When I came home from school last Tuesday, my Madre greeted me with a distressed and tired look. I opened the door saying, “Hola Madre! I’m home!”
But as shut the door and turn my head towards the kitchen, I see my Madre, tired emotionally and physically.
“Are you okay Madre?” I asked.
She walks towards me and leans in for a hug. I hug her as she says, “Everything in this house is falling apart, and I don’t know what to do anymore.”
She was getting worked up, so I ask her to calm down as she tells me her story. Apparently, her cabinet carousel broke, and she has been trying to fix it for the pas three hours. “I just rotated it to grab salt, and next thing I see is all my spices and ingredients on the floor. At first, I thought to myself that this will okay. I can fix this. I will see what the problem is, fix it, and all will be back to normal… but I couldn’t fix it.”
I scan the kitchen, and I see tools all over the floor, and her spices and ingredients all over the place. This was unlike her. You see, my Madre is very particular about everything that is in her house. She is super clean. By clean, I mean you can walk around the house and the balcony barefoot, and your feet will been as clean as it was before (I would know because this is what I always do). Every item, every figurine, every dust has a perfect place in her house. So seeing everything out of place and a mess is life a slap in the face- everything that she worked hard to maintain ended up a mess in the end.
I would say that it is a little bit of an OCD, but I can not complain because I definitely live comfortably with the results of her habits.
But this time, I saw how this was her strong and weak point, and the woman that I looked up to, as someone strong and well put together, is as human and prone to “falling” as anyone else.
Everytime I listen to my Madre’s stories, I am left in awe with how strong of a woman she is. She has traveled the world; she is a painter; she is a singer; she is a make up artist; she has had a colorful and adventurous life, but in the end of it all, she lacks the love of a lifelong partner.
I always looked up to her because I thought that she is a prime example of someone who is strong and independent. I thought to myself that maybe if I choose not to get married or have a lifelong partner, I would still end up happy like her. But seeing her emotionally and physically tired made me realize how much I would want a lifelong partner. In a sense, I think that that was why she broke down. I think that not being able to fix the carousel in her cupboard made her realize how much easier her life would be if she had a partner.
Even though we did not say it to each other, I think we both understood that regardless of how strong we think we are, there are moments that will test our patience and strength. And it would be easier to endure those moments with a partner or family. For this time with her carousel breaking down, I was there for her, but I am only here for only three more months. What about the rest of her life? I do care about her, A Lot, and sometimes, I worry about how she would be when I am gone.
As for me, I see that I try to be strong all the time, to be independent and self sufficient, but I know that I will not be able to hold on to this character/lifestyle for the rest of my life and still feel complete.
I knew that this abroad experience will change me, but I thought that I will grow in character. I did not expect my values and belief to be changed drastically or influenced dramatically.