Holidays are a time of joy; regardless of how or if you celebrate it. Yes, that includes Halloween. I believe that part of that joy stems from spending it with family members. However, as you grow into your ‘adult’ life your family life changes, and your chances of spending holidays with family changes as well. What I guess I’m trying to say is that this will be the first Christmas and Three kings day I won’t be spending with my family.
I love my family. I love my culture. And I love my island. However, a couple of things have gotten in the way of me being reunited with all those things I love and miss. One of them is money. Money, a piece of paper that rules us all. And the second is my partner. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Mr. Grumpy and I am happy that he’s living with me. This being said, he’s not holding me back from going back home. He supports my decision and all. Nevertheless, what fiancée/friend would I be if I just up and left him alone in a country he barely knows, to go spend Christmas with my family in Puerto Rico.
I guess what this whole ordeal has taught me is that for the longest time I’ve wanted to be an adult. I wanted to be able to stand on my own; and I have. However, I’ve been living like and adult who is still mentally living with her parents, and at the same time I am a child who is living in her own home. What I mean is, that I have been living two lives trying to hold onto my life back home and my life in my new home. And it is clear that I can no longer do this. I am, first and foremost, an adult in my new home with my new family Mr. Grumpy.
All this, however does not stop me from being sad or missing home. As a dear and wonderful friend said to me, as we pathetically cried together, “Mr. Grumpy’s great but he can’t replace all that love from your family.” And she is right. That means that I can stay and love my partner (my new family) but I can miss my family (my first family) and cry when I feel like it.
Nevertheless, too much crying doesn’t help. And moping doesn’t help either. So I’ve created contingency plans (look at me adulting!) And started creating new traditions with my boo thang. Which is a very important part of the grieving process.
Mr. Grumpy and I, in the hopes of making our little apartment a home we went through a Holiday transformation. We went through the basics: get a tree (fake one), decorate it (deck the halls), and decorate the house (I did it all by myself). We made it more like home, more festive, more like us. However, I needed more. I needed something that reminded me of home but was more of my own. So guess what I did? (For reals guess it! No! You got it wrong). I started cooking! (Yay for food! The healer of all wounds!)
I’m not just making any type of food, I’m making Puerto Rican food. I am tracing the steps my grandmother made, my great-grandmother made and the one my mother (sorta) made (she’s not into cooking). By being able to reach in and create I am awakening a spirit and tradition old as time. I am reaching into my artistic prowess and applying them into my need for healing. I’m reaching into home.
I started with simple Bacalaitos. I made them at the start of this semester. Now I am stepping up my game and making Coquito. I also will try to make Empanadillas and Pasteles from scratch. Will I succeed? Who knows. The point is not to make a gourmet plate. Or even to be that person who can cook all the ethnic food. The purpose of this project is to recreate home in a modern way; my way. I may not have the best teachers (google) but I have the best passion for it. I may not have the talent but I do have a hunger for learning.
And through that passion I’ll be able to not only feed my soul (and tummy), I’ll be able to bring that sense of family, care and warmth to the people around me (they’ll be guinea pigs… I hope they don’t die).
Having this opportunity to let myself grieve in a creative ( and delicious) way, I am able to learn new skills while I sooth my inner wounds. I’ll also be able to impress (scare the crap) out of my family. Growth can happen in different ways. What you do with that space is up to you.
Signing off, TWS