Monday, January 14, 2013
Seven years married
Funny. Even after 7 years of marriage, I'm still mystified.
Back in 2004, Maty left her home in Burkina Faso's capital city, Ouagadougou, to come to America. When the opportunity presented itself, Maty was working in her mother's Senegalese restaurant --keeping books, cooking, waiting tables. The chance came out of the blue and in the typical African way: someone knew someone who knew someone else. There was little time to consider. Maty had to decide: would she go or would she stay? That's the way these things work in Africa.
Within three weeks, Maty, knowing no more than a dozen English words and with no real idea what awaited her, was on a plane bound for Portland.
She brought little beyond the goodness of her heart and the words of her father who, in those last days in Africa told her "I have little advice I can give you. Only this: that you should pray. And that you must trust God."
That is as much as I know about it --about how the cosmic gears churned to bring about this love of mine.
So, ever since the day I came to know her, I've been perplexed. Why would a young woman leave her home and family for an uncertain future in a faraway land?
It could well be that my lack of understanding is because of my extreme good fortune in having been born and raised here, in the land of peace and plenty. I've always lived in Oregon. My family and friends have always been close. There is security in that. If the bottom ever fell out on my little life, there are people to whom I could turn for help.
Maty has tried (many times) to explain it to me. She says there was never any doubt that she should come here. For many millions around the world, the Promise of America is a beautiful, unattainable dream. To refuse her chance at that promise would be to decline a blessing from God.
And even though I don't completely understand, there is an element to her explanation that resonates.
When we met, I was 43 years old, divorced, and resigned to the probability that I would spend the rest of my life without a partner. So when my own Golden Promise arrived --the promise of an honorable, beautiful young woman to love and to be loved by --I quickly realized that I'd be a fool to decline.
It's turned out to be the single best decision I've ever made in my life.
Happy anniversary to my love, Maty Bombay Cariaga.