by Dani Herrera
I stole this story for you, even though it’s yours.
I knew I would want it forever and I figured you would want it saved for later.
So I stole it from you, as you twitched in your sleep and whispered into my hair.
Finding someone a world away always made sense to me.
Especially after seeing the boys around me. Carbon copies, assimilating themselves to be even more like everyone else.
But then I met you.
And now I’m borrowing you from the world away.
Because as we sit on the coast and I dig and cement my toes into the sand, you stay perched.
As a guest of these oceans and lakes, hills and mountains, you hide in plain sight. And I feel like an imposter for refusing to let others forget that if they trace the trees, just a generation or two, my family isn’t from here.
You always tell me “someday.”
- When I won’t cry
- When I’m not falling asleep and it’s the last thing I hear at night
- When you figure out a way to tell it
Someday I will hear about how you went from a world away to this one. Across lands, over the border, under their noses.
I wait because I know it’s not easy to switch from hiding to materializing. I wait for you, piece by piece.
You and I talk about eyes.
When I look at myself, I am myself looking into the abyss and I am the abyss of black eyes staring back at myself.
You look at me with blue eyes and I wonder why people never think of us as having colored eyes. Haven’t they seen our sky, our colorful pueblos, our see-through waters?
When I see your eyes I think of the ocean in Sayulita.
And you can’t go back so you ask me to describe it; the humidity, the jungle, the colors, the shrimp enchiladas.
This is my someday.
Someday, I will take you back. So I show you pictures.And I think of stepping into the picture setting and me waving around and saying, “This is for you.”
Maybe when you see my eyes you only think of the ravens that fly in the Mendicino wind.
I can’t take the ocean, and I’m tired of its teasing pictures, so I take its gifts.
I steal a piece of seaglass, just like I steal this moment of you of me.
Speaking of eyes.
Sometimes when you look at me I wonder if it’s a future version of you.
A you that has spent months sleeping next to me, who has fought and forgiven, who knows me and made a place in their heart for me.
I trust that look in your eyes, telling me we have time, we have time.
And time is all I’ve ever wanted.
More. Slow. Rewind. Pause.
Someone to dance across the empty and abandoned places of the clock with. Just more time to stretch out my hurried breaths.
I’m not from that part of the future where you’re from. Like I said, you’re from a world away, maybe even a time away.
So all I can tell you is,
I like you today and I like you tomorrow.
You tell me I’m the storyteller between the two of us.
Maybe that’s why you’re so reluctant. As if I could judge you for the story you tell, for the life you live, for the way you got into this country.
When I’m with you I wonder where you think of me as.
Am I a raven haired girl walking on cobblestone paths, eating fresh fruit off talavera plates?
Or am I a lost California girl? A girl that was rooted here by ancestors of ancestors and stumbles over rolling her “r’s”.
I try to be Jalisco. To be Nayarit. To be Michoacan.
And that’s why I don’t say I love you. I want to be a land that gives you everything you didn’t even ask for.
I don’t want to be America, that grants none of your wishes.
You finally tell me the story at 2 a.m. on a Saturday.
Between yawns and “Are you still awake?”
It was nearly a dream.
But when I brushed my hair the next morning all the words came tumbling out and so did my tears.
When the words and tears came tumbling out, I realized that story was my first heartbreak.
And I’m glad it was yours.
Can I just say, usually I’m the one searching, scanning the outlines of a room.
When I saw you with your crumbled shoulders and racing chest I brought you my blueprints of every room I’ve ever run out of in this world.
I started with, “If you get deported.” Which is not “Once upon a time” but has the same ending for us.
Because if you get deported.
If once upon a time you get deported,
We’ll run there instead of getting dragged.
I have a house in my family’s town, friends to watch over us, a truck, and a place of no hiding all cited in my plans.
I always know my exits.
And now I have someone to run with.
I tell you that I’ll spray for scorpions and that we can work in fields, agave, sugar cane, corn, you can choose. I tell you how much I love it over there in Jalisco, with the domed tile ceiling and biblical thunder splitting open the sky. That when I’m there I’m just a raven with my unkindness instead of the oddity I am, pretending to be a California girl.
Once upon a time if you get deported, we will live happily.