They made their first trip to Boston in summer 2010. They took our downstairs bedroom with Maya (formerly Dave’s room). And Eva took the second bedroom upstairs (formerly Ruth’s). Connie and I loved filling our small house again. Dave had moved to an apartment in New York as he began internships and job searches. The next summer, while renting out the Cartegena house, Ruth’s family visited again; and the next. Ruth earned certification to teach Kingian Nonviolence. She arranged exchanges between Colombian and stateside youth, performed herself, applied for grants, and worked to sell Diego’s lamps and her paintings. In 2013, they planned to stay for six months, but the delay in Diego’s Green Card application required them to stay longer. Connie and I worked full time teaching. Ruth had part-time teaching. Eva went to 3rd and 4th grade, with me driving her at 7am and waiting to pick her up at 2:30. Eva’s friends came over. On my off days, I worked in my basement study, preparing classes and writing. Diego was marooned upstairs as Maya’s primary caretaker. Taking breaks from my work, I tried to help by playing with her while he showered or cooked their meals. We stepped around each other like choreographed dancers. But there were growing tensions as well. Ruth and he had arguments in Spanish and he left for walks alone to cool off. When he did find construction jobs, he needed to be driven to sites unreachable by bus around Boston. We watched the girls when Diego and Ruth had shows or needed to go out. We welcomed their friends. We provided and shared food. But we also expected deference to our own habits and help with the house. When Diego, and also Ruth, played music too loud, we asked them to lower the volume or put on earphones. We spoke up about discipline and parenting issues. Maya needed more interactive play, we thought, instead of being parked in front of cartoons. We tolerated Diego’s work on his lamps, with his whining drill or cans of toxic spray paint outside. We didn’t like his marijuana smoke, which penetrated the house, even from outside. Predictably, he and Ruth sought an apartment of their own, which they couldn’t yet afford.
In Spring 2014, on the recommendation of a friend of Connie’s, Ruth was hired to teach Spanish by our Middle School, which offered health benefits and stable income. Diego got his green card at last and worked regularly for our neighbor, a landscaper. They found an affordable apartment down the street and Ruth commented on the irony, that after all these years of explorations and global adventures, here she was settled back in Watertown. We helped them lease a car. Our granddaughters were troubled to leave us, but they still see us for weekend overnights.
DeWitt Henry’s books include The Marriage of Anna Maye Potts (winner of the Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel); a trilogy in memoir concluding with Endings and Beginnings: Family Essays (MadHat Press, 2021); and a collection of notes and essays Sweet Majoram (MadHat Press, 2018). Poems have appeared in Ibbetson Street, On the Seawall, Plume, and others. He was the founding editor of Ploughshares and is Professor Emeritus at Emerson College. Details at www.dewitthenry.com. DeWitt recommends contributing to Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices.