Here is a snapshot of what I love and all those I love in my little peace of imperfect earthly heaven.
“The soccer ball was an éxito total!” Javier blurted out as soon as he was next in cue. I had not seen him since 8am, had not talked to him. He had just arrived home with the other half of the family, Olaia and Jim. As our kids come in they usually begin a frantic free for all telling me all sorts of stories about their day. They wait in cue. Waiting for the 3 seconds break that lets them know there is a lull in the conversation and permission to take over the floor and start their story. This does not always work seamlessly, there are times siblings cry out “I am not done yet! I was taking a breath or composing my thoughts!” But for the most part, it is the law of the land. Ruthless, straightforward, passionate and not for the faint of heart nor those who are entertained by platitudes, pleasantries and light chit chat.
I am in the middle of cooking. I have just greeting him at the door with a big smooch and run back to the kitchen and in those 3 seconds I am tracking Javier’s tale. “Those kids at Barrio Vietnam are so nice. They all loved it that I brought a ball. We had fun.”
Three second rule applies even to me so I take a moment to inform Jim of the menu and reassure the man who walks like a bear ready to claw a tree and start chomping on it, that there is delicious food. “Do you have the roasted chicken?” he asks.
“Yes, Olaia gave it to me and I am serving everybody.” “How were my black beans?” he adds. I answer with an indirect roundabout reassurance, “I made some broth and sofrito and mixed in some of your garden spinach with the beans and they are now a nice thick sauce to go over the rice.” “That is not what I asked”, Jim retorts critiquing my response for its lack of consideration to his simple, personal, request. Now I join him in the meta-critique of the format of our communication. “But it is a valid response” I argue. I explain “the beans were good, just lacking in liquid.” That conversation ends. We take time to breathe.
“Today I met José, whose a really nice guy”. I am still tracking Javier’s earlier story line so I believe he is talking about a child at Barrio Vietnam, the after school center that Jim takes our kids to, to help with tutoring and entertaining children in a rough, abandoned corner of the industrial metroplex. So Javier met José.
“He was really friendly”. “He mentioned to someone else in the supermarket that people had to be sure to purchase Puerto Rican coffee because it was better tasting. “So you met up by accident with José from Barrio Vietnam at the Supermarket in Bayamón? ” I was a bit confused but sure that stranger things had happened and it was plausible.
Javier explained, “No mami, he was there at the supermarket talking to someone else about coffee and Daddy chimed in and said ‘if you want to taste real Puerto Rican coffee you should be buying Cafe Cibales. The man then agreed with Daddy and said Café Cibales was the real deal, but went on to talk with daddy about his life. He told daddy about how his sister always wanted to win the lottery and complained that she never did. But José told her that she had already won the lottery because she had a really great husband who José liked and her husband was a nice American guy.” Javier took a breathe.
1, 2, 3,
Jaimito let me know he went downstairs to with the first two plates of food to set everything up for dinner. Asier asked me what he could take. And before long the first 5 minutes of the family being together were over and dinner began, not before reminding me how much I love my husband. His compassion and service to others is framed in fun and shared with our children as a family value brought to life. His openness to serendipitous short lived friendships color my kids walks into supermarkets and lets them know the world is full of nice people. Like José’s sister, I too won the lottery!
Your turn to tell me your story. 😉