While We Wait (to Hold Each Other Once Again) by Andrés Hernández
A letter to my lover from across the Mexican border in times of lockdown
A story taken from our June Issue. In this special issue, we wanted to give light to artists, especially illustrators and painters, to know how to quarantine time affected their lives and their process. We wanted to showcase a different story, different arts to give a voice and platform for these creators.
On March 20th, the US-Mexican border, the most heavily trafficked land port of entry, was closed for “non-essential” workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unable to quarantine in the same household, families, friends, and lovers have since been separated until further notice
May 13th, 2020 Neville,
I no longer know how to translate this pain. It’s been nearly fifty-four days since we shared the same bed, since we held each other in a warm embrace and whispered eternal love, a declaration only audible to the texture and folds of our skin. The last time we showered together, there was music playing in the background and warm water pouring down my back and shoulders. I couldn’t hear the music nor feel the water, but I could wrap my arms around your lower waist to bring you closer to me. To touch you, to taste you, to bathe you in salt, that was called living. You see, what the way your body moves and talks and questions mine has taught me is that there is so much beauty to be found in the mundane. Maybe it’s silly to say it out loud. Maybe a declaration of love so pure might seem obsessive, overdone at times, empty and lacking given how many other lovers have said the same words before in vain. But it doesn’t matter, because this letter is for you, just for you.
We have nothing left but the heavy drag of the light shifting across the room in sharp angles, bringing with it occasional warmth. Somedays, it doesn’t even show up, it sits behind a bed of clouds, and so we shut the blinds, maybe light a candle. We pretend it’s the sun or we sit in the dark and feel our limbs as they harden with time. Legs, shoulders, neck, spine. I stretch in bed whenever I remember to. I pick up a pen, press it across tomorrow and the day after, I stop at the 30th, and jot down a question mark. I scribble over it and remind myself that hoping for the best has done nothing but prove to be the quickest route to disappointment. The line between optimism and foolishness shaves itself thinner every day I don’t leave the house.
When I was younger, I used to run from my parent’s house all the way to the beach, all the way to the tall, brown fence that rose from the sand to mark the limits of my country, a border that, to this day, keeps growing taller. Some people say it grows to make space for more names to be written on it. The names of the lost, the names of the dead, the names of the mothers and fathers and children and lovers, lovers just like us, separated by the doings of those whose understanding of the world does not fit compassion. So, I do what I do best and cry. I cry for you, and I cry for everybody else because that’s the only thing I can do. I cry for myself last, and then I keep the tears in a jar to remind myself that sometimes sorrow deserves to be held as tenderly as we hold joy.