Saturday, August 25, 2012

When I was fifteen we moved to a town in New York State where nothing ever happened—at least, nothing I thought of as something. A new person there was interesting, at least for awhile. A place like that—farms, cows—a place the best part of which was that things never changed much. The future seemed to be taking place elsewhere. On the weekends we had beer parties in the hills. Sometimes I think I see some of the same desperation I used to feel in the faces of the people, the young people, here in Luperón. A little of that lack of something, the sense that the future doesn’t hold much, the present is everything, and you have to make something of it—wrest meaning from whatever is right in front of you. Stare at a woman walking down the street, looking with a kind of hunger that isn’t really for her, for any woman, but for something more than there is here, now.

Anyway, I go out, I go shopping for some bread, some fruit, trying to speak, trying to understand. There are stories, mysteries, in every corner of this place. In all the places people are. Little stories that spin like flywheels. I reach out to catch the little flying things I overhear when I’m walking, fluttering like birds from the open doorways. Things that pass between the people sitting in chairs set out on the sidewalk—people who have hardly lived yet, people who have lived most of their lives and now spend their days watching the life passing in front of them.

Once I was standing in line in a supermarket in San Juan. I was standing, waiting, the way you always do in an unhurried place. A grandmotherly lady wearing a black dress stood in front of me. Like a vapor, something passed from her to me—an image of her what must have been decades ago, children in the yard, clean clothes hanging out to dry, the voice of a man calling from the house (a wooden house, a farmer’s house), chickens flapping up into the trees.

I’m always looking for a little understanding without fear. A little knowledge without the fear of not understanding.

To write about this place, this corner of the world, is to record mysteries, to draw a map of fleeting impressions (why are there so many little stores? how do people earn their living? where is the woman who, they say, makes empanadas on Tuesdays?). To walk through town is to try to lose myself in impressions. To try to be a door, swinging—adelante, atrás.

Photo by Tallulah

No comments: