I write the entire month in Guatemala, stories of adventures, but more so, stories of the grief that has followed me across countries. I'm jumbled up with emotions, but steady in the midst is this shred of confidence that one day I will write. Really write. It's beginning to awaken in me as never before, that though I've been studying Psychology for nearly a decade, this is where my passion really lies. The telling of stories.
One story in particular is branded in my memory, fraught with meaning that seems to slip through my fingers as it's on the verge of being caught. Tucked away in my wooden Papa chest at home is a little bag of dried cashews and the memory of a Guatemalan man I met in the lakeside town of Panajachel. In honor of starting my nonfiction writing program this evening, three years later, I share his story once more.
His tired eyes lit up, just a little, at the prospect of a sale, though it took us a few attempts to communicate that we only had enough for 10Q of cashews. I crouched down on the steps beneath him and attempted to speak with him in poor Spanglish. As he spoke to us, I studied him: his two-toned, worn green sweatshirt; white socks and old black tennis shoes; his eyes, once vacant, now with a small spark of life, set kindly in his weathered face; his smile, missing a few front teeth, beautiful and haunting. And my own eyes took me by surprise, filling with tears. I tried to look away before he saw, but our eyes locked for a brief moment, and he smiled, as if he knew something I couldn't speak.
I cried silent tears as we walked back to the hotel, clutching my tiny bag of cashews. Once in the hotel, I waved the girls upstairs, found a dark corner, and wept. I knew I wept for Francisco, this kind man, living a quiet, hard life. But what surprised me more is that I wept for the glimpses of my Papa I saw in Francisco, and I ached to wrap my arms around Papa once more, wearing his two-toned old green sweatshirt. My Papa would have loved Francisco.
I fill with gratitude this morning, remembering how far I've journeyed over the past three years. Thankful that I am given the gift of writing still, for that handful of cashews and the snapshot of a man, and the memories of my Papa that live on inside of me.