I have a kid who just graduated high school. I have a kid about to start middle school. I have a mother who is losing her memories. I have family members quarreling with each other. I have other people in the hospital, and people who are a pressure cooker ready to pop. Things are stressful; my body is telling me so every single day. And yet, I know I am better off than a significant number of people, so suck it up buttercup.
Recently I traveled to Puerto Rico, after a four-year absence. I spent time with my brother and my nieces. I miss them. I saw my mom, and it pained me that her Alzheimer's is advancing so quickly. I am staring at my possible future, and it is hard to watch. She is still herself, losing her memories does not change who she is. If anything, the loss of some social filters had rendered her a truer version of herself: sometimes tender and generous, but often her usual emotionally detached self.
I am always a different person on the island, in no small part because I am on vacation. This time felt a little different, though. I was an emotional tourist, a visitor in a rush to trigger remembrances from a distant life. It felt disjointed at times. Maybe it's the fact that it had been four years since my last trip and I am disconnected from the local cultural current (who the hell is that babbling on TV and singing on the radio?). Maybe it's because I have not been a direct victim of the disastrous economic debacle that has unfolded over the last ten years. Maybe I am getting old, maybe my almost 20-year tenure at a big corporation dealing with elevator pitches has caused me bypass flair and emotion in favor of bluntness and pragmatism. Maybe life in the diaspora for almost a third of my life has turned me into a different person. For whatever reason, I felt like an outsider, and I did not like it.
Sometimes I wish I could split myself in two and live in two places at once.