This week’s Storyworth prompt was one of the most beautiful places you have been. Maybe because I am really struggling with my teen girl, I immediately thought of our trip to Guatemala. I so wish I could go back to those days when she was in a good headspace and still loved me and wanted to live with me forever.
It was her 3rd grade spring break. Wait, we went on Aidan’s spring break, so she was actually skipping school for a week that week, but I made the argument that it was educational. And, oh my, it was in so many ways.
The most amazing part of that trip was getting to meet her foster family. She was 5 months old when she came, so she obviously did not remember them. It was an amazing opportunity for us to thank them for taking such good care of her those first few months of her life.
While we were in Guatemala City and Antigua, things looked pretty Western, so not very different from what she was used to. It was trips to the Pacaya volcano and Lake Atitlan that things started to look different from what she was used to. As we rode in the car that came with our house rental (which had to be driven by our tour guide because neither me or my husband could drive a stick shift…super embarrassing), she asked what the boxes were on the sides of the road. When I said they were houses, she said that those were not houses. I explained that they were for some folks. At the dock area at Lake Atitlan, there were young children selling things. She asked if those kids were also on spring break. I had to say no, that most probably did not go to school. I could see the wheels turning in her brain.
Later that night she asked if she could “start off with me” at bedtime. I knew what that meant. This was what she asked when she had something on her mind to talk about. As we slathered the mosquito repellent on our faces, I braced for what I knew was coming. She asked the hard question: If you had not adopted me, would I have been one of those girls? Now, I knew this conversation was going to happen, but not when she was 8 years old. I answered honestly, and she cried saying it wasn’t fair. I agreed and we came up with a plan to return to Guatemala when she was older to give back in a way that felt meaningful for us.
But we did see so many beautiful things. I have seen a lot of lakes in my lifetime, and Lake Atitlan was simply breathtaking. I am not sure I will ever see a more beautiful body of water in my lifetime.