I have been looking for something for a long time. Being that I am not quite sure what it is, I can't even begin to describe what I am looking for. My Dominican mother would have told me to focus on my responsibilities—and forget the ridiculous notion that something is missing. It is a woman's job to take care of her husband, kids, and home. In that order.
"But I want to be different from you!" I would yell when I was a teenager.
"Gracias, doña" she would say with her barrage of guilt darting from her shark-like eyes. Her gratitude was sarcasm armed with all the pain of her youth and my difficult birth. And of course, every chore I had never completed to her satisfaction.
"You don't understand, Mami! You are so old- fashioned!" I said this as if I was settling all disagreements between mothers and daughters from the beginning of time.
I am no longer a feisty teenager, struggling with depression or fighting the inevitable fact that one day I would turn into my mother. I am proud of that tiny, totalitarian Dominican lady, whose shoes were too big for me to fill—not in the literal sense, since she only wore a size five shoe—but in a figurative sense, which most would consider to be a tale of fiction.
Today, I am forty-eight, married to the love of my life, have two amazing teenage boys, and a great home— though it is far from the place where I grew up. I live in the country, surrounded by pastures, cattle, and air that is unpolluted by the taxi cabs, factories, and other urban features that go with city life. My husband is kind, loving, supportive, and has been my tower of strength through many difficult times. He has taken care of me when I have been sick and was by my side when I lost both of my parents. I am blessed.
So, the question remains, what am I looking for? I spent what felt like hours roaming the aisles of a bookstore twice this week, looking for the perfect book. A story that I am not only in the mood for, but one that I could relate to at a profound level. What I discovered was that the book, the story I was looking for, has yet to be written. What I am looking for could be right here, within me. I am filling the pages with memories of my Dominican mother, father—who is an exiled Cuban— sisters, brother, uncles, and the rest of my family. They are the pieces of a collective history that have melded together into who I am.