For those of you who know me, you know I like to frequent my grandma’s house whenever I can afford the plane trip to Guatemala City. I never stay anywhere else while I’m in Guatemala, unless we’re traveling around the countryside. But ever since I was born, that was my destination for the Summer and miscellaneous vacations.
I’m sure most of you know that Guatemala isn’t like the U.S. in many ways: it’s not very clean, it’s way more dangerous, and people don’t move out of their parents house until they’re married–which isn’t weird over there. It’s normal for people to live with their parents, I think mostly because renting is way too expensive and kids just can’t afford it. Another thing is that people don’t really move around. Ever. You buy one house and you pretty much stay there. And most people are like my grandmother: you moved in when you were a kid, and never moved out. My grandma started living in her house in Guatemala City when she was about 7 (or 10, not sure). She grew up there, and at one point or another, so have her children and her children’s children (me!). Point being: my grandma’s house has a lot of history to it.
I remember going to spend Summer’s with grandma when I was 5, when the back part of the house was only partially built. My sister/cousin Vanessa and I played house through the non-existent windows, along with the roaming chickens and piles of dirt and piedrin. I also remember having the reception for my First Holy Communion in the new garage, at the age of 8. I remember having to shine the tile floors after grandma waxed them. And boy do I remember the Summer of 2000, when I went with my 3 younger cousins in tow–it was the Summer of Brittany Spears videos (the one with the plastic-looking red body outfit…we must have watched it on MTV about 100 times–no exaggeration). And I remember all the hard work my grandmother has put into that house. She’s drawn her own plans and built two fully functioning apartments in the back, not to mention the front and back yards which are her pride and joy.
And most recently, I remember my husband’s first Christmas in Guatemala, lighting fireworks on the roof amid all the electrical wires. I still don’t understand how that doesn’t lead to disaster…
It’s always nice going to that familiar home, the same halls where I used to push my great-grandmother in her wheelchair, and the same room my uncle Franky, at the ripe age of 15, played his music a little too loud–according to grandma! The thing is, things are getting crazier by the day over there, and grandma’s getting older. The family recently started talking about selling the house and permanently moving grandma over here so she’s closer to everyone and not constantly traveling back and forth, between her family and her home. I know selling the house makes perfect sense, and entirely rational. But it scares the crap out of me.
I love going to Guate, love spending time there and I’m honestly afraid that selling the house will break our last link to Guate. Sure, I can go and stay in a hotel while I’m visiting, but it’s just not gonna be the same. It becomes a leisure trip instead of a trip to grandma’s house to visit grandma. I know I’m being selfish about this whole situation, especially because it’s even 100 times harder for my grandma to process.
But there really isn’t anything else to do. We can’t really rent out the house because you can’t leave a house alone in Guatemala, for fear that it’ll be taken over by gangs or drug lords (seriously), and no one in the family is in a position to take the responsibility to go over there every now and then and check up on the house. I wish I could do it, but as of now, my life isn’t as stable as I’d like, and I can’t afford the airfare to go out there all the time. I guess I’ll just have to hold on to the memories and accept the realities of life. C’est la vie.