Tag Archives: family

A las Mujeres antes que yo.

I’m bored.

“Pues pontes a limpiar.” “start cleaning” My inner (mother) voice goes. I look at my surroundings, take out the trash, organize my counter space, and fold my blankets. I look at my laundry, I just did it yesterday but the trick with laundry is it’s never truly done. So I take it the bathroom and start the hand-washing process, filling the buckets with water, adding the detergent and fabric softener, I tie my house dress up to stop it from getting wet( y asi tu sabes que soy una mujer viejita) (and that’s how you know I’m an old lady), and I assume the position, squatted aside the buckets taking my dirty laundry in hands and scrubbing them against each other.

I laugh, if my grandfather could see me now. Laundry day was a day of excitement for him when I lived in Puerto Rico, mostly cause it was the only day he would ever see me clean. He truly believes that I’ll never find a man because I don’t like cleaning and according to him I couldn’t keep a house to save my life…or keep a man. It’s a very antiquated thought process but it’s how he was raised.

Then I start thinking about his mother. Abuela Candita. I’ve never met her, only seen pictures and heard stories. Apparently she was a hard-ass, and I can believe it. The one picture of her that hangs in my grandfather’s house has her in what appears to be the living room, with an expression that just says “Atrevete.” “I dare you”. I think about how she must’ve looked when doing the laundry the way I am now. I wonder if she had a machine or had to do it by hand, and if my memory serves me right I think she had to do it by hand, going down to the river and cleaning whatever laundry she had and hauling it up, then hanging it in the Caribbean sun to dry.

Then I think of my other Abuela. Abuela Carmen. She had four daughters so I wonder if this process was more work or less, women are typically expected to take on the chores in a Latino family. But still, was it the same process?

Abuela Carmen and Myself

At this point I am almost done the laundry, but still thinking on the women before me. My Tia Nilda says the women in our family are Amazons, I’m never sure if she’s referring to the way we are built or our personalities. But I know she means our strength, both physical and mental. The women in my family are incredible, each in their own way, I look at my direct bloodline and I have my triathlete madre, my world-traveling, highly educated Abuela, and the matriarch of our family, the woman who started this line, my Bisabuela Carmen. My grandfather says that I will continue the line of strong women, he says that I remind him so much of my Abuela that it’s crazy, and he says Abuela Candita would’ve loved me for my strength.

And now the laundry is done, it’s hanging to dry in the Thai sun. Maybe the next time I’m bored I take a hint from my grandfather and just watch the day and listen to the birds.

Or just take a nap, like mom

Vows

To you, my travel partner.

I vow to always suggest new places, to never say any one spot is off limits, to never say a place is not interesting or overrated.

I vow to always keep up good appearances in front of your parents so they don’t think their child is traveling with a crazy person because that’s between us.

I vow to be your travel agent, bodyguard, photographer, historian, and food critic all in one. We will find the best places, the cheapest eats, the best photo ops, and in hostels I’ll ward off any drunks that try hitting on you. Worst case scenario we’ll say we’re dating.

I vow to always keep ideas flowing and our schedule exciting.

I vow to understand you might need a day off, staying in the hostel or hotel or airBnB isn’t against the rules and I won’t be mad at you for suggesting it.

I vow to make every free hostel breakfast feel like a five star bottomless brunch. But I also vow to keep watch while we take extra for the road.

I vow to be just as interested in all of the things you like, or at least fake it. Because even though I might’ve seen something a thousand times doesn’t mean it should discredit your first time.

I vow to understand your fears, and push you through them slowly but surely. You will always have a hand to hold while we explore the new, strange, scary and unusual.

I vow that I will make sure we always get to the airport on time, and if for some reason our flight is cancelled I’ll figure out how to get a new one.

I vow that if your luggage gets lost you can use mine, even though everything will be big on you.

I vow that my food is your food. We can always split meals and snacks so we can cheaply try more of the cuisine.

I vow that if we ever find ourselves in a foreign country I will not shame you for one day wanting McDonald’s or fifty cent ramen. Sometimes our stomachs want something like home even if we are in the land of tapas, or pasta, or sushi.

I vow to always stay adventurous and if we hit a point in our lives in which we can no longer travel together, I promise to always keep you updated, I promise to like all of your posts, I promise to continue to talk to your parents and remember your immediate family, I promise to continue any of our inside jokes, and I promise to offer more travel suggestions for us in the future.

