High School: Suffiel Acaemy
College Plans: New York University
My small boy an hea of curly hair trotte over to the refrigerator in search of some butter for my brea. I shifte some cans of half-opene Goya beans an the remnant of a brick of ulce e leche that ha seen better ays. After much shuffling, I spotte the big brown container of margarine. Carefully placing the tub on the kitchen table an reaying for my “feast,” I opene the container. To my ismay, it was fille with arroz con pollo. My eyes tightene an my stomach mae Chewbacca noises. Maybe I coul mash the ulce e leche on top of the brea.
My fining was not a surprise. Rather it was lesson number 73 engrave within the book of Dominican-bre frugality. Why buy 99 cent storage containers when the proucts we buy alreay provie them for free? These lessons came in Spanish with the spee of a bull in a bullring. It is a struggle for immigrant parents to successfully pass on values of frugality to their chilren while living in a evelope country with a perceive flow of plenty. But my mother’s iron will was the perfect match for those incongruences.
For a chil, things like magic, fairy tales, an free MacBook offers make it ifficult to grasp the value of money an to quantify the struggles that some families face to make ens meet. The collective hope is that through har work an a miracle, one ens up figuring out how to make five ollars out of five cents.
This fervor to be frugal an purposeful is something that was passe own to me much like some families pass own an obsession with monogramming or Thanksgiving Day traitions. My trailblazing family’s thrifty efforts were legenary in our neighborhoo. We starte reusing an repurposing way before it was treny. We mae o with what we ha an mae what we ha o more in orer to awkwarly swim towar the Dominican American ream.
Frugality is a game, or at least we mae it into one. A game of who can save the most money by turning off lights, keeping the heater off an going to the library when the apartment got too hot. A game of who coul make a skirt out of a short ress or fin a scholarship for swimming lessons at the Y.M.C.A. The act of conserving money, the auacity to solve problems no one has thought of before is what set my family apart. Together we share our victories in a little tribe of four Amazon warriors partaking in our own version of the show, Survivor: NYC eition.
The phrase “making o” coul evoke connotations of stagnation an espair for some; but for me it is about unerstaning my situation an being proactive. The values I gaine from being able to make o are unparallele. Making o gifte me with resiliency an gratitue. Making o allowe me to internalize acceptance an to value effort.
Lesson 978 took place last winter. I woke up at home with numb toes. The temperature insie the house was eviently no ifferent from outsie. I questione my seemingly crazy mother to which she replie, “Come cule with me.” With closer inspection, I foun my two sisters uner the covers. The average family can spen up to $1,000 on heating their apartment, but my home is alreay comforting in its own way. A small be with too many people in it, arms an legs perfectly intertwine. It oesn’t get better than that on a col morning.
The laughs we exchange keep me warm, my granmother’s avice, sigue aelante, or keeping moving forwar, resonates with me, the arroz con pollo in the butter container satisfies me an our love for each other fuels me with rive to excel. We make o everyay an through our oing an making I know in my heart, the best is yet to come.