I have lived in a purple room for the last four months. Actually, maybe it’s more of a lavender. There are butterfly cut outs taped to the walls and hanging from the ceiling. It’s the room my almost 6-year old niece slept in when my brother still lived here and had her over during the weekends. Sometimes when she’s mad at me because I won’t allow her to be nosy and go through my stuff she says, “Then you can’t sleep in my room anymore.” After which I kick her out and tell her to come back when she can be nice.
I mention this lavender room because of what a strange departure it is from what I imagined my Puerto Rican life would be before I got here. I had a plan. I would stay with my family in Caguas for about a week, possibly two and then I would move to the apartment I had waiting for me in metropolitan San Juan. Once in San Juan I would be near the beach and I would buy a bike and ride to the beach everyday. I actually pictured myself on the bike, my hair flowing in the wind. I would also write everyday and share every exciting experience with all of my friends who cared to read my blog and eventually turn the blog into a book.
Something strange happened though. I was here two weeks and I delayed my move. I said, “Well, I’m not quite ready to leave my family so I’ll wait one more week.” The next week came and soon Thanksgiving was upon us and it was just, well, ridiculous not to stay at least until right after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving came and went and I hadn’t made a move. The apartment in San Juan was no longer available to me and I realized that I didn’t want to leave. I had become attached to all of the people I was living with and I couldn’t see myself elsewhere.
The very exciting daily bike rides to the beach became instead a very unexciting routine of cleaning and a lot of sitting around doing not much of anything. Outside of the occasional day trips where my Dad got us lost because he no long remembered how to get there, I had more time than I knew what to do with. I soon began to resent this and in my resentment each day became more depressing than the other.
After a few weeks of being depressed I got up one morning and I said to myself, “Self, get over it. You are not sleeping until noon or later anymore. You will get up and you will find a purpose to your day, however small it may be.” So I got up gave my Dad his medication and I found a purpose to my day. I don’t honestly remember what that was. Maybe I cleaned the back room or maybe I swept the back yard. I only remember that I decided that even if my Puerto Rican life wasn’t as glamorous as I would like it to be, it would at least be productive.
So each day I awake and have to give my day purpose and I have to get past the difficulty of seeing my Dad’s illnesses. I get up and give my Dad the many meds he doesn’t remember to take on his own. I make sure that he eats because sometimes he just doesn’t want to. I try to make sure that the house is clean, inside and out in sometimes unbearable heat. I watch t.v. I browse the internet. I workout. I lie on the hammock some nights just to stare up at the stars. Most importantly I try to appreciate the free time because eventually it will be gone. For six years prior my life wasn’t mine and now each and every single moment of the day is mine for the taking .
The reality of it is that most days my life in Puerto Rico is anything but exciting and yet somehow, at this moment, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world.