Para Irme

Each day, my dad asks me, “¿Está emocionadísima para irse?” [So are you really excited to go?]

At first, I was taken back. My papi and dates don’t seem to mix well, and that he was aware that the 9th of April was approaching lay uncomfortably in my stomach. Was he counting down the days or something? I mean, I didn’t think I was an unsavory host kid or anything.

But daily, papi Lauro would ask me during the first commercial break of Caso Cerrado, the Judge Judy court show of Ecuador, “¿Está emocionadísima para irse?” [So are you really excited to go?]

And he has seemed to acquire quite a few followers. Over Facebook or E-mail, the “so are you excited to go?” questions have become like an acne outbreak – abundant, uncontrollable, non-ignorable, and sometimes painful.

So to get to the question, am I excited to go?

Yes and no.

On one hand, I miss my mom and brother so, so much. Max’s burst of gleeful laughter, my mom’s lasting hugs that leave a warm shadow. Before leaving for Ecuador, my relationship with both was strained, and here I have realized how I could have done a lot better job (Max, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry for stuffing the bathroom, hoarder style, with my makeup and tampons and clothes and hair stuff). I am excited to work on our relationships with this retrospect. Speaking of working on things, there are other parts of my life that I want to start working on and of which I need to be back in my U.S. community. On a more superficial level, I miss my mom’s food and taking showers and flea-free beds. All summed up, though, the excitement to go back is rooted in my motivation to re-experience what I had before as basis for continued growth.

On the other hand, I love Ecuador. I love my coworkers, who have treated me with so much respect and patience while joking about diarrhea and Fear Factor. I love the incredible diversity that exists on a bagillion and one levels. The rich stains of skirts pointing the voluptuous hills and the suggestion of luxurious beads dropping sparks of fire in the dry grasses. Bare feet and faded, ripped jeans slipping up steep slopes. Perfumes of garlic and rice seducing the stench of human excrement and dying dogs in the chilled evening air. These contrasts speak of ancient mischief. But at the top of the list, interestingly paralleling my “why I AM excited list,” sits my family here. And I do mean family. I have a sister, brothers, parents, cousins, aunts, and uncles, who have helped me reflect on my U.S. family. Their open arms have helped me settle into my community as a member and not just as a gringa. I love them. And for the raw vulnerability that we have shared, we will suffer a much rawer pain when we are separated.

Last night, my papi and I stood in the kitchen peeling potatoes during the Caso Cerrado hour. My mami had gone to my sister’s school information night and were late – we were thowing together one of our “franken-dinners” for when they got back.

“¿Está emocionadísima para irse?” [So are you really excited to go?]

Oh no, not again.

“¿Pues, está emocionadísima para cuando me vaya? Siempre me pregunta así.” [What, are YOU excited for when I go? You always ask me this.] I ask jokingly, slightly irked.

“Exactamente.” [Exactly]

Oh poop. I really must have been a horrible host kid. I cringe internally.

But he continues. “Usted es como una hija. Le quiero bastante. Quiero que los días pausen, o que no tenga que irse. Me va a dejar con bastante pena.” [You are like a daughter. I love you a lot. I want the days to pause, or that you won’t have to go. You are going to leave me with so much pain.]

Family…we ARE that now. He really thinks of me of family, as I of him. Papi Lauro, I miss you already.

I sit here writing full of a troubled confusion. My hands pace restlessly, wanting to yank my hair. My eyes fill with stingy, silver tears. My lips dance with a smile of anticipation. So many feelings, sentimientos, that so few share. Caged inside, they dance dangerously. Both temptations and horrors. But the reality is that soon it will be time to part Ecuador and greet these beasts.

This moment that is running towards me, it will not be the time to say goodbye, only “until next time,” but that doesn’t make it easier. As completely cliché as it is, love and family really are equal no matter where on earth.

“¿Estoy emocionadísima para irme?” [Am I really excited to go?]

No matter what, I have to go soon. What I can choose is a constructive attitude.