Chicago. 15th October, 2009
When I’m absent minded, please remind me. I’m sorry that I’m here but my mind is somewhere hovering in a place never known to you. Forgive me for not making you feel my presence, or if you’re ever aware I arrived. Perhaps to you, I’m just another head to add number to your dwellers. In case you don’t, it’s been three years now.
Three years of traversing your grounds trying to belong, but still get that same cold look in the eyes of your locals, like when I arrived, every time I try to find familiarity – still but a stranger struggling to blend to your intricacy, too complex for someone like me who grew up in a place where everyone I meet in the streets are relatives or at least somebody else’s I would surely know. But if you live that life too long, it’s tiring. It’s easier to get to know other people, than to delve with the person that resides in the confines of your ribs. I longed for anonymity, but when you gave it to me, I’m not sure if I would have still wanted it.
Here I am a dweller in your patch of the earth taking you in, but like the air, I just breath you to exhale again, unable to entirely assimilate you into my system. Every day remains to be like fast-moving scenes just passing, slipping my hands leaving me detached no matter how hard I try to take hold of the moment. I’m like a guest attending an event but not formally introduced to the host, if you would ever understand my kind of uneasiness being here. But I have to admit I should take much of the blame for our estrangement. You took me as a tenant, but still think of myself just a transient tourist taking snapshots that I would eventually bring home. I have to confess, I didn’t find the home I look for in your manicured fields. Your towering reeds of spires are just too much for me, I shrink to a muted element that would not fit to your structured collage and forever scares to be left out in the fast lanes of your speeding races, like a peculiar yarn in a loom afraid that your unforgiving modern living would soon prey on me and isolate me from the weave. This fear comes from my job caring for the casualties and losers in the races of your city. I can sense raw defeat in their eyes every day. I don’t want to be counted when I’m useless in a shelter awaiting for your mercy, God forbid I would be wheeled there one day against my will, like a dotard with nothing to share about my past and forgotten, leaving no signs – not even a frass – to prove that one time I walked this path to conclude my story. I asked for anonymity, but not that kind of ending. I need this brief anonymous moment to cast off some misleading marks I allowed time to grow like moss in my fecade so I could resurface defined and genuine like a gem from the dunes of myth. In that way you will not count me as just another head to add number to your dwellers, but a valued yarn in your loom that would add an interesting pattern to the elaborate colors of your city.
I have issues I need to come to terms with for my hesitance to permanently rest my anchor in your celebrated grounds, for I remain a dreamy oar sailing above your surface finding my way like in the misty lake in the morning. I think about another place. Soon I will sing to you his songs, tell you his stories. I will be showing you his doodled images I bind in the pages of my heart while I was awaiting for that day when I have to leave the same arms that pushed my frail vessel that brought me here. But for the moment, let me enjoy this while I prepare the things that I brought from home that I wanted you to see. My maker is aware I longed for anonymity, he searched a place for me and find you to conspire with – this is the fruition from that conspiracy. Forgive my torpid response when you fold your cold arms around me on my arrival, I faked my smile for I was overwhelmed, even thought of sailing back and retreat. But I am here. I should be here.
When I’m absent minded, please remind me. Forgive my shortcomings, I take the blame for my willful alienation that kept me withdrawn this past three years. I didn’t really gave you the chance. I stayed remote for my need to reconcile my past with the present to resolve internal turbulence for a dreamt smooth sailing journey ahead. I need this moment to delve with the person that resides within my ribs that took many masks imposed for him to wear to please people that made him altogether forget who he really is. I need to peel the layered superficialities accumulated over the years to uncover and pick myself out of the half-truth heaps, if I have to start it right with you.
And when I’m done with this transient anonymity, I will wear my true skin, flaws included, walk your streets and find kindred spirits in the eyes of your people I meet, because I belong.
This piece marks my 3rd year in America, my 3rd year struggling as a foreigner trying to fit in the molds of Chicago and not forgetting my roots.
Jeques, 2009. From his “Traveler’s Soliloquies” collection.