My Good Fortune

Curt's 081Six weeks on the island have seemed a lifetime. Today is unusually cloudy, so naturally I’m brooding.

I’ll be twenty-four in another two weeks, and I can’t say I’m looking forward to marking another year. Why?   I came here in mid-September with such high expectations. I wanted to find Maria (which I did) and a job (which I haven’t).   After breaking my leg coming out of cave a few weeks ago, I’ve not been myself. Or I have been, and I just don’t want to admit it.

You see, I’ve been down this road before. Four years ago, I flew here, found Maria, and I wasn’t able to fit into her world; I got discouraged, and I left. She encouraged me to, actually. I’m back after four years of working in New York, ready to make a commitment to her — to us. But I’m struggling, really struggling. I don’t have any sense of how to secure our future.

I’m not sure what it means to secure our future, but at a minimum it means being able to make enough money to provide food, clothing, and shelter when Maria and I have children – and we want to have children very much.   Anyway, I decided to share my dark doubts with Maria.

“What if I am unable to push through this time, get a job, and make San Juan home? I can’t imagine going back to the States without you. I think I would rather die.”

“Will, don’t be dramatic.”

She is always direct. But she’s also kind. “You’ve only been here a few weeks, and you have broken a leg.” Then she knelt next to where I sat on a wall by the sea. She took my hand and kissed it.  This motherly gesture comforted me a lot. She could as easily have patted my head or stroked my cheek. (Kissing a hand affectionately is possibly a Puerto Rican thing?)  She added, “You have more savings than my family has ever seen. I think you are expecting too much.”

I thought about how my savings from four years of working — $100,000-plus change — must have seemed a fortune to her. That humbled me. She smiled again. “This is your vacation, no?”

“I guess so,” I said.

“And your birthday is coming. Much can happen in two weeks. Think about where you want to be, what you want to be doing, on your birthday. Let’s plan just two weeks ahead.”

And, with that, the sun came out from behind the clouds.


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