everything about. We grew up a day ahead of the United States. We were, after all, where America’s day begins. And yet, we were barely considered Americans.
Although Guam turned over its rights to the United States in 1898, we have no right to vote for the president, we are still heavily taxed for our very expensive gas, and we are often a target in the Korean-American affairs. Approximately one-third of our island is controlled by the United States military.
In all, Guam is my home and right now, I couldn’t feel farther from it.
6,000 miles to be exact.
When I turned 19, I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. I married my best friend in December of 2017. It only felt right to do so. Our relationship was struggling with the great distance between us. My husband made the biggest decision of his life by swearing into the Marine Corps. While he trained to protect our country, I stayed at home and missed him with a heavy heart. So when I turned 19 in April of 2018, I packed up my bags, said goodbye to my family and my home, and left.
I traveled 6,000 miles for 12 hours, feeling my heart grow heavier the farther I got. I cried when I wasn’t sleeping and once I saw the shores of California outside my window, my heart broke.
There was no going back, not for a very long time.
It was overwhelming, stepping out of the airport after retrieving my belongings. On my island, you would only encounter various races of people if you worked in the hotel or food industry. Here in California, everyone was different. Everyone had their own faces, their own personalities, their own stories. I couldn’t wait to learn all of them.
It was also very cold. I was definitely not used to below 60 degrees of weather constantly. I was an island girl. I was used to the sun and the humidity and 80 degrees on a good day. I was definitely not prepared for California.
I had to get used to driving 60-80 miles an hour, when Guam’s top limit was 35. I had to get used to taxes showing up at the cash register of every store I went to. I had to get used to gas being less than four dollars, when we had to pay nearly five dollars a gallon at home.
I had to get used to being alone. I barely knew anyone and it was such a big state. There were so many nights I fell asleep alone, missing my family and everything I knew so well.
It definitely wasn’t easy. Everyone has to grow up and leave the nest eventually, right? My husband and I recently found an apartment, adopted a cat, and I’m already on the hunt for a new job.
Perhaps I only started writing this to get it all off my chest, perhaps I thought it would make lonely nights a little better. As much as I miss home, I don’t regret the decisions I’ve made.
It’s not easy, but it gets easier. I hope.