What is Love?
It's been about a month since I last posted! My goal is to post at least once a month, that is, until I live a more sustainable lifestyle and can dedicate my free time to writing (I'll say a little more about that in my next post, stay tuned!).
A few days ago, after 12 years of mainly living in New York, I woke up in Yauco, Puerto Rico, home of coffee, childhood memories, and delicious coconut limber.
After many visits to beautiful but cold countries last year, a visit to Las Vegas in January made me realize that a vacation in summer weather was imperative. For a few days, my mind was determined to take a grandeur vacation. I spent days looking for resorts to stay in for a few days. I looked on cheapcarribean.com, but all of the deals were for couples. So I thought, Ok, I'll ask someone to join me. Still, after spending much of my in-between-teaching time searching, the prices were too high. Then, the obvious hit me! I called my mom and told her, "you need a vacation, I need a vacation, let's visit our family in Puerto Rico." At first, she was resistant to the idea of taking a vacation and leaving my siblings behind, but then it occurred to her that she could find a babysitter and make it work. She was ecstatic! Not only was this a cheaper option, but we were going to spend time with family that we hadn't seen in years. She especially wanted to see my uncle, Tio Nelson. He's the fine gentleman in the very first picture above. A few months ago he suffered a terrible fall after attempting to climb an avocado tree. It is truly a miracle that he is alive today. I won't go into detail about the injuries he suffered, but our family is happy to see that he is walking, he is talking, and despite being in a coma for a month, his memory is strong, and his mind is still in the gutter, haha!
So here I am now; as I'm typing I'm sitting in my uncle's marquee. This beautiful house actually belonged to my great grandmother, and is, in essence, the home of the Alvarez family (my mother's side of the family). Everything feels the same. Everything smells the same. Yes, PR has a very distinct smell-- a mixture of nature and salt water. The only difference that I feel being in Puerto Rico again is that we are all older. The energy I felt when I lived here when I was 7 years old, has been stored away. Everyone is calm. With the years came a serenity that was always longed for. I realized that in my family's younger years, the happiness and excitement that was constantly exuded amongst them was in direct response to the tragedies, hardships, and struggles they faced as children, teenagers, and young adults. Here I am today, 23 years old, seeking ways to restore that energy. Some days I am successful, and others I understand that times have changed, people have changed, and that life must go on.
However, in pursuit of connecting with my 7-year-old self, on our second day in PR my mom and I visited our old homes, our old schools, and of course, the pueblo to eat some classic rellenos de papa.
Side note: The house pictured on the left was built just for us. I remember helping my mom paint it!
Of all the places we visited, my favorite place to visit was Edie's house (pictured on the left). Edie was my sister's aunt. She was around 70 years old; She never had kids but treated me like her own. She lived behind us, so when I was a mere 7 years old, I'd open the back gate and go on what used to feel like an adventure to her house. She'd prepare coffee and milk for me with hotdog bread and butter. Then, when her friends would come over, we'd go to her other house, 5 feet away, and play dominoes on her beautiful balcony on the second floor that overlooked the land around us. I played dominoes so often that I became unbeatable. I always surprised her. At the start of 2017, she passed away. Alzheimer's wouldn't allow for her to remember me, but I remember her and I always will. Standing in front of her home made me feel like I was 7 all over again. She is the foundation for who I am today: curious, adventurous and free-spirited.
I didn't intend for this to be a sad post! My Puerto Rico trip has been nothing short of positive. I've relaxed, soaked in the sun and spent time with my family. Most of all, I had time to reflect and appreciate my childhood experiences. Living in New York for so long caused me to forget the life I had as a child, but now I remember. I had a great childhood. Thank you, mom.
All in all, this trip was love. It's scary cause it's a love that isn't guaranteed.