Reinaldo Manuel Delíz Lugo

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The Wheel

THE WHEEL –

One Sunday evening my family decided to have dinner at my aunt’s house. At the time, I was young, extremely curious and restless. While we were waiting for her to serve the food, I explored the house to calm myself. There was nothing outstanding about the place, but at the end of the hall, there were a series of old pictures, every one of them of different family members posing in front of an old wagon wheel.

The Wheel

When we sat down to eat, I asked my aunt why there were so many pictures with that one particular detail. She chuckled, telling me the story of how my great-grandfather had picked that wheel up off the street one day and painted it. He had no idea what he was going to do with it at first, but the choice was soon clearly made for him because his wife declared that there was no way he was going to keep it inside the house and suggested that he place it outside. It stayed out there for months, until one day he happened to notice it again and realize its potential.  It was on that day that he decided to repaint it and stick it in the ground in front of his house.

The Wheel

“Because your great-grandparents were so poor and couldn’t afford to have any pictures taken professionally, your great-grandfather decided to take pictures with the wheel as the background instead,” my aunt said.

I didn’t think much of it until I grew up and realized that though I understood that my great-grandparents were poor, the story made me realize to what extent.

The Wheel

The wheel was located at my great-grandparent’s house. My great-grandparents lived in the same house their parents—my great-great grandparents— had lived in. My great-grandparents did not move in to the house voluntarily because the house was not big or pretty. They had no money, so moving into that home became their only option.

The Wheel

The house was located in a neighborhood called Barriada El Caribe in La Playa de Ponce. At the time, this area was one of few places, which offered subsidized living. My great-grandparents thought it to be a privilege to live in such a nice neighborhood— in contrast to other neighborhoods, which offered subsidized living. However, most of all, they believed living in the Barriada Caribe proved better than being homeless.

The Wheel

When I look at the pictures now, I notice the poverty that my aunt spoke of when she first showed me the pictures. Even though my great-grandparents say it was a nice place to live, the meagerness of the neighborhood is hard to miss. The grass in my great-grandfather’s house might be green, for example, but his neighbor’s

The Wheel

grass is dead. In every single picture there is trash on the ground, the little bush never uniform or looked after, the top ridge of the ceiling a grimy black, and the fence is extremely cheap or falling apart. I also noticed this is the front of their house! It is hard to tell since the houses are attached to one another, but the neighbor’s front door is located right behind the wheel.

While the wheel provides a nice distraction in all those pictures, it cannot block out the squalid, crowded surroundings of where it was placed.

Regardless, this wheel became a special landmark in the neighborhood, many

The Wheel

walking or driving past just to get a picture of themselves standing beside it. It amazes me how an object so simple and seemingly worthless like a wheel can make such a big commotion and become so popular amongst a community. It also amazes me how my family was able to look at the positive side of everything and make the best out of every situation, just as my great-grandfather did with this wheel.

My family passed down that amazing trait to me. No matter what the problem is nor how hard things get, I never panic or feel stressed. It is almost as if I do not care, but

The Wheel

in reality I do. I do not ponder or linger on things and situations, which are presumably bad. Instead, I prize and treasure every happy moment in life. As long as we have our wheel, we can pose and smile, and look forward to even better days.

 

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