Rain drops, the size of acorns fall rapidly onto the tin roof–I cuddle with grandma. Every night since we’ve arrived rain has spilled over the town at exactly 6pm. Each storm sounding as though a metal bucket was being held over our ears, as Niagra Falls poured in.
That is my first experience in El Salvador but not my first memory of it.
When I was little I can recall my grandmother bringing back towels, white shirts made of “manta” and crosses that were to be worn around ones neck. One of the more commonly recognized things she would bring back were wooden letters–all with the same symbols painted onto them. Each object is referred to as “tipicos” or rather (A typical design one will find in El Salvador) The older I got the more I would see these symbols: in my house, on change purses and especially on crosses both my grandmother and mother had, specifically, on black string and in my grandmothers case hanging on the wall in her bedroom. These symbols were so evenly weaved into my life that I never realized what they truly meant. My grandmother–had brought a piece of her land back to America. She shared it with us. Ingrained even the smallest images, of objects, that surrounded her when she was younger so that we could be part of that too.
It wasn’t until I turned fifteen and traveled to Tenancingo, the small town where her, my grandfather and the rest of my moms side of the family grew up, that I realized how close we had been all along to our roots and our past. It took just seeing those small painted figures to realize how much I already knew. How much my grandmother had previously shown me and taught me. In that moment and in those memories of El Salvador, I saw how meaningful and telling an object can really be.
So today I can recognize that my most prized possession is a small hand-carved piece of wood. A letter many have seen before–but that I bought for myself in El Salvador–Not because I wanted to hang it on my bedroom door or have it decorate my room, but because it reminded me of something. It reminded me of my family and always will.