02 December, 2008

A Suicide Lead on Christmas (that was supposed to be a nod to The Sandlot)

Holy shnikes, it’s December. When did that happen?

I suppose I should recap you on Thanksgiving 08: A Rice and Beans Thanksgiving. Yes, it was my first official Puerto Rican Thanksgiving, as last year Team Gringo celebrated with the holiday with a million glasses of rum and cokes (unofficial number) and vegan baskets. What baskets are made of meat or dairy, you ask? I think we are all trying to figure that one out still. And though any goji berries (not the consumption of, but more the disposal of) failed to make an appearance this year (I don’t think any of us missed them), it was a unique celebration none the less.

It began the night before, when I embarked on my duty to make the stuffing. Not just stuffing, mind you. Puerto Rican stuffing, which called for 2 lbs of beef and ¼ lbs of ham to 1/3 CUP of bread crumbs. Um, WHAT?! Yes, I read the recipe right. So, although I didn’t actually “eat” my own stuffing, there were plenty of elements of that day that made it feel just like home.

For one, the first words that were spoken to me at both homes were to were to offer me a drink. And I’m not talking I was there for 10 minutes, standing around like a freak, so someone offered me a pity drink. I’m talking we walk through the door and a drink is suddenly in my hand. Off to a fucking great start! at the second home we went to, the aunt and uncle of my friend, I was offered not just a drink, but a shot of “pitorro”, which is like moonshine. They had mango and coconut flavored moonshine. Welcome to Puerto Rico. So, within in the first minute of being there, I had a shot. And after I took it, was immediately offered another. Eeks, no thank you. I value my taste buds. No need to burn them off so early in life. But wine? Por fav-fucking-or! Now we are speaking the same language.

At some point in the evening, the uncle walked in with a coconut which he had just chopped off his tree, and I was intrigued, obviously. I wanted to taste the coconut water. I mean, let’s be honest, how many times will I have the chance to drink coconut water of a coconut freshly macheted off the tree?? I’ll go with like never again. So, I asked for a taste. “Of course! Claro que si, mija!” say Uncle --- “why don’t you mix it with some Johnny Walker?” Um….OK!

Dinner. Rice and beans made an appearance at both homes. I ate some at the first place, but decided to pass at the second home. Not a wise decision. Well…as a gringa, it’s not a smart move to pass up the rice and beans. The Spanish Inquisition followed, quite literally: “Why aren’t you eating rice and beans???” which translates as, “You American b*tch! You think you are too good for my rice and beans!!??” I tried to explain that we had already eaten at another house…which lead to: “At Carmen’s? You ate her rice and beans?” Followed by scoffing and a scornful glace and shake of the head at me, and perhaps an eye roll from Uncle Johnny Walker, for being so unfortunate as to have eaten Carmen’s rice and beans and not theirs. Er….sorry…?

The third (technically fourth, if you count the wine) course of beverages came as the crowd had mostly departed and there was enough living room space for everyone to sit. A perfect time to…..pop the Champagne! Another successful holiday, come and gone, with about 12 pans of flan leftover. OH – that reminds me --- there was no pie, but there was flan. Ohhh was there flan. A pumpkin flavored flan, a sweet potato flavored flan….YUM. So good. I love flan, FYI. It’s definitely going to be “the” food I take away from PR.

All in all, it made me realize, in actuality, how little food has to do with making my own “family holidays” feel like “family holidays”, as wine flowing and people chattering does. As long as I am somewhere where people are chaotically conversing, preferable over a spirit or two, then I may as well be at home.

This is a bit of a tangent, but I just realized today I can stream KOOL 108 through itunes. KOOL FM happens to play Christmas tunes 24/7 starting the day after Thanksgiving, if any of you don’t know (but I have feeling most of you reading do). Well, it really has becoming somewhat of a tradition to listen to it during that waiting period from T-day until X-mas, even if it is chessy as hell (I mean, that song about that kid who wants to buy his mom shoes but doesn’t have any money or whatever…Really???? So stupid.) Anyway, at about 11 a.m. this morning when I realized this epiphany, I was THRILLED! Thrilled, I tell you! I immediately felt homesick, but not homesick at the same time, since I was listening to what I would listen to at home anyway. Well, now it is 8:58 p.m. and I'm listening to "Frosty the Snowman" for at least the 6th time. It’s losing it’s charm, is what I’m saying. KOOL FM, you need to mix this shit up a little bit, PLEASE.

Which brings me to another thing: what is home for me anymore? I have been moving around so much since 18, and I say “home”, but what do I mean. Normally, I mean “the town I grew up in”, and it’s true I have many a memories from there. Howcver, as often is the case, the memories are sweeter than the reality of it, as this summer proved when after 2 weeks of being home I was nearly suicidal. Visiting is fucking fantastic. Mostly because I know I will be in fact leaving. I'm not there to stay. I fear I will never be able to live at “home” again. I know this may be a painful reality (Chellber…), but it can’t happen. I mean, cerca “home”, maybe. MAYBE. Under some very strict and specific circumstances, which I don’t need to divulge right now. Perhaps. A summer home, yes. A life there? NO.


Why can’t everyone I love just follow me everywhere???

p.s. I just talked to my sis Audrey, and they received my Annual I'm Dreaming of a Wild Chistmas CD, which obviously included the Chipmunk's "Christmas Don't be Late", which in reality is SO annoying, but for nostalgic sake I put in on there, and she told me "Victoria really likes the Chipmunks song" (Victoria is 5 years old). WHY DO KIDS LOVE THE CHIPMUNKS SINGING!??! It seriously blows my mind!!!! Only children can love a song that is sung at that decible. It's so strange.


Rebekah said...

For the record, the Twin Cities is NOT Grantsburg. Just something to think about... :D

Jbird said...

been there, done that.

Zaira said...

Although I have only been away from home for 5 years, this departure has been such an enlightenment. For some reason while you are at a place you kinda center your life around it and fail to capture its flaws and shortcomings. It is only distance that allows you to appreciate its uniqueness and its many disappointments. I can perfectly understand the phrase "cerca a casa" but not "en casa". Isn't it weird to be in the house where you grew up and feel like a total stranger? To drive around the barrio and just wonder how you ever lived there?