(To read PART I, go HERE.)
Te Encontraré – PART II
~Sin papeles, pero con amor~
Sitting in my little blue Chevrolet on that mild August night, Carlos decided to trust me with a secret. At the end of that first day together, having spent every last dollar of his paycheck on me, he seemed reluctant to get out of the car and say goodnight.
“Tengo que decirte algo,” he said suddenly.
I looked at him, waited for him to say more.
He clasped and unclasped his hands. He looked at his lap, looked back at me.
“Estoy sin papeles.”
Without papers? What papers? What in the world did that mean?
It may seem impossible that I should be so naive, that I didn’t know, but that goes to show how very different our lives were. Earlier that year I read T.C. Boyle’s Tortilla Curtain – felt compassion for the immigrant in the story, and then promptly forgot all about it upon returning it to the library. Carlos did not have the luxury of reading such a story and then forgetting about it – he was living it.
I needed more of an explanation to fully understand what it meant to be “illegal”, (today’s preferred term, “undocumented”, wasn’t used as much back then.)
How was it that a stamp inside a little paper booklet to cross an invisible man-made line could matter that much? He explained in more detail what his situation meant for him and how he had come to be “without papers”, then he said,
“Do you still want to see me?”
His eyes, the color of wet earth, searched mine, as if seeking the answer before I spoke it.
“Yes…it’s okay,” I said. Knowing this about him didn’t change my feelings – If anything, I liked him a little more for his honesty and for trusting me.
“It’s okay?” he said in disbelief.
“Yes, it’s okay,” I smiled.
“Okay,” he smiled back, sighing, an obvious weight lifted.
We kissed goodnight and he climbed the stairs to his brother’s apartment. I sat in the darkness, watched the moths flutter in and out of the beam of my headlights, free to go wherever they wished.
“Borders are scratched across the hearts of men, by strangers with a calm, judicial pen, and when the borders bleed we watch with dread the lines of ink along the map turn red.” – Marya Mannes
Go Read: PART III