Summer vacations began in January each year. Relatives and friends who arrived later in the season would ask, “Has a bomb gone off yet?” They were referring to the eventual explosive argument. Guests gauged their comfort level by the answer to this question.
We expected a colossal earth shake every 25 years or so and when many more had passed, people started to get on pins and needles. Just as little tremors released the energy of the moving plates, so little arguments released emotional tensions amongst my occupants. Still the big one was inevitable and it was good to know which side of it one was on. Those arriving in advance of it could expect some exciting gossip and small strategic moves by involved parties; those arriving afterwards had stonewalling, cancelled plans and factions to look forward to. Nevertheless, there were no tears, these were arguments of the ego, rarely anyone wept.
Suzanne Roberts is writing a novel loosely based on written and oral history about six generations of her Chilean family. Their house, which has seen better days, tells the tale.