By: Beatriz Craven, Guest Blogger
My abuelita motioned at me with a point of her finger. I refreshed my husband's drink and removed his plate to take it to the kitchen. My husband looked at me wide eyed with a Cheshire Cat grin. It was clear: he was enjoying this and he knew he wasn't going to get away with it for long.
My husband and I went to my home country, Peru, over the holidays. Having been born there and raised in the United States, I had grown accustomed to my annual visits to the motherland. For whatever reason (i.e. college/having no money) I had managed to go a whopping six years without visiting. It was a dry spell that felt torturous and dreadful to me. It got to the point where my eyes would well with tears at the South American fusion restaurant over my lomito saltado. It was time to go home and my abuelita confirmed it for me with her remarks about her age and ponderings of when "the good Lord would take [her]." My abuelita is a smart cookie. I recognized her sly but truthful moves. She knew what she was doing and the next thing I knew we had emptied our frequent flyer miles and were flying over the Gulf of Mexico to see her for Christmas.
I push open the glass door of our modern house in Lima. The familiar polished wood from the jungle creaks beneath my feet. I've missed this special place and I want to just scream with delight if only I could wake from my dreamlike state. Was this for real? Was I really home?
Oh, I was home. We were Loved, fed, and Loved some more. My uncles came to the house for Christmas and gathered in the living room to lounge and catch up while the women tended to the food in the kitchen. Although we had ordered the turkey and minimal preparation was required on our part, we gathered to offer a hand however possible and soon settled around the small breakfast table. We talked and gabbed about how we'd been and how we'd managed to not age through the years.
My abuelita tells me about her relationship with my grandfather and how after spending an entire lifetime together, they had never had a fight. I look at her in wonderment. My abuelita is a firecracker. She's a handful, as am I. How is that possible? She tells me that with 7 children she wouldn't burden my grandfather with too many stories about how the kids had fought that day. "Why do that to him after a long day?" she says. I struggled to imagine myself not wanting to share the happenings of the day with my husband every night. I tell my husband a lot about my day in my effort to connect to him. The thought of holding things to myself did not feel consistent with the type of partnership I have come to know and Love in contemporary American society. I don't cook. That’s what grocery stores and Chipotle are for. He knows how to find food when I'm not around. Clearly, my family culture back home in Peru is somewhat different to what I'm accustomed to in the states in my marriage to my white Texan husband. I looked around the room at my abuelita and my aunts. I witnessed the tender care with which they tended to their men. While I may not replicate that exact model for my own marriage, I see how it works for them and I find such wonderful, meaningful lessons to take.
With full hearts we get back to Houston and quicker than I'd hoped we are back to our usual grind of work and incredibly busy schedules. I can feel ourselves slipping back into old routines that can quickly become traps for disconnect. I don’t like it.
My husband still had a lot going on at work so I sat at a nearby restaurant and ordered some food for us. I told him I'd call him on his cell when the food arrived so he could just walk over to eat together for a few minutes and briefly get away from the office. I sat alone at the bar as I waited on my man’s food and thought about my family back in Peru. I may not be cooking but it felt good. It felt good to care for him. It felt good to tend to his needs when he was worn thin. It was good to have the freedom and the choice to define my role as a wife as I see fit in my marriage. I sipped slowly on my drink and let the warmth build inside. This is what it's all about. This is feminism.
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Beatriz finds incredible meaning in her work as a therapist in Houston, Texas. She completed her PhD in Counseling Psychology and works with college students at Sam Houston State University. She is an avid life enthusiast, loving wife, and movie fanatic. Check out her website and tumblr at beatrizcraven.com