Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I get you now

When we married in 2000, Alicia and I had our cultural differences. I grew up in the South Bronx section of New York City, while she lived most of her life in parts of Trinidad, West Indies. We were worlds apart before meeting for the first time as temporary office employees at an air cargo company in JFK, but we liked each other well enough to become friends. From the start, we had a lot of growing together to do and were truly excited about the relational challenges ahead.

For our honeymoon, we wanted to experience a number of different things. Fortunately, we had a very supportive family on both sides of the isle and were able to chart three magnificent trips. The first was to Orlando, Florida for a week of fun in the sun. It was my first plane ride, first trip to Florida, and first visit to Universal Studios. Alicia, on the other hand, had done it all before. Still, we had an awesome time lazing around our hotel room and putting around in our little rented Hyundai Accent. It was great to have so much time to do next to nothing after dealing with the stresses of organizing a wedding.

Next, we went on a retreat with our Church’s Marriage Enrichment group. The destination was a resort in Parsippany, New Jersey for about half a week's stay. The place looked like a castle in the middle of nowhere and had a storybook enchantment to it. Our time was spent fortifying many of the things we learned through the bible study group about God's purpose for marriage, the significance of your spouse, the roles of the husband and the wife, and more. It was enriching indeed with teachings that successfully govern our joyous marriage to this day.

Be both destinations as inspiring as they surely were, I think the most important of the three came last.

Alicia decided that there was no better an excuse to visit the friends and family in Trinidad she hadn't seen in nearly ten years than the showcasing of her new groom. Really, we both thought it was a pretty exciting idea and made sure we had passports and such in order for the trip. We flew into Port of Spain and spent about a week in the Diego Martin area of the Trinidad island. She was home with all the familiar sights, sounds and tastes, but to say it was rough for me would be an understatement.

In many parts of Trinidad, things like hot water, let alone running water, were still a luxury ill afforded by the common household. Though the country had seen some upgrades to some standards of living since my wife's last visit, there was still the noticeable lack of things we've come to take for granted in the United States. But to paint a picture of a poverty stricken land barren of joy and hope would be to falsify what I actually found—and what I came away with.

The people of Trinidad are inherently happy. I can't say that I understand why totally, but I can say that it is infectious. There rarely was a person we met or passed that didn't offer a soulful smile. And laughter, oh boy do these wonderful people love to laugh. They shared jokes about the high times and the low times. The triumphant and the trying. The problems of the world around them, far more emotionally threatening than the aforementioned lack of running hot water, often couldn't penetrate the audacity and tenacity and deep-hearted joy these people posesed. It was still a rough trip for me getting used to things that were so unlike home, but leaving it all brought only thoughts of returning one day.

The whole experience brought my new bride to focus evermore clearly than any series of activities could have. I strongly recommend that any new couple—married or considering it—spend about a week in the world of each other's childhood. The insight that this experience gave me to the intricacies of my wife were as invaluable as they were innumerable.

I got why she could still manage a laugh when pressures mount. I got why she asked the questions she would about my habits, qualms, quirks and idioms. I got why her smile was like a magnet to my metallic grin, pulling me in with an attraction that was inexplicably natural. I got why her faith in Christ was an applied science, so integrated into all that knew and said and did.

And today, nearly nine years later, I've almost got how she can love me despite me.

Thank you, Trinidad.

No comments:

Post a Comment