Under the Hot Puerto Rican Sun

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My little brother got married this weekend. I never thought it would happen. More importantly, I never thought he would make me so proud.

It wasn’t too long ago that the both of us would be at each other’s throats the moment we stepped into the same room. We were always very different; he, an angry young man whose only world was the world of warcraft, while the driving force in my life was the pursuit of education. Ha! I sound like a snob. But in fact, I always resented him for making trouble in our family. Troublemaker he was, trouble.

One day he dropped a bomb on us all by announcing his decision to join the marines, the most intense and dangerous of the American defense foot soldiers. He said he needed more discipline in his life. I thought I’d never see him again.

Turned out he was sent to Washington D.C. to be a flag-boy thanks to his pretty blue eyes and blond hair. Now don’t get me wrong. He was eventually shipped over-seas and saw his share of Egypt and Iraq, before leaving the marines for good. Still, during his time on the idyllic green lawns of the White House, he met Jen. Jennifer Moore, to be precise. I was abroad during the time they met and got to know each other. I finally saw the two of them together last July in Hawaii. She was fairly shy at the time, but Michael was someone new.

For the first time in my life, he answered me in a serious, as opposed to sarcastic, get-out-of-my-face, tone of voice, at least when he wasn’t cranky. But hey, it was a start. Suddenly he was kind and considerate and gentle, and I could tell him that I loved him without getting a sneer in return.

During the weekend of their wedding, Saint Patrick’s Day, all traces of sarcasm have vanished. In fact, when Jen gets cranky or annoyed, Michael is now the one that comforts her and maintains the voice of reason. He was the mediator between my mom and myself during a family-only discussion, calmly explaining each side and helping us to understand each other.

I never cried so much in my life as I did that weekend. My baby brother has grown up.

Back Home

The first semester has come and gone. I am back in California, and the sunshine is doing me good.

Nothing has changed much, but every time I come back from Europe, I get a distinct sense of feeling very small in a big, big world. Big buildings, big people, big car lanes. And now, people drive too slowly.

It is nice to be back with my friends. Harvey, the lavish green asparagus plant hanging from our balcony, has sprouted red berries. Mimi, my little forest violet, is still refusing to poke out her pretty blue head, but seems to be doing well nevertheless. Of course, time takes its toll on good friendships. Not all have flourished in my absence. The shower blossoms, twice sent to the brink of death and twice revived, have finally succumbed and bloom no more. Roger, my loyal white flag, shriveled from the shock of neglect. Where the crazy lizas once roamed, only bare earth remains..

That being said, Spring has, to all intents and purposes, arrived. And although some were made to give their life, others are making the most of the occasion. A few days after I arrived, two grey pigeons took the clumps of dry, straw-like roots in my flower pot as a fine nest and laid two small, white eggs.

I found this out one morning when I threw open the balcony door and stepped outside to water my plants. The pigeon flew off in a mad rush, landing on a near-by tree branch to sulk and glare at me. After that, I learned to keep the blinds open and myself constantly visible, and to move slowly when venturing outside. I thought there was some way we could share the balcony fairly.

At first, one of the two birds keeping them warm would stay put as I came out of the door, but fly off in a huff of flapping wings and squawks as soon as my back was turned. Little by little, they grew to trust me, however. One day, the bird stayed put the entire time. I even went out once to re-pot a geranium with her only a few feet away.

Alas, one day the birds took off and never came back. A few days later, I went out to inspect the eggs and found them turning an unpleasant shade of brown. Speculation goes that the two of them realized they were too young to have children and that there was more to life than just giving birth anyway.

Guess I won’t be seeing baby pigeons this year.