July is a month of celebrations. This year, July 18 marks the 10th anniversary of the day Jean-Marc and I met, and 1 year since we had our fingerprints taken for our adoption dossier.
Ten years ago, I went to the surprise birthday party of my good friend Evelyn. It was Friday and I was exhausted from a long week of work. I seriously thought about staying home and going to bed early but I had promised her I would go. Everybody knew about the surprise party, including Evelyn.
Jean-Marc and I spent most of the evening talking about everything and nothing. I happened to be reading Les Miserables at the time and thought “What a great way to impress a French guy”, but apparently many people in France read it so it wasn’t really that impressive.
My girlfriends winked at me and giggled. You would think we were 15 years old. The next evening Jean-Marc and I went for dinner at a Mexican restaurant and he gave me a red rose. The following day we went to the beach, and we talked every day ever since.
A couple of weeks later, I told Evelyn that I had never dated in English and that it was a challenge. One thing was to work in English. Another thing was to have a relationship in English.
Evelyn had been dating a colleague of Jean-Marc’s for several months, so she had spent time with him at happy hour and dinner parties.
“Why don’t you talk in Spanish?” she asked.
“Jean-Marc doesn’t speak Spanish,” I answered.
“Yes, he does. I speak to him in Spanish all the time,” she insisted.
“Does he answer?” I asked.
Evelyn thought for a minute.
“Now that you mention it, no. I always thought, what a gentleman, always listening to what I say, smiling and nodding.”
That is my friend Evelyn.
Ten years later, our anniversary isn’t the only celebration in July. We also have three patriotic events!
On the 4th we eat hamburgers and corn on the cob. Zoe and I make an American flag. She holds it with pride and says: “This is my flag” and we put it away in the drawer where we keep her special drawing and crafts. We watch the fireworks and say Happy Fourth of July to everybody around us.
July 9 is the Independence Day of Argentina. I tell Zoe that Argentina is also her country, because her mom was born there. We find Argentina on the map and we talk about Buenos Aires and its plazas, about my parents Mamu and Papu, and about Zoe’s cousins Benji, Tommy and Mia. We make an Argentinian flag and eat empanadas. She holds her light blue and white flag with pride and declares: “I have two flags now!” She also says Happy Fourth of July because she’s been practicing so much, but we change it to Happy Nueve de Julio! We take a last look at our flag and put it away in the drawer.
On July 14th we celebrate Bastille Day. I tell Zoe that France is also her country, because her dad was born there. We watch the parade on the Champs Elysees on TV and talk about how next summer we’ll all travel to Paris to see it in person. We find France on the map. We drink champagne, and eat baguettes with French cheese. Zoe and I make a French flag and I explain to her that this is also her flag. “Mommy,” she says, “now I have three flags!” We compare the flags and put them all away in our multi-cultural drawer.
I’m happy to report that Ecuador’s Independence day is not in July. It’s May 24. Next year, Zoe and her little sister will help me find Ecuador on the map and we’ll talk about how Ecuador is also our country, because our little one was born there. We’ll have a traditional Ecuadorian meal that hopefully I will have mastered. I’ll help the girls make the Ecuadorian flag (I’ve checked it out already, there’s a somewhat complicated symbol in the middle but we’ll manage). We will take out all our other flags from the drawer and compare them.
One advantage of having so many nationalities is that it makes it much more interesting to follow the World Cup because even if one of your teams is out, you might have another one still competing!
I almost forget to mention that Jean-Marc’s birthday is July 26. Every year I ask him: “What would you like for your birthday?” and every year he answers: “I want to spend the day with my family.” Sometimes we take a trip somewhere in the country, and sometimes I just take the day off and we go to the beach.
At the end of the day, the best celebrations are spending time with the ones we love.