The first house I ever lived in, was painted the color of ashes. Or a setting sun. Any color in between those because I cannot remember just how many colors I knew at four years old. But, my dad rode a motorcycle and the neighbors certainly do remember that. He would always wake up the whole block with the sound of a roaring engine. I don’t recall my house having any windows, maybe, because I would never look for them while I had two palms to look for everything else. I was too involved in asking too many questions.
“Why does the woman from across the street sound so different?”
“What does deaf mean?”
“So how does she live?”
“She misses out on dad’s motorcycle roaring at 1 am?”
“Tell me how that’s fair” I think
In the midst of an October night, my two feet climb over the outdoor counter next to the sink and, on my tippy toes, I began to feel what the world is supposed to feel like: Cold and quiet. The long, white sheets draped over the clothesline dance to the sound of a blowing wind. In return, the bedding perfumes the air with what “clean” is supposed to smell like. I breath in deeply until my nostrils are burning, and while doing so, the air switches to something much more familiar. No one has ever needed an invitation in Cuba, yet, my father’s motorcycle engine liked to announce its arrival every pace it went.
On a particular day last October, while the whole neighborhood was decorated in orange and black and every pumpkin forced a wicked smile, I took shelter from the world under the cover of blankets inside my room. I missed how the world was so perfectly simple and put together. And how, with a tug on my mother’s long skirt, the world felt safer. I wished desperately to go back in time to that moment.
Until, over the sound of my own breathing and wishing, I had forgotten the window was slightly cracked open. Enough to feel what October is supposed to feel like: like freezing counters grazing the soles of my feet. Like, with enough dreaming, the streets could transform into freshly washed sheets. The familiarity of it all. And, from a distance, a motorcycle’s engine roars past my new home in America.
It is not my father’s. And I still can’t remember the color of my house. And I can now fit in my mother’s floor length skirts. Nothing is the same. And I sound so different.
But, if I ever want to travel back to the windowless house, the song of the motorcycle engine takes me there.
“Who knew I had a time machine with me all along?”
I shake my head
Tell me how that’s fair.