Multi-Cultural Shock

So where are you from?

It’s a question that has both plagued me and amused me since before I can remember and the answer usually starts like this, “well……so I’m Puerto Rican mixed….Dad’s German and Irish, hence Shannon Murphy ya know….but I was born in Puerto Rico by a Puerto Rican mother, raised in Pennsylvania, as you can hear by my lack of accent, and I’ve always been back and forth my whole life”. Most people have follow ups,

“So how’d you get into the country?” Well by row boat duh.

“Are you here on a visa?” Baby I’m everywhere with my visa, and mastercard, and amex….I should really work out my credit card debt…..

“So are you worried about Trump?” Aren’t you?!

But I digress. Point is, home is tricky for me. Am I home in Pennsylvania with my mother and sister? Where there’s a Wawa on every corner and we chant for the birds? E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!! Or am I home when I am among the Islanders? Reminding you we are Boricua pa’que tu lo sepas, chirping with the coqui’s and filling our tummies and souls with cocina criolla.

Moving to Puerto Rico is about as easy as walking into your favorite store on payday, you can have anything and everything you want. The people will welcome you with open arms and even more open kitchens. You are welcomed with a “Siéntate vecino, dímequé pasa?” You might be put off by how loud everything is but let me tell you joy is not a quiet emotion. All the noise, the reggaeton, the bomba, the yelling, baby that’s all audible joy, that’s my people. This culture is sweet and easy and to the point.

Moving to Pennsylvania on the other hand is like walking into a Wal-Mart that has one T.V. on Black Friday and you only have 50 cents. Since moving back to PA I’ve learned a couple of things.

~DISCLAIMER~ Just because I say this doesn’t make this all true, this isn’t all Pennsylvanians, this isn’t all Americans. But this is my perception, and my perception is my reality.

So I’ve learned in PA, what matters when you talk to people?

Is it my grammar? Not really, I speak a sancocho mix anyway so that doesn’t matter.

Is it my stories? Cause I have a quite a few, want to know what the docks in Lisbon look like in summer? Or how I hung my delicates out of a Paris Apartment window to dry? How about I delight you in the story of how I turned Jimmy Buffett and his entourage away simply because I didn’t know who he was and I didn’t have time to care.

No, none of those? Catch me on a drunk day, you’ll have to hear them no matter what.

But again, what matters when you talk to people in Pennsylvania? Specifically in it’s suburban hell. Here’s some of my prime examples. “What university did you go to? Because my daughter went to a much better one.” ($105,200 at least)

“Oh, you stay in hostels? I could never sleep in a room with a bunch of strangers, that’s for people who don’t work enough to afford a nice vacation. My husband though just went to Los Angeles for an important meeting but he’s going to spend the week there for fun.” (FYI, he’s probably cheating on you. Also, $2,039 for the flight alone)

On a lucky day when I’m eavesdropping I also might hear something along the lines of, “Well I just had to have the new Tesla, my Mercedes is old” ($69,200)

Now what is my point in all this? Ultimately it is to show the insane consumerism in suburbia, and how it is absolutely ludicrous to think that name-dropping one’s “superior” or name brand items is completely asinine and that shade of green you may see me turn isn’t envy, it’s disgust. Am I saying that if you are financially capable that you should not have nice things? No. But to define your entire personality around your materialism and narcissism is in short. Obnoxious. These are the quality conversations I have had the “joy” of having since moving to housewife county.

This is nothing short of a culture shock to me. Yes, I was raised in the states for quite some time, but somehow this culture of grasping and clawing for the newest, most boujee item is not part of me. As I write this, it’s on a broken tablet/computer, I don’t even wish for an Apple Computer because why. My computer now is working the same way for me that a Mac would.

The weather is cold in Pennsylvania and read the disclaimer if you’re offended, but the people are close to the same. Yes, there are good people here but unfortunately my interactions with them have been far and few. So was I raised in Pennsylvania, yes. Am I a Pennsylvanian, a Philadelphian, a yankee? Hell to the no. I am Puerto Rican, straight from my lips, Irish looking as they may be. I am Boricua, straight from the colorful Caribe to your gated community. Enjoy my stay.

And between you and me, I am legal, educate yourself.