Abuela's House

Describe your favorite place.

There is never calm there; it remains a roiling sea of restless movements, incessant smiles, and running children. There is never hunger there; the tiny kitchen bursting with women, hands kneading and patting, pans sizzling, the air tingling with the spice of peppers. There is never silence there; ears drink in the joyful cacophony of shrieks and merriment, rapid-fire Spanish with its ebb and flow, gossip whispered through coyly curled lips. There is always family there; the small house overflowing with cousins, uncles spilling into the backyard, aunts sitting cross-legged in the living room, four generations breathing in the same rhythm, breathing in the same musty smell of mothballs, the same language, the same seconds, hours, years.

This sense of unity is binding: it is the reason we are together, the reason we are family. The fact that we can all sit down, on worn sofas, plastic chairs, mother’s laps and all feel the same connection; that is the reason we live, the reason we love.

My abuela’s house was the rock upon which her children built their houses, and their children after them. We can all trace ourselves back there. Just about every weekend when I was in elementary school we could all be found there, all fourteen of...

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