Immigration is an expensive, humiliating, idle, process of waiting in vain. Dehumanizes you by demanding perfection on the first attempt. All other attempts are fruitless. Wastes your life for a “no.” Invisible strangers playing with your life.
They were married for 25 years. And then they were not.
I was elated. My siblings were not. “Why not? They were not happy for a long time.” I was referring mostly to my mother. I suspected the impetus was my grandfather’s passing. The only other man she trusted was gone. Why hold on to one that she couldn’t?
My grandfather had held on for my mother. I know he did. She was his favorite. Still is. By proxy, so was I. "Vin, how can you eat if you only have two teeth?” I asked. He chuckled with his entire face, “RESPECT! I have four!” He flashed his smile on one of our walks to the corner shop. “Ey Vin! How yuh so ugly and yuh granddatta suh pritty,” his friend inquired. "Yes she is,” he said proudly. My grandfather insisted on buying bread every morning. It was his pride to provide.
We really understood this one summer when he arrived at my aunt's house in Puerto Escondido, about 15 minutes from where he lived in Colón City. Me, my brother, and sister saw his yellow taxi pull up and I skipped to the living room only to see him scowling. "Why y’all dun eat de bread I bring? What do yuh eat for breakfast?” I shrugged and offered, “Well, we have cereal, pancakes…..” "NUH MAN, that not for breakfast. Yuh eat bread and drink tea. I buy this bread for alla unuh. Eat the bread.” And the bread we ate.
The same bread my grandmother pointed out that “your husband can go off to buy and never come back, but your children will always stay with you," in an attempt to persuade me it was wise to bear children before I turned 30. My aunt added that after age 30 “You’re gonna put him a turtleneck, long pants, and make him stay inside.” Alluding to a more cautious and hands-on parenting style that in no way reflects my “live and let live" life philosophy. But sure. Go off. Terrible advice as I was single at the time. And advice in vain as here I am three years past the expiration date. Married this time, but with no people who will “stay with me forever” to call my own. Not even my husband.
Like my mother.
Like my grandmother.
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