How I Plan to Retrace My Mom’s Steps Once Covid is Finally Over

Tonight I’ve decided to cook dinner on my cast iron dutch oven thing. I usually reserve this tool for camping and cooking over a fire, but I want to cook outside. I’m trying it out on the grill.

This afternoon over pizza with my family and my parents, a novel idea came to mind. It started a few weeks ago when Husband was curious about what brought my parents to the United States. When he first asked me, I was amazed that I didn’t know the answer to the question. Surely I had heard the story of my parents immigrating. But no. I don’t think I had. Because when the answer to the question came out over dinner one night, the protests at the Francisco Jose de Caldas District University that shut down the univeristy right when my dad had matriculated did not come to mind.

My mom, it turns out, had also spent a few years in college before leaving it all behind for good. She was headed toward a degree in petrochemical engineering, priming for a career at Ecopetrol, the largest primary petroleum company in Colombia.

“It’s your alternate reality, mom.” I said, “And in that alternate reality, none of us are here.”

My great and novel idea is this: when all this Covid travel anxiety is behind us, I will travel to Colombia and retrace my mom’s steps. Maybe dad’s too if there’s time. I will visit the town my mom lived in, and the university she and my dad almost graduated from, and the streets where they grew up.

In the meantime, I will ask questions. And sit here while I wait for the results of my outside cooking experiment.

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