There are days like this. Days when I awake euphoric and feel like I could climb a mountain, go parachuting, or take a rocket to the moon. When everything seems to shine: I greet the plants, eat homemade bread for breakfast, and adore existence. Last night I dreamed I was living in a hotel and having sex with a Cuban—or was he from Venezuela?—who had murdered his roommate. Well, actually it wasn’t murder, they were competing to see who could hold their breath underwater for longer, and the roommate started to bleed out of his ears. The bath water turned red and I watched it all without saying a word. Then suddenly a couple of nurses appeared, and they were able to stabilize him. There was no more blood but we had to rush him to the hospital, which was also inside the hotel. The supposed Cuban and I ran desperately after a shopping cart carrying the resurrected roommate until we reached a cliff. The resurrected guy was kind of drunk and he slipped, shopping cart and all, falling into the void. His body fell in slow motion until it hit some rocks below where a group of models was posing in bikinis for a photographer dressed in black. “Well, he had to die,” I said, and went back to the hotel lobby. Then a bunch more things happened. It was a tiring dream, and yet I woke up feeling lucid and well rested, to the extent that I could have climbed a mountain, gone parachuting, or taken a rocket to the moon. But it’s Monday and what I have to do is take my son to preschool. Before we get on the bus we stop by the bakery. There are five women inside drinking mate and talking about penis size. I ask for a quarter kilo of bizcochitos de grasa. I laugh at their comments, the cashier winks at me and throws in a croissant. Then I race my son to the bus stop. I win. There are days like this, when everything seems possible and I feel invincible and over the top.
Urgency in my Feet
I’m on my way to a stranger’s wake. A stranger who I was close to because they are—yes they are—a friend to my friends, because I’ve seen them in pictures, because they are one of us. I’m going to a stranger’s wake, me, who never goes to wakes, who doesn’t believe in that type of farewell, who hates the business that surrounds death—the coffins, the black cars, the morose salons and the coffee that tastes like long-distance bus rides—because I’ll be there to kiss, embrace, and soothe the heartache of someone I love. Because we are alive and because, in the midst of this meaninglessness, the only thing we can do is feel more alive than ever. We squeeze each other’s hands, feel the contour of each other’s ribs and spine. So this is what I’m doing—what we’re doing—crossing the city and watching the silence through the dirty bus window as we talk about the wind, the future, and everything we don’t understand.
The street is filled with people. Next to the funeral parlor there are two school buses. There are children, women, and men with their faces painted, glitter in their hair and colorful hats. They laugh, improvise dance steps, drink wine with soda, and play with Carnival foam while they wait for the murga band and dancers to start up the parade. The others are there, interspersed, myself included.
Inside everything smells like incense. Since I don’t know what to do or say, I sit down on an armchair. I’ll wait for you here, I say in a low voice, and curl up like a snake after it strikes. I watch the people arriving. There are lots of them, more and more. It’s true that the person who died was the one everyone loved.
I stay there for a long time staring at the stillness of the pearl balloons hanging over the doorways. I glance at the little bronze angel that looks almost petrified at the entrance to the bathroom, the empty cans of beer that accumulate on the table. And then I leave. I don’t want to greet anyone else, I can’t stand waiting in the armchair. I can feel a sense of urgency in my feet, I obey the impulse and do what I do best: flee. I walk away without looking back, wandering around until I find a place where I can be alone and in peace. I sit down across from the highway and close my eyes. The hum of the cars against the pavement sounds like the sea. A sudden loud honk jolts me out of my lethargy; night is falling. The streetlamps have turned on although it’s still light out. I look up and see a pigeon perched on an electrical wire. Her legs shake, she’s also watching the highway. Then nothing happens. It’s that time of day, the dangerous hour, when one doesn’t know whether everything is starting or ending.
