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suppose that if time and space truly are inseparable, then those of us who are refugees—refugees from war, from famine, from history, from ourselves—are then timeless.
      I sat down on her bed a while, thinking I should wash the sheets, feeling pleased with myself.
      That was nearly eight years ago. Three years ago, my wife and I divorced. I have two sons, seven and 14. I see them three days a week. I sold the house to pay bills, rented a bungalow on the other side of town, so I don’t have to cross familiar paths. When I cook, I sometimes find myself wanting to set the table for people who aren’t here. Or I lie awake and wish that I could hear my children whispering to each other in their beds. In the intervening years, things have become more complicated, not less. I would like to believe that with good intentions, I could save even myself, and not worry unduly about the mistakes I make along the way. I would like there to be simple answers, a belief that I will do what is right despite the pain. I would like there to be a plan, something I could act on. If it’s there, I can’t see it. No one is saying.
      I used to cry more, but I’ve done well, bottling it up. When people ask how I am, I’m courteous and kind, and lie to them, which is the way, I imagine, they’d prefer it. Sometimes I remind myself that I have lived through "worse," although worse sometimes feels more like "different." I hear myself saying, How am I? I’m the White Vampire. But it’s a long story, and if I tell it, I’m afraid how it’ll end. Instead, I let her do the crying. I see the tears rolling down her face, her body shrinking away from me, wracked with sobs. And then, for as long as I can hold onto that image, I am about as happy as anyone could possibly be. Q
2004, Joel Preston Smith.
Photo, 2004. T. Warburton y Bajo
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