Swing and Sway
BY Fernanda Herrera
Time makes room for going and coming home, and in time’s womb begins all ending. So much has happened since I was gone. A building burned in my absence. The char reminds me of paint splotches at therapist offices. I think I see a mother but that’s beside the point.
The house by my little brother’s school was torn down in favor of an apartment complex. The scaffolding is the same blue as a straw I saw on the ground but also my shirt and surrounds 20 homes at least. The vines on my window have grown impossibly longer. My father will soon trim them but for now the room is constantly overcast. The bedsheets smell like someone else, like me a month ago but also me three years ago.
Something foreign and bitter. Maybe it’s just premature nostalgia. All of it feels like gelatin anyways. Somewhere between solid and uncertain, distinctly sweet but also like get well soon cards. My headphones don’t work as they used to. I have to move them around to get them to play music properly. Even then it sounds staticky and far away. The songs are old and overplayed anyways. I’m past my expiration date and nothing feels new anymore.
Forever is composed of nows. I wish it was composed of yesterdays, though I supposed yesterday was a now at some point. When I was young, I’d put relics from my travels in small sealable bags. I thought good preservation was the only proof that something had truly happened. Now I know that’s not necessarily true. But, when I get home from trips, I still open my suitcase and think, this bag is filled with air from that place. And of course, that cannot be true either. In fact, it is less true than my resealable bags habit. The seams are not airtight, the fibers are too wide to keep anything sealed properly. But it’s nice to think about. It’s reassuring to believe that somehow, that first breath of air after opening luggage is leftover air from my journey. If I start to question my memories, I can at least always say, well of course I was there. I breathed it here too.
Time cannot be kept at bay. The more it goes, the more it’s gone–the more it takes away. I have always been confused by the concept of timelines. It’s more interesting to think about how time layers upon itself. I’m me today, but also me yesterday, and me five years ago. All at the same time. Distance removes all emotions because there are more layers insulating them. It’s harder to get the warmth across. I’ve stopped feeling joy when scrolling through my camera roll. A picture only serves to remind your brain that you cannot look at it the same way you felt when it was first taken. I can barely look back without my stomach churning, without nostalgia screaming and scratching at my liver saying, this is what you wanted. This is what you still want. I cannot say I disagree. Nostalgia is a form of retaliation. In my mind, nostalgia is the wet sand left behind. In my mind, nostalgia creates new memories– sandcastles shining in the distance.
Cassady López is a poet, writer, film enthusiast, sister and friend. She has performed and competed from the final stage at the Los Angels Get Lit Classic Slam to the Brave New Voices Slam stages. She writes and highlights subjects such as family, latinidad, homelessness and disability. She was born and raised in the desert and hopes to continue writing and creating with in her community