A month had gone by since my arrival to Miami, every day of which I spent in bed, sleeping or staring at the wall, ignoring my family, showering only when my head itched and eating only when I couldn’t put it off any longer. Food tasted so different it was hard to swallow. The only thing that tasted the same was bread and butter so it became the staple of my diet.
I gained 8 pounds that month and my forehead looked like a cheese grater. Good times. Looking back now my grieving strikes me as dramatic, but when I dwell on it, when I really pay attention and remember I realize my pain was real, so real that I can still feel it. Some part of me will always be that girl that came here unwillingly. After weeks and weeks of almost catatonic indifference, I snapped and broke down at Sears (where else, right?)
My mom had just left to go back home and take care of all the last minute details of her coming here. My sister in the meantime was taking care of her preparations to go to Spain. And there I was trapped in Miami, my mom left me here, alone! To say goodbye properly to my sister, why couldn’t I? If I had to say goodbye to her then why do you get to say goodbye now? Two days after my arrival to North America the law that made my dad rushed me here fell apart because the US couldn’t afford to survive without the tourism industry. I called my dad delirious with joy. I could go back home and then we could discuss maybe, maybe coming to the U.S instead of Spain. My dad said no. I was already here, my mom had been thoroughly brainwashed and my dad refused to spend another thousand dollars for a ticket for me to come back. I was here to stay. Traitor, traitor! My eyes said to my mom while we were in the airport dropping her off. I wouldn’t even hug her goodbye, she cupped my face while I remained still, and broken hearted she left me there in the loving care of my aunt and uncle.
I wanted to yell at her to come back. I wanted to tell her I was sorry I was mad. I wanted to stop her from leaving me here all alone. I wanted to yell at her for not having any money and letting our lives, our future and our destiny depend so much on dad’s money. I wanted to yell at her for ever marrying him. I wanted to yell at her for being a housewife. I wanted to hug her goodbye and tell her I’ll miss her. I did nothing and said nothing when for a last time she turned around and waved.
After dropping her off at the airport my aunt and I went shopping to Sears for a new blender. Welcome to America, Lesson # 1: Things broken cannot be fixed in the land of the free and home of the brave, they are always replaced. You can come here escaping religious, political or sexual persecution. You can come to the land where dreams come true. Give me your hungry, your tired and all that, but if your blender’s blades are broken you are fucked, get a new one! Welcome to capitalism. Off we went to Sears to get a new blender.
I zombie-d into the store, not seeing anything and not recognizing the girl in the mirror as myself, I made a derisive comment in my head about her fashion sense when I noticed it was me… wearing jean shorts and white sneakers with no socks. Eeeeek!!!, “How the mighty have fallen”, I thought. I shrugged mentally. I couldn’t muster enough energy to care and kept walking. My aunt kept talking, trying to bring me back to the land of the living by sheer volume of words. I missed my mom terribly, I regretted my stupid pride that now felt cold in my chest when before had kept me from crumbling. She was my only link left from home, and with her gone I felt like a castaway, adrift and drowning.
I felt like Punky Brewster must have felt when her mom abandoned her in the supermarket, motherless and alone, future uncertain and no one who cared. I walked to the music department trying to distract myself from the abject loneliness I was feeling and being as I was in Miami, a merengue song came through the speakers of the store. An old-school merengue that had been popular in my pre-teen years and was the first song I ever danced with a boy. No girl forgets that. Everything suddenly hit me like a tidal wave. The pain of leaving, the sense of betrayal at my mom’s caving to my dad’s wishes, the sudden terror at the thought that I wasn’t going anywhere and this, the land of the gas-station-at-every-corner was my new home, I was stuck here in Cuba... I mean Miami.
I was hit suddenly with the resentment, anger and almost hatred at my dad’s selfishness; I was choked by the sense of helplessness I felt to be subject to his whim of sending me here just because he could, I was hit with the shame of being such a burden to my sweet aunt and uncle, ashamed of not having even tried to make conversation with my cousins even though we were sharing a room. I was filled with dread at having to learn a new language. I was swallowed by my agony of not saying goodbye to my sister and not knowing when I would see her again.
Most of all I was horrified at finding myself in a public place wearing jean cut-offs and sneakers. That dam broke and there was no stopping it. Tears came like the flood. I was literally weeping right there between “Rap” and “Sounds of Nature”. People looked at me funny and finally my aunt found me there, sobbing my bratty heart out. She there-there me and walked me to her car where she asked me to wait after giving me the keys, sweet trusting soul she is. I sat inside the roasting heat of the van, burning the naked back of my thighs with the scorching leather.
"Serves you right for wearing this atrocity!" I thought to myself. I refused to turn the A/C on. A penitence for being so weak, for letting myself be brought to this slow-cooking hell. I would immolate myself with the blistering heat, a victim of my pain, a supreme example nay! A symbol! To people all around the world suffering the anguish of expatriation, I would be their beacon! Their… Ok, Fuck this! It’s too hot. I turned the A/C on and felt life returning to my shriveling limbs, the cool air traveling between the tresses of my hair that now looked like a Brillo pad.
I cried silently some more.