I didn’t run from America. Though, at times, I wanted to. A long time ago I wanted it because I wanted to run away from myself. We all do, want to run that is. Every week that passed I prayed some blip of maturity would augment that thought. I wanted to want it for something more. For something good. For all the good we think will come of our time away from home. Our time in the homes of others. The countries of others. A gentle rap at my door. The augmented thought arrived. I wanted nothing more.
You leave, then arrive in the twilight zone. Your world mimics the rotations of a Ferris-wheel, strung out on happiness but scared shitless when you get to the top and realize what happens if you fall…all. the way. down. You awake in a world that often isn’t real. You can’t grab a fat, plump chunk of arm skin and pinch your way out of the unfamiliarity. Laughter feeds you the thrilling hiccups to get through the rough spots. There isn’t another choice. You’re offered smiles in the absence of the throaty chuckles.
Bathroom trips make for new adventures. Bicycle rides. Crawling water lizards. Bucket showers. Conversation. Conversation. Conversation. They throw you bones hoping you’ll eventually catch on. Your sanity gets so many chances. Your friends offer refills. Inside those urine-soaked cement walls, pitless holes in the floor laugh at you. Then, the first day you miss that hole is the day your friendship begins. Food stares at you as the eyeballs from once-living animals remain. After a week-long staring competition, your belly wins. The next day, when you miss that hole, the food reclaims its victory. It’s cyclical. Round and round and round and round and round. Up then down then up then down.
Your silent tears of shock are dried by strangers. The throaty laughs. The stunt smiles. Props to make one day gently flow into the wave of the next. You wake up. Smile. Eat. Smile. Devote some time to thinking “am I really here?” Your emotions creep to the surface but culture pushes them back down again, into the back of your throat. For another day. A rainy day. A lonely day. An exhausted day. An American day. A day when not even your throat muscles can keep it all down. Then you cry again, silently. Alone. But when it’s done, when the small blobs of water have soaked your cheek, a glimpse of adaption comes from within. You smile. Then, a throaty laugh follows. You realize you’ve made it past the top of the Ferris-wheel. Your stomach flips. The wheel spins forward, faster, faster, faster. You swallow hard, exhale in relief. Then cry out in hysterical laughter. Your muscles tense for the exhilaration. All. Over. Again.