When I left I never knew it was going to be this hard. I did not know what would be taken away from me. What would be given to me. What would be forced onto me.
When I left I was not turning my back. I was not walking away. I was not ashamed. Later I would be made ashamed. I did not know I was going to be long. I loved you when I left. I love you now. I need you now. Land.
When I left I was stepping into a dream. I felt butterflies in my stomach. I smiled as big as the Rio Grande. As wide as the Copper Canyon.
How good are you at selling dreams, America.
When I left I did not know I was poor. I did not know I was illegal. I did not know what a border was. I did not know what hiding was. I did not know what fear was. I did not know what swallowing your pride was. I did not know assimilation. I did not know what papers were. I did not know wetback. Spic. Dirt belly. Rejection. Played. Objectification.
I am a wind with no resting place. Ashes with no fire. Roots with no earth. Water with no shoreline. Where is my home?
They say that if a bird smells a foreign scent on their young they will reject it.
When I return. I am never unwelcomed. I never welcomed. Never unaccepted. Never accepted. This is where ocean and river meet. Am I a salt and freshwater fish?
When I return. I know I never meant to leave in the first place.
When I return people want me to feel at home but they know it is not my home, anymore. They know I am visiting. My scent is not theirs anymore. My struggle here has been filled with luxury, uncomfortably comfortable-- racist themed parties, racist mascots with the luxury of a college degree. Their struggle there is piles of bodies and unharvested dreams.
When I return. They hug me. They kiss me. They miss me. They want the best for me. I know the best for me is back there. I know that I am american whether I like it or not. I am all the things that I despise.
When I return. I look at the ground when I walk. I want to remember where I am coming from. I stare at the mountains and they are my lighthouse.
When I return. They tell me my spanish sounds funky. But this is how I have always spoken. I smile and say, “it is hard when your mouth is a nest for many unwanted things.”
I know they do not mean harm. I know they are trying to smell my scent. To see if I am too far gone. I am trying to hold on! I do not want to explain colonization to them. They know what it means. They know what it has done. I do not want to make excuses. There are not excuses to be made after being forced to leave.
If I speak of my heart it is no different than when I left. If I speak of my bones they not any different than when I left. If I speak of my skin they will not understand racial profiling. They will not understand police brutality.
“I miss it here,” I say.
If I speak. I tell them I will be buried here. I will come back. And those trees will be what my casket is made out of. They smile and say, “us too.”
Garden, Kitchen, & Memories.
In the back, there is a garden.
Greens, peas, corn, earthworms, and bees.
I watered it tonight and when the breeze hit the water spewing out of the hooze and got me wet
In the mornings I return from running and go to the back.
I look over the seedlings, the cracks in the garden, rethink, replan, and stretch upon this garden.
Here, I have a home. Where I am.
Looking out onto the backyard there is the kitchen.
There I am quiet. There I am loud.
There we dance. Tilt our heads back, wide mouth open accepting the communion of spices in the air.
There I do not know gender. No roles to fill.
Growing up my mother made sure I learned three things:
I like to think that when I flip tortillas I am seeing my mother smile.
Here, I know who I am. Regardless where home is.
In the kitchen there is a board hanging from the wall filled with pictures, notes, buttons, broken bracelets, old work IDs, and a candy shaped like an owl.
She says, “why do you want to keep this?”
Pointing at some piece of paper or some broken bracelet.
“Memories,” I say.
I love to remember. I’ve got not many pictures of where I’ve been or where I come from.
Here everything moves fast. Too fast.
My memory will remember out of necessity
and I do not want to forget.