After three years almost I come back to a place ( oops a tremor occurs right when I write this….welcome to Central America!) I called home for the longest period of my life.
The moment we were landing, things came back to me. People complaining about not having enough suitcases, fifty people coming to meet one person at the airport , the sounds and smells… A fifty year old woman calmly piles a huge suitcase on her head and carries it back
The first time I ever came to El Salvador I was promised a kitten. She lived for fifteen years.
As we traversed the streets, which seemed to spring all new buildings overnight I realized how much has changed and how much has remained the same. I felt it in my bones. And somehow, things tasted differently… the world had gone on without me. WHen we leave somewhere, we somehow have a belief that it will be there exactly the way you left it. Reality is an entirely different thing.
All my friends, although leaving ghost print marks along my memory , no longer remain in El Salvador. One by one they packed their bags to better futures, to wives , to husbands to sparkly jobs somewhere else. Promises in yellow bricked roads.
And there is an expectation, for those of us who have left, that we have something to bring back. Something more than stories and wasted suitcases. I know they will ask me of my plans for marriage, of my future, of where I will live. I can give them none of these.
And they wonder at the things that have changed within me. My funny expressions from Spain. How I hve to stop myself from giving two kisses on the cheek. I find it strange to go back early at night.
At the same time, these are the people who know you when you were a child, who have seen you fall and pick yourself up again. The truth is, we assume we know the THen and the Now, but at times we have to get to know them all over again.
And in every corner, I see myself. I see the thirteen year old sitting on the concrete steps near my house whispering things in the moonlight to my best friends. I see my brother’s five year old pinata. I see the streets I used to bike and the places which no longer exist that used to pave my adolescence.
But I do not see my future here. I feel that we can never fully return. But I don’t know where I belong either and this brings sadness in my heart. As I said goodbye to one of the last remaining people here, we all drank coffee and looked out at the horizon. ” Maybe” Joanna said ” Maybe we come back, when we have done all the things we need to do. Then maybe we come back”.
And I hope in my heart what she says is true.