The children made images of books and reading and life. Of walking hand in hand with their parents. Of butterflies and rainbows. The innocent symbols of happiness and beauty that children first learn. We hoped that they would continue to hold those dreams. So many people let go too soon, jaded by what cruelty life sometimes shows.
And it is not easy to know that there are those whose lives are gilded in pain. Eve and I brushed our fingers against the bright, smooth colors. They were so clean, those tiles. We thought about our childhoods. Imagined what we thought, then. Wondered whether we ever held dreams as big.
We held big dreams together that day. We did not allow ourselves to be too concerned with the reality that we would be facing: that this was a new city and we were new people and we were looking for a new way to be ourselves. We looked at the mosaics and thought of our own. We remembered our families, far away now.
At times it is so difficult to exist knowing that there are those worrying about you, always. Every second of every day, thinking about your well-being, hoping grand hopes for you, wanting you to become some vision of success that they understand how to imagine.
We broke those rules, I knew. We left our mothers and fathers. We left our grandparents’ graves. We left our familiar streets, we left our friends. We left behind so many people who loved us. But we took along each other. We were foolish, perhaps. They would want to hear from us, to hear that we had arrived in the city safely, to know that we had found shelter. Perhaps they hoped for a day when we would call and say that we were returning, that we had had enough of traveling among strangers and unfamiliar territory. Of course they did. Parents cannot help it.
Eve’s parents were a mystery to me. I knew they held the same anxieties tight in their chests that my parents did. I knew that this was not easy for them. And yet they were so calm. It was so much easier for them to grasp their daughter’s drifting dreams. It was so much easier for them to let her go off, to place herself in the world, to become a part of a different place. It was strange to me that she could speak to them about so much. That she could be open. That she felt safe to tell them about her impractical dreams. That there was so little anger between them, so little frustrating. It amazed me.
My parents were not so easy. We were mysteries to each other. They blamed my wandering on Eve. They did not consider that perhaps she had simply awakened desires, dreams, fantasies that had been inside me all along. And even if my yearnings were tied to another, what difference did that make? There is always a reason for a feeling. No matter how inexplicable, deep in our memories, in our subconsciousness, is a something which made us feel something. There is no way to avoid the way the strands of our experiences become woven into who we are and what we feel, what we want, and how we pursue our dreams. So what if Eve had influenced my choices?
The difficulty is in explaining the wants of the soul to people who know what it is to have the simple wants of the body utterly unfulfilled. People who know what it is to suffer physically. People who know what it is to sweat and work and cry and lose their homes. People who rebuilt their lives from the ground up. How to explain to these people who only want to see a future that is brighter than what they experienced? People to whom “brighter” means more secure. Means a roof overhead. Means a running car. Means bills all paid. Means knowing where the next paycheck is coming from. Means saving money. Means staying close to family. Means not having to struggle. Means not having to hold their breath at night for fear of execution. Means not having to worry about kidnap in the middle of the night. Means being quiet and going about the task of living.
My parents were these people. They had so much hope in their hearts for me. And then, so much fear in their hearts for me. What kind of life would I have? What would I have? Would I have anything but a giant mound of debt to leave on the world after me?
I could not explain to them. I could not tell them why I had to go with Eve. I could not tell them that I had to leave because love has to follow love. There was so much that I could not say to them and never did.
When I told them that I was leaving our town, they didn’t understand. There was no job waiting for me. There was no family there to receive me. There was no one there. Why go to a place in search of the loneliness that had once been so terrifying for them? It made no sense.
My search for life was so different than theirs had been. So much less literal. So ephemeral. Eve was irresistible because she gave me permission to want something else. Not only permission, but inspiration and motivation. Not that I had ever been perfect daughter. I was always an anomaly. Searching for something that could not be seen. It was difficult for us. I knew it would be. There is never any easy way to take apart our lives, to leave each other. To be left or to be the one leaving. There is always worry. Sometimes, there is regret.
I pushed those thoughts aside as best I could. Those first hours in our new city, I let Eve’s joy and wonder wash away the doubt and worry. I needed her to be free. I would never have left had I been alone. It is easier to leave for love. Love makes all things make sense.
Eve and I sat on the concrete benches, waiting for the train. We shared so much waiting together. She put her arm around me. The sun was setting, but we turned away, instead watching the horizon for the train that would bring us closer to our next somewhere.
From the platform, we saw more of what we saw from the bus from a new angle: the tops of squat stucco buildings, a few taller buildings here and there, palm trees and the tops of trees that I would later learn were eucalyptus trees. The landscape sprawled out before us in golden light. At that hour, everything was beautiful.
With the twilight came the deeper realization that we would have to find a way to survive here. That we would have to do it, no matter what. That we had thrown ourselves into this place for the very sake of the struggle.