I sleep easy
Sometimes it feels like I stepped on Chile’s foot. The kind of stepping that happens when you go in for a hug or a kiss and come out having stepped on the precious toe of a stranger, or a friend, and you have broken a sacred pact of the never-to-be-touched-ness of the corner of someone’s pinky toe. The betrayal of personal space, the sudden moment of embarrassment before you move on, almost reluctantly, guiltily.
I discovered Chile through the stepping on toes. On rocks in the ocean, on dance partners in clubs, the spilling of wine, the kissing of an ear by accident when I meant to brush a cheek with my lips, and inaccurate calculations of height, and weight, and a restaurant bill. I discovered Chile through awkward hellos and through the conscious effort of using language, of accessing the part of my brain that connects to my mouth that tells me to fling the words from my tongue. I discovered Chile through quick bursts of sweat under my armpits in public as I panicked to understand something, independently, with looks of ease, tranquility.
There are still parts of me wandering down streets whose names I think I will never really remember even though I know exactly where they are, how to get there, and which place has the cheapest drinks. I am a wanderer with her head looking up at the grey or sunny sky, reading a book on a patch of grass in a quiet place, or dreaming of other places that I might go in my life because I have made it this far already. I dream of using foreign words with fluidity, the kind of words that roll off my tongue the way we carry music notes in our mind along with a beat. I have friends that I hardly know but will forever know them the way I did during that night of that barbeque, or when we all danced together, or when we all stayed in and sang and played the guitar. And being alone sometimes is the greatest comfort in the world, and sometimes falling into an inconvenient love that is all-consuming shines in the same light. And I want to make love to the rising sun every day, and lay next to the book the I fell asleep reading the night before, or a body lying next to me, silent and sleeping, breathing gently the smell of my bare skin.
I think to myself, at times, Chile has found me, too. And when I got here, I slept with my windows closed even though the weather was warm and inviting. I stayed quiet, and watched, and looked, and thought. And I stepped on toes, and then I recovered not so quickly after, settling into a life that I could see out of my bedroom window until I went outside and walked along the same view until I felt like I was really living.
And the truth is now I sleep with the windows open. And I keep the sheer curtains drawn back all the way so that the sun wakes me up in the morning, never giving me an extra moment of sleep. And I think time lasts forever. I think that a second is just as long as a year, and a deep breath lasts as long as you want it to, the chest, because it made itself big with one gulp of air, will be big always, ready to heave out a breath of despair, of relief, of an unsure moment turned into comfort once more. I think that time allows us to save moments forever. And when something happens in a particular spot, it is happening always, dancing around other memories of other people at the same time. We live in a ballroom of dancing memories and moments that exist forever. They spin around ticking clocks.