Last Friday, we returned to our future apartment to sign the papers and meet the owners. This is when the real beauty of the house—it is hard to write “apartment” when it is larger than our house back home—revealed itself. In the doctor’s formal consultorio, which shares the first floor of the building, we met not only the doctor, but his wife and son, also a doctor, as well as his daughter and two of his granddaughters, one three and the other four.
While the men talked over the contract, the señora and I took Avery and the two little girls next door to run around in the empty house. And run they did. Back and forth across the tiled living room, through the swinging kitchen doors, out onto the patio where they checked out the mossy fountain, and then, when they managed to get away upstairs (wide, wood stairs with a 180º landing half-way to break a toddler’s fall), they played hide-and-seek in the built-in closets, their shrieks and giggles echoing in the all-but empty, freshly painted rooms.
“Don’t worry,” the girls’ mother told me in Spanish when she joined us. “There’s nothing up there that can hurt them.” She had been raised in that house herself.
The way I saw it, there were three generations handing off the house to us.
But ceremony was not the extent of the generosity of the event. In fact, the rooms were not altogether empty because the señora had bought beds for us. And she was stocking the kitchen with pans, utensils, drinking glasses, silverware, even a licuadora for blending fruit into juices, from her home or purchased just for us.
Then still more furniture arrived, and a new refrigerator besides, and it wasn’t bottom-rack Wal-Mart stock (yes, Morelia has a Wal-Mart), but lovely coffee-colored oiled wood: a dining room table for six, and an entire living room set–couch, love seat, chair, table, and “chiffoniere”–carved with calla lily motifs.
So I stand humbled by how easy this process has been, by how beautiful the apartment is, and by the doctor and his family’s generosity and hospitality.
I’m not even quite sure how to say thank you, sufficiently, for a gesture that was made so out-of-hand to strangers.
And I stand abashed. I know that if the doctor’s charming family immigrated to my country, they would not feel the way that I do now.