Mónica Ramón Ríos
Actualizado: 20 oct 2022
My mother says to me I should feel the abundance around me when I tell her I can afford something, that I can't afford something else.
This land is abundant, at least more than the piece of land where I was born, about to drown under the Pacific ocean or crashed by the mountain. A mere strip of land in the map, no matter how it looks on a clean day when you ask yourself how is it possible that a city is made in the skirts of such an imposing wall. There is abundance there, but it is limited. Limited are the work posts. Governments resources are limited. Limited are the number of rich people who then limit the people to whom they give their money. There, people fight for everything, a house, a spot on the road, the right to walk the way you want, writing a book, buying one, being read. In the US there are more than billion readers, more than 800 million book sales per year, an expanding empire that can tour books to places unknown. But there’s also trees, land, people, and trash cans full of edible food.
As a kid, we used to admire the loads of presents brought to us by family who had ended up here in exile. They brought us clothes, used jewelry, watches, t shirts, socks, toys. And we, accustomed to the scarcity of the dictatorship, were henceforth ravished by those shitty objects and stored them like wealth.
I never thought about coming to this country until they offered me money to study and work. It was a sort of borrowed plan that I made my own for a while. It has worked for me, medium size, because somehow work has always landed on my lap. Not the best jobs, of course, but sufficiently prestigious to bare the thrusts of gringo supremacy, constructed on the thought that everybody should their service particularly if we speak Spanish or have brown skin. Some of us serve, emulating scenes of subjection when you lose respect for people you once admired or desired; some of us don’t. I’m of the latter kind.
My mother says I should feel I deserve abundance when I finish telling her my weekly events. The past becomes a knot in the belly of that school that still haunts me at night, and the memory of my teenage years traversing the city with my foreign looks and local saber. Courageous one might say. Necessary to open bridges and ponds, I answer. Seeing places that were banned to someone with my looks and lack of knowledge as I was. I was laughed at allright. I was teased. I prepared for battle with the world and the limits it imposed on me. I was always battling. Until I got sick. A bruja, a seer, once told me that she saw in the cards that I was misplaced, as if the Earth’s magnets affected me negatively in the Southern Hemisphere. You are in the wrong hemisphere she said. And indeed I healed here.
But was I misplaced or displaced? And has that changed as my language and my culture has become champurria, and I can now use the language learned in the aulas santiaguinas to teach people to embrace displacement and create a place for inhabitation with words?
That mere possibility, the privilege of leaving that which makes me sick, is already abundance. The place beyond.