Photo courtesy of Ericka Oropeza

Ericka Oropeza on graduation day with her mother, Norma, her sister, Vanessa Cuenca and her nice and nephew. Photo courtesy of Ericka Oropeza
Photo courtesy of Ericka Oropeza
I recently graduated from Oscar De La Hoya Animo Charter High School in Boyle Heights and will soon be attending the University of California, Riverside. When college comes to mind, I think it is a time for me to gain independence; a time when I leave home and come back during the holidays. But now my parents are leaving the place I have always called home, and I’m not sure what that means for me.

Earlier this year, my father was offered a job in Texas. My father didn’t want to leave the family behind, so he decided the whole family would move. Now, my parents have bought a home there and will soon be relocating.
Owning a house is a big deal to my parents, after having lived in four different houses we rented during out time in Boyle Heights. For the first time, my parents and two sisters have a room of their own.

My sisters Kazandra,12, and Zckarlett, 6, will be attending different schools that are filled with students of different ethnicity. They will be experiencing something new just as I am when I go to college. The only difference is that I will be alone.

I was always told that home is where family is, but now my family members will be in different places. While my parents make a new life in Texas, my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins will remain in California. Who am I suppose to visit or stay with during vacation or holidays?

Having my family members far away frightens me, and I know I won’t be able to see them as I did before. If I return to Boyle Heights during the holidays, I’ll be able to see the rest of my family and also my friends. If I go to Texas, I will be able to spend time with immediate family, but I don’t think I will be able to call it home.

Going to college, and living on my own is just a challenge I must overcome, so that I may be and do what I wish as an adult. I know that it’s all part of growing up and I look forward to the new experiences I will have and the mistakes that I will make.

I may be apart from my family but they way I feel about them will not change. If I ever need someone to help me I know that they are there for me no matter what. As long as they are alive, I will also be there for them. Home is where family is and my family is always with me.

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