I believe

I believe it all happened in such  a way that made only this outcome possible. This is it: after you’ve moved around enough times, no place is good enough, no one gets all the double-entendres, and you end up sharing only a few ridiculous unreal places with all the people who waltzed through your life. Places as unsubstantial as the inbox, or facebook. This is what happens.

But not to all families. When we sat last Saturday at that fancy table of impeccable linen and easily elegant atmosphere, we had been invited by the Erganens. They are a middle aged couple with an easygoing fourteen year old son. Since I became a high school teacher last year, I feel strangely at easy with teenagers, recognizing none of that underlying fear other adults mention when I tell them about my job. And look, I’m five feet tall, a jealous, dark haired and sullen little thing, but I can put most creatures at ease and make them smile in under three minutes. And this kid, well, he’s had impeccable breeding, he doesn’t try to outdo himself in the company of other diplomats, he makes just the right amount of jokes.

On my left was the father. When he walked in to the award ceremony for my stepfather, I immediately thought: this man has a mistress. He has a joy for life rarely characteristic of happily married men. He had the bounce in his step of those who are saving and savoring something in their memory, keeping it apart from the general public, polishing it solo, for later perusal. Like when I would attend some family thing, before I considered it family, and expected to swallow some pills after, and felt their small bulge in my pocket, thinking “just breathe it out, don´t get chocked up, don´t be here now, just wait.”

Then, at the table, when they told us about their first date, and the reason why he affectionately calls her a witch, I chided myself for expecting the worst. Certainly, this thought will be unconfirmed forever: my mother and stepfather are leaving this country indefinitely, and I am out of my element, although it wasn’t difficult, in spite of my cheap cotton dress, to remember the taunt posture and to ask, calmly, for the right fish knife from the waiter, giving and not giving importance, detachedly, to the oversight.

They had been at the restaurant till it shut down, so engrossed in the conversation. They have lived across the globe, in Muslim countries, in NY. However, I never felt, not once, the sense of hidden loss I feel, at every step, spending time with my family. So could it be possible, then, to a wondering band of circus freaks, without a steady place to grow up, and still have a sense of belonging? Apparently. I, for one, cannot remember a single time when, surefooted, I knew myself an integral part of a group of people. Perhaps that’s why I haven´t yet missed a single class.

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