It’s amazing how time flies when you have to go to work each day. Before I knew it I had a routine, friends, people I recognized and recognized me when I went to the supermarket. I had a life. I was someone once again. Some part of me felt like a traitor. I was supposed to grieve forever the theft of my country! I was supposed to feel forever the burning pain of being ripped apart from my only home...
And I did, I do. Sometimes the pain of missing home is crippling. Some days all it takes it was a memorable song and two bloody marys to send me into a spiral of woe is me and I get teary eyed talking about the good ol’ days. Some days all it takes is to stumble upon an old picture while cleaning the closet to have my chest pounding, my throat closing and my eyes burning with tears. And everything, everything I have built so far means nothing and the “What-am-I-doing-here?” question resurfaces.
The fact is that no matter how much I tried to fit in, how much I tell myself over and over that this is home now, it just never fully feels like it. No matter how easier the language flows through my lips, no matter that I have stopped thinking in Spanish and then translating to English before I speak; it doesn’t matter that now I dream in English, here still doesn’t fully feels like Home.
Maybe that had to do with how broken our family felt with my sister in Spain, us here, and my brother possessed by the body snatcher that had taken over his body while he was in New York. It never got easier to be apart from family. I don’t think it will ever get easier. I don’t want it to get easier. I don’t want to stop missing them.
My sister’s absence was like a thorn in our heart that dampened any small success, any accomplishment. Every happy occasion, every birthday, every Christmas and New Year’s celebration was a bittersweet (heavy on the bitter) party that left my mom and me raw and hurting. I wished back in those days that I had such an ease to cry like my mom did. My sister and my mom have been blessed with the ability to shamelessly cry in public. I would see my mom cry every New Year’s Eve party in front of all our friends when the clock struck twelve. She would hug me fiercely and sob her motherly heart out because it had been years since she had done the same to her other daughter. Touch her, kiss her, and smack her, anything! I would hug her back and swallow the tears (we were in public!) And get a headache that would make my forehead throb. It got to be a joke each year, when it was 11:55 pm my mom’s friends would start teasing her and say: “Ok, here goes Elena, any minute now she will start crying” And sure enough she would. I would wait to hug her and wish happy-new-years to everybody to run away to a club to drink and dance and drown the barreling of emotions with some dancing and blue long islands.
To be honest I am thankful clubbing was the only thing I needed to escape my mother and her feelings because I would’ve done anything to escape her and her overwhelming emotions that felt like a pillow to my face, suffocating and painful. It was hard enough to deal with me missing the sister I hadn’t seen in years, but dealing with that and my mom crying over my sister and my brother’s abducted-by-aliens body was at times too much.
So I would drink and dance and have fun (nothing like projectile vomiting in a public bathroom to forget one’s problems) and would momentarily forget how fun it was back at home during the month of December. I would just swim in Blue Curacao and try to forget the hugs, the grapes we eat for each month’s wishes, the yellow underwear, the laughter and the food, the inner family gossip and the lame presents, the baseball season, the whole month of vacation to do nothing, and more than anything I would try to forget that with my aunt, uncle and cousins now living in another city it was only my mom, my cat and me. I would try to forget the crushing loneliness that an empty Christmas tree can make one feel, I would try to ignore my mom’s tears and scold her and tell her it was nothing, there was no reason to cry, no reason to be depressed. We had our health a roof over our head, money in the bank and loneliness was something petty not worth to cry about.
I would lie to her and leave her alone to deal with her pain while I dealt with mine kissing boys (chillax it was ONLY kissing) and dancing on bars (fully clothed you dirty minded people!), drinking and drinking and drinking until five in the morning, waiting for the next year when my sister would go to the embassy and ask once more for her tourist visa to come visit us, and then maybe just maybe the embassy agent will feel magnanimous and let her come, and then maybe we would finally we would be all together, and maybe just maybe recapture that feeling on Christmas and not feel lonely anymore.