I’ve logged more experience than most with simplicity and the complexity you discover inside simplicity, minimalism and asocial behavior, endurance and landscape.
Here is the truth: I think some deep wisdom inside me (a) sensed the stress, (b) was terrified for me, and (c) gave me something new and hard to focus on in order to prevent me from lapsing into a despair coma — and also to keep me from having a jelly jar of wine in my hand.
Subscribe and Save up to 55%
A man with the right scruffed-up beard and breadth of chest swaggered into the S and M dungeon that was my place of business, and twenty minutes and one grand later had my chin — still soft with the downy fluff of teen-girl skin — held steady in one paw while the other one flew at my face so hard and fast that I ceased to exist as the same collection of matter I had been the previous instant.
The scar in the turf in front of her headstone has long since healed. Her death date was blank at her funeral, reflecting our disbelief. It now reads, Sept. 11, 2010. Beside that is another blank for my father.
I can say I’m Puerto Rican, and no one can refute that, but I don’t know what it’s like to feel Puerto Rican. I don’t know what it’s like to see the flag of Puerto Rico and feel something that resembles pride.
I pretended to be busy on my computer until she leaned so close to me I had to sit back and look up. She had my attention now. She smiled with one side of her mouth. “That was my mom,” she said. “Fucking Wicked Witch of the West.”
I think of that ancient time when the sea was cut off from the ocean, how low it sank, the way the rivers carved canyons to replenish it. Such beauty often requires a kind of devastation. Maybe the saddest landscapes are always the most beautiful.
My father tells me about the ghosts. He tells me about lying on his stomach in a trench and falling asleep and hearing the voice of a friend who had just been killed shouting, “Brina, look out!”
“Richest dirt in the world,” my dad is fond of saying. As I crumble the clammy soil in my hand, I think, If it’s so rich, why are we so poor?
The cows showed up just as the world began to end. They were there when I returned to Minnesota from Manhattan, where I’d gone to pick up my older son after his spring 2020 college semester had been canceled.
I drop by on a Saturday. Your mom lets you answer my knock on the apartment door. The cap of your gastrostomy tube is outlined against your unicorn T-shirt.
The virus is revealing new facts about the U.S. Who would have guessed that People Who Resent Science Because It’s Too Darn Complicated would become a major political force?