I understand that they come from a place where children die in abundance of disease, or butchery. Perhaps it it just fantastic imagination, or a subconscious way of fitting them into the faded quilt of life in a tiny Ohio city. The juxtaposition of amish buggy and Mayan exotic is not easily absorbed, so one looks for a way to make them fit. This must seem like paradise, after what he's been through.
They seem to go everywhere afoot. They buy everything from lettuce to fourth-hand automobiles with cash pulled from a front pocket, the rubber band slipped off before carefully counting the bills, watched by several others, all short, all brown, all bowl-cut. They need help anytime reading comes into play. Securing electricity and water. Deciphering a restaurant check. Looking for work.
How did you come to be here, of all places?
At first, they were scarce enough to cause alarm by their sudden presence. Without warning, people hardly more than half our size with copper skin and dusty black hair who looked impossibly out of place in jeans and t-shirt, were wandering into the big regional grocery store trying to find something to eat among the unfamiliar and untranslated. Knowing nothing of the currency, they bought one thing at a time. A package of hamburger would be taken through the checkout, handing the cashier an approximate amount of money, then waiting to see how much got handed back; now, off to find a tomato.
The first to arrive were joined by more, then: trouble. How could they not know they need a license to drive? Is shoplifting OK in Guatemala, or wherever the hell they come from? One of them - no! Urinated in the dog food aisle?
Help came. Concerned groups formed. Interpreters, not of language but of cultural differences, eased the way, lowered tensions. They are more common than the tired, muddy horses, black coats and goat beards now, so that when they walk by my house, I always try to say hello, because now I see that furtive look. When I see that check for acceptance, I don’t want to be counted among those who never look back, or speak.
Now, they have their own grocery stores. Even the Asians that came before never got that. But who are you, little man? Was it just poor-as-scratch back there? Do any family know you are here, watching the buggies pass, eating cheeseburgers, saving for cable TV? Or were they murdered for being out a little too late, wrong place, wrong time? Maybe they died from the fetid waters. Or maybe they shopped at a Seven Eleven and drank Pepsi. Who's to know?
Where in the Caribbean did you start? Why does the word Mexican anger you so?
I’ll never know you, or you me. I'll imagine that the place you come from is horrible. I'll imagine that it's better for you now, that your kids are doing well in school, that you'll fit in one day. It's easier for both of us that way.
Thanks for the new restaurants that came in your wake.