Laugh so you don't cry by Christian Sánchez
I woke up expecting to find the scent of you somewhere. It’s been months and I still look for you in places you won’t be. Missing you is a habit to which I have conformed myself and I’m writing this not for you but for myself because, after all, missing you was always my own intimate exercise. It was something your absence enabled but ultimately it was my own indulgence.
amigo del alma, me despido de ti
A long time ago, as we lay together joking around one morning, you asked me what the meaning of life was and I told you that it was laughter. You didn’t know it but my sense of humor was my mother’s. I smiled like her, teased like her, created complicated webs of inside jokes, burst into laughter just like her. The sparkle in my eye was the one she gave me. But from her I also inherited a great sadness, something that would overpower me even when I wanted to be the person you loved.
el adiós es mi nuevo compañero, pero cómo mirarte y fingir...
Love was always complicated in my house. Como chiles ardiendo en el aire, stinging your insides as you try to breathe. Love cared for you, controlled you, filled you with possibility and was always there. My mother could never leave my father, even if she should have. That is how I learned how to love.
Love used to mean that you stayed so I’m sorry I didn’t leave you earlier. I just didn’t know how. Cómo rechazarte? What I didn’t know about brown love was that it didn’t need to be sacrificial in order to be real.
You came into my life and complicated all of what I knew about relationships. You talked about ideas and forced me to confront myself time and time again. I was addicted to the way your mind worked. You knew who you were and I wanted that for myself.
The war that waged between us often baffled me. I secretly thought we would never become detangled.
Maybe I write you endless poems in search of the explanation for why we failed. It seems you had also given it some thought, months after our break up we walked together after dinner and you told me about the Lauren Berlant you were reading. You said we had been like a form of “cruel optimism.” I looked it up later and it said that this relation existed when something that you desire is also what is stopping you from growing. It was this tragedy that I had to walk away from.
You were my favorite dark place. I gravitated to the sort of self-destruction you promote. Maybe I don’t really know you and the way I beat myself up isn’t the sort of deep soul creation process I think it is. The back and forth that we were accustomed to was exhausting. Looking at one another now it seems as if it were this daunting task to recognize there was once love between us. The truth is that tomorrow and the next day I will want you more than I should. As if I hadn’t know that you would always leave. That you would always imagine the door, the escape.
I know I made it hard to leave but I just wanted our love to work. I thought it could.
My closest friends were five strong women who crowded around me and provided me with never-ending support. You were gone, you had claimed your independence. For me there was always a tomorrow as long as the women in my life were there for me. They taught me about freedom, self-love, and to stand up for myself. I’m free and it was their love that freed me.
I think as much as I have cried in the last couple of months I have also laughed, echoing the wild spirits of the mujeres in my life. Those who choose to love themselves and when they can’t love themselves they know they can turn to one another in the meantime, until they relearn how.
We used to say, “laugh so you don’t cry.”
I remember our fights. How sometimes we would realize the ridiculousness of it all and just laugh. You would say, “See? It didn’t matter!”, though It probably did. I know I was always crying and you would try to cheer me up so we would say, “laugh so you don’t cry,” but my truth is that I’m my mother’s child, soy su risa y su llanto.
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Christian is a writer and photographer. She was born and raised on the South West side of Chicago. Christian is a Xicana from Michoacán, Mexico. She majored in Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies and has a minor in Human Rights from the University of Chicago. At U of C, she helped co-found Mural Magazine, a bilingual (Spanish/English) Literary Magazine focused on Latin American culture, politics, and art. Christian loves printmaking, storytelling, and cumbia.