I look around some days unsure of what I am seeing—unsure of what to make of this, these myriad threads. What is the three act structure? What is the arc—the outcome? What is any of this?
It is knowing to say “bueno” when you pick up the phone, and that if you wait long enough your grandfather might pick up the call in the tiendita.
It is knowing that every day, your aunt in Texas will call to talk to her mother.
It is knowing that her mother often leaves the kitchen faucet running—knowing that her father always takes a break around three—knowing that the parrots will cry every night because they are afraid of being left outside.
It is knowing that the top tortilla always sticks to the inner flap of the paper package—that the fifth gear of la carcacha doesn’t work—that the electricity dips in and out because no one in the village has paid their bill for years.
It is sitting at the table on a dozen late afternoons, watching remembering eyes and quavering lips.
It is hearing that they told their daughters ‘you will not have an inheritance’—hearing that they traded their land for books and school clothes and the intangible futures of all their children.
It is hearing that they sometimes went without eating but their daughters never needed anything.
It is seeing him, working until nine in the evening in his old age, and seeing her, standing for hours as she tries to collect a pension she never gets because she doesn’t come on the Sabbath.
It is you, breaking, as you watch her in that room full of hundreds of ancient men and women—it is feeling sick as names are called and the room empties out—as she becomes the last person still there, and still her name is never said.
It is anger at the meager dividends of an invested life.
It is understanding.
It is thinking—thinking long—of the violence of life.
It is growing up in an instant, and having a grandmother for the first time.
It is being told that you have your father’s smile and your grandfather’s eyes.
It is being a stranger among family, and then becoming family.
It is discovering what you have already known—that you have an inheritance.