Marmarah “Mars” Similien felt like she was meeting a stranger when she reunited with her mother after living in a different country than her for three years.
When Similien was 2 years old, her parents took their two eldest children and emigrated to the U.S., leaving behind their twin daughters Marmarah and Christina Similien. It took three years for them to get established and send for their daughters. The girls traveled alone from Haiti to Boston, Massachusetts at the age of 5.
Similien doesn’t remember the plane ride, but she remembers the woman who picked her and her sister up from the airport. It was her mother’s friend.
“I remember her coming up to us and her reaching for our bags and hugging us, and then just … quiet … because we didn’t know who she was,” Similien said.
That wasn’t the last awkward greeting. When the girls arrived at their new home, Similien remembers standing close to her sister and feeling scared and confused among their elated relatives. Among these unfamiliar faces, a woman emerged with tears streaming down her face.
It was their mom.
“I don’t think there was much reaction,” Similien said. “She was also a stranger in a room full of strangers.”
Similien admits that for a long time her mom still felt like a stranger to her and that she didn’t want to be around her mother.
Fourteen years later there is no sign of the early distance between the mother and daughter.
During a recent afternoon, Similien returned her mother’s frantic call.
“She’s going all over town right now trying to mail me this package and spending a ton of money doing overnight [shipping] when it’s food, and I have food in my fridge,” Similien explains after saying goodbye to her mom on the phone. “But that’s just the kind of mom she is: someone who wants to make sure … that you’re happy.”
Similien lives in Los Angeles now and is a student at the University of Southern California, while her parents still reside in Boston. Miles apart again, her mom still worries about her happiness just as she did while preparing for Similien’s American life while she was still in Haiti.