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Childhood memories are vivid, almost indescribable in their detail, and impossible to forget. A Christmas memory I have is that of a black velvet dress  a family friend gave to me for my seventh Christmas.
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The Lucky Plant

Submitted by on January 25, 2011 – 5:50 am7 Comments

by Tracy López

So much has changed. See this plantita here?

It’s Rue, and many years ago this little plant caused an American-Salvadoran war in our household.

My Suegra says this is considered a “lucky plant” back in El Salvador, but it was unlucky for me because she planted it in our yard without permission.

For reasons which aren’t clear to me today, I got mad – really mad. I guess it was a boundaries thing. I resented Suegra living with us to begin with, and on top of that, she often redecorated without asking me. I’d go out on an errand and come back to see something incredibly feo she bought at a yard sale, sitting as the new centerpiece on our table. I guess at some point I had enough.

The lucky plant, which at the time looked like little more than a wilted weed in my eyes, had been planted in a prominent spot in the landscaping. Suegra even stole rocks from elsewhere in the yard and made a circle around the pathetic little plant, creating the appearance of a juvenile goldfish burial plot.

“It needs to be moved to the backyard – somewhere I can’t see it – somewhere neighbors won’t see it – near the air conditioner unit would be good. Some place where it might die,” I said to my husband.

He pleaded with me not to make a big deal. It was a difficult time in our marriage. Suegra living with us turned into a sick love triangle – my husband always caught between his mother and me, both of us demanding his loyalty.

In the end, my husband asked his mother to move the lucky plant. I had not fully anticipated the war that erupted. Suegra didn’t speak to me for many days. She told my husband he didn’t wear the pants – started with that familiar refrain, “There are many women in the world, pero madre sólo hay una.”

Suegra moved the plant but she continued to take care of it, watering it in the summer, moving it indoors in the winter – and over the years it survived … and somehow we have, too.

Last September the chill in the evening air whispered that autumn was upon us. I reminded Suegra that it was time to bring the plant indoors – I even told her she could put it on the table, as a centerpiece – and that is where it still sits, even while Suegra has been back in El Salvador visiting family.

Today as I water the plant while thinking of Suegra’s return this week, I’m reminded that life is imperfect, but given time and a little luck, we can adapt.

Tracy López is a writer living outside the D.C. Metro area. Her blog, Latina-ish, examines cultural differences she discovers as she navigates life in a bicultural, bilingual family. She also can be reached via Twitter @Latinaish. A version of this story originally appeared on her blog.

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