Mauricio and Jenny came to stay for about a week, give or take. They brought with them the memory of green apples and of being curled up in the trust of someone you adored beyond thoughts of rejection, before adoration became an idea instead of just a warmth worn like a shirt. I forgot what it was like to see two people who, for so long, I pattered after on flip-flopped feet.
I forgot how vividly I spoke as a child, how I jumped into emotions with my whole mouth, shaping them with an absent consent in looking however I looked to whoever was looking. I only remember because talking doesn't come so easy anymore, not that kind of stream of consciousness unabashed talking.
And I love them now, with a more appreciative eye roving over dips in character and hairline cracks running up the ceilings of the beautiful homes they have made for me in, fuck, I don't know, my heart. I guess.
I am just a quiet girl, tending to my pastel gardens with my fears of playing hide and seek in the dark or finding him on the kitchen floor one day when his body gives out on him. I live a little life, one I keep tied with ribbon like a country bouquet, and I exist in the bright bursts of sudden movement or discreet grace I notice in my periphery or on bike trails lit by lampposts.
They have seen countries in our years apart; I have seen the webwork of a family strung out by disappointment or resentment or hunger. They have seen oceanstruck loves; I have heard enough of the bouncing shadows in the skittish hallways of myself to know the length of them is still something I cannot fathom. They have fallen hard, but I have fallen deep.
New Orleans was a good day; the stained glass flashes of the French Market, the Hurricane I grinned through on the carriage ride around the Quarter, it raining and our guide with his booming motor voice and there being no shelter above our heads and the seat of our shorts soaking instantly, the beignets smooth like the look of melting butter and turning our tongues to pipinghot pleasure, walking down Bourbon pushing strollers listening to live bands bellowing through thrown-open bar doors, "The truth is you never grow up" except I know the truth is you do (but maybe I could protect the part of me that craves magic in Cerberus thunderstorms and Sunday morning pancakes, maybe I could do that soon), the easiness of being together of being family of being one thin worshipful voice in the choir of us.
I am not used to things being. Well. Good. I am used to enduring and struggling, I am used to stomping on the softer inclinations the sweeter hopes by saving them for poetry or giving them to my grandmother's pendant resting in my jewelry box to preserve like an heirloom that maybe my children could one day hold as a reality instead of a dream.
And I couldn't tell them, not really, about my skinned salty knees or the elephants in every room I enter. I hear them trumpeting at each pivoting corner, while I fold laundry, while I ready myself for the heavy task of sleep. And why would I speak those words? Believe me, I have passed the stage of worrying about burdening the world's shoulders with my chinked armor, my chipped teeth. I have no use for the guilt of sharing freely, of trusting truly, when my shame is put to good use in so many other more honest ways. I have accepted that when I gave up those dark days to cautious ears, the humiliation I always felt was in wanting to be heard.
And I want to be heard. But not by them. Not about this.
Because while I could delve into escapes from slaughterhouses or concubine shackles or my exile wanderings, what they need to know is that I'm whole.
Whole as a sparrow drifting over rooftops; the dust and the dirt and the grime steadying my flight, not hindering it.