None of Your Words
If we lived in another time, I would write a letter to you now. I would take a white sheet of paper, a pen with blue ink, and I would sit down at this very table and write to you with my heart in my fist. If we lived in another time, a time in black and white, with enormous ships crossing seas and mail carriers riding bicycles, I would write you a letter and I would sign it in blood and draw birds, flowers, and creepers in the margins.
If we lived in another time, I would write to say how strange time is without you. I would tell you I’m sitting in the kitchen, looking at the plants while my son whines because he’s hungry. I would tell you the light today suddenly went dull, choosing to hide behind the trees, and now the afternoon is a more melancholy place. I would tell you a mild breeze is blowing and it’s moving the inflatable dolphin from one side of the pool to the other, making it bump up against the sides, and I’m staring at it, hypnotized, with a hint of pain and a bit of envy as it floats suspended atop the still water.
I would ask you if you remember the day we submerged ourselves in that same water, where dried leaves and little pieces of insect now float. I would speak to you of the wind, of how it mixes with the metallic noise of city buses and sirens, of how it breaks with the cries of parrots crossing over my rectangle of sky just before nightfall. And, I would also speak to you of the sound it makes by rustling the leaves of the plane trees and how much I want to close my eyes, imagine it’s the sound of the sea, and fall asleep with you like that, sailing between my legs. Then I would tell you, with a mixture of pride and shyness, that yesterday I went to bed wearing your t-shirt, and this morning I noticed how the mint plant you gave me was drooping and dry, and how, wanting to cheer it up—or at least provide it with some relief—I watered it so much that a black storm swirled up all over the freshly washed dishes.
I would tell you the people from the house across the street put up their Christmas lights again. The wisteria is about to bloom and I’m curious what color the petals will be when they open. I would tell you how I rode my bicycle today, how when I got home afterwards I threw myself down on the couch, ran over every millimeter of your body in my mind, and my cat asked after you.
I would tell you how silence is a space that’s created, and how your fear is also my own. How I miss lying on the wood floor together to inhale each other. How I think about you and how thinking about you is another form of love.
If we lived in another time, I would take all the time I don’t have to write this letter to you, to tell you about my plans on the other side of the river, about the beach with cliffs I want us to go to, about the kisses that multiply in my mouth like medusas in breeding season, and how today I managed to fix the broken cupboard door.
I would tell you the bridge separating us now isn’t as great as the distance—that uneasy hollow—formed between my skin and my organs when I haven’t heard from you. If we lived in another time, I wouldn’t be scared to fill you with words and adjectives, to tell you the details, the ones nobody cares about, how the roots of the succulent we found have spread out in the jar of water and it looks like they’re embracing each other, forming impossible veins and arteries. I would tell you, as if it were a miracle, that a bunch of miniature fish live around the roots, they’re nothing but tiny heads turning, bodies dancing uselessly, and they even seem content.
If we lived in another time, I would tell you I’m waiting for you, we have all the time in the world, and I don’t need your words. I would tell you not to stay in the desert, there are waters here for us to swim in, where we can float and dive. I would tell you—even if it’s a lie—that with a flick of my wrist I can make wildflowers grow in the center of your chest, a small green stalk to loosen up the stiffness, let fresh air flow, help you breathe, unroot the darkness, and make everything softer and more ethereal.
But we live here, so I don’t say anything to you. Or almost. I grab my cell phone, look at your WhatsApp status, pause on your photo for a while, the picture I took of you that feels like three centuries ago, and I write three words to you that sound like broken bones on the keypad: “how’s it going.” Three words, in lowercase, with no question mark. Three white, dry, cold words, so as not to invade upon you, with an apostrophe about to be blown away, in desperation. I write to you and wait for you to write back. And I wait with my heart not in my fist, not in my chest, not in your hand; instead it’s in that imprecise place in the air where messages go before they arrive at their destination. A blue check mark. Silence. “how’s it going” and I haven’t said anything I wanted to say. And there are no skies or fish or voices beyond whatever you want to imagine. Beyond whatever understanding—or misunderstanding—you choose to confer on this absurd message I’ve just erased.