When there is no title
He asked me what I thought of his country. I am sure that the silence that hung between us felt like a long-awaited drum roll, the kind that brings news that is not quite worth its entrance. A vague disappointment, language that has escaped out the back door. A shift from a shared romance to an internal one, a reflection that is my own. In Spanish, in English. Driving to the ocean in the nighttime, an increasingly regular past time, could I switch from looking at his face into my own? Mi pais. I might has well have spun the globe around and put my finger on a random place to live for six months. Chily? No, chee-lay.
But that is not how it happened, really. How it happened was more of an accident, an unintentional dream. When you are from a place where you are taught that you cannot, cannot be, cannot dream of the same things as, let’s say, the kids in the private school one town over, it doesn’t matter where your destination is as long as you have a one-way ticket. But Chile speaks in a language that you can only hear if you listen really closely, if you try really hard to get yourself down to its corner of our universe. It’s the kind of place where someone might go not to get away, but to get away somewhere else. Like a slight shift in reality, language exists in the streets, in its art, and in its literature, in the couples that you see on the subway, in the guitar played on the street, in the artist spreading their paint over a dirty wall. It is so loud that you can’t miss it, and also so quiet that if you aren’t careful, you could miss it really easily.
I came here to read, I said. A bullshit story if I ever heard one. More than that, I came here because one day some time ago, I was told that I couldn’t. What do I think of this country? I think that it is mine, too, for a short while. And I think that one day I will be able to speak Spanish the way that I do English, with a sassy flare and hand gestures that suggest comfort and emphasis, not fear and embarrassment. What do I think of your country? I asked him as we parked at the ocean. I think that the lights in the hills at night don’t hinder all of the stars from shining in the sky, and I like that very much.
Maybe the moments that are the most vital to us, the moments that determine who we are and who we will be until the day we die are the moments when we feel like we are frozen still. Attached to words that hang in the air after a serious question. Stuck to a thought that can’t seep through the spaces between our teeth, hanging on the edge of falling into the air. I am here to live. I am here to write, to talk. I am here look up at the sky everyday.
His skin didn’t really taste like anything and it wasn’t one of those moments when you remember exactly how that person tasted. It was one of those moments where there is a realization that has come after the moment has passed, the kind of realization that allows the moment to last a little longer, to linger on. When I undressed by myself in my room that night, a scent that I recognized as his own stuck to my skin and hung in the air. I smelled like him. A smell that reminded me of a home that I feel like I always knew, traveling with me in my skin, a reminder of everything that I have. Maybe the heaviness of Chile, what swayed me completely to be here is like that smell; a little slow coming and a little fast in knocking you off your feet.
A famous writer once said that she writes to find out how she feels. Maybe living is the same way. We live to find out where we are.