Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Our visions begin with our desires." Audre Lorde...

In 2004, my parents and my two little siblings were detained in California. I was left behind, here in Colorado. I remembered that it was summer time, hot like today. I recalled my mother's sad, muffled, yet thinly hopeful voice on the telephone. Our conversations were clipped by tears and sobs. I recalled this very sharp, eery sensation in my stomach every time I got the phone call. Every time I begun hearing her voice. Only her voice.

All the missing parts, combined with the uncertainty were the most painful.

I thought of my mom, my little brother and my little sister not knowing where exactly my dad was. They were separated from the beginning. I never heard from my dad during that time, because he used his phone card only to call the attorney. My mom tried to assuage me by saying that he was in a nice facility where he could go out to the yard, read magazines and watched TV.

On the contrary, my mom and my siblings were in the shitty center in LA, where during day they only eat the same cafeteria hamburgers, where they had to sit inside a communal jail cell for ten hours to watch the corner TV and to watch other detainees coming and going. They were not even allowed to get out to the yard. If there was one. She tried to reassure me that at night they get to sleep in a comfy room at motel six, where they had nicer beds than they had at home, where they had cable TV and the freedom to choose the TV channel, all while being supervised inside their room by two rotating armed guards.

During one of the phone calls, I told her how i missed her cooking so much and how i was tired of the ramen noodles and eggs for dinner each night. Ironically that was what they'd been having for dinner also. She told me how frustrating it was not knowing how to get a hold of my dad. But then she said she was lucky that she at least had my little siblings to cuddle with, whereas my dad had no one. I asked how my brother and sister were doing, and she answered me with this respond that was soon to be my crystallizing image for the entire experience. She said that they were playing cards with the armed guards. A game of go-fish, she said.

I was struck by the absurdity of this image. Two kids, age 10 and 13, sitting around a small table playing card games with the guards who were in charge of detaining them. I don't know if they set bets before hand, and my little siblings happened to place a wager for their release. Surprisingly, they won. Well, they were lucky. They were detained for two months, then...released.

But our luck took us only so far. As soon as my parents were released, they had to work overtime. Yet they had their wages garnished because they were in debt to the their employers for bailing them out and for paying the attorney fees. Then the economic crisis cut down their work hours so much they could no longer afford the mortgage payment. We soon lost our house.

But still, we were the few lucky ones. What about the unlucky ones?

What about those who are completely alone? who came here without anybody, knowing nobody, whose bodies were only valued by low wages and abused by hard labor, who are now being systematically lined up in front of aloof bureaucrats and waiting to be so easily tossed back, tossed away?

What about the parents who didn't get to see their children when they were captured, let alone cuddled with them? those who only heard their children's tears as their last frozen memories?

What about lovers who only got to see each other through glass walls? Only hearing each other's distorted voices, and see the lips that can't be kissed, the hairs that can't be felt. Those who could only smell the emptiness of cold air that robbed them from a loved one's familiar scents, those whose most sensible goodbyes are forced by unjust laws, set within tough walls and lit by harsh florescent lights...

What about the trans lovers and the same gender lovin' lovers, who not only were told that they were in a wrong country, that they were on the wrong side of the border, speaking the wrong language, eating the wrong the foods, but also, were told that they were loving the wrong bodies, loving the wrong sex?

I guess it is unlucky to be gay in such a homophobic world
it is unlucky to be a migrant in a xenophobic world
it is unlucky to be black, or brown, in a white man's world
just as it is unlucky to be poor in a rich man's world

But who deals these unlucky cards we get? Who sets the rules of the game? If we're losing, then who's winning? who is collecting our bets?

Our bodies should not be bargaining chips to be wagered against, neither should be our sweat, nor our loves...

However many unfortunate losses we've had...those we must keep near. Our deferred dreams, our unfair debts, our wasted sweats, our abused and tired legs, our lost embrace, our abrupt partings... those we must collect in a tank until the pressures of life squeeze them so hard that oil comes out, or rather something like volatile desires.